Win the May ’15 bookshelf of signed thrillers!

May 1, 2015

May 15 Collage2

The May contest is here! Lots of great books – favorite series, terrific new debuts and more.

RADIANT ANGEL is the latest John Corey book from one of my favorites, Nelson DeMille. His new novel takes us into the heart of a new Cold War with a clock-ticking plot that has Manhattan in its crosshairs. In war-torn Syria, the heroes of the SEAL Team Six series defuse an ISIS warlord’s explosive plot. SEAL TEAM SIX: Hunt the Fox by Don Mann & Ralph Pezzullo is the latest installment.

A kinder, gentler favorite is the Dixie Hemingway series. THE CAT SITTER’S WHISKERS by John Clement & Blaize Clement finds Dixie hopelessly trapped in a murky world of black market antiques, dark-hearted secrets, and murderous revenge. Secrets—and safety—melt under a midnight sun in AGAINST THE TIDE by Kat Martin.

Defending an innocent young man, defense attorney Paul Madriani uncovers a morass of corruption and greed that leads to the highest levels of political power in THE ENEMY INSIDE, an electrifying tale of suspense from New York Times bestselling author Steve Martini. After vanquishing undead serial killers and discovering the dark secrets of her family history, wizard sentinel DJ Jaco must now stop the coming preternatural war in Suzanne Johnson’s PIRATES ALLEY.

Lots of terrific debuts this month! RUINS OF WAR by John A. Connell, is a chilling novel of murder and madness in post-World War II Germany. THE ORGAN BROKER by Stu Strumwasser is the thrilling story of an underground black market organ dealer known as “New York Jack.” CASH CRASH JUBILEE by Eli K.P. William offers up a cyber-dystopian world unlike any other.

You can win autographed copies of all these books! If you are new to the site, each month I run a contest in conjunction with the International Thriller Writers organization. We put together a list of books including bestsellers and debut authors, so you can win some of your favorites and find some new favorites.

What makes this contest really special is that all of the books (except eBooks) are signed by the author!

Don’t forget, if you subscribe to the newsletter or follow this blog, you get an extra entry into every contest you enter. Check out the Win Books  page for more information on all these books and how you to enter this month’s contest.

Thanks for reading, and good luck!


May 23, 2015

Click to purchaseDr. Jeremy Logan specializing in investigations of strange and inexplicable happenings and having the title of the Enigmalogist makes a second appearance in a novel by Lincoln Child. Dr. Logan is called upon by the management of a large “Think Tank” named Lux and located in Newport, Rhode Island, to look at a very strange occurrence. One of the more eminent doctors working for Lux suddenly began behaving erratically attacking a colleague and then killing himself in a very shocking manner.

In the course of his investigation Dr. Logan discovers a hidden and actually lost room untouched for decades hidden in a wing of the institution which is not widely used. The room is filled with strange equipment that points to a top secret project known as Project S. What Project S was and if it led to the strange actions and subsequent suicide of the doctor forms the gist of the novel. What the project was and what it involved leads Dr Logan into the path of an unforeseen and unexpected danger.

The concept and the happenings are well conceived. A flaw encountered but not greatly detracting from an engrossing read are the lengths of descriptions used in the course of the writing. Child’s aim in these lengthy discourses must surely have been to set the scene in both the seashore of Newport Rhode Island and the size and age of the Think Tanks physical plant.

5/15 Paul Lane

THE FORGOTTEN ROOM by Lincoln Child. Doubleday (May 12, 2015). ISBN: 978-0385531405. 304p.


May 22, 2015

love & miss communicationEvie Rosen is addicted to the Internet. Her phone is always by her side and even in the most intimate of settings – well, the most intimate of settings Evie’s seeing these days, i.e. friends’ weddings and a few blind dates that go nowhere – she never misses a tweet or status update. It’s possible that her need to stay connected is affecting her friendships and relationships, or lack thereof… like the time she was called out for Googling one of those blind dates.

But then Evie is fired for spending too much of her work time on personal emails. Reeling over her new unemployment situation, Evie binges on a Facebook stalking session and discovers that her allergic-to-marriage ex has just tied the knot. The results of that revelation are embarrassing, to say the least, and prompt Evie to finally admit that she has a real problem. And so she decides to give it all up. But going Internet free isn’t necessarily easy, especially in a day and age when everyone is expected to take part in the social media circus. And for a girl who’s single and unemployed, it means getting a little creative about dating and job hunting.

