Saturday, September 30, 2023

Virtual Book Tour & Giveaway: Dead by Proxy by Manning Wolfe

Dead By Proxy by Manning Wolfe Banner

Dead By Proxy

by Manning Wolfe

September 18 - October 13, 2023 Virtual Book Tour


Dead By Proxy by Manning Wolfe

In this lawyer on the run action suspense, attorney Quinton Bell loses the trial of his career, and possibly his life.

Dead By Proxy takes you on a heart-pounding journey through the life of a criminal defense attorney, whose world is wiped out. When Quinton loses a career-defining case, he finds himself being hunted by the very client he tried to save.

As Quinton navigates the treacherous path of survival, he is running from a powerful and relentless adversary who will stop at nothing to see him silenced. Finally landing in Houston, he hides in plain sight while re-inventing his new life as a trial lawyer.

When he’s forced to take on a high-profile murder case, he exposes himself and those he loves to danger. With each passing moment, the noose tightens, and he must draw on every ounce of wit to outsmart those who still want him dead.

Will Quinton Bell find a way out, or will he forever be a target in a deadly game of cat and mouse?

Dead By Proxy is the first book in the edgy Proxy Legal Thriller Series. If you like memorable characters, smart gritty action, and jaw-dropping twists, then you’ll love Manning Wolfe’s fast-paced page-turner.

Praise for Dead By Proxy:

"A riveting read that expertly teams courtroom drama and legal maneuvering with imminent danger, spine-tingling suspense, a touch of romance, and non-stop action. Talk about an adrenaline rush!"
~ Reedsy

"Manning Wolfe just put herself on my list of must-read authors!"
~ John Ellsworth

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: Starpath Books, LLC
Publication Date: September 2023
Number of Pages: 275
Series: The Proxy Legal Thriller Series, Book 1
Book Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Byron was not jaded or trapped into being an attorney as many he knew were and he was not in it for the money, although that part was nice. And, he was not naive, as he was aware of severe injustices in the criminal justice system and felt improvement was needed. Byron continued to be on the playing field because he was one of the last true believers. The system was the best available right now and he actually trusted the outcome, most of the time.

Having deceased parents, one semi-estranged sibling in California, and no current plans to marry, Byron embraced the law as his mistress and his life. He simply loved it all. As most careers went, loving it meant he was devoted to it and good at it. He never glossed over a precedent or twisted a legal argument beyond its parameters. He was thrilled every time he set foot in a courtroom to do battle for his client, guilty or innocent.

Across the aisle, the prosecutor, Sebastian Roberts, relished this chance to incarcerate another criminal. Roberts moved his short spark-plug-of-a-body, decorated with a vest and bright paisley bow tie, around the courtroom as he laid out the federal government’s view of the case. He looked at Byron and his client, then back to the twelve chosen members of the jury.

Byron organized his thoughts, felt excitement tingle through his fingers and toes, and stood up at the defense table. In defending Killian Tyrone, Byron’s opening argument went something like this: “Your Honor and members of the jury. Today, I’d like to introduce you to my client, Killian Tyrone, the accused in this case. Now, I know what the prosecutor said about what he did, and that is probably swirling around in your brain right now, but I’d like for you to take a step back and listen to both sides of the story before you make a decision about my client’s behavior, guilt, or innocence. You also heard his inference about defense attorneys, that would be me.” He smiled and the jury laughed. “I’ll leave it to you to decide, but I have no intention of tricking you or trying to hide the ball.”

Byron pointed at his co-counsel, Michael, a shorter, younger version of himself, but with brown eyes. “My colleague, Michael Everett, and I will present Mr. Tyrone’s side of the case and, when we’re finished, I’m certain that you will find him not guilty.”

Byron smiled at the jury and took pride in the fact that when he won, he won fair and square, and he instilled these principles in his protégé, Michael. Byron encouraged Michael not to be blinded by the legal system, nor be immune to the tricks of the trade. Byron used the tools expertly, but he wanted to win with an equal playing field, or not at all, and the law allowed for plenty of ways to win. To Byron, what was the point if cheating was involved? That only proved he was the best cheater, not the best lawyer.


Excerpt from Dead By Proxy by Manning Wolfe. Copyright 2023 by Manning Wolfe. Reproduced with permission from Manning Wolfe. All rights reserved.




5 stars!

Exciting plot with twists I never saw coming!

Dead by Proxy is the first book in author Manning Wolfe’s new Lawyer on the Run legal thriller series, the Proxy Legal Thrillers. With intense courtroom action and the unexpectedly suspenseful consequences, I was riveted by the story and glued to the pages. 

Quinton Bell is the engaging and sympathetic attorney main character, pushed to uproot everything when threatened by an unrelenting, disgruntled client. He’s smart and easy to root for (as you try to catch your breath, still your heart, and keep up!) I never saw the twists in this book coming. I also enjoyed the setting, particularly as I read it while in Houston, Texas, and staying downtown just last week. 

The author’s writing style drew me into the tale immediately; easy to read, yes, but compelling and satisfying. I was delighted to see that she has several previous books I intend to grab soon. 

I recommend DEAD BY PROXY to readers who enjoy legal thrillers or mysteries and stories set in Houston or Texas.

