Book Tour & Giveaway for Hold On! by Peter Darley

Today, I’m featuring Hold On! by author Peter Darley, which was released this past summer.  After I watched the book trailer and read the excerpt, I knew for certain, I wanted to read this book. Darley promises romance and plenty of suspense to keep readers engaged. Part of the book tour includes a giveaway for  an Amazon gift card, so don’t miss your chance to win.

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Hold On! by Peter Darley

HoldOn!

Publication Date: July 9, 2014

Genre: Romantic Suspense/ Thriller

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Two lovers! A deadly conspiracy! A race to freedom! 

When Carringby Industries, a government-contracted arms manufacturer, is raided by what appear to be terrorists, the CEO’s secretary, Belinda Reese, is rescued by Brandon Drake, a dashing young AWOL soldier. Using an experimental test aircraft, he flees with her to his remote, isolated cabin in the mountains of Aspen. 

While assisting in the design of military weaponry, Brandon discovered a plot within his own government to attack its own facilities, under the guidance of immoral politician, Senator Garrison Treadwell. Belinda’s body was not found among the dead at Carringby Industries, and Treadwell suspects that Drake was responsible for rescuing her. In an effort to entrap him, Treadwell arranges for an all points bulletin to be placed on Belinda. 

Deeply in love, Brandon and Belinda attempt to escape from America, only to endure one harrowing experience after another as they try to evade and expose Treadwell’s corrupt faction. 

But on the run, with danger around every corner, Brandon makes a discovery so devastating that it shatters the very foundations of his reality.

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Book Tour for Savage Summer & Guest Post from the Author

Like a lot of readers out there, I enjoy a good mystery with lots of action and suspense. Ruth Bainbridge has recently released the first book in her new Curt Savage mystery series. Based on the book’s description, the author has created an atypical private investigator as the protagonist, which is what really caught my interest. I hope you’ll take a moment to check out the book and read an excerpt, which is followed by an informative guest post from Bainbridge explaining the importance of authentic dialogue in writing.

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Savage Summer by Ruth Bainbridge

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Publication Date: February 28, 2014

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

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“When life gives you lemons … be sure to spit the pits out of that lemonade you’re making. Otherwise you’ll choke.” – Curt Savage

The past year has not been a good one for Curt Savage. Depressed over the death of a loved one, he’s gone into hiding, becoming entirely too comfortable with saying that he’s in the Witness Protection Program. But the urge to find that elusive killer puts his MIA status on hold. With the help of his new buddy Mike, he delves into the murky world of tracking down a killer — and uncovering who poisoned a neighbor’s dog. 

SAVAGE SUMMER is the first in the Curt Savage mystery series. Going from former cop to private dick, he represents a new kind of detective—the reluctant kind. As his best bud Mike puts it, “Private investigation just got Savage.”

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Book Blast & Giveaway for Vengeance is Mine (Benjamin Tucker # 1)

The first book in Harry J. Krebs’ new mystery/thriller series looks like a gripping read. I am especially excited to read this novel since it is set in my home state of N.C. Vengeance is Mine is definitely going on my list of books to read. I hope you will check out this new series and be sure to enter the giveaway!

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Vengeance is Mine by Harry James Krebs

Vengeance is Mine by Harry James Krebs

Publication Date: January 2014

Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

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Driven by a traumatic, violent event in his teenage years, Benjamin Tucker, bestselling true crime author, is obsessed with helping authorities solve savage crimes near his home turf of Holly Springs, North Carolina. When a series of decapitated female victims is found in neighboring communities, he is helplessly drawn in to the investigation to help bring the killer to justice. But in a bizarre twist of events, the psychopathic murderer becomes fascinated with Tucker and stalks him, presenting him with unimaginable, grotesque gifts. The hunt for the killer turns personal and Tucker isn’t sure if he’s become the killer’s idol or his next victim.Vengeance is Mine, a gripping thriller with a healthy dose of droll humor, is a tale of sadistic revenge guaranteed to keep readers on the edge of their seats until the very last page.

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Reviews of Lie Still & Playing Dead by Julia Heaberlin

I recently discovered Julia Heaberlin when my local book club selected to read and discuss Lie Still, and I enjoyed the book so much, I also read her debut novel, Playing Dead as well, which received high praise from all of the members of my book club.

Both novels appealed to me because they are set in North Texas, where I live, and Heaberlin does a great job of emphasizing the regional characteristics of this area, its locale, expressions, food, and the overall idiosyncrasies that distinguish Texas from anywhere else.  Although Heaberlin may be considered a regional writer, the themes of her novels are certainly universal, transcending geographical limitations.

Although the storylines in both novels are very different, Heaberlin is consistent in weaving together complex, twisty-turny mysteries that will keep you guessing right up until the end.

I recommend both books for readers who enjoy psychological thrillers and are rich in local flavor.