Elyssa Friedland’s debut is a fun and eye-opening look at today’s always connected, always updating online frenzy. But it’s more than just a girl experiencing the inconveniences of internet-free living. Love and Miss Communication is a story about the importance of family, friends, and real connections rather than friend requests.

05/15 Becky LeJeune

LOVE AND MISS COMMUNICATION by Elyssa Friedland. William Morrow Paperbacks (May 12, 2015). ISBN: 978-0062379849. 400p.

I, RIPPER by Stephen Hunter

May 21, 2015

I RIPPERJack the Ripper, the very name brings an image of the most horrific serial killer that ever existed. Jack not only murdered but dissected his victims. He killed 5 prostitutes in the Whitechapel section of London in the year 1888 and then disappeared from view. Never caught, his crimes terrorized London and took a place in history from that year to today. Conjecture about who, or what he (or possibly she) is still rampant even now.

Stephen Hunter has written many successful novels involving guns and snipers. His knowledge of ballistics is encyclopedic. The present novel deviates from guns to the knife used by the Ripper and shows the same research that his other books embody. His descriptions of London of 1888, and the territory inhabited by Jack bring up a picture of another time and place. The misery of the poor living in the Whitechapel section is captured and made into the background of the action for the reader.

The book provides the facts, the conditions and the horror of the murders. Hunter names the women killed and provides as much as possible about them at this point in time. His descriptions of each murder are lurid, probably taken from actual newspaper accounts. The narrative uses a young Irish Journalist who follows the Ripper’s path in order to make a name for himself. He brings out facts that lead to a possible solution to who the murderer is and with literary license provides an ending to Jack’s career.

Hunter uses supposed diaries written by the journalist, and Jack himself to tell the story. He notes suspicions of the era  bringing up theories prevalent and popular during the period of the Ripper’s career.  There are tie-ins with the methods used by Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes to solve cases via astute observation and logic, as well as reference to the novel “Pygmalion” by George Bernard Shaw.

The descriptions of the murders will be upsetting but are key to postulating the Ripper’s possible motivation in carrying out the crimes. Another fascinating book by Stephen Hunter.

5/15 Paul Lane

I, Ripper by Stephen Hunter. Simon & Schuster (May 19, 2015). ISBN: 978-1476764856. 320p.

DISCLAIMER by Renée Knight

May 20, 2015
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Novels generally come with the disclaimer that “any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental” and so does this one, twice – once in its usual place, and once in the book within the book, and therein lies the story.

That book is on documentary filmmaker Catherine Ravenscroft’s night table, only she didn’t put it there. Catherine has a comfortable life; her husband is in law, and her son, while having problems of his own, has moved out and is living an independent life.

When she starts reading the mysterious book, she quickly realizes that she is the main protagonist, and the secret she has kept hidden is about to tear her life apart.

In a seemingly disparate story, Stephen Brigstocke is a retired teacher and grieving husband who is living a very sad life. Eventually their stories intersect with devastating consequences.

A good psychological thriller with the ever popular unreliable narrator, in this case two of them, along with lots of family drama will keep the pages turning. Sure to appeal to fans of Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson.

Copyright ©2015 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association.

4/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

DISCLAIMER by Renée Knight. Harper (May 19, 2015).  ISBN: 978-0062362254. 352p.

Guest Blogger: Mary Kay Andrews

May 19, 2015
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I am delighted to welcome one of my favorite people, New York Times bestselling author Mary Kay Andrews! Mary Kay is the queen of the summer read and her newest, Beach Town, is terrific. Read on to find out how you can win a copy.


By Mary Kay Andrews

Having grown up in Florida and being a life-long Southerner, I spend a lot of time thinking—and writing, about the beach—especially during Atlanta’s interminably rainy, chilly winters. And for the past few winters, I’ve actually run away from home to write at the beach.