Author Bio:

Manning Wolfe

MANNING WOLFE, an award-winning author and attorney, writes cinematic-style, smart, fast-paced thrillers and crime fiction. Manning was recently featured on Oxygen TV’s: Accident, Suicide, or Murder, and has spoken at major book festivals around the world.

* Manning’s legal thriller series features Austin attorney Merit Bridges, including Dollar Signs, Music Notes, Green Fees, and Chinese Wall.

* Manning’s new Proxy Legal Thrillers Series features Houston attorney Quinton Bell, including Dead By Proxy, Hunted By Proxy, and Alive By Proxy.

* Manning is co-author of Killer Set: Drop the Mic, and twelve additional Bullet Books Speed Reads.

As a graduate of Rice University and the University of Texas School of Law, Manning’s experience has given her a voyeur’s peek into some shady characters’ lives and a front-row seat to watch the good people who stand against them.

Catch Up With Manning Wolfe:
BookBub - @manning-wolfe
Instagram - @manningwolfe
Twitter - @manningwolfe
Facebook - @manning.wolfe
Learn more about Manning Wolfe on Amazon!



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Virtual Book Tour & Giveaway: Reading, Writing, and Murder (Chocolate Martini Sisters Mystery, #2) by Joyce Proell & Brenda Whiteside


Reading, Writing, and Murder
Chocolate Martini Sisters Mystery
Brenda Whiteside and Joyce Proell

Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Setting - Wyatt, Arizona (fictitious setting)
Independently Published
Publication Date: September 19, 2023
Print length: 273 pages
Digital ASIN: B0C4G6GZLN



At the writers’ conference, murder tops the program. 

Aspiring mystery author Emma Banefield and travel writer Nicole Earp are excited to attend a writers’ conference during their latest sisters’ getaway. Nic’s birthday should be all about relaxation, writing, and a chocolate martini to toast another trip around the sun, but the climate at the gathering rumbles like a sudden desert thunderstorm. When sparks fly between the keynote speaker and her timid assistant over a handsome mystery author, the subtitle on this anticipated tranquil weekend spells drama. If a heated love triangle, bruised egos, and betrayal aren’t enough to upset the atmosphere, the conference banquet erupts into a drunken brawl and sends the place spinning. After a body is discovered, Nic and Em do what they do best—snoop—and become embroiled in a mystery that jumps off the pages of a true-crime bestseller. With more than enough suspects and little time, the amateur sleuths have their hands full finding the killer. But can the competitive Chocolate Martini Sisters solve the crime before the prickly chief detective does, or will a murderer outwit them all?



5 stars!

They're BACK! It's time for another delightful Chocolate Martini Sisters Mystery! 

Reading, Writing, and Murder is the second book in authors Joyce Proell and Brenda Whiteside's cozy series, the Chocolate Martini Sisters Mysteries. If I hadn't already been a fan of the sisters, I would have been hooked by this latest adventure. With the two engaging sister sleuths, unequivocally mean antagonists, and an intriguing plot, this light, quick mystery is the perfect reading vacation. 

Nic and Emma are a great duo besides being sisters, and I love their tradition of semi-annual sisters' weekends away from their day-to-day to celebrate each other's birthdays at the Dulce Inn. With three sisters of my own, this idea is so appealing. I liked that these two mature women are both pursuing their creative sides. Hence, their attendance at the writing conference was a natural element and a setting that offered many possibilities for drama. SO. MUCH. DRAMA. 

The mystery is well-paced, and several red herrings arise from the circumstances and the sisters' amateur sleuthing. Twists and turns in the plot kept me guessing and turning pages, compelled to see how the story would eventually resolve. Although this is the second in the series, it comfortably reads as a standalone. However, please do yourself a solid and read book one, Candy, Cigarettes, and Murder, another 5-star read, in my opinion. 

I recommend READING, WRITING, AND MURDER to cozy mystery readers, especially fans of the previous book in the CHOCOLATE SISTERS MYSTERY series.


Joyce Proell is the award-winning author of Amaryllis, Eliza and the Cady Delafield mysteries: A Deadly Truth, A Burning Truth and A Wicked Truth. Along with her husband and little dog, Nellie, she lives in Minnesota in her very own little house on the prairie. She loves to hear from readers.

Amazon | Goodreads |

Brenda Whiteside is the award-winning author of romantic suspense, romance, and cozy mystery. After living in six states and two countries—so far—she and her husband have settled in Central Arizona. They admit to being gypsies at heart and won't discount the possibility of another move. They share their home with a rescue dog named Amigo. While FDW fishes, Brenda writes. Join her Newsletter Group here.