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Published July 2013

Genres: Mystery Thriller, Psychological Thriller

Purchase from Amazon: Lie Still: A Novel

In the tradition of Lisa Unger’s Beautiful Lies and Nancy Pickard’s The Scent of Rain and Lightning comes a twisting, riveting novel of shifting trust and shattered lives. Lie Still delves deep into the heart of an opulent Southern town, where gossip is currency and secrets kill.

When Emily Page and her husband move from Manhattan to the wealthy enclave of Clairmont, Texas, she hopes she can finally escape her haunted past—and outrun the nameless stalker who has been taunting her for years. Pregnant with her first child, Emily just wants to start over. But as she is drawn into a nest of secretive Texas women—and into the unnerving company of their queen, Caroline Warwick—Emily finds that acceptance is a very dangerous game.
 
It isn’t long before Caroline mysteriously disappears and Emily is facing a rash of anonymous threats. Are they linked to the missing Caroline? Or to Emily’s terrifying encounter in college, years earlier? As the dark truth about Caroline emerges, Emily realizes that some secrets are impossible to hide—and that whoever came for Caroline is now coming for her.

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Sunday Series Spotlight: SEAL Team Six Outcasts

Today, I’m spotlighting a Military Suspense/Thriller series co-authored by two former Navy SEALs, Howard E. Wasdin and Stephen Templin.  I haven’t had the chance to read the series, but it’s now on my reading list. In fact, all four of their books listed below look like excellent reads.

About the Series

A group of outcasts who take on those who threaten U.S. security but without the support of the government. (from Goodreads)

Genres: Military Suspense, Thriller

SEAL Team Six Outcasts ( #1)

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Published May 29, 2012

Publisher: Gallery Books/ 352 pgs

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They are the Outcasts. Because people don’t want to know what they do. 

Alex Brandenburg: SEAL Chief Petty Officer and Outcasts Team Leader. Disobeyed direct orders by refusing to let a deadly terrorist live to kill another day. Francisco “Pancho” Rodriguez and John Landry: SEAL Petty Officers First Class. Took the pursuit of justice into their own hands with explosive results. Catherine “Cat” Fares. Navy Petty Officer. Holds an unbeatable record for pissing off the top brass with her strongly stated opinions on the combat readiness of women. 

The team’s mission: Take out the seven terror merchants vying to take Bin Laden’s place. The team’s status: Expendable. 

When America’s controversial Phoenix Program was buried during the Vietnam War, a new program rose from its ashes. A top-secret Special Operations unit, with a core mission to combat terror wherever they find it, Bitter Ash grew ever more necessary in a new world of Islamic fanaticism. Now, Bitter Ash is forming a special team, a SEAL Team Six with a difference. It is Tier One, on par with SEAL Team Six and Delta, but it will report directly to Bitter Ash, and its fight will take place under the cover of dark. 

With Bin Laden dead, the petty leaders within al Qaeda struggle to assume his role at the top. The president of the United States doesn’t want any of them left to dominate . . . and that means he has only one choice. But doing what’s needed without political repercussions will take a small team flying under the radar. A team capable of finessing the U.N.’s distinctions on national sovereignty and acts of war. A team like the Outcasts. 

With no official support from their government and no one to rely on but themselves, the Outcasts must track down each target. Hot on the tail of the third, Brandenburg and the team start to realize that they are closing in on a larger plot, one that puts the security of the United States in dangerous jeopardy. The terrorists are threatening American territory once again, and the Outcasts will have to do what SEALs do best. Whatever it takes to keep their country safe.

Buy from Amazon: Outcasts: A SEAL Team Six Novel

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Release & Giveaway for The Swan & The Jackal (In the Company of Killers # 3)

I have read J.A. Redmerski’s popular NA romance, Edge of Never and really enjoyed the novel. Now, she has just released the third book in her adult series, In the Company of Killers. Read on to learn more about this series, take a look at an exclusive excerpt for the book,  and enter the giveaway for a chance to win signed copies of all three books in this series! The first book in the series is on sale for $.99 which is a great incentive to give the series a try, and I certainly plan to take advantage of this deal.

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The Swan & The Jackal (In the Company of Killer’s # 3) by J.A. Redmerski

An Adult Suspense/Crime/Thriller/Romantic Suspense

Releasing March 5, 2014

Amazon: The Swan and the Jackal (In the Company of Killers #3)

Fredrik Gustavsson never considered the possibility of love, or that anyone could ever understand or accept his dark and bloody lifestyle—until he met Seraphina, a woman as vicious and blood-thirsty as Fredrik himself. They spent two short but unforgettable years together, full of lust and killing and the darkest kind of love that two people can share.

And then Seraphina was gone.

It’s been six years since Fredrik’s lover and sadistic partner in crime turned his world upside-down. Seraphina went into hiding and has eluded him ever since. Now, he’s getting closer to finding her, and an innocent woman named Cassia is the key to drawing Seraphina from the shadows. But Cassia—after sustaining injuries from a fire that Seraphina ignited—suffers from amnesia and can’t give Fredrik the information he desperately seeks. Having no other choice, Fredrik has been keeping Cassia locked in his basement as he not only tries to get her to recall her past—because she and Seraphina share it—but also to protect her from Seraphina, who clearly wants her dead.

