Thursday, August 31, 2023

Book Blitz & Giveaway: Beer Fest (European City Breaks, #2) by Lilo Moore


European City Breaks
Lilo Moore

Adult / Comedy / Contemporary / Romance
Publisher: LM Books
Page count: 316 pages
Publication date: September 1, 2023


Two best friends, a tipsy Oktoberfest dare and one kiss that could change everything.

It’s been fifteen years since big-shot marketing manager Fi first met her bi best friend Max. Living on different continents has had its challenges, but she’s determined that their friendship will be as strong as ever when she arrives in Munich for an Oktoberfest reunion with their study abroad friends. There’s no one she loves like her Max, even if he has finally grown up a bit and now runs a microbrewery.

But instead of lazy conversations and comfortable day-drinking, as they’d always done when they were younger, the reunion is a slightly desperate meeting of disillusioned millennials escaping real life – until Fi’s jetlagged, drunken rant about being a woman working in beer marketing goes viral and they’re roped into a bad-taste beerfest challenge. As she and Max and their friends from the international dorm tackle fairground stunts, physical challenges and bad karaoke, the one dare that changes everything is the simplest: kiss your teammate.

Now she can’t stop thinking about him in a very more-than-friends kind of way. When kissing leads to more and she discovers that her screwball best friend can talk dirty and light the sheets on fire in the bedroom, she can’t help seeing the years of their friendship in a new – and terrifying – light.

As the challenge progresses with thrill rides, pretzels, lots of lederhosen and a little public nudity, the dares are actually fun, when Fi completes them on her own terms. But the truth questions present the biggest danger to her future. What happens to her precious friendship – and her big promotion – when she admits to herself just how much Max means to her?

A spicy romcom with a bit of snark and a lot of swoon, for fans of Helen Hoang and Christina Lauren.


‘Fi and Max are single, so no drama, right?’ Isobel said. ‘You guys have probably kissed before.’

I tried to resist, but my gaze snapped to his. ‘Eh… no, we haven’t,’ Max admitted, still looking warily at me.

‘Never? Not even while drunk?’

‘Is it that hard to believe?’ I mumbled.

‘I mean, I know Max likes guys, but I thought he liked girls, too.’

He coughed and I wasn’t sure if he was laughing or choking. ‘I like women,’ he confirmed. ‘There are probably a lot of reasons why we never kissed before, but it won’t be a problem now.’

I stared at him, suddenly wondering what all those reasons were, when a moment ago, it had been self-evident to me why we’d never kissed. We’d never been into each other that way. But he’d said it wouldn’t be a problem now, as though he knew the filthy thoughts I’d been having about his mouth. I gulped.

He leaned towards me and I bent away instinctively. Thoughts flickering dangerously in his eyes, he blinked, and the next thing I knew, his hand was clamped around the back of my neck and he was holding me where I was – and sending shots of adrenaline down my spine.

As he brought his face close, I caught the scent of him, not the cheap deodorant he used to use but something spicy and a little bit older man that did something crazy to my hormones. His breath gusted over my cheek and, after one more pensive glance, his eyes drifted closed. Unable to stand the proximity, my eyes did the same, but it only set off all my other senses, especially the way the tiny hairs on my skin detected his nearness.

My mouth dropped open on a gasp.


Lilo Moore is the steamy romantic comedy pen name of travel romance author Leonie Mack. She lives among vineyards in Germany, creating fictional worlds and counting down to her next trip.
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Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Blurb Blitz & Giveaway: Nonbinary, Trans, Pan, and Lovesick by E.S. Corby

E.S. Corby

LBGTQ Poetry
Publisher: Your Book Angel
Publication Date: July 19, 2023
 Page count: 80 pages

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions
Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.



Sex is awkward! Gender is confusing!

Discovering his gender and sexual identities in the lonely dungeon of the pandemic, Echo Corby found an outlet through poetry. Graduating high school as everyone was thrust into isolation, friends were hard to find and love was even harder. Loneliness made him crave connection even more, but what did he like and who would love him?

Piecing together the queer world, Corby uses comedy and anecdote to express the uncomfortable ins and awkward outs of gender, sex, love and all outrage that comes with categorization. This collection of autobiographical poetry is a form of release and expression of the vibrant emotions that so many of the LGBTQIA+ community struggle with.

Corby prides himself as an open-book. The vulnerability enclosed within these pages proves as much.


My Name is Not my Pronoun

No, sir/madam,
My name is not my pronoun.

Yes, sir/madam,
I have a pronoun and it is not my name.
Nor is it “it.”
My pronouns are he/him, she/her, they/them, xe/xem.

Yes, sir/madam,
I did say, “I’m happy as long as you’re trying.”
That does not mean I am an object, or a time period, or a figure of speech,
Where you can replace my pronoun with my name.

Why, sir/madam?
Why do I feel the need to correct you when you’ve corrected yourself?
Because when you say the wrong pronoun, then in an effort to fix your mistake, repeat the sentence only with the pronoun replaced by my name…
That disrespects me,
And my choice,
To go by he/him, she/her, they/them, xe/xem.
You disrespect me and my pronoun.

My pronoun is meant to present myself as the male I truly am, or the female I was always meant to be,
It’s meant to scrap aside the foolishness of gender when you call me they/xe instead of she/he.
You’ve prevented yourself from calling me the wrong thing, yes,
But have you committed yourself to getting it right?
Or have you replaced my pronoun,
With my name?

How does it sound, sir/madam,
When I say, “Oliver walked Oliver’s dog through Oliver’s neighborhood before Oliver stopped Oliver, realizing Oliver’s keys were still at Oliver’s home.”
It sounds like shit, doesn’t it?

I am not subterranean to you, sir/madam, who walks at ground level.
Nor am I standing on your shoulders; I walk beside you—
See me there?
I just want to be level with you, sir/madam.
I prefer to be your partner, not your butler.
When we stand on either end of a scale, I want us to weigh the same.

So, no, sir/madam,
My name is not my pronoun.
My name is who I am, my pronoun is what I am.
I am a he/him, she/her, they/them, xe/xem.
And a human being.


Having started writing “seriously” as an ignorant fourteen-year-old, Echo has progressed in his writing and editing skills since finding the inspiration in middle school. His whole life, his imagination has always driven him in the creative writing and arts fields. The imagination of childhood has never left him but has evolved into something malleable to his career and tolerable in his vocabulary and sentence structure. Echo’s writing and other creative endeavors have deep relevance to his personal life, as his characters, world and themes always reflect aspects of his personality and identity in ways that may go beyond the average reader’s comprehension. Often writers add elements of themselves to their characters, as it is easier to write what we know, but Echo goes beyond that in exploring deeply sentimental to traumatic elements in his life as a form of therapy for himself and others tackling similar internal conflicts. As a trans masc, nonbinary, pansexual man discovering his identity in the middle of a pandemic, his writing also acts as a way of exploring himself deeper as well as dealing with mental health issues he has been struggling with his whole life. Writing is both deeply personal for him and also something he has always wanted to share with the world. He feels emotions are better told then hidden and that building a community is extremely important to recovery and rejuvenation.