In my new novel, BEACH TOWN, movie location scout Greer Hennessy is hired to find the perfect “old school” beach town for a Hollywood blockbuster. The town Greer discovers, Cypress Key, is pretty close to my own idea of heaven. Here, as follows, are my specific requirements for the perfect beach town.

  1. The beach. It should have an easily accessible public beach. I realize there are rocky beaches, pebbly beaches, even cliffside beaches. But as an East Coast girl—specifically a Gulf Coast girl, I like a smooth, soft, sandy white beach.
  2. No shoes, no shirt, no problem sums up my philosophy of the perfect beach town dress code. On Tybee Island, where we have a vacation home, there is no place on the island (as far as I know) where you can’t go in shorts and sandals. Many is the time I have been in the IGA, our island grocery store, and spotted customers decked out in pajamas and bare feet. Nobody looks twice. (Except maybe me.)
  3. Clean, free public bathrooms with showers. Anybody who’s had to beg a beachside shop or restaurant owner for access to their bathrooms, or had to change a stinky diaper in a gas-station parking lot will agree with this.
  4. Oh yeah. A grocery store. It’s no fun to have to drive all the way back to the mainland for provisions. A grocery store with an in-house deli, like our aforementioned IGA or Shaner’s Land and Sea Market on Pass-a-Grille beach in my hometown of St. Petersburg is best. One quick trip should yield sandwiches, fried chicken, ‘tater salad, fresh fruit and cold drinks for a beachside picnic.
  5. Friendly locals.
  6. A dive bar. The beer should be cold and the welcome should be warm. The bartender should know the locals. The waiters should recognize the trouble-makers. There should be a black-and-white television showing late-inning ballgames or grainy old movies. A pool table is optional, but I really must insist upon a jukebox.
  7. A beachside seafood joint with an outdoor patio to watch sunsets. The Hurricane on Pass-A-Grille comes to mind, as does A.J’s Dockside on Tybee Island. The food should come in those little plastic baskets lined with waxed paper, and the drinks should be tall and frosty.
  8. Bicycle paths!
  9. A great breakfast joint, like The Donut Hole on the South Walton Beaches in the Florida panhandle, or Duck Donuts on North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
  10. A cheesy souvenir shop that sells airbrushed T-shirts with obnoxious/suggestive/corny sayings, plus bags of imported-from-the-Philippines seashells, cheap plastic beach toys in neon colors and crappy beach towels that shrink to the size of a band-aid after one washing. They should also have a selection of great beach reads . . . including BEACH TOWN, by Mary Kay Andrews.

About the book

Greer Hennessy needs palm trees.

As a movie location scout, picture-perfect is the name of the game. But her last project literally went up in flames, and her career is on the verge of flaming out. Greer has been given one more chance, if she can find the perfect undiscovered beach hideaway for a big-budget movie. She zeroes in on a sleepy Florida panhandle town called Cypress Key. There’s one motel, a marina, a long stretch of pristine beach and an old fishing pier with a community casino-which will be perfect for the film’s explosive climax.

There’s just one problem. Eben Thibadeaux, the town mayor, completely objects to Greer’s plan. A lifelong resident of Cypress Key, Eben wants the town to be revitalized, not commercialized. After a toxic paper plant closed, the bay has only recently been reborn, and Eb has no intention of letting anybody screw with his town again. But Greer has a way of making things happen, regardless of obstacles. And Greer and Eb are way too attracted to each other for either of them to see reason.

Between an ambitious director and his entourage-including a spoiled “It Boy” lead actor-who parachute into town, a conniving local ex-socialite, and a cast of local fangirls and opportunists who catch the movie bug, nothing is going to be the same in Cypress Key. Now Greer is forced to make some hard choices: about the people and the town she’s come to care about, and about her own life. True love is only for the movies, right? Can Greer find a way to be the heroine in her own life story? Told with inimitable heart and humor, Mary Kay Andrews’ Beach Town is the perfect summer destination.

About the author:

mary kay andrewsMary Kay Andrews is the New York Times bestselling author of the just published Beach Town, Summer Rental, The Fixer-Upper, Deep Dish, Hissy Fit, Savannah Breeze, Savannah Blues, more. A die-hard junker, serial remodeler and self-described decorator in denial, she divides her time between a restored 1920s Craftsman bungalow in Atlanta, and her Tybee Island cottage. For information about renting The Breeze Inn, visit Mermaid Cottages.