But Cassia is a light in the darkness that Fredrik never believed existed. After a year subjected to her kindness and compassion, he finds himself struggling with his love for Seraphina, and his growing feelings for Cassia—because he knows that to love one, the other must die.

Will light win out over darkness, or will something more powerful than either further destroy an already tortured soul?

(Note: THE SWAN & THE JACKAL is NOT a New Adult title.)

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Blog Tour & Giveaway for Peaceful Genocide

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Peaceful Genocide by J.A. Reynolds

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Publication Date: November 25, 2013

Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Thriller

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Seventeen-year-old Mitzi and Deuce can recall how many drops of water were on a leaf from a rainstorm five years ago and conversations from last week, month, or year. They have the ability to remember every second of everyday—since birth.

This gift has blessed Mitzi with a history of being sexually assaulted by researchers and abused by her own parents. She trusts no one. Likes no one. Deuce, however, is a high school standout. His gift has made him a superstar on the football field and his memory promises him endless opportunities.

When they both end up at an Alzheimer’s research facility under false proviso, they quickly realize this place isn’t what it seems to be. They endure crazy military-style tests, are forcefully drugged, and complete real-life simulations that haunt them.

Mitzi and Deuce have no idea what the researchers want to do with them or their memories. But one thing is clear: the researchers will go to any lengths to get what they want.

Book Tour, Review & Giveaway for Escape from Eden

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Escape from Eden by Elisa Nadir

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Publication Date: August 18, 2013

Genres: Young Adult, Thriller

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Since the age of ten, Mia has lived under the iron fist of the fundamentalist preacher who lured her mother away to join his fanatical family of followers. In Edenton, a supposed “Garden of Eden” deep in the South American jungle, everyone follows the Reverend’s strict but arbitrary rules—even the mandate of whom they can marry. Now sixteen, Mia dreams of slipping away from the armed guards who keep the faithful in, and the curious out. When the rebellious and sexy Gabriel, a new boy, arrives with his family, Mia sees a chance to escape.

But the scandalous secrets the two discover beyond the compound’s façade are more shocking than anything they ever imagined. While Gabriel has his own terrible secrets, he and Mia bond together, more than friends and freedom fighters. But is there time to think of each other as they race to stop the Reverend’s paranoid plan to free his flock from the corrupt world? Can two teenagers crush a criminal mastermind? And who will die in the fight to save the ones they love from a madman who’s only concerned about his own secrets?

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17245704-escape-from-eden?ac=1

Review of Identity X

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Published September 2013

Genre: Thriller

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18274174-identity-x?from_search=true

Identity X by Michelle Muckley

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Ben Stone has one aim; discover the cure for genetic disease. He watched his father die and promised himself that it would never happen again, especially to his own son. After his appointment as lead researcher in Bionics Laboratories he begins his desperate research. It takes four years, but he succeeds. He discovers NEMREC, a serum able to reconstruct DNA and cure the diseases that have driven him. It should be the beginning of a new future, but by changing the face of the world, he has unwittingly destroyed his own.

After arriving at his laboratory to find that it has disappeared, he is sucked into a world of conspiracy and betrayal. The Agency wants NEMREC and will do anything to get it, believing it to be the most powerful scientific discovery in decades. But it wasn’t just NEMREC that they wanted. The Agency wanted Ben dead, but somehow he survived. His best friend, his wife, and Ami, the beautiful scientist who he has fallen for at work all offer to help him, but each has a different version of the truth. They all have their own agenda, only one of them wants what he wants, and in a world where you are already dead, how is it that you are supposed to survive?

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Blog Tour & Giveaway for A Vampire Trilogy Book III: Isle of the Undead

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A Vampire Trilogy Book III: Isle of the Undead by N.E. Tovell

9781475909982_COVER.inddGenre: Horror/Thriller
Publisher: iUniverse

Eight years have passed since Galian McDermot moved to Ireland to take his place in the Celtic world as the Tribunal Judicial Officer and King. The unlikely union of Galian and Delbeth has survived all attempts to destroy them. Together, they now live in a converted castle on the Isle of Man that holds their growing family of blended vampires—each with his or her own special faerie gift.

Galian and Delbeth now have proof that it was Delbeth’s former boyfriend, Johan, who assassinated the old Tribunal. Worse yet, before his death, he recruited other conspirators in South America to carry out his plan for world domination and they are continuing his evil plan to develop his own world order in South America. Unknown to mortals, Delbeth and Galian begin populating the world with their special offspring while others secretly toil to destroy creation. But when Delbeth’s grandfather asks the family to raise two infant faerie girls, they agree, setting off a chain of events that culminates in a final battle where the Celtic plan is finally revealed.
As their fae spell comes to fruition, Delbeth and Galian bring the world hope as they govern from the Isle of Man and attempt to defend against the forces bent on their destruction.

