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.

False Light: An Art History Mystery

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Claudia Riess and her mystery novel, False Light: An Art History Mystery.

Author’s description

Academic sleuths Erika Shawn, art magazine editor, and Harrison Wheatley, a more seasoned art history professor, set out to tackle a brain teaser.  This time the couple—married since their encounter in Stolen Light, first in the series—attempt to crack the long un-deciphered code of art forger Eric Hebborn (1934-1996), which promises to reveal the whereabouts of a number of his brilliant Old Master counterfeits.  (Hebborn, in real life, was a mischievous sort, who had a fascination with letters and a love-hate relationship with art authenticators.  I felt compelled to devise a puzzler on his behalf!)

After publication of his memoir, Drawn to Trouble, published in 1991, he encrypts two copies with clues to the treasure hunt.  On each of the title pages, he pens a tantalizing explanatory letter.  One copy he sends to an art expert; the second, he releases into general circulation.  The catch: both books are needed to decipher the code.

When the books are at last united 25 years later, Erik and Harrison are enlisted to help unearth their hidden messages.  But when several research aides are brutally murdered, the academic challenge leads to far darker mysteries in the clandestine world of art crime.  As the couple navigate this sinister world, both their courage under fire and the stability of their relationship are tested.

My Review

False Light is a fun read, enhanced with a dose of real-life art history and made more interesting by the endearing romance of its two main characters.

The plot contains the requisite amount of clues, twists, and suspense, along with the genre-required action-filled climax, so I suspect most lovers of crime novels will enjoy it. However, I found its real charm to lie in three unexpected joys.

The first comes from Riess’s background. I have, at best, a passing acquaintance and mild interest in art, but I am captivated when an author brings expertise to a story like this. Claudia Riess helps her readers learn about masterpieces, forgeries, and auctions, without ever dumping information. (She got me looking into real-life art forger Eric Hebborn, and I’m always delighted to be introduced to a too-strange-to-be-fiction character.)

Another surprise is the relationship between the two lovers at the heart of this tale. They’ve gotten past the first hurdle of commitment (apparently in the previous novel) and now struggle to figure out how to live with their promises. I found their relationship compelling, and suspenseful in its own right. I appreciate an author who acknowledges falling in love is easy compared to making love work.

What didn’t I like? While the writing is generally okay, the pacing lags on occasion, particularly early on. Some parts required a little too much attention and rereading to follow multiple characters and complicated plot lines. Yet, none of this was enough of a problem to keep me from enjoying the story.

Years back, during a difficult time, I devoured J.D. Robb’s novels about a futuristic detective and her billionaire husband, and I realized there is this wonderful escapism involved in reading about the very wealthy solving crimes. (At least as long as they are nice people, which these characters are.) That brings me to the third pleasant surprise of this novel. Though Riess’s characters are unique to her story, their life of sumptuousness provided me with that same gentle nepenthe while their adventures held my interest.

As this virus has wreaked havoc with life, I’ve found myself eating rum raisin ice cream. That sweet treat is getting me through a lot these days. Why do I mention it here? Because when I finished this book I thought I’m glad I read this. In a world filled with too much frozen broccoli and canned soup — this is a rum raisin ice cream kind of a book. I plan to check out the author’s other flavors.

About the Author

Claudia Riess, a Vassar graduate, has worked in the editorial departments of The New Yorker and Holt, Rinehart, and Winston and has edited several art history monographs.

Find Claudia Riess at
https://www.amazon.com/Claudia-Riess/e/B001KHYQK2
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3052782.Claudia_Riess
https://twitter.com/ClaudiaRiesshttps://claudiariessbooks.com/
http://www.facebook.com/ClaudiaRiessBooks
https://www.instagram.com/claudiariessbooks/

Buy False Light: An Art History Mystery on Amazon. The book is on sale for only $0.99 during this tour.

Yes, there is a giveaway

Claudia Riess will be awarding a $50 Amazon or 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

Owen Grant was ebullient—“ripped with joy,” his beloved wife might have said. He smiled, remembering the flutter of her eyelids that accompanied her minted phrases. Now that she had died and his arthritis no longer permitted him to jog up a sweat, he satisfied his lust for life—which remained, five years after retirement, as vigorous as it had been in his teens—with voracious reading and clay sculpting. Today, however, he satisfied it with the Art and Antiques article that had set his heart racing when he’d come across it this morning while sifting through his mail. He stole another glance at the newsletter on the kitchen table. In the article, a used and rare book shop owner spoke about having acquired a copy of a memoir by Eric Hebborn, the infamous art forger. “It was in a carton I picked up at an estate sale,” the owner had said. “The author’s handwritten note on the title page literally blew my mind!”

Hebborn’s note was displayed in a photograph. Owen had recognized the handwriting at once. Imagine, after decades of searching for this copy of the book—placing ads in all the art magazines, later in their online versions, finally giving up—proof of it had fallen into his life as he was about to venture another sip of his scalding morning coffee.