The author will award a $20 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner.

Monday, August 28, 2023

Virtual Book Tour & Giveaway: The Body in the Back Garden (Crescent Cove Mystery, #1) by Mark Maddell


The Body in the Back Garden
A Crescent Cove Mystery
Mark Waddell

Queer Cozy ("Quozy") Mystery
1st in Series
Setting - The fictional town of Crescent Cove on Vancouver Island, Canada
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: August 22, 2023
Hardcover page count: ‎ 272 pages
ISBN-10: 1639104402 / ISBN-13: 978-1639104406
Digital ASIN: B0BN582M9W



In this queer cozy series debut perfect for fans of Ellen Byron and Ellery Adams, Luke Tremblay is about to discover that Crescent Cove has more than its fair share of secrets…and some might be deadlier than others.

Crescent Cove, a small hamlet on Vancouver Island, is the last place out-of-work investigative journalist Luke Tremblay ever wanted to see again. He used to spend summers here, until his family learned that he was gay and rejected him. Now, following his aunt’s sudden death, he’s inherited her entire estate, including her seaside cottage and the antiques shop she ran for forty years in Crescent Cove. Luke plans to sell everything and head back to Toronto as soon as he can…but Crescent Cove isn’t done with him just yet.

When a stranger starts making wild claims about Luke’s aunt, Luke sends him packing. The next morning, though, Luke discovers that the stranger has returned, and now he’s lying dead in the back garden. To make matters worse, the officer leading the investigation is a handsome Mountie with a chip on his shoulder who seems convinced that Luke is the culprit. If he wants to prove his innocence and leave this town once and for all, Luke will have to use all his skills as a journalist to investigate the colorful locals while coming to terms with his own painful past.

There are secrets buried in Crescent Cove, and the more Luke digs, the more he fears they might change the town forever.



The drive back to the cottage took no more than five minutes, and when I got there, I found a Jeep Wrangler with RCMP markings waiting for me. My heart sank. I really didn’t want a third encounter with the police today.

With some reluctance, I trudged around the side of the cottage and found Jack Munro waiting for me, brawny arms folded across his tactical vest as he gazed out at the sea. My heart sank even further, but also fluttered a little as well. I had no idea how to behave around him now that I knew he was my old friend.

As I approached, shoes crunching on the stone path, he turned to face me. I paused. Jack looked mad. His square jaw was clenched and his eyebrows were drawn downwards in a fierce glower.

Uh oh.

“We need to talk,” he informed me, and I nodded jerkily after a moment’s hesitation.

“Sure. Okay. Do you want to come inside?”

With a shake of his head, Jack then advanced towards me until he was close enough that I had to look up into his face. “I want to know why you lied to me.”

I had to work moisture back into my mouth before I could reply. “What do you mean?”

“I spoke with Aleesha Perkins.” At my blank stare, he added, “Her mom runs the greengrocers in town. She delivered some groceries here yesterday.”

Oh yeah. I nodded again, mutely.

“Aleesha claims that she witnessed you assault Joel Mackenzie and then threaten him.” Jack’s resonant baritone was tight with anger. “Is that true?”

“I wouldn’t say assault, exactly,” I hedged. “I did push him, that’s true.”

“She says you pushed him off the front porch and that he landed on his back on the ground.”

“Uh. Yes.” Jack’s eyes narrowed and I added hurriedly, “But he provoked me. He called my aunt a thief and said she got what was coming to her. I…I got upset and pushed him harder than I intended.”

“And then threatened him.”

“No!” I protested. “No, I just told him that if he came back here he’d regret it.” I paused. “Okay. That sounds bad, I admit. But I didn’t mean anything by it. It wasn’t a threat.”

Jack said nothing. His features, familiar and yet not, were completely blank.

On a rising tide of panic, I reached out involuntarily and grasped his forearm. “Jack, please. Please believe me. I did not kill Joel Mackenzie. I didn’t see him again until I found his body this morning. I know how this looks, but…”

Jack stepped back from me, breaking my hold on his arm. “You assaulted and threatened a man who later turned up dead on your property, Luke.” His voice was cool now, dispassionate. “And you have no alibi for last night. How this looks is extremely bad for you.”

My feeling of panic increased as I stared up at him. “But you know me. You know I would never—”

He cut me off with brutal finality. “I used to know you. I’m not sure I do anymore.”

I had no response to that. There was nothing left to say. My panic slowly subsided, leaving hurt and fear in its wake.

A deep silence fell between us. Waves crashed in the distance and gulls screeched overhead. 
“Is there anything else you want to tell me?” he finally asked. “Because if there is anything, you need to tell me now.”

I shook my head once. “There isn’t anything,” I said, barely able to speak through the tightness in my throat.

He nodded without taking his eyes off me. “I strongly advise you to stay put here at the cottage while we continue our investigation.”

I said nothing, and after a long pause Jack brushed past me as he headed back to his Jeep. I watched him go with something close to despair.

I was now the only suspect in a murder, and the person in charge of investigating that murder clearly disliked me. I wanted to trust that Jack would figure out who the killer was rather than pin this on me, but given our recent interactions, that seemed far from certain. If I didn’t want to end up in prison, there was only one option left.

I needed to solve this myself.

Coming soon!


Mark is originally from Calgary, Alberta, and grew up on the cold, windswept Prairies of western Canada. Fleeing southward, he earned a Ph.D. in the history of science, medicine, and technology from the Johns Hopkins University and then worked as a professor at Michigan State University for fifteen years. Finally, he persuaded his amazing husband to move to Vancouver Island, where they now live. When he's not writing stories about murderous Canadians, he plays the viola in the Civic Orchestra of Victoria, walks his dogs along the seashore, and thinks up interesting ways to kill people.


August 15 – Cozy Up WIth Kathy – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
August 16 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
August 17 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW
August 18 – StoreyBook Reviews – AUTHOR GUEST POST
August 20 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee – SPOTLIGHT
August 21 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT
August 22 – Sapphyria's Book Reviews – REVIEW
August 23 – Rebecca M. Douglass, Author – REVIEW, AUTHOR GUEST POST
August 24 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
August 24 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT
August 25 – Read Your Writes Book Reviews- AUTHOR INTERVIEW
August 26 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT
August 27 – Maureen's Musings – SPOTLIGHT
August 28 – Guatemala Paula Loves to Read – REVIEW
August 28 – Melina's Book Blog – REVIEW


Sunday, August 27, 2023

To Die A Hero (An Orion Federation series novella) by Jack Heape

To Die A Hero: An Orion Federation Series NovellaTo Die A Hero: An Orion Federation Series Novella by Jack Heape
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The action was fast and furious, and I could feel the adrenaline rush and chaos of the scenes.