Blog | Amazon | Goodreads |
BookBub  | Instagram |


September 19 – Baroness Book Trove – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
September 19 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW
September 20 – Elizabeth McKenna - Author – SPOTLIGHT
September 20 – Maureen's Musings – SPOTLIGHT
September 21 – Mystery, Thrillers and Suspense - AUTHOR GUEST POST
September 21 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee – SPOTLIGHT
September 22 – Novels Alive – REVIEW
September 23 – StoreyBook Reviews – CHARACTER GUEST POST
September 23 – Cassidy's Bookshelves – SPOTLIGHT
September 24 – Celticlady's Reviews – SPOTLIGHT WITH EXCERPT
September 24 – Christa Reads and Writes – SPOTLIGHT
September 25 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT WITH EXCERPT
September 25 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT WITH EXCERPT
September 26 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
September 26 – Bea's Book Nook – SPOTLIGHT WITH EXCERPT
September 27 – Christy's Cozy Corners – AUTHOR GUEST POST
September 27 – Lady Hawkeye – SPOTLIGHT
September 28 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
September 28 – Sapphyria's Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
September 29 – View from the Birdhouse – REVIEW
September 30 – Guatemala Paula Loves to Read – REVIEW
September 30 – Reading Is My SuperPower – AUTHOR GUEST POST
September 30 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT
October 1 – The Mystery Section – SPOTLIGHT WITH EXCERPT
October 1 – Rebecca M. Douglass, Author – CHARACTER GUEST POST
October 2 – eBook Addicts – REVIEW


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Friday, September 29, 2023

Pop-Up Blog-Hop & Giveaway: Rip the Sky by Mark Packard


Mark Packard

Speculative Fiction / Fantasy / Science Fiction
Publisher: Bluestreak Publishing
Page Count: 317 pages
Publication Date: August 21, 2023

Scroll down for a giveaway!

After a shocking courtroom tragedy, a disturbed Vietnam veteran and the vindictive judge who sent him to prison become an unlikely pair of time travelers in a chaotic multiverse. The fallen angel who rescues them wants to guide them to a radiant new life. But first they must return to the scene of a ghastly crime.

Billy Worster was a naïve teenager ill-prepared for the gruesome realities of war. The sole survivor of a deadly massacre in a Vietnamese jungle, he avoided certain death only because he ran away when the shooting started. Riddled with guilt, he comes home to a dusty Texas farm with post-traumatic stress disorder and the crazy notion that he can fly in and out of parallel worlds.

As Billy struggles with addiction and questions his sanity, he is arrested on a drug charge and ends up in the courtroom of Judge Madeline Johnston, a bitter old judge tormented by a dark secret surrounding her father’s death. She callously tosses Billy into prison, but when a greedy executor files a lawsuit to steal his inherited land, Billy is hauled back to her courtroom in chains, where a stunning twist of fate launches them into the sky on an odyssey of discovery and healing.

Spanning forty years from the jungles of Vietnam through infinite, parallel worlds, Rip the Sky examines how the power of forgiveness can lead us toward a better life, no matter how many worlds we may live in.

Top Ten Books that Inspired Mark Packard

1.         Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut is my favorite author, and this is his best book.  Billy Pilgrim is an American prisoner of war held captive underground in a slaughterhouse in Dresden, Germany. The prisoners wake up one morning to find that the entire city had been incinerated by firebombs during the night (Vonnegut was there).  The trauma caused Billy to become “unstuck in time,” travelling to and from various parts of his life, unsure of where he will land. I loved this book so much that I named my main character Billy and had him struggle his whole life because of the terror he witnessed as a teenager in a bloody war.


2.         “Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom” (short story) by Ted Chiang

I had been working on my novel for several years when I came across this gem.  I had already woven the multiverse and how choices create new parallel worlds into my book when I read this short story.  It inspired me and caused me to tweak the narrative a bit.  The story is about the anxiety created when people can look into their other lives in parallel worlds and see how different choices created different outcomes. It’s genius.


3.         The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

This is another book I read as I was approaching the finish line to my book. The main character travels to a library in a mysterious place between life and death and is given the opportunity to open any book and examine other versions of her life where she made alternate choices. It’s a journey of depression and despair, but ultimately about discovering that the only path to happiness is to embrace the life you are living.


4.         Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

This is the first book I read about the multi-universe theory of quantum mechanics and that the possibility exists that we live different lives in other worlds. To quote from the book, “We all live day to day completely oblivious to the fact that we’re part of a much larger and stranger reality than we can possibly imagine.”


5.         The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.

This classic vividly describes a painful and harsh part of our history. I wish every teenager had to read it. The poverty that the Jobe family endured on a dusty country farm painted a picture that I used for Billy’s world.


6.         Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

I was inspired by the fantasy world he created—London Underground—and the interconnection between that world and the ordinary world that the main character lived in. His fantasy world is filled with monsters and murderers with religious overtones. It’s a fascinating read.


7.         East of Eden by John Steinbeck

A generational story about two families and how we can choose to overcome the badness that we might be born with.


8.         Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

A painful story about how our plans go awry.  A gentle giant with a big heart who loves to touch and tend to the animals, and it leads to his mercy killing.


9.         The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

This book inspired me because it shows that a writer can extend the boundaries as far as possible. Nothing but craziness. A depressed robot and a restaurant where you can watch the end of the universe.


10.       Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut

I’m attracted by misfits.  Science fiction author Kilgore Trout steals the show in this one. At the end he pleads to his creator, “Make me young again.”  I feel his pain.



