Duty of Care and The Caretakers

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Sydney Jamesson and her mystery/suspense novels Duty of Care and The Caretakers.

Author’s description

DUTY OF CARE:

 

On her death bed Emily Derbyshire’s mother made her promise to take good care of her little sister. Keeping her promise, twelve-year-old Emily did exactly that and became five-year-old Rita’s benefactor and bodyguard.

 

After eighteen years of sisterly devotion Emily receives some shocking news! Rita has committed suicide. When disturbing details start to surface, Emily puts her highflying career on hold to seek out those responsible. She hires an American private investigator Robert Blackmoor; a motorbike riding, no-frills, computer hacker who will use any means necessary to unearth the truth.

 

Not surprisingly, Robert uncovers secrets from Emily’s troubled childhood and chips away at the glossy veneer of deceit which masks the truth behind, not only Rita’s life, but Emily’s imperfect life too.

 

Together they assemble the pieces of a sinister puzzle, revealing a cruel and corrupt world of exploitation and murder: a Dark Web into which Rita has become entangled.

 

As dark forces encircling Emily tighten their grip, and with everything to lose, she must make a life and death decision that she may live to regret.

 

THE CARETAKERS:

 

Emily Parsons is a product of a difficult childhood: self-reliant, fiercely protective and willing to do whatever it takes to safeguard the wellbeing of those in her care. She has even slayed a monster, or two … or three in the name of poetic justice, and yet she is haunted by the image of a beautiful blond girl.

 

Sixteen-year-old Louise Travis has been abducted.

 

Louise’ fate rested in Emily’s hands, but she let her slip through her fingers like gold dust, only to be swept away by a malevolent band of brothers.

 

By once again enlisting the help of computer hacker, Robert Blackmoor, Emily must find Louise before she is lost forever in a Dark Web of heinous crimes, cruelty and corruption. The clock is ticking, and Emily’s investigation is drawing the wrong kind of attention, but she will not back down. She is duty bound to protect those she loves.

 

With skeletons from her past being unearthed, who can she turn to, and who can she trust with her own sinister secrets?


In this guest post, author Sydney Jamesson takes a tongue in cheek approach to writing psychological suspense and advises us “Don’t try this at home!”

Follow the Firework Code

Reading a psychological suspense novel is a bit like watching someone throw a firework onto a camp fire; at some point you know that sparks will fly but you can’t predict the size or the force with which they might strike you down.

All you can do is watch and wait!


Dear writer of psychological suspense,

Even though you might be tempted, at no point should you provide too much information too soon for your reader. Finding out what kinds of firework you have thrown into the fire is half the fun; giving too much away too soon will only ruin the experience of finding out for themselves.

It also follows that you shouldn’t foreshadow the explosion with suggestions of safety wear: a flack jacket, a visor … In doing to you’ll spoil their anticipation and have them running for cover before the touch paper catches alight.

What you should do, is provide your reader with distractions, throw in a red herring or two, clues as to the timing of the big bang, prepare them for the moment of revelation but be subtle, allow the firework to hiss and sizzle without actually blowing up in their face.

As for the psychological aspect of the story, you can expect the reader to ask, where did the fireworks come from, who threw them into the fire and what was their motivation for doing such a dangerous thing? And you need to have some really impressive answers slotted into your backstory or the plot just won’t ignite the imagination of the reader.

You can always fan the flames with an unhealthy dousing of obsession.  Psychological thrillers often contain powerful emotions like dread and fear, or elements of horror like trauma and shock. As the flames in begin to leap and dance before the reader’s eyes they will start to see the story taking shape, sparks will fly and spread like wildfire in their imagination…

Only when the heat is rising should you allow the firework to explode, to shower your reader with glowing pieces of a puzzle they hadn’t quite figured out.

As with any firework display you hope your reader will applaud and leave the smouldering mass that remains smiling with satisfaction—they should leave knowing they have been entertained!