To Die A Hero is the story of the first days of Federation Navy pilot, Ensign Caroline “CJ” Jacquier, during her assignment to a Falcon squadron aboard the Federation space vessel, Essex. However, this almost “Day in the Life” style story occurs just as the Federation launches a counter-operation to halt a rebellion led by a group known as the “Jacks” on the planet Lille.

CJ is a confident and straightforward character, and with good reason. Although new to the pilot ranks, she’s a six-year military veteran, having worked up to her new position. I appreciated the firsthand look into her backstory that added extra dimensions to her character (i.e., not having the full support of her family.) CJ immediately begins building trust and rapport with her crewmates. She determines the preferences of her supervisor to better fulfill her role as a team member. I especially liked how she is always mindful of the rest of her crew and their needs, drawing on her years of experience being in their shoes. It is poignant meeting her squadron mates, knowing that this is a time of war, and all these young men and women are headed for an uncertain future.

This author does a superior job of placing the reader on location with his characters, subtly informing us about terminology and acronyms, staffing structure, and routines along the way. This is especially helpful to readers lacking familiarity in this area.

The action sequences came fast and furiously, and I could feel the adrenaline rush and chaos of the scenes. The moments when there’s not enough information coming in are frightening yet exhilarating when the crew members perform as they’ve been trained, even while functioning in the blind.

CJ’s story is set in the world author Jack Heape has built for his excellent Orion Federation series, and I recommend TO DIE A HERO to fans of the series and military science fiction.

View all my reviews

Friday, August 25, 2023

Virtual Book Tour & Giveaway: 25 to Life (Jack Bertolino, #5) by John Lansing

25 to Life by John Lansing Banner

25 to Life

by John Lansing

August 21 - September 15, 2023 Virtual Book Tour


25 to Life by John Lansing

25 to Life is the fifth and latest installment in the Jack Bertolino series, written by John Lansing in the propulsive, cinematic, page-turning style he has become known for.

Gloria Millhouse, a beautiful African American law student, is working with the Project for the Innocent. She has done extensive research on inmate Carl Forbes, who she believes was wrongfully arrested, convicted and incarcerated for a crime he didn't commit, the sexual assault and brutal murder of a teenage girl in Los Angeles twenty-three years ago. Gloria dies in a car crash on Malibu Canyon Road after questioning powerful, politically-connected men who were witnesses at Carl's trial and knew the victim personally. Private investigator Jack Bertolino is brought on to discover the truth behind Gloria's death. Was her crash simply a random accident or a conspiracy to prevent the courts from reopening the case and granting Carl Forbes a new trial? Jack believes that Gloria was murdered, and as the body count rises, it becomes clear that if Jack can find Gloria's killer, he will also find the man responsible for the teenager's assault and murder. And Carl Forbes can walk out of prison a free man.

Praise for 25 to Life:

“Los Angeles–based private investigator delves into a murder with ties to a wrongfully convicted man in Lansing’s detective novel.”
“The author packs this latest installment in the Jack Bertolino series with new and returning characters. Gloria’s mysterious death is the catalyst, but it’s this vibrant cast that truly propels the tense narrative. The author’s incisive writing sets Jack on the investigation right away, and succinct chapters breeze by as he compiles a suspect list and looks into a host of crimes. Even as the culprits become more apparent, Jack must still prove they’re guilty. It all leads to a superb ending and the unmistakable sense that this series is nowhere close to slowing down.”
“Razor-sharp characters propel a taut, suspenseful thriller.”
~ Kirkus Reviews

Book Details:

Genre: Crime/Thriller
Published by: White Street Press
Publication Date: September 5, 2023
Number of Pages: 276
ISBN: 979-8-9885 166-1-3
Series: The Jack Bertolino Series, 5
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | More

Read an excerpt:


Gloria was embarrassingly beautiful first thing in the morning. Her lively intelligent eyes, were the color of cocoa. Her perfect skin was a shade darker. She blew steam over the rim of her coffee cup, steeling herself for the day. Gloria mentally repeated the bullet points she wanted to make with her next group of interviewees.

Mug shots of Carl Forbes, a teenage African American boy, were taped to her mirror. A daily reminder of her life’s work. She quickly gathered her overflowing briefcase and iPad, and locked the apartment door behind her.

Gloria slid behind the wheel of her Fiat, the color of a pistachio, and headed for her first appointment with Councilman Mark Corcoran.

Gloria’s interview with the councilman wasn’t going well. Saying she worked with Project for the Innocent did her no good. Corcoran had agreed to give her ten minutes of his time, but the officious man had already checked his watch twice.

“I’m a big fan of your program,” Corcoran said. His unblinking eyes used to intimidate had no effect on Gloria. “But I believe your client is a guilty man. I followed the case—hell, we all knew the kid. Quiet type, lived a few blocks over, didn’t run with our set. Hard to believe him capable of such brutality, but he confessed to the crime.”

Gloria was prepared for this. “Carl says the arresting officers tortured the confession out of him. He was seventeen years old. Thirty-six hours without food or bathroom facilities. And look at the photograph, it’s clear he’d been beaten.”

The councilman glanced at the photo and handed it back. “He was picked out of a lineup.”

“Eyewitnesses are notoriously undependable. If the cops coerced the confession, it’s not a stretch to think they might have manipulated the lineup. And none of his DNA was found on, or in the victim’s body. Shelley Goldstein had been sexually assaulted before she was murdered. I believe Carl was set up. He’s already served twenty-three years for a murder he didn’t commit.”

Corcoran wasn’t moved. “Shelley was a lovely rich girl. None of the boys in our neighborhood stood a chance in hell with her. Sorry, but there’s nothing more I can add.”

“I was told you had a big crush on her.”

“We all had crushes on her. Who were you talking to?” All attitude now.

“I don’t reveal sources.”

Corcoran rose from his power desk, “Good luck with the case. I respect what you’re doing.”

Gloria understood an exit line when she heard one. She nodded, and walked out.

Gloria was early for her next interview. She grabbed a latte from her favorite coffee house, and took a window seat. She called Professor Ted Andrews who ran Project for the Innocent and filled him in on her less than stellar performance. Her mentor wasn’t pleased.

“It’s a little early in the game to be burning bridges” Ted said.

“I know, you’re right. I get it. But he was so arrogant.”

“Don’t beat yourself up. You’re doing a good job.” Ted counseled her to take a few days, consolidate her notes, and then they’d revisit the case. Not what Gloria wanted to hear. And then as an afterthought, “I think I’m being followed.”