Mark Packard spent the last 38 years as a trial attorney and is now retired from the courtroom and working as a mediator. In a life before lawyering he was a journalist and regrets waiting far too long before returning to his roots to write his first novel, Rip the Sky. Though he knows he should have jumped off the merry-go-round years ago, he hopes to hang around long enough to craft a few more tales. Connect with the author:

Signed hard copy of RIP THE SKY & $50 Amazon gift card
(US only; ends midnight, CST, 10/13/23)

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Virtual Book Tour & Giveaway: Secrets and Scallywags (Magical Mystery Book Club, #5) by Elizabeth Pantley


Secrets and Scallywags
Magical Mystery Book Club
Elizabeth Pantley

Paranormal Cozy Mystery
5th in Series
Setting – A Small Oceanfront Community
Publisher: Better Beginnings, Inc.
Publication Date: September 20, 2023
Digital Print length: 256 pages




When this club selects a book, magic happens. They become the main characters in the story when the mystery comes to life.

This month’s book selection takes them to a charming island community that’s abuzz over a mysterious boat that washed ashore. Rumor has it that it’s the same pirate boat that sunk a year ago in the bay. The one that supposedly sank with treasure aboard. When the club meets the ghosts of the men from the boat, they learn the astonishing secrets of the treasure. These ghosts can’t move on until it is found. Can the motley group find the treasure and free the ghosts? They better, since it’s the only way they can exit the book and get back home.


5 stars!

Yay! Another in the Magical Mystery Book Club series is here! 

Secrets and Scallywags is the latest addition to author Elizabeth Pantley’s delightfully entertaining Magical Mystery Book Club Mystery series. She can’t write them quickly enough to suit me. Each new adventure feels like a reunion with old friends who arrive ready to have fun, full of news, and with a story to tell. 

In this fifth outing, the group ends up in a tropical location to find pirate ghosts with an SOS and with a new member in tow. One of my favorites of the book club members was Valentina (“Vee” to the club) Torres, who decided to pursue her personal HEA at the end of the last book. I was sad to see her stay behind, but the author has come up with one heck of a plot twist in her replacement. 

And speaking of twists, there are plenty as the mystery book club members work to get to the bottom of their new-found friends’ dilemma. As always, they ask good questions and follow the clues as they investigate as an ensemble, with Zell up to some new “tricks.” Although the book can be enjoyed as a standalone, do yourself a favor and read the previous books for the full story of this great group of amateur sleuths. 

I recommend SECRETS AND SCALLYWAGS to fans of the series and readers of paranormal cozy mysteries.


Elizabeth Pantley is the international bestselling author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution and twelve other books for parents, published in over twenty languages. She simultaneously writes well-loved cozy mysteries: The Destiny Falls Mystery & Magic book series and the Magical Mystery Book Club series.

Elizabeth lives in the Pacific Northwest, the gorgeous inspiration for the setting in many of her books.


September 20 – Mystery, Thrillers, and Suspense – SPOTLIGHT
September 20 – Angel's Guilty Pleasures – SPOTLIGHT
September 21 – Christy's Cozy Corners - REVIEW, AUTHOR GUEST POST
September 21 – Sapphyria's Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
September 22 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT
September 22 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW
September 23 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT
September 24 – Cozy Up With Kathy – CHARACTER GUEST POST
September 24 – Bigreadersite – REVIIEW
September 25 – CelticLady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
September 25 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR GUEST POST
September 26 – Baroness Book Trove – SPOTLIGHT
September 27 – Socrates Book Reviews – REVIEW
September 28 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT
September 28 – Guatemala Paula Loves to Read – REVIEW
September 29 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
September 30 – Maureen's Musings – SPOTLIGHT
October 1 – eBook Addicts – REVIEW
October 1 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT
October 2 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee – SPOTLIGHT
October 3 – Cassidy's Bookshelves – CHARACTER GUEST POST


Wednesday, September 27, 2023

A Storm of Infinite Beauty by Julianne MacLean

A Storm of Infinite BeautyA Storm of Infinite Beauty by Julianne MacLean
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mystery, suspense, and second chances!

When writer Peter Miller contacts Gwen Hollingsworth regarding his research into the life of her cousin, a famous actress and songwriter who died tragically young at the height of her career, she is understandably suspicious of his intentions. Peter's career up to this point had been that of a notoriously dogged paparazzi, seemingly willing to do whatever it took to get photographs and the latest scoop on the rich and famous. Gwen, as the heir to Scarlet Fontaine's fortune and the curator of a museum dedicated to her life and legacy, was very protective of the memory of her famous cousin and wasn't about to help anyone try to sensationalize something in the past of a woman who'd spent her short life trying to avoid the public eye. But when Peter Miller arrives and shares evidence of a stunning secret in Scarlet's past, Gwen knows she must uncover the truth herself.

Told with dual timelines, A Storm of Infinite Beauty is the story of two women, separated by more than 50 years, coming to terms with their lives after suffering tremendous losses. In the 1963-4 timeline, young, unmarried Valerie McCarthy, known later by her screen name as Scarlett Fontaine, is sent from her home in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, to Valdez, Alaska, by her father when she reveals she is eight weeks pregnant. She and the baby's father had split up during an argument before her delicate condition was discovered, and she is shipped off before she can tell him the news. Valerie is dumped off in rural Alaska at a tourist lodge where she is to work for her room and board and await the birth of her child, out of sight of the people in her hometown. Her father has decided she'll give the child up for adoption and then return home with a clean slate, no one the wiser. She's alone and heartsick but, thankfully, finds the support she needs to heal and determine her own future at the Wilderness Lodge.