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Spotlight for Not for Profit

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Not for Profit (The Dr. Scott James Thriller Series – Book #1) by Glenn Shepard, MD

Book Description

Renowned plastic surgeon Dr. Scott James is charged with murder after two bodies are found at his surgery center. Just weeks before the start of his capital murder trial, Dr. James is approached by a beautiful woman claiming she can help him gain information that would prove his innocence.

As James hunts down the evidence that might free him, he faces a barrage of threats to his life and liberty—and makes one chilling discovery after another: Corporate corruption. A conspiracy to frame him for murder and for terrorist acts. A secret drone-control operation that takes out targets in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The true identity and intent of his beautiful ally. And a plot to blow up the local hospital and surrounding community.

Read the First Two Chapters

Chapter 1

Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, 6 a.m., Three Months Earlier

            “Alpha Charlie, Alpha Charlie, get ready for action!  The target’s on the move!”

The words vibrated in Charlie’s earpiece as he sat bolt upright, and flexed his 220 pound, 6 foot 2-inch frame.  He had spent the last four days glued to the monitors, never leaving the control center, even as the other eight members of the Air Force forensics team took brief meal and sleep breaks.  Alpha Charlie was a CIA-hired civilian contractor whose mission in Afghanistan was to control pilotless aircraft and destroy enemy targets.  Ninety six hours ago, he was scheduled to return to his civilian job in America, when forensics identified the Al-Qaeda leader, Muhamed Bin Garza, only 230 miles away in the Mir Ali area of North Waziristan.  He cancelled his flight home.

It had been two years since they had a positive ID on Bin Garza.  And Charlie wanted blood.

The notorious Al-Qaeda leader was responsible for the suicide bombing in Mumbai, Amman, London, and Somalia, and had connections to the World Trade Center attack in New York.  Now he was a sitting duck.  He had been spotted while entering a complex of tents and adobe houses adjacent to the mountains and caves.  He would be leaving any moment now.  This was the one and only chance Alpha Charlie would ever have to eliminate Bin Garza.  Bin Garza’s death would be the ultimate notch in his gun barrel.  His job back home could wait.  He had taken out terrorists before, but Bin Garza was the trophy he had been training and waiting his whole life for.

Alpha Charlie was stationed in one of two identical Quonset huts on the base, both sitting within 50 meters of each other.  In the first hut, the US Air Force forensics team was housed.  Their function was to make the drones airborne, to locate and identify targets, and to land the vehicles when their missions were completed.  Alpha Charlie sat in a single chair in the second hut.

But this was no ordinary chair.  It was a one-of-a-kind control chair loaded with hundreds of computer systems that required delicate manipulations.  At the end of each armrest were two joysticks, one for each hand. Both were equipped with a dozen buttons, some black and others red, all with separate and distinct functionalities.  Ever since he was 12 years old, Charlie played video arcade games.  He had mastered the games almost immediately, having innately good reflexes and hand-eye coordination.  He also lacked moral qualms… about anything.  After winning several gaming competitions in his late 20s, he was contacted by the CIA and accepted their offer to move from murdering virtual foes to slaughtering real ones.

The CIA granted him access to a new program which involved piloting drones.  Very quickly, Charlie had learned to operate them as well as the Air Force’s best pilots.  His penchant for video games made his skills acute, and these gaming skills readily transferred to drone operation.  His immediate mastery of the pilotless aircraft meant an underlying talent that many of the professional pilots lacked.  They were readily trainable, but not one had the innate ability to pick up the controls of an aircraft with which they had no experience and so quickly be able to operate it with such a sharp degree of precision.  Charlie had even proven himself to be brilliant under pressure and once he tasted actual combat, he gained a voracious appetite for it.  The thrill of killing a virtual terrorist couldn’t compare to the rush of killing one made of flesh and blood.

Air Force Colonel Ben Edwards, the director of the operation, ran into Charlie’s hut.  He glanced at Alpha Charlie’s hands as they moved the joysticks.  Edwards marveled at how Charlie’s fingers glided over the controls and easily performed maneuvers that his other “pilots” struggled with.

Suddenly Edwards saw it – the blinking red light on the fuel gauge.  One hundred pounds of fuel left.  Seventy two miles of “life” left in the fuel tank, not enough to get the aircraft halfway back to Kandahar.  He screamed, “Charlie!  You’re running out of fuel!”

Alpha Charlie pretended not to hear.  He had already extended the flight time five hours using the updrafts of the mountains to conserve fuel and lowering the speed to 320 MPH, but he was concerned.  An hour ago, he ordered his Global Hawk fuel carrier, yet it was not on his radar screen.  Well, that’s a problem he didn’t have time for.

His focus remained locked on the three monitors in front of him.  Screen A showed a scurry of activity in the small, peaceful Haqqui tribal village.  Bin Garza was going for a ride.  That was it!   Charlie’s waiting was over.  He leaned forward and watched carefully.