That caught the professor’s attention. Gloria explained it was an SUV with tinted windows. She’d picked up a strange vibe. She made a few off-the-wall turns, and he was gone. She started questioning herself, said it was probably nothing. The professor reminded her when they exonerate one of their clients, someone else’s career and reputation sustains damage. It’s a dangerous business. He tells her to trust her instincts. Gloria took that to heart and signed off.

Hanna Cook was standing on the postage-sized porch of a tired California bungalow in Del Rey. She was pushing fifty but giving sixty a run for its money.

“So, what can I tell you about the bastard?” Hanna asked, droll.

Gloria shared a conspiratorial grin. Put the subject at ease, she’d been taught, and they might share their secrets.

“Do you remember the case? It was back in 2000. The sexual assault and brutal murder of a young co-ed.” Gloria reached into her briefcase, “This is a picture of Carl when he was seventeen.” She handed Hanna the photo.

“What did Kevin have to do with it?”

“I was hoping you could tell me. He’s on record as being part of the team who arrested the young man.”

“No,” she said wistfully, handing the photo back. “The less I knew, the better off I was. Kevin was an angry man who never should’ve been a cop. Went to his head. That, and the rye whiskey. Only thing that made him feel good … then it made him mean. When he wasn’t getting his kicks arresting dirt-bags, he’d start in on me.”

“Was he ever cited for physical violence?”

“Once or twice. It wasn’t like it is now. People with their cell phones, and cameras. And just try to arrest a cop back then for slapping around his wife…”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Gloria said, and decided to drop the hammer. “Carl claims your ex, and his partner, beat him into giving a false confession.”

Hanna considered that. “I almost shot Kevin one night. Had his gun. He woke up staring down the barrel. I started to cry and he slapped the thing out of my hands and gave me something to cry about. First call I made after they unwired my jaw was to a lawyer.”

The conversation was going nowhere. Nothing but conjecture to corroborate her inmate’s story.

It was dusk as Gloria made her way toward Twin Dragon Restaurant. She glanced in the rearview mirror and saw a gray Ford Expedition several lengths behind her. Was it the same SUV she saw before? There were lots of SUVs in LA. When she checked again, it was gone.

Gloria pulled her car onto the side street next to the restaurant. All was quiet. She draped a sweater over her briefcase in the rear compartment, locked up, and hoofed it around to the front entrance to pick up her order.

Five minutes in and out. When Gloria emerged, her hands were full and the smell was incredible. She rounded the corner—and had to look twice to make sense out of what she was seeing. Broken shards of glass fanned out around the back of her car. She took another tentative step forward and could clearly see the shattered rear window of her Fiat.

Her heart pounded, and her breath came in fits and starts. She prayed she was wrong. Yet as she neared her car, her worst fears were realized.

Her briefcase was gone.

Her throat went dry, and she stifled tears. She set the bag of food on top of her car and took in the scene. She looked around her car, checked the traffic on Pico, and the quiet side street for anything out of the ordinary.

Nothing. No one who could have witnessed the break-in. No one who cared that she was caught in a nightmare.

Gloria did a quick mental inventory of everything in her briefcase and came to the sickening realization her iPad and four months of hard work had been stolen. In some instances, information and notes of interviews that took hours to create, and hadn’t been copied. The flood gates opened and tears streamed down her cheeks. Light-headed, she had to lean against the car to keep her balance.

Was it an opportunistic crime? The thief saw an object, did a smash and grab. Could it have been that simple?

What else could it have been? The SUV? Gloria knew she was paranoid now. Scared silly. She grabbed a few napkins out of her takeout order and whisked the shards of glass that had landed on her front seats onto the curb. She turned on her headlights and pulled out, driving toward home.

Her head was still swimming. Gloria pulled to a stop, grabbed her cell phone and called her father.

After she told him what had happened, he quickly replied:

“Look, darling, don’t go home to an empty apartment,” he said with a tenderness that belied his courtroom reputation. “I don’t want you to be alone. Drive over the hill and spend the night. We can file a police report in the morning and set you up with a rental car.”

“I’ve got Chinese.”

“Shrimp with black bean sauce?”

“And Kung Pao.”

“I’ll chill the chardonnay. I don’t want you to worry. Drive safely, honey.”

“Okay, Dad. Thank you.”

Gloria clicked off, feeling loved, and headed for the Las Virgenes exit off the 101.

Malibu Canyon Road was two lanes of driving pleasure. Winding blacktop cutting through deep canyons and steep cliffs with sandstone outcroppings. It came to a dramatic end, revealing the Pacific Ocean and Malibu.

She took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. The missing rear window of her Fiat created a strange whistle as she powered the small car around the curves at forty-five miles an hour. Her rumbling stomach got the better of her, and Gloria rummaged around the bag with one hand and plucked out a dumpling. She smiled, took a bite, and glanced at the rearview mirror.

A large SUV appeared around one rocky turn, moving fast, and she hoped the driver wasn’t going to be a pain, and force her to pick up the pace.

Gloria made short work of the dumpling and used two hands to maneuver around a tight curve. Her discomfort swelled as she realized the SUV was closing the distance. Headlights on high beam. Her body tensed as she realized the vehicle bearing down on her was a gray Ford Expedition.

Gloria wondered if she was going mad. It looked like the same car she’d seen before. No, it was impossible, she thought, but picked up her pace. Fifty miles an hour was pushing it around the tight curves, and as fast as she was willing to go. Screw the driver.

The SUV was tracking her now. Tight on her fender. Headlights blinding. She grabbed her cell phone and hit her father’s number with one hand. Gloria slid around the next turn, and the phone dropped out of her hand.

“Back off!” she shouted over the whine of air thundering through the broken rear window as her speedometer hit sixty miles an hour. The SUV loomed in her rearview and she instinctively pushed the car to sixty-five, white-knuckling the steering wheel.

Gloria drifted over the broken white line as a car blasted by from the opposite direction, horn blaring, scaring the crap out of her. She came dangerously close to skidding onto the narrow gravel shoulder and colliding with the sheer cliff face.

And then, oh Christ, she felt the SUV nudge the back of her car.

Gloria stomped pedal-to-metal. Her small sedan rocketed to seventy miles an hour.

The SUV tapped her rear bumper again.

Gloria’s eyes teared. She was losing it but fought to keep the car on the road.

The SUV slammed into her harder. “Stop it!” she cried.

And then the power punch. Five thousand pounds of steel rammed her compact car.

Gloria couldn’t hear her squealing tires over the sound of her own screams as she went into a death spin.

Gloria knew she was going to die a moment before her car came out of the 360 on the opposite side of the road, barreling toward the cliff at seventy miles an hour.