To win your own copy of BEACH TOWN by Mary Kay Andrews, please send an email to with “BEACH TOWN” as the subject.

You must include your U.S. street address in your email.

All entries must be received by May 30, 2015. One (1) name will be drawn from all qualified entries and notified via email. This contest is open to all adults over 18 years of age in the United States only. Your prize will be sent by the publicist.

One entry per email address. Subscribers to the monthly newsletter earn an extra entry into every contest. Follow this blog to earn another entry into every contest. Winners may win only one time per year (365 days) for contests with prizes of more than one book. Your email address will not be shared or sold to anyone.

5/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

LITTLE BLACK LIES by Sharon Bolton

May 18, 2015
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The Falkland Islands makes for an unusual setting in this twisty tale of missing children.

Catrin Quinn hasn’t been the same since her two children died while in the care of her best friend Rachel. It was an accidental death, but it cost Catrin their friendship and her husband Ben; he was able to move on, she was not. Her former lover Callen feels helpless; still in love with Catrin but not sure how to reach the damaged woman, while he suffers from post traumatic stress syndrome, a holdover from the Falklands War.

When a young boy goes missing, the local police chief is hesitant to blame any local residents, and wants to keep it quiet to protect the tourism trade. But it is the third such child to go missing in a year or so, and Callen figures it has to be a local.

Callen and Catrin find a body on a shipwreck, but even that isn’t enough to convince the authorities. Then a fourth child goes missing; Rachel’s youngest boy, and Catrin becomes the chief suspect.

A pod of beached whales that need to be euthanized adds another layer of horror to the story, and animal activists will not be happy with it.

Each of the main characters has a voice here; the story unfolds in sections, each by a different character leading to various points of view and adding to this compelling novel of suspense.

Note: Sharon Bolton also writes as S.J. Bolton

Copyright ©2015 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association.

5/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

LITTLE BLACK LIES by Sharon Bolton.  Minotaur Books (May 19, 2015).  ISBN 978-1250028594. 368p.

ORIENT by Christopher Bollen

May 13, 2015
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Orient, New York has long prided itself on its closed community of year-round citizens. Anyone else is viewed as an outsider no matter what their circumstances may be. The only exception is architect Paul Benchley, who was born and raised on the island, and so forgiven for leaving them behind to live most of the year in the big city.

But now Paul is back and he’s bringing a guest with him. A guest his neighbors aren’t anxious to welcome to Orient. The guest is Mills Chevern, an orphan and runaway Paul takes pity on and vows to help by removing him from the temptations and dangers of New York City. But Paul and Mills’s arrival coincide with the death of one of the village’s own. More crime and dead bodies follow and suspicion immediately turns to newcomer Mills, leaving the teen no choice but to prove his own innocence.

Bollen is incredibly long winded, something I thought was going to be a detriment to the book early on. Before long, however, I’d settled into the narrative and really started to enjoy myself.

The insular community of Orient is fabulously drawn with resident busybodies, gossip mongers, and the few “outsiders” like Paul, Mills, and Beth, an artist recently returned to Orient herself. As the plot unfolds, the politics of the town begin to have great influence on the various happenings and goings on, including multiple murders. Bollen does a fair job of keeping the identity of the true killer and their motive under wraps until the very end, though.

Orient is a doorstopper of a read, to be sure, but once the first hundred pages or so are behind and all of the characters are introduced it moves along at a great pace.

5/15 Becky LeJeune

ORIENT by Christopher Bollen.  Harper (May 5, 2015).  ISBN 978-0062329950.  624p.

THE TELLER by Jonathan Stone

May 12, 2015
Click to purchase Kindle edition

Click to purchase Kindle edition

Elaine Kelly is a beautiful young bank teller who is supporting her dying mother, both financially and emotionally. She is a favorite of many of the banks’ customers, especially Antonio Desirio, an old gentleman who makes a weekly deposit into a savings account of over a million dollars.

When Antonio is killed by a truck right outside the bank, Elaine acts on a rash impulse and transfers most of the man’s money into her account. She’s never done anything like that before, but she’s sure he is all alone in the world and she’s barely scraping by.