In the center of the village, a 1960s Mercedes sedan and a 1980s Chrysler New Yorker were parked in front of an adobe house.  Alongside the two cars, a small entourage surrounded three men who had just left the house and were walking to the vehicles.  A dozen cheering villagers reached to touch the men as guards pushed them aside.  On Screen B, the forensics experts focused on the faces of the men and enlarged them.  Screen C showed a broad view of the 5 square mile area surrounding the target.

Screen A showed the men getting into the two cars, while screen B flipped through stills of the faces.  Then the camera fine-tuned portrait quality images.  Charlie heard excitement build from the other hut, “That’s definitely Bin Garza!”

“And that’s his number two, Shakel, with him!  We can get two for the price of one, if we hit ’em now!”  The third man on the screen kept his shumag pulled over his face and was not able to be identified.

Colonel Edwards shouted across the room, “Alpha Charlie, we have Al-Qaeda’s two top men together.  Targets confirmed!  It’s now or never.  Get ’em!”

Alpha Charlie turned to Screen A, the target monitor showing live pictures from the MQ-4A Global Hawk drone he controlled.  This model was the largest and best equipped drone in his fleet, but it was brand new and untested.  It had been airborne for nearly 48 hours and circled the area at 50,000 feet, filming the area where Pakistani intelligence had said these men were staying.  Sweat dripped down Charlie’s brow as he saw the plummeting fuel gauge now reading empty.

Time was running out.  Charlie focused the camera, centering it on the now moving car.

A pissed off Edwards looked at Screen C.  “Fuck!  There’s a hill!  They’ll disappear behind it in 20 seconds!  Charlie, you gotta strike NOW!”

Alpha Charlie did not respond, but he heard Edwards.  He had one shot and didn’t want to fuck it up.  His mental clock ticked down – 20, 19, 18; he remained calm and showed no signs of tension.  His left hand guided a blinking red target square over the car.  With the image of the square fixed to the target, Charlie centered the X.

CLICK!  The Hellfire missile locked on the Mercedes.  Twelve, 11, 10…

Charlie quickly touched the red trigger button with his thumb and fired the 5 foot long missile which carried over 30 pounds of explosives.  At a speed of 950 MPH, the missile would be paying the Mercedes a surprise visit within 3 seconds.

But would it get there in time?

 

The Mir Ali Village, 6:04 a.m.

            A high-pitched WHIRRR, like that of a model airplane, filled the sky above the village.  The driver of the Mercedes looked up and saw the silvery flash of reflected sunlight emerging from the obscurity of the mountain behind.

As the driver accelerated, he saw the 5 foot long Hellfire missile speeding towards them.  Bin Garza screamed in terror as he gripped the seat of the car and braced himself.  The explosion was tremendous, ripping the men and car to pieces.

A hundred feet away, the unidentified man in the shumag, Omar Farok, felt his Chrysler bounce around like a toy ball.  The concussion of the impact nearly deafened him.  He watched from the Chrysler as a fireball swallowed up the Mercedes; then, there was only a blinding cloud of smoke and dirt.

Fortunately for Farok, his driver was familiar with the terrain of this village and the Chrysler instantly turned left onto a mountain path dodging around three trees.  As the Chrysler slammed to a halt, a petrified Farok dove out of the car and ran into a mountain cave.  He sat trembling in the cave as he watched another Hellfire missile devour the Chrysler in a ball of red flames, engulfing his driver as he tried to escape.

Farok’s voice echoed inside the cave, “American pigs, I swear on Allah’s blessed name, you will pay for this!”

The Kandahar Drone Control Center, 6:05 a.m.

            Col. Edwards and his forensics team cheered!

But Alpha Charlie did not celebrate, even as the refueling aircraft in the sky above saved his drone from sputtering to the earth on its last pound of fuel.  Sure, Charlie was pleased about the millions that he had made from this kill.  This extra money would allow him to shift his drone control station and missiles back home and continue his missions from there, but still, he wasn’t about to jump up and down and cheer.  He’d done his job.

He stood as bottles of Dom Perignon were uncorked.  Without fanfare, Charlie grabbed a drink and downed it.  Then, he poured himself another.

As he swallowed, he thought to himself, ‘All in a day’s work’. 

Chapter 2

The Surgery Center, Jackson City, N.C., 7 p.m., Three Months Later

If you were to walk into my cosmetic surgery office, you’d see that I designed a space that is healing, orderly and serene.  There are no crystals or there is no new age music playing, but there’s a little waterfall and many of the walls and open spaces feature my favorite flower – the orchid.

My orchids are always resplendent with gorgeous colored blooms – hot pink, deep magenta, white with mauve spots.  I care for all the plants myself by watering them, limiting the amount of sunlight, and constantly measuring and altering the composition of the soil.  In my office, you’ll always find a colorful Doritaenopsis.