In the 2017-8 storyline, Gwen Hollingsworth is grieving the loss of her first child two years earlier and the subsequent defection of her husband, Eric, for a considerably younger woman. When Peter Miller reveals that Scarlett Fontaine, believed to have never married or had children, may have gone to Alaska and had a baby there before achieving her film success, she's naturally drawn into the mystery, wanting to discover what happened for better or worse.

Gwen and Peter make a great team and a wonderful couple. He regrets his previous career and is earnest about creating an accurate and truthful portrayal of this much-loved star. He hits all the right notes for me as a thoughtful and considerate partner for Gwen, even as Eric comes back into the picture, remorseful over his prior actions.

The story is supported by wonderful secondary characters: the warm and wise Maud and Blaine Wilson, Valerie's coworker and fellow expectant mother, Angie Brown, and the unpredictable Jeremy Mikhailov. But if there was ever a character I wanted to slap up the side of the head, it is Angie's husband, Joe, and the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree, as they say. I was taken completely by surprise by the actions of Joe's parents.

The Alaskan setting is captivating and atmospheric; the Wilderness Lodge is a place of warmth and safety. The background events that occurred in Valdez on March 27, 1964, give the story a feeling of a ticking time bomb, the suspense and tension building as the action edges closer and closer to what is revealed in the prologue. The author kindly includes the titles of some resource materials for readers who want to read further about the events of that day.

While both women's storylines are heartbreaking, Valerie's had already been written, and we are uncovering the past. Gwen's, however, was yet to be determined, and I was on pins and needles as I waited to learn her decisions. I couldn't put the book down until I knew.

I recommend A STORM OF INFINITE BEAUTY to readers of women's fiction, historical fiction, and even romantic suspense.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Virtual Book Tour & Giveaway: Dead West (Endings, #3) by Linda L. Richards

Dead West by Linda L Richards Banner

Dead West

by Linda L. Richards

September 4 - 29, 2023 Virtual Book Tour


Dead West by Linda L Richards

Still struggling towards the light, this time the assignment is to save, not kill.

Taking lives has taken its toll. Her moral justifications have faltered. Do any of the the people she has killed — some of them heinous, but all of them human — deserve to die?

Her next target is Cameron Walker, a rancher in Arizona. When she arrives at his remote desert estate to carry out her orders, she discovers that he is a kind and beautiful man. After a lengthy tour of the ranch, not only has she not killed him, she’s wondering who might want him dead.

She procrastinates long enough that a vibe grows between them. At the same time, she learns that he’s passionate about wild horses and has been fighting a losing political battle to save the mustangs that live on protected land near his property. He’s even received death threats from those who oppose him.

She finds herself trying to protect the man she was sent to kill, following a trail that leads from the desert, to the Phoenix cognoscenti, to the highest offices in Washington, DC. Along the way she encounters kidnappers and killers, horse thieves and even human traffickers. Hopefully she can figure out who ordered the hit before they hire someone else to execute the assignment.

Praise for Dead West:

"Linda L. Richards delivers yet another riveting entry in her hired killer series. Set mostly in Arizona desert country, Dead West is a dust devil of a story, twisting in wildly unpredictable ways and with a powerful emotional center. But this book isn’t just a marvelously compelling thriller; it also cries out passionately for protection of the endangered wild horses of the West. Kudos to Richards for seamlessly weaving an important message into the fabric of a terrific tale."
~ William Kent Krueger, New York Times bestselling author

"When a contract killer’s wounded conscience begins to awaken, it only heightens the dangers of her profession. In Dead West, the incomparable Linda L. Richards poses the possibility of redemption and recovery for her tragic heroine, all while sending her – and us – on a deadly thrill ride through the stunning Arizona wilderness."
~ Clea Simon, Boston Globe bestselling author

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller, Noir, Suspense
Published by: Oceanview Publishing
Publication Date: September 2023
Number of Pages: 320
ISBN: 9781608095124 (ISBN10: 1608095126)
Series: The Endings Series, Book 3
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | | Goodreads | Oceanview Publishing

Read an excerpt:


I’m sitting on a beach. It’s a ridiculous proposition. Fluffy white clouds are scudding through a clear, blue sky. Surfers are running around carrying boards, often over their heads. Then they plunge into a sea that looks deadly to my non-surfing eyes. Palm trees are waving, and the air is so neutral, you don’t have to think about it. Soft, welcoming air. You just float right through.

The view is beautiful. It’s like a movie backdrop. A painting. Something skillfully manufactured to look hyper-real. Textbook paradise, that’s what I’m talking about.

I’m sitting on this beach, trying not to think about the reason I’m here. But it’s hard. Difficult. To not think about it, I mean. I’m here, in paradise, because someone has to die.

Someone will die.

I got the assignment a few days ago. I flew to this island to pull it off.

My target is a businessman who lives on this island in the South Pacific. He is the kind of self-made guy who has achieved every goal in life and would seem to have everything to live for. Only now, apparently, someone wants him dead because here I am, ready for business.

So I stake him out. You need to understand at least the basics of who someone is before you snuff them out. This is the idea that I have. I’m not going all sensitive on you or anything, that’s just how it is. In order to do the best possible job in this business, you need to understand a little about who they are. It’s not a rule or anything, it’s just how I feel.