The police are investigating the accident, and Elaine is cooperating with the detective and doing some snooping on her own. Then a man comes in the bank, claiming he is Antonio Desirio, and tries to withdraw the money – but it’s already gone. The police freeze the account, but there are bad men after the money and they are targeting Elaine.

This fast paced shell game of misdirection, where it is hard to tell the good guys from the bad, is reminiscent of Good People by Marcus Sakey and Found Money by James Grippando.  The author’s previous novel, Moving Day, was also terrific.

Copyright ©2015 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association.

5/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

Kindle: THE TELLER by Jonathan Stone.  Thomas & Mercer (May 12, 2015).  ASIN: B00OV403US

Paperback: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (August 29, 2012). ISBN 978-1250035028. 384p.

Mary Kay Andrews Giveaway!

May 9, 2015

MKAPrizePackI plan my summer reading around Mary Kay Andrews – she has a new book every spring and this year is no exception. Beach Town hits shelves May 19, but to tide you over, I am giving away a bag full of swag to one lucky winner!

Here’s what all will be in the fabulous swag bag:
  • Copy of SAVE THE DATE in trade paperback
  • Copy of SUMMER RENTAL in mass market paperback
  • Two different Mary Kay Andrews bookmarks
  • Set of 3 SAVE THE DATE recipe cards
  • SAVE THE DATE magnet
  • MKA Summer Rental sticker
  • BEACH TOWN lip balm with SPF 15


A wedding florist finds love and trouble in this delightful new novel by The New York Timesbestselling author of Ladies’ Night.

A Savannah florist is about to score the wedding of a lifetime-one that will solidify her career as the go-to-girl for society nuptials. Ironically, Cara Kryzik doesn’t believe in love, even though she creates beautiful flower arrangements to celebrate them. But when the bride goes missing and the wedding is in jeopardy, Cara must find the bride and figure out what she believes in. Maybe love really does exist outside of fairy tales after all.

My ReviewCara Mia Kryzik inherited the flower shop where she worked in Savannah, Georgia, when the owner decided to spend her remaining days in Florida. Turning “Bloom” into a successful business has Cara stressed, to say the least. Her only salvation is her Goldendoodle, who she bought after her divorce to keep her company.

When the dog takes off one morning, Cara goes running after her, only to find a gorgeous hunk of a man has her dog, a rope tied around her neck. He insists the dog is his, and takes off with her. Cara has to get back to work. As Savannah’s most original wedding florist, her work is starting to build demand and she has weddings lined up every weekend. Of course she runs into Jack, the dognapper, at the first wedding…and the second…and the third. Seems like Jack is related to or knows everyone in Savannah. Turns out Jack has a Goldendoodle too, and after one night with Cara’s dog he realizes his mistake. 

Adding to her stress, Cara’s father lent her $20,000 but calls regularly to let her know she needs to close up shop, pay him back and move home. But despite the fact she’s living hand to mouth, her business is steadily growing, if only her old equipment would hold out. When the air conditioner finally dies, Cara is in a quandary. Her cheap landlady died, leaving the store to her equally cheap daughter who isn’t returning any calls. A new florist has moved into town, expanding his shop and trying to put hers out of business at the same time.

Lots of angst, but lots of romance and Andrews’ trademark southern charm make this a terrific fast paced read with warm, fully realized characters, crisp writing, and a terrific storyline. I raced through it in one night and loved every page. I especially loved the little nod to her series characters that pops up.

Save the Date is the best way to kick off summer reading. Don’t miss it!


Sometimes, when you need a change in your life, the tide just happens to pull you in the right direction….

Ellis, Julia, and Dorie. Best friends since Catholic grade school, they now find themselves, in their mid-thirties, at the crossroads of life and love. Ellis, recently fired from a job she gave everything to, is rudderless and now beginning to question the choices she’s made over the past decade of her life. Julia—whose caustic wit covers up her wounds–has a man who loves her and is offering her the world, but she can’t hide from how deeply insecure she feels about her looks, her brains, her life.  And Dorie has just been shockingly betrayed by the man she loved and trusted the most in the world…though this is just the tip of the iceberg of her problems and secrets. A month in North Carolina’s Outer Banks is just what they each of them needs.