My favorite is the pure white Phalaenopsis to the left of the waterfall.  When I first opened my office, a patient sent that to me, but it was solid blue — an unnatural color for an orchid.  I sensed that someone blue-inked the roots, like the blue roses in Kipling’s poems.  Saturating a flower in ink always seemed wrong and angered me in the same way that a bad facelift did.  In my mind, there were absolute rights and wrongs in this world.  A person’s face shouldn’t be stretched so tight that their eyes and lips get distorted, and a white orchid should remain pure white.

I became obsessed with that Phalaenopsis, nurturing it (in a back room, of course) until it bloomed again and this time, it was the purest white of any orchid I ever had.  I look at the broken pieces of Orchis sitting in my waiting room every day and I try my best to put her back together.  And most of the time, I succeed.  Except today.  Today was not going so well…

“Why’s it taking her so long to recover from the anesthetic?” I asked as I removed my surgical gown and gloves.  I arched my back, stiff from bending over so much.  After 12 hours of surgery, I was exhausted.  I’d just hit 40 and I was really starting to feel it.

I smiled at my anesthesiologist, Dr. Boyd Carey.  “Two face lifts, two liposuctions and three augmentation mammoplasties is enough for one day.”

Dr. Carey did not return the smile.  He looked over his half-frame glasses and shrugged.  “If you hadn’t bowed to Keyes’ ridiculous demand to keep her privacy by sending your two nurses home early, her “auggie” would have only taken 45 minutes.”  Carey was a thin vegan who would’ve probably been happier if he ate a burger once and awhile.  Fine wrinkles in his 45-year-old dark skin made him look 60.

I took off my surgical cap and finger-combed my hair.  “Come on now, Boyd.  Relax.  Hey, at least we aren’t working in the tobacco fields.”

“Oh God, you’re not going to start in again on your childhood stories of slaving away in the fields to pay for college—”

“I could if—”

“Please, spare me.”

Carey turned to the patient for a minute and then tilted his head back and faced me again.  “No.  She’s still sound asleep.  And that’s another thing, Scott.  We should have given her Propaphol, like we do on all our patients.  She’d be awake by now.  But no! You always grant all your patient’s every wish and kiss their surgically-raised asses.”

Ethel Keyes had been my office manager for the past two months.  She was a hard worker with a sweet personality; everyone who came in contact with her liked her.  I had never before employed anyone who so quickly endeared herself to everyone.  And it probably didn’t hurt that she was a 32-year-old blonde who looked like a high fashion model.

Just a few days ago, Keyes had confided to me that she always felt uncomfortable with her body as she thought her breasts were too small.  She had done such a great job in the office, revamping my billing system, changing the office health insurance to a less expensive and more comprehensive plan, and computerized all my office records, that I offered to do a breast auggie surgery for her – pro bono.

However, it was a mistake.  Beyond the ethical issues involved in operating on employees, she proved to be a difficult patient from the beginning: refusing Propaphol as her anesthetic because it killed Michael Jackson; forbidding the use of the second best medication, intravenous Versed, because she didn’t like its amnesic properties, and insisting on an older style of anesthesia, Valium and Demerol, but in reduced doses.

She argued that she was sensitive to all sedatives.  Sure enough, it took only 2 mg of Valium and 50 mg of Demerol to knock her completely out.  Most people required 10 mg of Valium and 100 mg of Demerol with touch-up medications given as the patients got “light”.  No additional drugs were needed today as she slept soundly.  And kept on sleeping even after the procedure ended and Dr. Carey and I waited … and waited for her to wake up.

I leaned over the OR table and tapped her cheeks lightly.  “Ms. Keyes, Ms. Keyes, can you hear me?”

Her response was a snore.

I clasped my hands behind my back, pressing on my tired paraspinal muscles.  My perpetual smile turned to a frown.

Dr. Carey growled, “She hasn’t had enough sedation to hurt a fly.  You should just go home.  I’ll watch her until she wakes up.  At least one of us should be able to enjoy this evening.”

“No.  I’m not leaving until she’s awake.”

“Fine.  Go into your office.”  Carey reached out, cupped her left breast and with a smirk uttered, “I’ll keep you abreast of everything here.”

“Jesus, Boyd, get your hands off of her.  She’s under for Christ’s sake!”

“Alright, Sir Galahad, guardian of fair maidens.  Go get some coffee and I’ll call you when she’s awake enough for discharge.  It shouldn’t be long.”

I hesitated before leaving the room.  “I’ll be in the waiting room.  Call me and I’ll be back in a second it there’s a problem.”

As I left the OR, I pulled out my IPhone and called my wife, Alicia.  I told her of the situation with Keyes.

She answered, “Alright, do what you have to.  But there’s always something to keep you there late.  The boys wanted to see you and— I’ll put the boys to sleep and keep your tuna casserole hot in the oven,” she sighed as she continued, “Again!”

I walked to my waiting room to talk to Anna Duke, the friend that was to pick up Keyes after surgery.  But when I got there, she wasn’t there so I sat down on the sofa and relaxed.