His name is Gavin White, and I researched him a bit before I got here. He made his fortune in oil and wax, which is an odd enough combo that you perk up your ears. Only it doesn’t seem to matter: the source of the income would seem to have nothing to do with the hit. Would seem to, because there is only so much I can learn about that, really. On the surface, anyway, I can find no direct connection between Gavin White’s livelihood and the death that someone has planned for him and that I am now further planning.

I follow him and his S560 cabriolet all over the tropical island. He makes a few stops. I watch what he does, how he moves and who he interacts with. Some of it might matter. I’m not doing it for my health. I’m watching him so I can determine when I might best have advantage when I go to take him out. There are always multiple times and different places to fulfill my assignment and usually only one—or maybe two—that are virtually flawless. Sometimes not even that. So I watch.

And it’s more than an opportunity I’m looking for, though that can play a part. It’s also a matter of identifying what will make my job not only easier, but also safest from detection. And so I watch. And I wait.

As I follow him, he stops first at a bank. Does some business— I’ll never know what. After that he visits his mom. At least, I guess it is his mom. An older woman he seems affectionate with. From my rental car, I can see them through a front room window. There is a hug and then a wave. It could be a bookkeeper for all I know. But mom is what I guess.

After a while he heads to the beach. He sits on the sand, contemplative for a while. I think about taking him there; full contemplation. But it is crude and much too exposed.

More time passes before he takes off his shoes, leaves them on the beach, and walks into the surf. I leave my car and take up a spot on the sand, just plopping myself down not far from his shoes.

I watch him surreptitiously. It is obvious he did not come to the beach to swim. He is fully clothed and he hasn’t left a towel behind there with his shoes. There is none of the paraphernalia one associates with a visit to the beach, even if this were one that is intended for swimming, which it is not. Signs warn of possible impending doom for those who venture into the water.

“Strong current,” warns one sign under a fluorescent flag. “If in doubt, don’t go out.”

“Dangerous shore break,” warns another. “Waves break in shallow water. Serious injuries could occur, even in small surf.”

I don’t know if Gavin White read the signs, or noticed them, but even though he is still fully clothed, he steps into the water anyway.

First, he gets his feet wet. Not long after, he wades in up to his knees. He hesitates when the water is at mid-thigh, and he stops there. For a while, it seems to me, it is like a dance. He stands facing the horizon, directly in front of where I sit. His shoulders are squared. There is something stoic in his stance. I can’t explain it. Squared and stoic.

Waves break against him, push him back. He allows the push, then makes his way back to the spot where he had stood before.

Before long, he ventures deeper still. The dance. I watch for a while, fascinated. I wonder if there is anything I should do. But no. The dance. Two steps forward, then the waves push him back.

And now he is in deeper still, and further from shore. I see a wave engulf him completely, and I hold my breath. He doesn’t struggle, but then I see him rise, face the horizon, square his shoulders.

The waves are strong and beautiful. And they are eerily clear, those waves. Sometimes I can see right inside them. Careful glass tubes of water, I can even observe that from shore.

For a while he stands like that, facing the horizon—a lull in the action of the waves. And then he is engulfed once again. I hold my breath, but this time he doesn’t rise.

I sit there for a long time, considering. And waiting. My breathing shallow. But he doesn’t reappear.

After half an hour, I text my handler.
“It is done,” is all I say, just as I know she will expect.
It was not my hand, but the mission has been accomplished regardless. No one knows better than me that there are many ways to die.


There are many ways to die.
I think I have died many times. Certainly, I’ve wanted to.
I died when I lost my child. Died later when I lost my husband, even though by then there was little love left between us. Still. I died.

I died the first time I took someone’s life. At the time it felt like living, but I didn’t yet know the difference. And then there was the time I had to kill someone I loved. I died that time, too.

Sometimes I believe I have died so much that I’ve forgotten how to live. That I should most correctly walk into a waiting undertow just like Gavin White did. I don’t know what stops me, honestly. I don’t. Though there are days when it’s a very close thing.

This isn’t one of those days.

When my phone rings, it tells me the call is coming from Kiribati, a place I’ve barely heard of before. All of her calls are like that. Routed through some other place. They might be chosen for their convenience, but I think they are also selected for the mirth they might provide. I’m not certain she has a wicked sense of humor, but I suspect it, pretty much.

She never used to call me. For a long time, it was text and email only, secure channels always. And then the calls began. I imagined that it meant we had developed some sort of connection. I no longer wonder about that now.

Whatever the meaning, the calls have never been from normal places; they don’t come from the places one might expect. And none have been from the same odd place twice. They are chosen for some reason I don’t understand. Some inside joke I stand outside of. She can be cryptic that way. Another reason I guess I imagined for a while that we belonged.

“That was efficient,” is what she says by way of greeting.

“What do you mean?” I figure I actually know, but it makes no sense to admit that going in.

“He walked into the sea,” she says. How does she know that? It makes me wonder, but not deeply. It would not be the first time I’ve wondered if there is someone who watches the hunter. It would even make a dark sort of sense.

“Yes,” I say, unquestioning. She has her ways. “That’s right. He did.”

“Hmmm,” she says. And then again, “Hmmm.”