Ty Bazemore is their landlord, though he’s hanging on to the rambling old beach house by a thin thread. After an inauspicious first meeting with Ellis, the two find themselves disturbingly attracted to one another, even as Ty is about to lose everything he’s ever cared about.

Maryn Shackleford is a stranger, and a woman on the run. Maryn needs just a few things in life: no questions, a good hiding place, and a new identity.  Ellis, Julia, and Dorie can provide what Maryn wants; can they also provide what she needs?

Five people questioning everything they ever thought they knew about life. Five people on a journey that will uncover their secrets and point them on the path to forgiveness. Five people who each need a sea change, and one month in a summer rental that might just give it to them.


My review: Ty Bazemore inherited a beach house in North Carolina’s Outer Banks, which he is struggling to keep afloat. He rents out most of the house as “Mr. Culpepper,” without telling his tenants who he is or that he is actually living above the garage. His newest tenant, Ellis, is meeting up with her best friends for a month of rest and relaxation, which they are all desperate for.

Ellis has just been downsized and doesn’t know what she’s going to do, but she does recognize the chemistry between her and Ty. Julia is a model who realizes her modeling days may be over and is having a hard time dealing with that, and her insecurities are affecting her marriage as well. Dorie is a newlywed, but her friends suspect trouble in paradise when her husband doesn’t come with her.

These women share the house and their lives, until Dorie meets Maryn who seems well off and very nice, yet somehow she’s homeless. She invites her to stay, and it turns out Maryn, like all these characters, has some secrets too. This is vintage Mary Kay; light and breezy and total escapist fiction. I really enjoyed getting to know these women and sharing their summer on the beach – take this book with you to the beach and have a fun afternoon!

To win this fabulous Mary Kay Andrews swag bag, please send an email to with “MKA SWAG” as the subject.

You must include your U.S. street address in your email.

All entries must be received by May 19, 2015. One (1) name will be drawn from all qualified entries and notified via email. This contest is open to all adults over 18 years of age in the United States only. Your prize will be sent by the publicist.

One entry per email address. Subscribers to the monthly newsletter earn an extra entry into every contest. Follow this blog to earn another entry into every contest. Winners may win only one time per year (365 days) for contests with prizes of more than one book. Your email address will not be shared or sold to anyone.

5/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

Guest Blogger: John A. Connell

May 7, 2015
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I am delighted to welcome guest blogger John A. Connell!

I had the pleasure of meeting John when he was kind enough to participate in his first author event at my library. He was a wonderful addition to the Palm Beach Peril panel, and he graciously offered up a signed copy of his novel for May’s ITW/BookBitch thriller giveaway.

Here are some thoughts on his new novel…

Some might argue that a story taking place in post-World War II Germany should be labeled as contemporary, not historical. Certainly there are people with us today who lived through those turbulent years, and WWII continues to live vibrantly in the collective consciousness. I am, however, comfortable with the label, despite being a proud member of the post-war baby-boom years. I’ve always been drawn to novels that pull you into historical setting, making you feel as if you were there, peering into a window of another time and place, and walking in the characters’ shoes along the paving stones of the past.

I blame a history teacher in high school for this passion. He conducted lessons, not by simply reciting dates and facts, but by portraying history through the eyes of those who lived it. He explained moments in history by way of the people, what their lives were like, how they thought, how the world around them impacted their decisions—good and bad. Historical events became more immediate and understandable. I could relive the lives of those who made it, as if history were like a vast, timeless play. The truth of Shakespeare’s line, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players,” hit me like a bolt. I was hooked. Anything, books and film, that allowed me to peer into this magical looking glass of the past, I devoured, especially stories involving the common man and woman caught up in tumultuous events of their time and called upon to do extraordinary things.