Her Fiat smashed into the rocky berm and went airborne.

Time stood still.

The only sound: the whistling wind and Gloria’s beating heart.

The rock-strewn riverbed grew in size, filling her field of vision as she dropped out of the sky and bore witness to her impending death.

The pistachio Fiat that had brought Gloria so much joy in life burst into flames on impact and enveloped her broken body.


Excerpt from 25 to Life by John Lansing. Copyright 2023 by John Lansing. Reproduced with permission from John Lansing. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:

John Lansing

John Lansing is the author of four thrillers featuring Jack Bertolino—The Devil’s Necktie, Blond Cargo, Dead Is Dead, and The Fourth Gunman—as well as the true-crime non-fiction book Good Cop Bad Money, written with former NYPD Inspector Glen Morisano. He has been a writer and supervising producer on Walker, Texas Ranger, the co-executive producer of the ABC series Scoundrels, and co-wrote two MOWs for CBS. The Devil’s Necktie is in development at Andria Litto’s Amuse Entertainment, with Barbara DeFina attached as a producer.

A native of Long Island, John now resides in Los Angeles.

Find out more on:
BookBub - @JohnLansing
Instagram - @johnlansingauthor
Twitter - @jelansing
Facebook - @devilsnecktie



Tour Participants:

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Thursday, August 24, 2023

Deadly Depths by John F. Dobbyn

Deadly DepthsDeadly Depths by John F. Dobbyn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This story grabbed me from the start, and I told my friends and family about it before I was done!

Deadly Depths is a new suspense-filled thriller that will take readers across the globe in search of truth and treasure. The engaging protagonist puts his life on the line out of love and loyalty to an older couple when his friend and mentor, renowned archaeologist Professor Barrington Holmes’s murder is staged to look like a suicide, leaving behind a devastated widow and lots of unanswered questions. He vows to find out who is responsible and bring them to justice.

The main character, Matthew Shane, is likable, loyal, and a man of his word. Professor Holmes was a friend, mentor, and second father to him, so he has a deep emotional connection to the man and his widow, Mary. His unique background as a former United States Air Force investigator gives him the skills necessary to pursue the answers he and Mary crave.

Matthew’s search takes him to various interesting destinations, such as the home cities of the professor’s archaeological colleagues, who have dubbed themselves The Monkey’s Paw Society. The author does a fantastic job of giving each location an identifiable sense of place. However, early on in the adventure, New Orleans and Bayou St. Germaine became my favorites. (I swear I could hear the mosquitoes!)

At every turn, sinister sorts step out of the shadows, increasing the ever-present feeling of menace. I was never certain who could be trusted. There are plot twists that completely alter the direction of Matthew’s investigation; still, it all links together. There is even a compelling story within the story that was fascinating all on its own.

With an engaging hero, adventuresome plot, creative settings, little-known histories, and even romance, I recommend DEADLY DEPTHS to readers who enjoy action adventures, thrillers, and suspense.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author through Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Virtual Book Tour & Giveaway: Smash, Smash, Smash: The True Story of Kai the Hitchhiker by Philip Fairbanks

Smash, Smash, Smash: The True Story of Kai the Hitchhiker by Philip Fairbanks Banner

Smash, Smash, Smash:

The True Story of Kai the Hitchhiker

by Philip Fairbanks

August 7 - September 1, 2023 Virtual Book Tour


Smash, Smash, Smash: The True Story of Kai the Hitchhiker by Philip Fairbanks

"That woman was in danger, so I ran up behind him with a hatchet... Smash, smash, SUH-MASH!!!"

Millions of people heard these words and shared the viral video with their friends. This mysterious surfing hitchhiker then vanished as quickly as he appeared, only to reappear on many late night talk shows and fan videos. But 3 months later, he was arrested and charged with killing a prominent New Jersey lawyer... in self defense against a sex assault.

Who is this mysterious hitchhiker? What was with that lawyer who drugged and assaulted him? Why would the investigators destroy evidence, tamper with witnesses, and shut the public out of the trial?

For almost a decade, the public was kept in the dark: until investigative journalist Philip Fairbanks searched for the truth in mountains of government records, witness statements, and hard evidence. At long last, he found the answers to these burning, aching questions...

And they will surprise you.

Praise for Smash, Smash, Smash: The True Story of Kai the Hitchhiker:

"Phil is not the kind of journalist who files a story and gets on with his life. That passion and integrity shine through in this book, and generally in the way Phil makes you care about the people he’s covering….

When I read this book, as with so many things Phil has written, I feel that I am in good hands, being carefully guided to the truth."
~ Alissa Fleck
(Newsweek, SF Gate, Houston Chronicle)

"In his latest book, Philip Fairbanks wields a wealth of laboriously earned evidence and detail, the product of five years of research, to tell a harrowing and heartbreaking tale nobody (until him) deemed worthy of telling, and some would rather remain untold….

In his characteristically engaging style and with a dexterous balance of compassion, curiosity, and analysis, the author walks the reader through a hellish nightmare; one that Kai was born into and in which he continues to exist."
~ Wendy Painting, PhD
(Author, Aberration in the Heartland of the Real: The Secret Lives of Timothy McVeigh)

Book Details:

Genre: True Crime
Published by: Is It Wet Yet Press
Publication Date: February 2023
Number of Pages: 456
ISBN: 9781959947998 (ISBN10: 1959947990)
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:


It’s been about five years since my first article about Caleb McGillivary was published in The Inquisitr. Not long after that, I conducted a series of telephone interviews. I was taken aback by how implausible the inherent corruption was: evident in multiple conflicts of interest; and an apparent cover-up during the investigation, that was allowed to go practically unchallenged from the prosecutor’s mouth to the media. All that ugliness nakedly on display surely should have attracted a frenzy of media interest.

Over the years, a sickening realization came to mind. As far as reporters covering the case, I seem to be one of the “experts” if not “an authority.” Certainly, one of the few, if not only, journalists who took the time to check Kai’s claims and allegations against the evidence at hand. It might be kind of nice being a leading authority on some benign subject. Rare arthropods, maybe? I could dig being a foremost authority on some obscure Flemish Renaissance-era painter’s oeuvre, for sure. The gravity of the situation can be almost overwhelming, though, when your expertise is on a subject about which a human life hangs in the balance.

So, you can imagine my mixed feelings when a production company known for prestige projects approached me with the idea of using some of my work in a film for one of the “Big 3” streaming companies.

I was flattered, of course. Probably the first in a wave of emotions to come up. The thought that Kai’s words, from calls I’d recorded, might achieve a bit of immortality. Even better, the prospect that the film could make a difference. Something like The Thin Blue Line, one of the most important and influential works in the entirety of the corpus of “True Crime.” Like Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, it is a work that somehow manages to both define and transcend the boundaries of “True Crime.”