“There are many ways to die,” I say, and by now it feels like gospel. Something sacred. And more true than true. “What I really don’t understand,” I say, sailing into a different direction, “is that you said things weren’t going to be like this anymore.”

“Excuse me?” I am put off by her tone. Surprised. It comes to me from a new place. Unexpected. And she doesn’t back away from it. Goes on just as strongly, instead. “What do you mean by that?” It’s a challenge.

“I’m trying to think how you put it,” I say. “Something about how things have been wrong with the world. How we could . . . how we could make it right.”

“Did I say that?”

“You did,” I reply.

“I do maybe remember something like that. Maybe.”

I feel my heart sink a bit at her words. And why? I can’t even quite put my finger on it. It felt, maybe, like I might be part of something. Again. And now? Now I’m not.

“You did say that,” I say it quietly though. Almost as an aside.

“These things take time, as it turns out. One can’t just flip a switch.” I can hear her pushing on, rushing through. “Meanwhile, I’ve got another one for you,” she says, and I’m relieved that she has tacitly agreed to leave the drowned man to sink or swim. Disappointed by how easily the hopeful words she’d fed me not so long ago could be pushed to one easy side. Disappointed and relieved all in one gulp. It’s an odd thing to feel. I find I don’t like it. “So if you’re ready,” she says.

“Another what?” I ask it, but I suspect I know.

“Job,” she replies, and I wonder why I wasted breath.

“I’m ready enough,” I say, though I’m struggling. I struggle every time.

“Good,” she says. “I’ll send you the details, but I think the juxtaposition of these two will amuse you.”

“How so?” And I try not to digest the irony around any aspect of a contract killing being amusing.

“Well, you’ve just been in the Pacific. Water, water everywhere.

And now you’re heading for the desert.” “I am?”

“You are. Right out into it, in fact. The target is in Arizona.” “Phoenix?” Which is all I really know of Arizona.

“You’ll fly to Phoenix, but, no: the target is near a national park.

Rural. A place you won’t have heard of before, I’m betting. I’ll send the details once I’m off this call.”

When I first get off the phone, I try not to think about it too much. It’s like my brain doesn’t want me to pay attention. Or something. But I put off checking my email. I’ll do it later. Right now, there are things that need my attention.

Okay. “Need” would be an overstatement. There are things. I choose to give them my time. Walks in the forest with the dog. Cooking succulent meals for one. And recently, I have taken up plein air painting, simply because it was there.

When I want to paint, I take the dog and my gear and we hike out to some remote spot and I set up my stuff and I paint what I see. Try to paint what I see. The dog meanwhile amuses himself— chasing squirrels, digging holes, sniffing his own butt. He’s very skilled at self-amusement. I’ve never seen anything like it.

In less clement weather we hunker down and brave it out. I make a fire in the fireplace because it’s beautiful, not because we need the warmth.

There is something idyllic to this life. Easy. After a while it gets even easier to forget . . . forget what? Everything, really. It gets easier to forget to remember.

I paint the dog. My online classes have gone well enough, and I have proven to be a good enough student—and the dog a good enough subject—that I end up with a pretty credible representation of him; something I am proud to hang. And even if I wasn’t, it’s not like anyone is ever going to see.


Excerpt from Dead West by Linda L Richards. Copyright 2023 by Linda L Richards. Reproduced with permission from Linda L Richards. All rights reserved.




5 stars!

A great addition to the Endings series!


Dead West is the third novel in veteran author Linda L. Richards’s female killer-for-hire series, Endings, and the stories just keep getting better. In this latest addition, our nameless assassin accepts a difficult assignment to take out a rancher whose Arizona property and wild horse sanctuary abut a national forest. You’d think a less populated environment would make her planning and execution easier, but in reality, a stranger showing up in the middle of nowhere USA attracts a whole lot of unwanted attention, and that’s never good for business.


The main character in this series never reveals her true name, but for the purpose of moving about society, she currently goes by the purchased identity of Katherine Eveline Ragsdill. Except for her dog, she leads a solitary life, both by necessity and choice, out of the sight of the curious, still grieving the loss of her son and husband. However, she’s starting to re-examine her choices and questions her life and actions. While scouting out the location and situation of her current mark, for some inexplicable reason that even she can’t put in words, she allows herself to get to know her intended target, and she likes what she sees – a lot.


The author tells the tale from our woman’s point of view, and her voice is honest and appealing, with bits of humor lightening what is a sober narrative. Richards’s writing style is smooth and compelling reading, and the pages flew by effortlessly. The story is that well-paced. The book takes the assassin from a tropical island to the desert to cosmopolitan cities, but no matter where the story leads, the author quickly makes the reader feel like they are on location with the characters. The plot is based on a twist in the assassin’s actions, which is not the last one to happen. I was guessing up until the very end.


Although this is the third book in the series, it can genuinely be read and enjoyed as a standalone. However, do yourself a favor and read the first two. I recommend DEAD WEST to readers of crime fiction and mysteries.

Author Bio:

Linda L Richards

Linda L. Richards is the award-winning author of over a dozen books. The founder and publisher of January Magazine and a national board member of Sisters in Crime, she is best known for her strong female protagonists in the thriller genre. Richards is from Vancouver, Canada and currently makes her home in Phoenix, Arizona. Richards is an accomplished horsewoman and an avid tennis player. She enjoys yoga, hiking, cooking and playing guitar, though not at the same time.