I’ve always been a Sherlock Holmes fan, but I first connected crime fiction and historicals as a storyteller after discovering Ellis Peters’ (really Edith Pargeter) series of the monk detective, Brother Cadfeal, and Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose. I thought, how cool was it to have a detective in the Middle Ages? These were followed by too many to name here, but suffice it to say, it was inevitable that I would combine my passion for history with crime fiction.  Three out of the four books I wrote before Ruins of War are historical crime novels (may they rest in peace on my hard drive). Actually, Mason Collins was a villain in one of those earlier works, but I found him so compelling that I decided to write a new novel and make him my hero. In that original book, Mason’s backstory extended back to crimes he’d committed in post WWII Germany. When I started researching that time period, I was astonished. I had assumed that, while sometimes messy, it was relatively peaceful. I couldn’t have been further from the truth. It was volatile, tragic, chaotic, even deadly…

The Germans called the time just after the war Die Stunde Null, ‘The Zero Hour.’ Germany had been bombed back to the Middle Ages. Death by famine, disease and murder had replaced the bullets and bombs. Over 10 million people brought into Germany as slaves, along with the tens of thousands of POW and concentration camp survivors, were all suddenly freed and making the trek home or wandering the countryside. Then came the millions of ethnic Germans expelled from Poland and the former Czechoslovakia, streaming into Germany with nothing but what they could carry on their backs. The conquering armies, the Americans, British, French and Russians, wielded ultimate power over a desperate population, and a typical soldier could barter for almost anything with a single pack of cigarettes. The black market thrived, and gangs of deserted allied soldiers, former POWs and corrupt DPs roamed the countryside. Talk about fertile ground for a crime thriller!

How could I resist?

About the book

Winter 1945. Seven months after the Nazi defeat, Munich is in ruins. Mason Collins—a former Chicago homicide detective, U.S. soldier, and prisoner of war—is now a U.S. Army criminal investigator in the American Zone of Occupation. It’s his job to enforce the law in a place where order has been obliterated. And his job just became much more dangerous.

A killer is stalking the devastated city—one who has knowledge of human anatomy, enacts mysterious rituals with his prey, and seems to pick victims at random. Relying on his wits and instincts, Mason must venture places where his own life is put at risk: from interrogation rooms with unrepentant Nazi war criminals to penetrating the U.S. Army’s own black market.

What Mason doesn’t know is that the killer he’s chasing is stalking him, too.

About the Author

john_a_connell__writer_hi_res_1John was born in Atlanta, Ga., then spent his childhood in the suburbs of Columbus, Ohio, NYC, and D.C. before moving back to Atlanta at the age of 13. While at Georgia State University his fascination with human thought drove him to study Psychology, and when that didn’t satisfy his curiosity about the human spirit, he turned to Anthropology, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and a minor in Psychology. During that time and after graduation he was a keyboardist and singer in rock and jazz bands, while simultaneously dabbling in writing short stories. To work his way through college and beyond, he stumbled upon some rather unique jobs: stock boy in a brassiere factory, courier for the Georgia State Health Department delivering gonorrhea and syphilis cultures from OB-GYN offices, a repairer of newspaper vending machines, a stint as an apprentice machinist, and a printing press operator.

John’s love of storytelling is what compelled him to switch to a career in film, even though he knew nothing about film and no one in the business. He “logically” chose camerawork (not knowing anything about film cameras either) as a way into the business. He started in the film business in Atlanta and then moved to Los Angeles and worked his way up the ranks in the camera department to become a camera operator for both movies and TV. He also worked as an assistant aerial cinematographer using helicopters that took him all over the world.

He kept at the writing, frequently expressing his deep desire to fulfill that dream. And then someone finally said, “shut-up, sit down and write.” And so he did. Between film projects or during lighting setups, he studied the craft of writing and produced mostly action/adventure screenplays. He then toyed with the idea of making two of his screenplays into YA novels. That’s when he discovered the rich potential for storytelling that novels provide, and with it his true passion.

During this time he met and married a French woman in Los Angeles. While he was working on a hit TV show as a camera operator, his wife was offered an excellent opportunity in Paris, France. They jumped at the chance, though they’d just bought their dream house two months earlier, and John had the French language proficiency of a two-year-old! He’d always wanted to live in Europe, particularly Paris, and it provided him the opportunity to devote full time to writing. He still takes occasional film jobs in the US. He now speaks French moderately well, though hardly a day goes by when his wife doesn’t roll on the floor with laughter at his attempts.

Currently, his wife and he live in Versailles, France, trying suburban living for a while, but they miss the energy of Paris and plan to move back there next year.






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