A word of warning: playing with fireworks can be dangerous. Make sure you know what you’re handling and that your reader stands well back. You don’t want them to get their fingers burned … how then would they write a review?

About the Author

Sydney Jamesson is a USA Today bestselling author by night and an English teacher by day. She is nocturnal by nature and loves nothing more than staying up late, listening to music and being inspired to write. She has always written creatively; in her home is one enormous wastepaper basket full of discarded phrases, opening lines and pieces of dialogue that have hit her like lightning in the middle of the night. Her USA Today bestselling trilogy, THE STORY OF US sold worldwide, and she has been thrilled to continue Ayden Stone’s and Beth Parker’s epic love story in The Story of Us Series: Into the Blue, featuring Blue Genes, Blue Hearts and Blue Moon.

More recently, Sydney has focused on psychological suspense. THE DARKEST CORNERS was her first venture into the new genre: a complex love story filled with lots of angst, emotional scenes and edge of your seat suspense as a single father and a troubled young woman confront their deepest, darkest fears together. The twists come think and fast and the ending is unforgettable!

In her latest novels, DUTY OF CARE and THE CARETAKERS – THE DUTY BOUND DUET -readers explore the seedier side of the Dark Web; witness abduction, human trafficking, and a devoted sister’s willingness to do whatever it takes to safeguard the wellbeing of those in her care. It’s a real page turner, filled with incidents which are heart-breaking and heart-stopping in equal measure!

Find the Author

Website:     https://www.sydneyjamesson.com/
Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/Sydney-Jamesson-516585008400062/
Twitter:       https://twitter.com/SydneyJamesson
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7074207.Sydney_Jamesson
Instagram:   https://www.instagram.com/jamessonauthor/

Buy the Books

DUTY OF CARE:
AMAZON:  https://www.amazon.com/Duty-of-Care-Sydney-Jamesson-ebook/dp/B08CNGJVGF
GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54443373-duty-of-care

THE CARETAKERS
AMAZON US:   https://www.amazon.com/The-Caretakers-Sydney-Jamesson-ebook/dp/B08CNKPLH5
AMAZON: UK   https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08CNKPLH5

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $50 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

GF

My Favorite Excerpt

Duty of Care  Chapter 8  May 1998

MAY CAME WITH A vengeance. Mid-month, there was an outbreak of whooping cough.

Like a wrathful ogre wielding a scythe, it struck down the young, the frail and faint-hearted. Aged five, Rita Derbyshire was incapable of escaping its relentless assault. Emily was quick to read the signs: a lack of appetite, flushed cheeks and a wracking cough that had her gasping for breath.

Despite the outbreak, an ineffectual night shift worker was reluctant to respond. He locked the office when Emily asked to use the phone to call for an ambulance and staggered to bed stinking of whisky and tobacco, claiming it was too late to drive anyone to the hospital.

Fearing Rita might die, Emily raised hell, had the O’Farrell twins rouse anyone who was not struck down with the illness to dress warmly, to put on gloves and meet her in the kitchen. When they were assembled, bleary eyed and shivering, she explained that if they did not work as a team that night, then some of them would die.

Remembering what she had read on the computer at school about the illness, she paired them up and handed one of them a bowl of steaming water. Their partner was to guide them slowly to one of the ailing girls. They were to hold the whooping girl over the bowl under a towel and encourage her to inhale the steam. Once the water had stopped steaming, then they had to do it all again. Having organised them, she returned to Rita and did the same for her. The caravan of bowl carriers continued through the night.

When the day shift worker, Cassie Hendricks, arrived at eight in the morning, she was horrified to see the kitchen in disarray and bowls of every shape and size scattered on corridors amid puddles of freezing water. She assumed they had been having a pyjama party or a midnight feast of some sort. It was not until Emily appeared wearing yesterday’s clothes carrying a pale faced little girl across her arms fighting for breath that she realised what had gone on.

