Saturday 29 September 2018


Today and into early next week, I have a plethora of offers available to you. 

The first of these comes in the form of my teacher noir novel In Loco Parentis. All Due Respect books have lowered the price from $5.99 and £4.64 to the bargainous 99c/99p. This is across all e-book retailers including:

Which is fantastic.

Meanwhile, there are also deals on the Southsiders series. Books 3 and 4 are available for 99c as part of a Kindle Countdown Deal. 

Sunday 23 September 2018


What would you do if the situation arose whereby if you were ever more than ten feet away from another person, you'd die? And how good would you become at measuring ten feet?

Or if you were in an airport bar and your drink was spiked by a beautiful blonde who claimed to have poisoned your drink and that you'll be dead within eight hours unless she gave you the antidote? You might do nothing, but when you start chucking your guts up as predicted by the woman, what then?

Or, if your partner and unborn child were murdered by the mob and you were a trained killer, how would you respond? And if you were working for some double secret service and had to carry a dead man's head back to base even though it's still attached to the body when you find it?

Or you're a ruthless, mercenary scientist who is ready to sell the ultimate weapon, only there's one person in the way and there's only one way to stop her? 

Blimey, that's a lot of questions. Even so, there are far more in The Blonde (US), only I don't want to raise them and spoil your fun. 

The opening of this novel is about as good as it gets. Attention is held from the off. "I poisoned your drink," is the first line and that's all it took to have me hooked. There's something of The Temple Of Doom about the setup and it really works a treat. You know you're in safe hands from that moment on. Then again, it's always possible that such a winning gambit is a fluke. That possibility is quickly burned out when the multiple points of view weave together to increase the intrigue rather than dilute it.

Jack Eisley is the man who has been poisoned. He's in town to meet with the hot-shot lawyer who's batting for his wife. On the whole, he'd rather be anywhere than Philadelphia. When he realises that the blonde's threat is far from idle, he needs to get the antidote fast and dashes back the airport to find the woman who did the dirty on him. 

Secret agent and war vet Mike Kowalski is also heading for the airport. His instructions are to find the same blonde Jack's looking for. 

When they find the locate her, she's sucking the tongue off some average guy who can't resist such an adorable lady.   

What happens from then on is for you to find out. I won't say much other than to point out that it's a fast-paced adventure with genuine tension and terrific action where each character is stretched to the absolute limit and gets to visit some freaky places along the way. 

The core premise is absolutely ace, but it needs a writer full of confidence and skill to pull it off. Swierczynski clearly has both of those in abundance and he succeeds where others might fear to tread. 

After the adrenaline rush of the novel, it's difficult to imagine how it could possibly end. I mentioned that the beginning was terrific and I can also tell you that it has a conclusion to match - utterly satisfying and bordering on genius.

It so happens that Duane Swierczynski's family is having a tough time right now. It's not my place to explain, but you can find out lots about it here and here (Evie's Braids) if you'd like. There's the option to chip in your support in a number of ways (blood, marrow and cash donation) and I know that the crime writing community has come together and shown its love and respect for one of its own. I know that if you take the time it will be appreciated. And buying books always helps - if you pick up a copy of a DS novel, you're in for a total treat.

And if you have time after all that and feel like checking out a still-warm interview I did over at All Due Respect books, you'll find it here. This time it was me who was asked some challenging questions and I hope I managed to get close to finding the answers. Thanks to Christopher Rhatigan for so many things. 

Friday 14 September 2018

An Interview with Miriam bat Isaac, Sleuth Extraordinaire

Hello mystery lovers. My name is Concordia, daughter of Marcello Gaius Segundus. It’s almost high noon on three days after the Calends as I wait for Miriam bat Isaac here in Zenon’s café near the Central Plaza of Alexandria’s agora. Against the rasp of soldiers’ boots and the blandishments of peddlers hawking olives, boiled elephant beans, and honey-sweetened water, I’ve been rehearsing the questions—

Oh, wait. Here she comes, stunning in a short-sleeved, floor-length lavender tunic, matching veil, and a light blue, woollen himation pinned to her shoulder with an antique fibula. Certainly not the thirty-something-year-old, wide-hipped matron I expected! I stood to greet her and pointed to a chair facing the shop’s graduated marble shelves of glassware, cutlery, and crockery.

 “Thanks for coming, Miriam. This interview is important. Your community is already aware of your success as an amateur sleuth. Now it’s time for the rest of Alexandria to recognize your contributions.” I hope she didn’t notice the jagged rise in the pitch of my voice. Fortunately, with a few deep breaths, the constriction eased.