This room is my favorite part of the office.  It’s got a huge skylight, custom stereo, a waterfall with a 4 foot drop, and a dozen blooming orchids.  I turned on a Miles Davis CD and flicked on the multi-colored lights that glowed behind the flowing water.  When my architect had told me that it was impossible to put everything I wanted in this room without knocking down all the walls, I paid him his fee and let him go.

Then I went online, did my research, and installed it all myself.  I’m sure I could have hired someone else to do it faster, but I found that I really enjoyed learning about plumbing and wiring.  In fact, I’d had so much fun doing it, next on my agenda is to buy and fix up an old Victorian house in the low country of the Carolinas one day.  The operative word being “one day” since these days I really couldn’t imagine doing much of anything else with my 80-hour work schedule.

I sat back, smelled the sweet fragrance of his cymbidium and zygopetalum orchids, closed my eyes, and dictated the seven operations I performed that day.

* * * * *

Meanwhile in the operating room only 30 feet away,  a shadow caught Dr. Boyd Carey’s eye.  Carey quickly turned and saw a light reflect off of something in the air, something swinging at him.

It hit him hard in the neck, almost knocking him over.  Immediately, he reached towards his neck and felt a painful jab and a burning sensation.

He tried to turn to face his attacker, but his body wouldn’t move.  Again, the hand slammed him with the sharp object.  Carey wanted to lift his arms to protect himself, but they dropped limply at his side.  His legs grew weak.  His muscles quivered uncontrollably.

His mouth opened to scream, but he couldn’t make a sound.  Both knees buckled and his body dropped to the floor.

* * * * *

I heard a THUMP!  I ran to the OR, opened the door and saw Dr. Carey lying there!

I looked over at the OR table.  Keyes was still sleeping with the monitors showing a normal blood pressure, pulse, and EKG.

I dropped to my knees beside Carey.  There was no pulse.  Jerking the stethoscope from his white lab coat, I listened to his chest.  There was only a faint bump…bump…bump.  I pounded my fist on Carey’s chest and listened again.  Placing the heel of my hand on his lower sternum, I compressed the chest six times before blowing into Carey’s mouth.  His heart sounds were slow and distant.

For the first time in my surgical career, I felt panic-stricken.  What had happened?  I’d only been gone a few minutes.

 Quickly, I dialed 911.  “A man’s been stabbed.  He’s dying!  I need help.  Please send an ambulance STAT!”

About the Author

Shepard, Glenn Color 9986-3Dr. Glenn Shepard was raised on a farm in eastern Virginia.  He attended the University of Virginia on an academic scholarship and majored in psychology. As an undergraduate, he lettered in wrestling for three years in a row. Then, he went on to become the only person in UVA history to letter in wrestling again in his sophomore year in medical school.

After completion of med school at UVA, he went to Vanderbilt where he completed his residency in general and cardiovascular surgery. He spent two years in the Army at the Ft. Gordon Army Hospital in Augusta, Georgia and The Second Surgical Hospital in An Khe, Vietnam.

While in Vietnam, he wrote his first work of fiction, Surge, which is on his back burner of works to dig out of the attic and publish, with major revisions, in the future.

He trained in plastic surgery at Duke University, becoming board certified in General Surgery and Plastic surgery. He opened his own Surgery Center in Eastern Virginia, where he worked for 23 years, mostly in a solo practice, before joining a large plastic surgery group.

For 28 years, he founded and directed The Peninsula Cranio-Facial deformities clinic that was staffed by volunteer medical, dental, social services, psychology, and speech pathology experts. The group treated over five hundred patients with cleft lips and palates, as well as a variety of deformities of the face and hand.

Shepard founded, funded, and directed the Riverside Microvascular Research Lab, in which he studied the basic science of wound healing, the development of cleft palates, new techniques in palatal repair, and the regeneration of injured fingernails. He published numerous scientific publications on his work in the lab and clinic.

After the massive Earthquake in Haiti in January, 2010, Dr. Shepard emerged from retirement and joined the Notre Dame Hospital unit in Leogane, Haiti for a 10 day rotation. His empathy for the people and their problems as well as his admiration for the contributions of time and talent from medical personnel from all over the world greatly inspired his second novel, Relief Aid, Haiti.

All his adult life, he has studied and collected American Art of the Hudson River genre. Also, he collects paintings of the prominent Virginia artist, Barclay Sheaks. Currently, he’s writing the authorized biography of the artist.

For six years, he worked with two high school wrestling programs, one that was a perpetual state champion, and the other, a perpetual runner-up in the state meet.  He wisely quit after a heavy weight wrestler broke three of his ribs.

Apart from gaining pleasure from writing as his primary hobby for the past twelve years, he is an avid fly fisherman, spending much of his free time fishing on the Chesapeake Bay and at his farm near Williamsburg. There he enjoys nature hikes, observing and photographing the abundant deer population, and always searching for new bird species that might wander off their migratory paths into his view.