Close to exhaustion, Emily cried out, “Cassie, Rita needs to go to hospital, right now!” Around her stood a group of ashen faced girls, some still clutching bowls. “You need to call a doctor because there are lots of sick kids here.”

Without saying a word, Cassie pulled her phone out of the back pocket of her jeans and made a couple of calls.

Fly Twice Backward

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author David S. McCracken and his alt-history sci-fi novel, Fly Twice Backward.

Author’s description

You wake back in early adolescence, adult memories intact, including ones that could make you very wealthy now. Your birth family is here, alive again, but your later families are gone, perhaps forever. What has happened, what should you do about coming problems like violence, ignorance, pollution, and global warming? You realize one key connects most, the fundamentalist strains of all the major religions, disdaining science, equality, and social welfare. You see that there are some things you can change, some you can’t, and one you don’t dare to.

Fellow idealists help you spend your growing fortune well–such as an artistic Zoroastrian prince in the Iranian oil industry, a rising officer in the Soviet army working to find a way to destroy his corrupt government, a Bahai woman struggling against Islamic brutality, a Peruvian leader working for a liberal future, and a snake-handling Christian minister, grappling with doubts, sexuality, and destiny. They are supported by an ally who develops essential psychic powers. The group faces familiar-looking corrupt politicians, religious leaders, and corporate czars, but there is an ancient force in the background, promoting greed, violence, hate, and fear.

This exciting, emotional, thoughtful, humorous, and even romantic sci-fi novel weaves progressivism, music, movies, and literature into a struggle spanning the globe. Vivid characters propel the action back up through an alternative history toward an uncertain destination. Experience the unique story and its novel telling.

About this Book

The premise of this book fascinates me, and I’m looking forward to reading all of it. I’d hoped to do so before this post, but frankly it’s daunting length (723 pages) put a kink in those plans. However, I’m going to make a few observations.

  1. I started the book and thoroughly enjoyed the beginning. The author does a credible job of describing an incredible event — a man of today waking up in the 1950’s to find himself the child he once was.
  2. McCracken tries a lot of ambitious things in this novel, and one is providing links to songs and other media intended to enhance his story. It’s a clever idea! I know because I tried it in 2012, in my first novel called x0 (and later renamed One of One)* and I thought it was brilliant at the time. The wave of the future. My own experience was that some readers loved it, some found it a real distraction, and most ignored it. Perhaps I chose my links poorly, but in the end it took far too much effort to maintain them and I ended up rewriting the book (and four others) removing links entirely. I wish author McCracken a better experience with this idea!
  3. I skimmed through much of the long middle of this book. It appears to be a complicated but basically well-written story with a lot of action. Subdivided into decades, I zipped through the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and 00’s.
  4. I also looked at some of the reviews, because I always do that, and I saw some heavy criticism for the author’s inclusion of his personal political views. There is no question he has done that, but so do many if not most science fiction authors. From Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged on through Robert Heinlein’s The Moon is  Harsh Mistress up to Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s War, this genre has a long history of swaying hearts and minds, and not always in the direction I’d like to see them swayed. As a left-leaning independent* I thought the counter balance McCracken offers to this legacy was a refreshing change of pace.
  5. I skipped ahead and read the end. I hardly ever do that, but so often such ambitious novels struggle to tie everything together and I was curious. No, I won’t give anything away, but only say the end was a frantic, action filled sequence told from several points of view. It was fascinating to read and appeared to tie up several story lines nicely. I’ll have to read the whole thing, of course, to really know how well it does, but after my quick perusal, I’m looking forward to this.

*I wouldn’t normally talk about myself in a review, but lucky for me this isn’t really a review.

About the Author

David McCracken was born in Louisville, KY, in 1940. Raised mostly in Winchester, KY, he now lives in Northern Virginia, with his third and final wife. He has three children, two stepchildren, and six grandchildren.