Miriam slapped some imaginary dust from her clothes and with one smooth gesture, calmed her skirt, ran her hand over the seat of the chair, and took her place. No sooner had she gotten settled when a mousy-haired, knock-kneed waiter cut a clean line around the tables shouldering a tray of tiropita and proffering her a clutch of flatware rolled in an Indian cotton napkin.

I dismissed him with a wave of my hand.

“My pleasure, Concordi—”

“Call me Dia.”


I nodded. “I asked you to come so I could learn about the books June Trop has written about you. But first, more generally, why does June write about you?”

“She writes about me because she knows when I undertake a case, justice will prevail, that I have the will to persist and the hunger to survive. Once I had to follow a suspect through the midnight underbelly of our Rhakotis Quarter, where thieves prey on the nameless and dump their corpses into the canal. But even the flickering light of my dying lantern, the stench of the dankest alleys, and the scratch of every whirling piece of trash whispering threats in my ear didn’t discourage me.”

Miriam looked around to make sure no one could overhear us and then lowered her voice to an intimate pitch.

“And I permit her to write about me because she plays fair. She gives her readers all the clues so they have a good chance of not just helping me but coming up with the solution before me. But I’m proud to say—and forgive me for bragging—no one ever has.”

“What’s been your most mystifying case?”

“I think my latest one because it was so complex. June has called it The Deadliest Fever because the definitive clue came from the bite of a rabid bat. She was amazed at how I figured out the connection between a jewel heist in Ephesus—Did you know that the thieves who’d stolen the treasure from the Temple of Artemis sailed here? Anyway, I was able to figure out their connection to the death of a sea captain and the desecration of the Torah mantle in the Great Synagogue.”

“Sounds like quite an adventure. So, how did you get started sleuthing?”

Miriam steepled both hands and pressed her index fingers to her lips. Then she folded both hands in her lap. “June wrote about that in The Deadliest Lie, her first book about me. During my family’s Shabbat dinner, documents were stolen from my home, records so valuable that the bearer, if caught, could be summarily executed.” Miriam spread her palms open on the table. “So, of course, I had to get them back, if only to save the thief’s life. That meant I had to find out who stole them, and I had to do it fast.”

“What are June’s plans for you now?”

Miriam tilted her head slightly and gently stroked her chin. “She’s written a fifth book, The Deadliest Thief. She hasn’t let me read it yet—it won’t be released until next year—but she says it’s about when my Phoebe was kidna—”

Alarm flickered in Miriam’s eyes.

Her mouth hinged open.

“Phoebe? You were saying Ph—”

“Oh, Dia. Over there. Someone has a dagger—Can’t explain now—Just a few words about my chronicler. June Trop has a website, You can learn about me and her books—four out already—even read an excerpt or buy them right there simply by clicking.”

With that, Miriam wheeled out of her chair, nearly toppling it over as I called to her back, “Thank you, Miria—” And then, turning to the crowd that had gathered before us, I announced, “Mystery lovers, you can read all about my interview with the intrepid Miriam bat Isaac as soon as I can post it on the bulletin board by the East Gate.”

Saturday 1 September 2018

Dancing With Myself: SARALYN RICHARD interviews SARALYN RICHARD

In today’s “Dancing with Myself,” Saralyn Richard, author of MURDER IN THE ONE PERCENT (US) and NAUGHTY NANA, interviews herself.

INTERVIEWER:  Thanks for inviting us into your family room today. Lovely décor, and your Old English sheepdog, Nana, is quite lovely.

SR: My pleasure. Nana and I both enjoy having company. And I’m sure you’ve noticed that Nana is no longer naughty, as she once was.

INTERVIEWER:  So the children’s book, NAUGHTY NANA, is fact-based, then?

SR:  Yes, it is. Just picture the wildest, most mischievous puppy you’ve ever known, and that was Nana. She was in the top one percent of naughty dogs worldwide.

INTERVIEWER:  Speaking of the top one percent, let’s switch gears to your new murder mystery, MURDER IN THE ONE PERCENT. What made you decide to, er, switch gears from children’s literature to writing about murder?

SR:  It wasn’t really a huge leap, since there is a bit of a mystery to solve in NAUGHTY NANA, and if Nana hadn’t learned to be nice, there might have been a bit of a murder there, too. In truth, I was always on a road to be a mystery writer, and I’ve read and enjoyed an estimated ten thousand murder mysteries. The children’s book was a gratifying side path along the way.

INTERVIEWER:  So, (looking around the family room) I’m noticing that you don’t appear to be in the actual top one percent. Why did you choose to write about the ultra-wealthy, and how did you know so much about how they live?