You can find her at:
BookBub - @linda1841
Instagram - @lindalrichards
Twitter - @lindalrichards
Facebook - @lindalrichardsauthor
TikTok - @lindalrichards

Learn More about Linda in this #AuthorInterview!


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Teaser Tuesday: Deadlock by Torri Heat


(Revenge and Zombies)


Sci Fi Romance, Suspense, Action & Adventure

Date Published: September 29. 2023


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Rory and Tessa have managed to work together to survive the island, but now they have an even bigger task at hand. Together, they must find Bennett and the missing zombie before the virus can take over the mainland.

Easier said than done. The mainland Tessa knew before is a different world from the one that exists now. A mysterious plague taking over the poorer population has people nervous, and Rory and Tessa will have their work cut out for them. Will they be able to stop Tessa’s virus before it’s too late?



Copyright ©2023 Torri Heat


It was silent out on the water. The kind of silence that screamed in your ears, demanding to be heard. The kind of quiet that raised the hairs on the back of your neck and created trails of goose bumps along your arms. It spoke of a storm brewing in the distance, of an imbalance in the scales.

The last time it was this quiet was after my father died, when the laughter had died off, when I had snuck out from under the table I was hiding beneath and ran to cradle his body. Afterwards, I knew I had been screaming from the soreness of my throat, and the way I gasped for air. But during those moments, before the paramedics showed up and carried his body away, it was silent. Completely and utterly silent. There was only the screaming quiet in my ears, surrounding me in a way I thought I would never experience again.

Until now, on the boat. Rory was at the wheel, frowning as he stared into the grey skies. We hadn’t spoken since the rush to the boat, and that had been in mostly short sentences.

“Untie the rope for me.”

“Hand me that oar.”

“Push off.”

And getting to the boat had been too loud as we snuck past the small hordes of zombies that had spread out across the island. Luckily, since we had arrived at the safe zone, everything had quieted down. The zombies that had been at the door soon gave up and spread out, and we knew that it was now or never to make our move. Joe had loaded us up packs filled with supplies and food -- whatever the safe house had to spare. We probably had enough to last the two of us a week on the mainland, maybe two if we stretched our rations. A week to find Bennett, the zombie, and make our mind up about what would happen next. I wasn’t sure yet if we’d return to the island together, or go our separate ways. Right now, our minds were on the next steps, and the next steps alone. We needed to find Bennett and that zombie. There was no other way around it. If he managed to release it into the wild, the whole thing could be a complete disaster.

There was a reason I liked science. I liked reasons. Logic. I liked there to be answers to my questions if I worked hard enough. Two plus two always equalled four, and I had a plan in place for how I wanted to spread the virus. Bennett releasing one random zombie into the wild was not how my plan was going to go and could ruin a lot more than just my revenge. I needed to stop him before that happened.

As for Bennett when we found him… well. Unfortunately in my line of work, there were some things I needed to do, and this was one of them. But Bennett was a liability, and I couldn’t afford to have him running around any more than I could have that zombie running free. I’d take care of him when and where we found him.

The skies were darkening, and the wind was picking up, bringing my silence to an end. Reality was flooding in, and I still needed to figure out what our plan of action was. I pointed to the grey beach in the distance. “I think we should try there!” I called over to Rory, yelling to be heard over the screaming wind.

He turned to look at me, the boat cutting sharply over a wave that splashed us both with cool water. “What?”

I pointed again. “There! Try there!”

Rory nodded and turned the wheel in the direction of the small beach. It wasn’t the largest dock Bennett could’ve gone to, but it was definitely the closest and easiest, which if I was bringing a zombie on my own to the mainland is what I would’ve gone for.

The wind blew through my hair, and I grabbed for the elastic wrapped around my wrist. Twisting my hair into a tight braid, I watched Rory as he controlled the boat easily, as if he had been doing this all his life despite the increasingly choppy water. I wondered what was going through his head at this moment. Did he regret coming with me? Or maybe this was just his way of getting back to the mainland, and he’d dump my ass as soon as we touched ground, maybe even sending the cops my way. Not like I needed him, really. I was certain I’d be able to find Bennett without Rory’s help. I had been finding my way in this world alone since I was young, and nothing had changed now.

But it might be nice to have someone to bounce ideas off, since I no longer had James. A real, live sounding board. I didn’t need him to have pointless conversation with. I’d rather save my breath. But to see if my ideas were on the right track or not? Yeah, that might be nice.

I’d have to wait and see what his plan was once we got the boat to the mainland.

About the Author

Torri Heat has always loved control. Her mind was blown when she discovered she could control entire worlds through story writing. Throw some steamy romance in there, and it was pretty close to perfection. Torri loves dark heroes who ride off into the sunset on their motorcycles, fierce heroines who can fend for themselves, and a sprinkle of the paranormal to keep things interesting. When she's not creating alternate realities you can find her managing her three ring circus of kids and animals.

Find all of Torri’s books and sign up for her newsletter at her website, or follow her on social media. You can also leave reviews!


Contact Links

Author on Facebook: @torriheatwrites

Authoron Instagram and TikTok: @torriheat


Publisher on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram: @changelingpress


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