After three years in the U.S. Navy following a lackluster academic start, he graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1963, in Diplomacy and International Commerce. He then worked as a Latin American country desk officer in the U.S. Department of Commerce until he returned to school to earn an M.A. in Elementary Education in 1970 from Murray State University, having always been intending to teach. Eventually realizing his children qualified for reduced-price lunches based on his own teaching salary, he studied computer programming at Northern Virginia Community College and worked as a programmer until shifting back into elementary teaching.

He began working on what became Fly Twice Backward in 1983 and finally finished it in 2019! At 79, David strongly doubts he’ll be doing another novel of such scope and complexity, but is preparing to work on a children’s science fiction novel with a progressive bent, being a devout progressive in politics and religion, as well as a lover of learning.

Find the Author

Official Author Site: https://flytwicebackward.blogspot.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55088067-fly-twice-backward

Buy the Book

Buy Link:  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07Z4KRLQZ/

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

Waiting for breakfast, reading the Sunday paper at the table, I realize Mom’s not heading for the kitchen: Oh, oh! It’s church day. Mass. Fasting. Acolyting! What’m I going to do about that?

“Mom, am I supposed to serve today?”

“Of course!”

“Well, I can’t. I have no idea how to do that anymore. I guess we need to call Padre and tell him I’m sick.”

“No, David, we’re not playing that game today!”

“Mom, I hate to say this now, but I have no choice. I don’t know how to serve, so I can’t do it, and, frankly, I’m not ever going to do it. I’m an agnostic, a Unitarian, actually.”

She’s slamming the pots I washed and put in the drainer last night as she puts them into the cabinet under the counter. “That’s ridiculous. You don’t know enough to be an agnostic.”

Fortunately, Dad has come in and heard this exchange.

“Nev, whether his story is true or not, or he knows enough or not, he has a right not to go. He was old enough to be confirmed, so he’s old enough to choose. I’ll serve in his place.”

“Lie about being sick, on Sunday?”

“Mom, it’s a temporizer. I can’t reveal to him why I’m not going to today, much less why I’ll never again do it, and I know you wouldn’t want me to be open about it. I might not even be here next Sunday.” I chuckle. “Maybe I’ll have fallen back to age four, with Dad off in the Navy!” What a sharp look I get!

“We need a few days to sort this out, Nev.”

Larceny at the Library

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Colleen J. Shogan and her cozy mystery novel, Larceny at the Library.

Author’s description

Congressional chief of staff Kit Marshall is finally figuring out what it takes to work for a newly minted committee chair in the House of Representatives. After a swanky evening soiree at the Library of Congress, Kit’s husband Doug discovers the body of a high-ranking librarian inside a ceremonial office. In addition to a murder, there’s also a major theft to complicate the situation. The contents of Abraham Lincoln’s pockets the night he was assassinated have gone missing. Kit’s political boss and the Librarian of Congress ask Kit to investigate, and she’s released into a world of intrigue populated by a frisky donor, an ambitious congressional relations specialist, a cagey rare books curator, an overly curious congressman, and a baseball-loving lawyer. Kit must solve the crime before Doug’s career is tanked by suspicion.

The case takes her to the inner bowels of the Library of Congress, Ford’s Theatre, the National Portrait Gallery, and the D.C. Public Library. In the end, Kit must put her own life on the line to retrieve her most valuable possession, which goes unexpectedly missing as she hunts down the killer and thief.

My Review

In Larceny at the Library Colleen J. Shogan has written an enjoyable cozy mystery enhanced with an insider’s knowledge of DC politics and a wealth of fun information about the Library of Congress and the world of historical artifacts.

Her amateur sleuth, Congressional chief of staff Kit Marshall, is diligent and methodical, and she delivers an admirable solution to the crime, just in time. I liked Shogan’s supporting characters and felt she introduced enough about each to make them three dimensional without getting bogged down in extraneous plots. On the whole, the story works well on an intellectual level.