After a few rounds of emails, a call was set up. Everyone I had dealt with was pleasant and nice, but I couldn’t shake the feeling I was being purposefully put at ease. For what reasons I couldn’t tell. Hell, I couldn’t even tell if I was just being paranoid because of my close connection to the story. Admittedly compounded by the investment of time, work, and emotional energy I’d put into it for some years. They understood that I might be quite attached to the story (specifically to the “materials” they wished me to license for their use). And of course, the more I thought about it, the more worried I was about the misrepresentation of my work or Kai himself and the case.

And to be honest, attached is not the right word for this case, or for another case I’ve been working on for the past few years. The second involved a decades- long running fraud ring connected to multiple murders. I finally managed to get some interest from journalist Alissa Fleck (Newsweek, SF Gate, Houston Chronicle, Huffington Post, Adweek, and others). Apart from her, I’d struggled to get any other reporters or outlets to even take a look. That or being ghosted after some initial interest is shown. The situation is similar to the work of Justine Barron, another noteworthy journalist who pursues cases wherever they lead. Whether or not the major papers are interested in doing due diligence themselves. For whatever reason, there are incredibly important stories that are suppressed, sometimes for years. Just look at how Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein, Peter Nygard, and others managed to float along all those years.

With Kai’s case and that of the Texas-based Ponzi ring, I’ve spent years researching and tracking down the truth. In the hopes of holding it to the light. I also got to know the living, breathing humans that exist at the other end of the story. Many of my biggest stories are the smallest ones. For me, success is exposing some injustice or imbalance. Some wrong to be righted. For instance, the honor student nearly expelled over doctor-recommended CBD oil being mistaken for THC oil by an ignorant school administration. The case of a young man selling the herbal plant medicine kratom in Tennessee. A story I covered that would be a turning point in the war for kratom legality in the state. Shortly after the case, the attorney general expressed a formal opinion that the plant was not included in a blanket synthetic drug ban. The couple arrested with kratom in their car. Initially charged with distributing heroin. Their life and small business thrown into disarray as a result. These are stories no one else was telling, or at least not in totality.

In each of those above cases, an eventual positive outcome would be achieved. Even if the only thing I was able to do was to provide some hope to victims of outrageous fortune. To make sure their stories were heard. The result was something I could—and do— take seriously. Something I take pride in. It’s rewarding to have achieved success (by Emerson’s standards anyway) by having made someone breathe a little easier, having made their life a little less hard for the day.

In Kai’s case, the stakes are too high. Not to mention the evidence of corruption is so ample and readily available to just leave it be.

So yes, I suppose that at the very least you could say I was a little “attached” to the story. In my first email back to the production company, I pointed out that I was the sole, or nearly only, source of several salient points of information about the case. That these claims were backed up by evidence released in discovery: crime scene photos, investigative notes, and interviews. They too had read the entirety of the available transcripts, they told me. However, they warned me, that they wouldn’t be “focusing” on the trial or the investigation.

That would be a totally different documentary, they said. My dream of an Errol Morris-style hit film freeing an innocent man were, if not dashed at this point, precariously hanging by a thread like a loose tooth spinning, barely affixed to the gum. So here it was. My Catch-22. My very own Faustian bargain. And though it has been quite a while since I’ve read Goethe, I almost certainly recall there being no section on freeing one’s soul from the grips of Mephistopheles come in the guise of a documentary materials release form. I knew I had no place to tell them what should or should not be in the documentary. That would be, not only in bad taste but a violation of journalistic ethics on my part. That said, I made it clear I would gladly sign over usage rights if they could make sure to include at least a handful of those major facts that point to the cover-up and, dare I say it, yes, a conspiracy that had taken place. It was then made plain and simple to me. The best possible way to get that information, Kai’s side of the story, on the books for them would be to let him speak. Kai had declined involvement with the documentary before they spoke to me, however, and they only used people “directly related” to stories in their documentaries which counted me out.

As it turns out, my fears of potentially making a deal with the devil were unfounded. A producer at the company informed me just as they were going into post-production that they were using other material “to lay out Kai’s defense.” Despite my precautions and concerns, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed after hoping that a tangential connection to a major documentary and my name in the credits might help me get this story the attention it deserves.

No worries, though. The interviews that were licensed for and would have appeared in the documentary were transcribed and will be available online. Links to the recordings on YouTube will be there as well as links to all relevant files, court documents, crime scene photos, and more both in cloud storage and at and

Kai is at the center of the book, but at the same time the book is about how his case is just one of many examples. That’s the scary part. If his case was some crazy exception that’d be awful still; but what’s so chilling is we know about this case only because he was mistaken for someone who wasn’t well known. Galfy wanted a vagrant, somebody who could be used and discarded, someone with no ties; he chose wrong but even so, they were able to do this.

Now imagine if you don’t have worldwide press coverage of your story.


It was a chilly but humid day in Fresno, February 1st, 2013.1 Between the time the frigid, overcast skies broke with sunlight until the day would turn to cold, foggy night several lives would be forever changed. It was the day that Jett Simmons McBride picked up a young “home free” hitchhiker. It was the day that Rayshawn Neely would be nearly crippled. And it was the day that Caleb McGillivary, better known as “Kai the Hatchet-Wielding Hitchhiker” would become a folk hero to millions across the world. Kai earned his “hatchet-wielding hitchhiker” moniker during that first ride that brought him to the attention of the internet at large. Kai had been picked up by Jett Simmons McBride, a 6-foot-4, nearly 300-pound, 54-yearold man who boasted to Kai about raping a 14-year-old girl in the Virgin Islands just before the chaos he would unleash on that fateful Fresno day. McBride also loudly bragged that he was, in fact, Jesus Christ reincarnated.

* Kai’s legal name is Caleb McGillivary, but some court documents and newspaper stories have his name improperly listed as “McGillvary.”

As a result, he reasoned, he could do anything he wanted. As if to prove his point, he took a sharp turn towards some Pacific Gas & Electric employees doing roadwork outside.

“He’s like, well I’ve come to realize I’m Jesus Christ and I can get away with anything I want to. Watch this, and there’s a whole crew of construction people in front of me and most of them jumped aside and one pinned underneath,” Kai explained in the interview that initially made him a star. “He said ‘I am God. I am Jesus. I was sent here to take all the [racial slurs] to heaven,’” Nick Starkey, one of the PG&E workers on the scene claimed. Neely said he never heard the racial slurs, but something about being the victim of attempted vehicular homicide tends to do a number on one’s memory and focus.