Dr. Shepard has also become involved in aquaculture and raises hybrid rock fish, rainbow trout, and fresh water shrimp.  While this is not yet a profitable enterprise, it provides a delicious seafood addition to his annual Bluegrass and Barbecue Party.  While he has been known to play a mean banjo, he prefers to provide himself as an audience for the many and more talented singers and pickers in his area.

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Review of The Oxygen Wasters

Book Cover

Purchase on Amazon  The Oxygen Wasters

 

The Oxygen Wasters by L A Greyson

Book Description

A casual drink with a childhood friend turns Eden Franks’ quiet San Francisco life upside down, and leads him on a fast paced dangerous quest to eliminate five “Oxygen Wasters” in order to save the lives of his own family. Nine thousand miles away, a Sri Lankan housemaid fights for her life after suffering horrific torture and sexual abuse at the hands of her sadistic employers. In the isolated sand dunes on the outskirts of Dubai, a Saudi Arabian couple are kidnapped and left to die in the scorching heat. The Oxygen Wasters tells the story of how these character’s paths overlap, and how easily the line between survival and revenge becomes blurred.

Book Review

“The first skill is always the hardest.” 

(-from The Oxygen Wasters)

This dramatic thriller caught my attention because of its intriguing angle, a select group of average, everyday citizens get ensnared into a deadly covert multi-government-run operation called “The Project”  that forces them to become assassins of those deemed “oxygen wasters,” people declared unworthy to continue living because of their evil deeds and lack of respect for humanity.

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The protagonist of the story is Eden Franks who meets his close family friend John over drinks one night. Little does he know that meeting will make him question his ethics and values, prove his loyalty, and commit murder in the name of justice to save the lives of those he loves.

Do you remember  the days of dreaded chain letters? You receive a copy of a letter from a good friend who passed it on to you in the hopes of having future good luck or, as I can remember, to avoid falling under the letter’s curse.

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Once you have the letter, you have to decide what to do with it. Do you just ball it up, throw it away, and forget about it, thinking you won’t have any bad luck for ignoring the demand to send it on to a designated number of friends? Or do you invest the effort into passing it on to your friends in the hopes that the letter will continue its journey and all those involved will benefit in some way? “The Project” operates in a similar manner, except the stakes are much, much higher with deadly consequences for those who fail to fulfill their obligations within a specified time frame.

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John has passed the metaphorical chain letter to Eden. Eden must become an assassin and eliminate five people whose heinous crimes have gone unpunished.  Eden is an everyday, average citizen, successful businessman, husband, and father. He could be your colleague, your neighbor, or even worse…your friend.  John has just put the fate of his family and himself in Eden’s hands. If Eden fails to eliminate five targets within one year, then someone in John’s family will be executed. This looming threat serves to ensure the continuation of the program and its secrecy.

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I was a bit surprised at the process used to target someone. Eden isn’t just given a list of names; he actually has to select a person that he deems unfit to live any longer. However, he must have his choice approved by “The Project’s” secret board before he can proceed with the assassination.

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Eden also has to choose the method of for the kill as well.  It’s quite interesting to see his thought process as he makes these decisions.

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The storyline surprised me as well. I had thought more of the story would revolve around Eden’s journey to complete the mission and the inner turmoil and anguish he experiences.  Instead, however, much of the book centers on the “oxygen wasters” and their victims. Eden selects candidates from third world countries (Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Bangkok) and travels across the world to find his approved targets. Greyson immerses readers into these foreign cultures and provides a glimpse into the suffering of those who live in poverty and the difficult choices they make to survive.

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Greyson has created villains who are easy to despise and pass judgment upon, and sympathetic victims who endure horrendous abuse.

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At times, I was uncomfortable reading about these violent acts. These scenes aren’t described in explicit detail but have enough description to make it easy to imagine.

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The antagonists were one-dimensional evil, stock characters with no redeeming qualities.  In fact, some of these characters and their actions were, at times, too far-fetched for me to accept.

I think the story’s plot would have been stronger if Eden’s played a more dominant role in the story. Too many POVs caused disruptions to the flow of the story and caught me off guard. The book could have used one more round of editing, but the errors really didn’t hinder my reading experience.

I like that Greyson left the conclusion of the book open for a sequel, and I appreciate the thought provoking ideas about morality and ethics that are raised in this story.

This debut novel shows a promising start to a possible series.

I received a copy of this book from the author to provide an honest review.

Rating

Sunny-icon revised 40Sunny-icon revised 40Sunny-icon revised 40

 

About the Author

author

I enjoy learning about new cultures, exploring new places, and have visited 79 countries so far, but have quite a few more still on my wish list.

I have worked in the field of Human Resources for over 20 years, primarily working with large US corporations with international offices. I hold a Master’s degree in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Development from Brigham Young University – Hawaii.

Working in the corporate world, global traveling, world cultures, and current news events all largely impact my life, and greatly influence my writing.

The Oxygen Wasters is my debut novel.