I wish I’d read the previous novels, as I’m guessing author Shogan covered basics I missed. I needed to know more about Kit Marshall in order to really like her. I kept wondering what she was doing solving murders. Worse yet, when characters from previous stories showed up, I found their cameo appearances frustrating. I have a feeling this particular book works better on an emotional level if the reader is already invested in the main character and is happy to see people from her past.

Every book stumbles a bit somewhere: for this novel I’d say it could use a little more zing. I don’t want car chases and ticking bombs in my cozy mysteries, but less mundane food descriptions, fewer extraneous references to pop culture, and a lot less dialog that boils down to people introducing themselves to each other would have allowed this basically good story to pack more punch.

As it is, it’s a fun read and I’d like to read more by this author. I do recommend this book to all cozy mystery fans, and particularly to those who are also history buffs or are fascinated by watching the DC scene.

About the Author

Colleen J. Shogan has been reading mysteries since the age of six. A political scientist by training, Colleen has taught American politics at several universities and previously worked on Capitol Hill as a legislative staffer in the United States Senate and as a senior executive at the Library of Congress. She is currently the Senior Vice President of the White House Historical Association.

Colleen is a member of Sisters in Crime. “Stabbing in the Senate” was awarded the Next Generation Indie prize for Best Mystery in 2016. “Homicide in the House” was a 2017 finalist for the RONE Award for Best Mystery. “Calamity at the Continental Club” was a 2018 finalist in the “best cozy mystery” at Killer Nashville. She lives in Arlington, Virginia with her husband Rob and their beagle mutt Conan.

Find the Author at

https://www.facebook.com/washingtonwhodunit/
https://twitter.com/cshogan276
www.colleenshogan.com
www.goodreads.com/cshogan276

Buy the Book at

Amazon  or BN.

Yes, there is a giveaway

The Author will be awarding a $75 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

GF

My Favorite Excerpt

Dunlap motioned for me to follow inside her private office. With a spectacular view of the historic Jefferson Building and the United States Capitol accompanied by floor to ceiling windows, the Librarian’s corner suite constituted prime real estate on Capitol Hill.  Her desk was littered with papers and books. I appreciated a disheveled work space and instantly felt at ease with the homey appearance of her personal space.

“Please sit down, Ms. Marshall,” she said, pointing to a leather armchair. She took a seat directly opposite me, straining to offer a smile.

“I’ll touch base with Sergeant O’Halloran later this afternoon,” I said. “I’ve already done a preliminary survey of the immediate suspects so we can talk freely about where the investigation stands.”

“Impressive,” said the Librarian, her hands folded neatly on her lap. “How did you come up with such a list?”

I explained that a limited number of people knew that only her fingerprints and Gustav Gaffney’s could open the safe. Given Doug’s observations, if we assumed that Gaffney was killed last night instead of this morning, then only those already inside the building would have had access to the Librarian’s ceremonial office. That narrowed the list of possible suspects considerably.

“Then who are we talking about specifically, Ms. Marshall? asked Dunlap. “After all, I’m in charge of the Library of Congress, and I need to know who might be responsible for these heinous crimes.”

“Of course, ma’am.” I ticked off the known suspects with my fingers. “There’s Gordon Endicott, Joe Malden, Lea Rutherford, Janice Jackson, and Congressman Henry Chang.”  After taking a breath, I continued. “The police likely consider my husband Doug Hollingsworth a suspect, too. But I don’t.” I chuckled. “For obvious reasons.”

“Thank you for those names, Ms. Marshall,” said the Librarian, now with a pinched expression on her face. “I’m afraid you’re going to have to go back to the drawing board.”

My head flinched backwards. “Excuse me, ma’am?”

“Many of those individuals are my employees here at the Library of Congress,” she said. “None of them could have killed Gustav Gaffney or committed theft.”

“It’s hard to imagine a colleague you know and trusted could have done this. But I’ve seen this unfortunate scenario time and time again. You’d be surprised what motivates people to do horrible things.”