SR:  You’re right. By some statistics, to be in the top one percent in New York City, one would have to have an annual income of $2,006,632. I would have to sell a lot of books to get there. I’ve always been fascinated by wealth and how it affects the people who have it, who don’t have it, and who had it and lost it. It took quite a bit of research to learn about the ways of the rich and powerful, but in general people were happy to help me write with authenticity. I even had the pleasure of attending an extravagant dinner party just like the one in the book.

INTERVIEWER:  Your book takes place in New York and in the horse country of Pennsylvania, yet many reviewers compare it to Agatha Christie’s British parlor mysteries. Can you explain why?

SR:  I suppose there are more cultural similarities than differences between ultra-wealthy men and women in England and in America. I binge-read Agatha Christie novels many years ago, and I suppose they left an imprint on my imagination. I also binge-watched Downton Abbey, and before that, Dallas. That long fascination with the wealthy I mentioned earlier apparently crossed the ocean and back.

INTERVIEWER:  Some readers have seen similarities between your characters and wealthy individuals who are in power in America today. Would you care to comment?

SR:  MURDER IN THE ONE PERCENT is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to people living or dead is purely coincidental…

INTERVIEWER:  That seems to roll off your tongue, but, really, are any characters patterned after real people?

SR:  Not in my mind. Remember, the book was written awhile ago, and people rotate in and out of the public eye over time. That said, I believe that once a book is published, it no longer belongs to the author. It belongs to the reader. So if a character resonates with a reader in a specific way and reminds him of a living person, far be it from me to shoot that down.

INTERVIEWER:  While we’re on the subject of characters, which character resonates most with you?

SR:  I was afraid you’d ask that question. It’s a little like asking which of your children is your favorite. Even if there is one, I’d feel guilty to name him. Truthfully, there is a piece of me in every character, even the most heinous. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to create him, give him actions, put words in his mouth. I am partial to all of them, but for different reasons. Preston Phillips, for example, is deliciously wicked. He says and does the most outrageous things, and he is so much fun to put on paper. Andrea and I share a number of characteristics, since she is a relatively down-to-earth crime writer, but I’m neither an equestrian or a billionaire, so the resemblance stops there. Detective Oliver Parrott, though African-American and male (neither of which am I), is probably the character who resonates most with me. He is clever and ambitious, has a strong moral compass, and approaches his job with a large dose of humanity. He’s not perfect, but he’s got a good heart and he works hard.

INTERVIEWER:  Congratulations on selecting a highly unusual murder weapon. Would you tell us how you came to use palytoxin?

SR:  I’m a person who faints at the sight of blood, so early on, I knew I wouldn’t have my victim mucked up. I purchased a book about poisons and read it from cover to cover, looking for one that would match the circumstances of my characters and plot. (My husband became a little anxious over my bedtime reading material.) With over a hundred different options, I couldn’t find a single poison that fit, and I was discouraged to the point of considering scrapping the whole idea. Then a friend of mine, who is a doctor, read about this “new” naturally-occurring poison whose symptoms look like a heart attack. It was perfect for the story.

INTERVIEWER:  You must be gratified with the excellent reviews MURDER IN THE ONE PERCENT is receiving. What’s next for you and for Detective Parrott?

SR:  Having a successful debut novel is a little like hitting the lottery on the first ticket. One might think that would be enough excitement to last for a lifetime, but actually, it just fuels the fire for the next book. I’ve completed a standalone mystery, and I’m working on another Parrott novel.  Both Parrott and I are just getting started.

INTERVIEWER:  Coming full circle, I can’t help but ask this last question. Why did you give Parrott a pet cockatiel, instead of a fluffy sheepdog like Nana?

SR:  Haha! It’s funny how every interview starts and ends with Nana. I considered having Nana make a guest appearance in MURDER IN THE ONE PERCENT, sort of like Hitchcock’s bits in his movies or Toulouse Lautrec’s images in his paintings, but it just didn’t seem practical for a detective who lived alone and worked crazy hours to care for a sheepdog, who requires constant attention and grooming. Horace, the talking bird, seemed a better fit for Parrott’s lifestyle. He was a gift from Parrott’s fiancée Tonya, and he serves as a kind of Greek chorus throughout the book. I checked with Nana before sending off the manuscript, and she was okay with sharing the spotlight. She likes her role as narrator of NAUGHTY NANA better anyway.

INTERVIEWER: Well, that concludes our interview for the “Dancing with Myself” column. Thank you for your time. I’ll just mosey back into the office now and work on a new chapter.