Now it was 8:30 p.m., and there was nothing more to prepare for. Owen had contacted the shop owner—how young and breathless she had sounded!—and they had made plans to meet. He had invited his longtime friend and colleague, Randall Gray, to collaborate with him. Randall, twenty years his junior and still in the game, was more current in his knowledge of the world of art crime and eager to have a look at the book as well. Owen was on a skittering high, unable to concentrate on his usual avocations. Rather than wear a hole in the carpet pacing in circles, he opted for a walk in Central Park.

He headed for the nearest pedestrian entrance at Fifth Avenue and 72nd Street, two blocks from his luxury apartment building on 74th. There, he chose the rambling path leading to the Lake and Loeb Boathouse. It was a balmy night, on the warm side for mid-April. He might have stepped out in his shirtsleeves, but his conditioned urbanity, always at odds with his truer self, had held sway, and he had worn his suit jacket.

Aside from the couple strolling up ahead and the sound of laughter coming from somewhere south, Owen was alone. There had been an uptick of muggings lately, but his frisson of fear only piqued his excitement for the adventure shimmering on the horizon. As he walked, he silently chatted with his wife, Dotty, as he often did, so that their separation would not be absolute. He commented on the moonless night and looked up, for both of them, at the rarely visible canopy of stars. For a few seconds he was lost with her, until, without warning, he felt a hard object pressed against the back of his skull—the skull that held all memories, like Dotty’s fluttering eyelids and the smell of new clay. He knew what the object was without ever having touched one. He was a man of reason, not a fighter. He flung up his hands. “I have money. Let me get to it.”

There was no response. He reached into his pocket for his wallet—how warm the leather was against his thigh—and his keys jangled of homecomings, and the child in him whimpered please no, before the explosive pop of a champagne cork ended him and Dotty and all the rest of it.

Blue Magnolia

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author W.F. Ranew and his Mystery-Thriller

Blue Magnolia.

Author’s description:

PI Red Farlow dives headfirst into a hornets’ nest of extremists. His new client, Hank Tillman, only wants to get a shot at country music stardom. While playing in a Georgia bar, Hank—known as Cowboy to his fans—stumbles into trouble. The kind that kills. PI Red Farlow steps in to help him.

Hank’s song, Redneck Devil, attracts the attention of a violent group called the Blue Magnolia. Its leaders want him to perform at their next hate rally. There’s another, darker reason the Blue Magnolia wants Hank in its fold.

An elderly patient in a Florida insane asylum reveals a decades-long secret that devastates Hank. It’s the worst kind of fake news.

Can Farlow root out the truth? The PI has his own problems as he confronts a hired killer face-to-face.

About the Author:

W.F. Ranew is a former newspaper reporter, editor, and communication executive. He started his journalism career covering sports, police, and city council meetings at his hometown newspaper, The Quitman Free Press. He also worked as a reporter and editor for several regional dailies: The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle, The Florida Times-Union, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Ranew has written three previous novels: Rich and Gone (Tirgearr Publishing), Schoolhouse Man and Candyman’s Sorrow. He lives with his wife, Dr. Lynn Ranew, in Atlanta and St. Simons Island, Ga.

Find W.F. Ranew on Facebook, Goodreads, LinkedIn, or on Twitter. 

Visit him on his website, his blog or at Tirgearr Publishing.

Buy Blue Magnolia on Amazon.

Yes, there is a giveaway.

W.F. Ranew will be awarding a $15 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:

You couldn’t help but like Hank. He smiled broadly and often, friendly in a wholly Southern way. Which is why there was no easy way to explain what happened to lovable Hank Tillman. But it did happen. How could he offend anybody? Not easy, if you knew him. But he did.

Hank’s story told a long and complicated tale for his number of years, a romance bitten with tragedy, his life’s destiny crawling along like a rattlesnake on a hot July afternoon.

Yet, Hank himself smiled brightly. He always made most well-adjusted people feel good, whether he played in a honky-tonk or just talked while sipping iced tea on his mama’s screened front porch in Norman Park, Georgia. He preferred the sweet tea rather than bourbon during periods of hoisting himself up on the wagon for another short ride. Besides, his mother wouldn’t allow the hard drink in her house. Other times, liquor held on to Hank and wouldn’t let go. He tried Alcoholics Anonymous once. Didn’t take. Couldn’t take. Probably never would.

Hank’s story evolves from a crossroads in his life. There, he encountered some people who wanted to destroy him. He also met Red Farlow, who happened to be in the audience the night in Southwest Georgia.

Farlow worked as a private investigator with a checkered past in law enforcement and a real badass attitude. But, like Hank Tillman, Red was a pretty nice guy. Most of the time.

Cowboy’s story started in Nashville, Tennessee. If you asked Hank, he hoped it would end there one day.