McBride pinned Rayshawn Neely against a vehicle at which point, Kai jumped out to help. McBride also attacked a woman on the scene. Kai shared in his memorable interview how he feared McBride might seriously harm her if he didn’t spring into action. The woman on the scene confirmed that Kai had indeed saved her. As Kai put it, without his fortunate appearance at the scene there would have been “hella lot more bodies.” With Rayshawn dangerously pinned by McBride’s vehicle, Tanya Baker, who was at the scene attempted to help him. At this point, McBride turned on her as well.8

“Like a guy that big can snap a woman’s neck like a pencil stick,” Kai explained why he sprung into action. “So I fucking ran up behind him with a hatchet—smash, smash, suh-mash!”

The interview with Jessob Reisbeck made an instant star out of Kai. Something about the heroic encounter, Kai’s character, and his message of redemption resonated within the public consciousness. “Before I say anything else, I want to say no matter what you’ve done, you deserve respect, even if you make mistakes. You’re lovable and it doesn’t matter your looks, skills, or age, or size or anything. You’re worthwhile... no one can take that away from you.”

February 7, 2013, Jessob Reisbeck caught back up with who he described as a “world-class hero.” Reisbeck, who continues to keep in touch with Kai “found him after 5 or 6 days” to conduct a follow-up interview. Kai’s cheeky humor shined through with portions sounding like an Abbott and Costello bit: “What have you been up to since?” “About 6 foot,” Kai replied. He also admitted he didn’t like the idea of a “stereotypical normal life.” That meant, in part, no 9 to 5 job or smartphone to weigh him down. “Are you aware what you’ve become?” Reisbeck asked. “I’ve seen it.” As for his thoughts on the outpouring of support from all over the country even worldwide, Kai’s response was simply: “Shock and awe.” Asked if he was happy about the exciting new world he’d accidentally entered, his reply was simply, “I’d prefer if I was American, but yeah.”

Jessob asked if there was anything else Kai would like to say to “all of your fans right now, because you do have them around the world.” Kai spurned the hero worship. Instead, he offered another simple, heartfelt message to the many who idolized him since the selfless act. “I do not own you, I do not have you, please do not be obsessed. Thank you, love, respect, I value you.” Within 48 hours of the KMPH interview being released and subsequently going viral, Kai was a household name earning accolades and mentions in media worldwide. Philadelphia magazine called Kai “the hero millennials need” in a February 8th article from 2013.

In the next few days, his star would continue to rise as he was featured in Autotune the News. Kai also released a cover of the song “Wagon Wheel.” An IndieGogo page was also set up to get him a new surfboard. The Philly magazine piece marks Kai as emblematic of the millennial generation, especially following the economic upheaval of the 2008 housing bubble which resulted in severe inflation, higher cost of living, and a recession we still haven’t truly escaped.

Just under three weeks out, Kai had his first day in court, perhaps foreshadowing what was to come in just about three months. He had just appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and would now be stealing the show during the preliminary hearing against Jett McBride. Despite some of the urban myths surrounding this story, Kai did not kill McBride. McBride had told his wife that Kai was the “coolest son-of-a-bitch” he had ever met. Even expressing a desire to “adopt” the home free hitchhiker. And spurious claims that Kai may have made up the story of underage rape in the Virgin Islands were refuted by McBride himself admitting the act to police on the scene. Kai’s court appearance inspired laughter and spawned headlines further cementing his place as a beloved character to so many. But by the time Jett Simmons McBride was tried in California, Kai was unable to appear. The lack of one of the primary witnesses in attendance likely altered the disposition of the case according to Scott Baly, McBride’s defense attorney. By January 2014, McBride was found guilty on some, but not all charges. The most serious charges, that of attempted murder, would not go through and even the charges he was found guilty of only resulted in psychiatric confinement for a maximum of 9 years. He was sent up to the famous Atascadero State Hospital rather than prison. Atascadero had been home for a time to the likes of serial killers like Tex Watson, Ed Kemper, and Roy Norris among others.

“I won’t say whether it hurt or helped, it affected everything,” Baly told the press. Admitting that he had hoped for acquittal on all charges. “I think there’s mixed emotions for all of us. I mean certainly, I think the moment not guilty on count one was read there was relief; it was followed shortly by a guilty reading on count two and count three so there’s a different feeling on those charges.”

What we can tell for certain, however, is that if not stopped McBride would have almost certainly wreaked far more havoc. According to the case text of the McBride court proceedings, Jett Simmons McBride was laboring under the delusion that he had uncovered a secret terrorist plot that would target the Super Bowl.

At this point, Jett McBride packed his bags to head down to New Orleans for the Super Bowl where he was convinced a bombing would occur. McBride destroyed his phone and tossed the broken remnants of it in a parking lot and some bushes to evade being tracked by the CIA, FBI, and Department of Defense who he was convinced were following his every step.

Before reaching his destination, McBride started noticing that he was being passed by white utility trucks. These were no ordinary trucks, McBride was convinced. They were, to his mind, evidence of the Illuminati following him, on his trail. Intent on killing him. Quite disturbed mentally at this point, McBride stopped in Bakersfield staying the night at the illustrious Vagabond Inn, a motel where he watched television and had some Scotch to wind down. The next day he got back on the road, then picked up a soon-to-be-famous hitchhiker he saw near the on-ramp to northbound State Route 99 not far from the Vagabond.

The hitchhiker introduced himself as Kai and asked McBride if he was heading as far as Fresno. McBride told him that he would be heading through the area on his way to Tacoma. While staying in Bakersfield, he had received messages from his nephew and Donna, his wife, who he was supposed to pick up at the airport. This unexpected intrusion from reality slightly changed his unhinged “attempt at heroism” at the Super Bowl in New Orleans.

It was once they made it into Fresno’s Tower District that Kai offered to pick up some cannabis. Jett McBride handed him $40 after which Kai disappeared into a convenience store, shortly after emerging with a bag of weed and some rolling papers. Kai rolled the joint as McBride, who was unfamiliar with Fresno, began to drive. McBride describes having a “deep” conversation with Kai and eventually extended his hand to the young hitchhiker, leaning over to hug him. “Depressed and distraught” is how he’s described in the court transcript.

The grown man also began crying over his wife. From this point on, it becomes obvious that the story has been doctored somewhat to make McBride look better. Even though it was admitted that McBride began believing that white utility trucks were agents of the Illuminati, it was McGillivary who supposedly said the electrical workers were planting bombs. Of course, it’s quite likely that this was a narrative cooked up by McBride’s attorney, Scott Baly. Considering Kai wouldn’t be able to defend himself or offer his eye-witness testimony, it was possible to try and pin more blame on him to alleviate the well-earned scorn directed at the alleged rapist with his racist slurs and dangerously unhinged conspiracy theories. Despite the reported flurry of racial slurs aimed toward Neely and other minorities at the scene, McBride’s defense claimed that he was “trying to heal Neely.” The defense claims, contrary to what witnesses on the scene have claimed, that McBride “at no time” made any racial statements or used “racial epithets.”

Neely’s reported response to McBride attempting to “heal” the serious and potentially life-threatening injury he was responsible for was something to the tune of, “Get this fucker off of me.” This, once again, ripped straight from McBride’s trial transcript.

The big bear of a man described the flurry of activity, the desperate attempt to put his rampage to a halt. He “thought he was dying” as he felt a knee on his back, someone grabbing his neck, someone pushing him to the ground, a boot in his face. All he claims to recall is saying, “Get off of me.” Around this time, for whatever reason, McBride began to disrobe. He was now convinced he was not only “filled with the Holy Spirit” and an incarnation of Jesus Christ. He was also playing the role of “witness to the end times” (as per Revelations, the two witnesses who would be killed, stripped, and left in the streets for three and a half days).

If the people attacking him, or rather, attempting to slow or stop his assault, in the real world, were to kill him then “they were going to have to drag his body through the street, naked.” Now McBride has decided he’s not just a witness to the end times, Jesus, and filled with the Holy Spirit. He’s also the prophet Enoch. A direct ancestor of Jesus Christ.

McBride, once he had conferred with defense to set the stories straight for the trial, would have little positive to say about Kai. This despite the fact he had earlier referred to him as the “coolest son-of-a-bitch” he had ever met. He had gone from telling his wife Donna that he wanted to adopt Kai to changing his story to Kai being the one jerking the wheel so the vehicle would crush Neely after Donna reported to him how Kai had explained McBride’s stated aim was to “clean all the n****rs out.”

McBride would eventually admit that it was not Kai who had twisted the wheel to pin Neely but did deny that his attack had anything to do with his race. Neely was, McBride claimed, Illuminati. The disorganized thinking of a schizophrenic or person in the throes of a psychotic break is hard to follow.

Perhaps the racial element and the delusion regarding white utility vehicles being secret Illuminati spies were conflated in McBride’s muddled head. Chicago’s ABC7 Action News spoke with some of the victims of McBride’s rampage. Most expressed a hope to fully recover from their injuries and put the whole nightmare behind them, though at least one expressed concern, hoping that McBride wouldn’t find himself released without consequences for his brutal actions.

One popular misconception that has entered Kai the Hitchhiker lore is that Kai killed the deranged, attempted murderer rather than subduing him with the flat end of his hatchet. It probably didn’t help that during the Jimmy Kimmel appearance, the host jokingly thanked Kai for not killing him. Stephen Colbert, currently the host of The Tonight Show, was starring in The Colbert Report on Comedy Central at the time. On the show, Colbert covers the Kai the Hitchhiker story, joking that he has “highway prejudice of my own: against axe-wielding hitchhikers.”

The story played into an already existing urban myth regarding the mythical ax or hatchet or knife-wielding serial killer hitchhiker. The Union County prosecutor and associate of the alleged rapist Joseph Galfy promoted severely damaging disinformation. That, perhaps, Kai was some nefarious serial killer utilizing the highways as his hunting ground. That same prosecutor, by the way, incidentally or coincidentally stepped down, after 11 years, the same day Kai was arrested. Perfect timing if you’d rather not have your recusal on the record.


Excerpt from Smash, Smash, Smash: The True Story of Kai the Hitchhiker by Philip Fairbanks. Copyright 2023 by Philip Fairbanks. Reproduced with permission from Philip Fairbanks. All rights reserved.




5 stars!

As Paul Harvey might have said, “… the rest of the story.”

SMASH SMASH SMASH: The True Story of Kai the Hitchhiker is the culmination of years of careful research and investigation by author Philip Fairbanks into the life of Caleb McGillivary, better known to the world as Kai the Hitchhiker. Kai captured the world’s attention in 2013 via the magic (and the curse) of social media when he came to the rescue of a woman being assaulted on the side of a highway, after which he quietly slipped away from the scene. He was soon brought back into the limelight through the well-meaning efforts of a young journalist wanting to follow up on the mysterious cult hero. 

Fame provided Kai some time in the public eye, but it appears for the most part that he really just wanted to be left to his own devices and lifestyle: living freely on the road, hitchhiking, working on his music, and surfing. He gained thousands of followers on social media but invariably encountered those with their own agendas for Kai’s fame. 

Later, Kai made headlines again when he was convicted of murdering a prominent attorney in Clark, New Jersey, although he continually maintained it was in self-defense. Journalist Philip Fairbanks, who had been following Kai’s amazing story, began to dig deeper into his claims, and this book is the result of years of research, questioning, and interviews. I was shocked by his findings. 

Kai’s initial story, his quick and decisive rescue of a stranger, was an Internet sensation. He doesn’t fit the image of the knight in shining armor and, in fact, represents a completely different trope come to life: a hatchet-wielding hitchhiker, which social media and late-night talk show hosts were quick to capitalize on. 

Kai’s story, presented by Fairbanks, is heartbreaking. From his childhood to his trial, Kai’s life was a complete nightmare. Yet through it all, he seems to have developed a completely unanticipated positive outlook while still clearly seeing and understanding what was being perpetrated against him. 

Fairbanks does a fantastic job laying the groundwork for how Kai came to be where he is. Additionally, his overview of the history and culture of hitchhiking was interesting and a surprise to me. Better still, his extensive coverage of the political history, its current climate in New Jersey, and how it related to Kai’s conviction was eye-opening and horrifying. 

The book covers Kai’s emergence as a cult hero and the subsequent media aftermath, but it is brief. The story here is what came later. I recommend SMASH SMASH SMASH: THE TRUE STORY OF KAI THE HITCHHIKER to true crime readers and those who remember this amazing incident but what to know the rest of the story.

Author Bio:

Philip Fairbanks

Philip Fairbanks has been a published writer for over 20 years. Most of his writing has been in the field of entertainment reporting and investigative journalism as well as certain academic subjects. He has appeared multiple times in the CUNY graduate paper The Advocate (who published an article by Fairbanks last June), SUNY art journal Afterimage, Ghettoblaster features, interviews and reviews, UK newspaper The Morning Star, UK lit journal White Chimney, Impose, Delusions of Adequacy, and many more print and online publications have published him.

His first book covered issues such as the Epstein scandal, the Finders cult, online grooming and exploitation of children, and the UK grooming epidemic. He felt it was important to write a book on institutional pedophilia that dispels some of the wild disinfo related to Qanon and Pizzagate. Philip is also a voice actor and narrated the audiobook for the first book and is in the process of recording the audiobook for Smash, Smash, Smash.

Catch Up With Philip Fairbanks:
BookBub - @kafkaguy
Twitter - @kafkaguy
Facebook - @truestoryofkai



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