Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for March 2018

Welcome to the latest edition of “Indie Crime Fiction of the Month”.

So what is “Indie Crime Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some February books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Our new releases cover the broad spectrum of crime fiction. We have cozy mysteries, small town mysteries, paranormal mysteries, historical mysteries, WWII mysteries, British mysteries, humorous mysteries, crime thrillers, psychological thrillers, domestic thrillers, romantic suspense, sea adventures, spy fiction, hot FBI agents, reformed thieves, stalkers, serial killers, superheroes, spies, doofus detectives, intrepid reporters, crime-busting librarians, innocents accused and much more.

Don’t forget that Indie Crime Fiction of the Month is also crossposted to the Indie Crime Scene, a group blog which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things crime fiction several times per week.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

Darke Accused by Parker AvrileDarke Accused by Parker Avrile:

An FBI agent goes undercover to catch a thief who turns out to be too hot to handle.

Darke Davis destroyed evidence to give his partner-in-crime time to flee with thirty-nine million dollars— and Special Agent Flare Greene is determined to get that money back. Hooking up with Darke at a popular gay roadhouse seems like a brilliant way to insinuate his way into Darke’s life.

Flare didn’t plan on the two of them stumbling over a body and finding themselves on the run from charges of first-degree murder. It’s the perfect opportunity to bond with Darke, but if they can’t work together to solve these crimes, they may find themselves locked up together for longer than just one night.

No cliffhangers, and you may expect the killer to find justice. However, because Darke and Flare are at the beginning of their journey together, they reach a happy for now ending with relationship challenges remaining ahead of them.

Dead on the Docks by David BannerDead On The Docks by David Banner:

Brandon Waters was never expecting everything to go as planned, but he never imagined it would go this far off the rails…

After receiving a phone call from a new client he finds himself in St. Augustine, Florida ready to go to work. But right from the start, this is no ordinary case and it isn’t long until he finds himself caught up in the underground world of organized fight clubs and twisted millionaires.

With an seemingly innocent woman’s freedom on the line and a rogue FBI agent at his side he must try to find the truth in the lies and help uncover what really happened to his former best friend’s father. Were the police right, was the woman in jail really guilty of the crime or was there more to the case?

Dead on The Docks is the highly anticipated third installment of the hugely popular Dangerous Waters series.

Her Sister's Secrets by V.J. ChambersHer Sister’s Secrets by V.J. Chambers:

An anonymous letter summons Emilia Farrow to Siesta Key. An oceanfront house has been rented there for her, its closet stocked with designer clothes in her size. The mysterious correspondent promises that if she comes, she will find out what really happened to her sister Violet.

Her death wasn’t an accident.

Immersing herself in a world of wealth and privilege, Emilia has nightmares about the Wainwright mansion next door. Her mother used to work there years ago. Recently, her sister also worked for the Wainwrights. Just looking at the house makes Emilia feel as if she can’t breathe. Her strongest memory of the place is her mother packing up her and her sister and fleeing in the hours before dawn.

What happened all those years ago? Was Violet murdered? Who killed her? And who rented this house for Emilia?

Found Drowned by B.K. DuncanFound Drowned by B.K. Duncan:

Smuggling. Prostitution. Murder.

London. 1920 and coroner’s officer May Keaps is tasked with solving the mystery that surrounds the death of a young boy, found drowned in The Thames.

But was it murder or an accident?

May knows that when children go missing, the reason is often linked to money but she is in danger of underestimating the corrupting influence of power . . .

On streets where poverty and exploitation walk hand-in-hand everyone has a price. And some are more valuable dead than alive. But who is pulling the strings?

May must journey into the dark underbelly of London to find the answers.

The Zero Commandment by Lawrence J. EpsteinThe Zero Commandment by Lawrence J. Epstein:

It is 1941. The country is on the edge of war. In New York, three men are murdered. The detective Charlie Singer is drawn into the case after rescuing a young woman being attacked in Central Park. With Katie Walker, his partner, Charlie deals with a famous gossip columnist, an organization devoted to fighting Hitler, and a violent group of haters. As Charlie uncovers the lies and secrets, he discovers a blossoming relationship with Katie who is undergoing a major life change.

 

Game of Bones by Geraldine EvansGames of Bones by Geraldine Evans:

Sergeant Llewellyn’s remark that, perhaps, ‘Someone ELSE had made them a gift of Professor Anthony Babbington’ as the murderer, was just sour grapes, in Detective Joe Rafferty’s opinion.

But Llewellyn could plant a doubt where none had existed before. And Rafferty, sure in his own mind that they had the culprit, disregarded Llewellyn, who was known to greatly admire Babbington. They had so much proof it was embarrassing: Babbington’s fingerprints on the murder weapon; the victim’s blood on his shirt; and his DNA on the dead man.

Rafferty couldn’t believe it when his ‘sure thing’ began to slowly unravel. He refused to admit his growing doubts about Babbington’s guilt to Llewellyn, who championed the professor, and was as convinced of Babbington’s innocence as Rafferty was of his culpability.

But gradually, all Rafferty’s certainty vanished into dust, and he was left to prepare himself to face the music when Superintendent Bradley came back from his expensive holiday, to find that the ‘sure thing’ he had left with Rafferty, had inexplicably become anything but.

Unless Joe Rafferty could find some way to turn defeat into triumph…

Double Murders are Twice as Bad by Milo James FowlerVic Boyo, Doofus Detective in Double Murders are Twice as Bad by Milo James Fowler:

Two murders. One detective. Half a brain.

1931, New York City: Detective Vic Boyo may not be the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but that doesn’t stop him from solving cases as only he can. With a little luck and a whole lot of gumption, Boyo sets out to find the murderer of a local cop. Problem is, Boyo’s more interested in a gorgeous femme fatale accused of killing her husband. She’s destined for the electric chair, but Boyo’s got a hunch she might be innocent. And nobody gets in the way of Boyo’s hunches, not even Vic Boyo himself.

The Corrector by Ethan JonesThe Corrector by Ethan Jones:

When covert operations go wrong, the CIS sends in . . . The Corrector.

After a botched retrieval operation, Javin Pierce is sent in to complete the mission where others failed. But, before even getting started, Javin and his less-than-trusted partner, Claudia, must deal with a devious terrorist plot. Their search leads them to a flash drive containing scandals that could topple world governments and plunge Europe into absolute chaos if they do not retrieve it in time.

How will The Corrector fix this disastrous mission? Uncertain if they can even trust each other and unprepared for the shocking truth that could cost their lives, Javin and Claudia must stop the treasonous plot, retrieve the elusive drive, and save themselves and the entire European continent, all without leaving a trace . . .

Not a Mermaid by Madeline KirbyNot a Mermaid by Madeline Kirby:

It’s July in Houston, and when heat waves and storm warnings finally give way to flooding rains, Jake Hillebrand’s strange dreams take a sinister turn. When the flood waters recede, the body of a young woman is found on the banks of Buffalo Bayou – a young woman whose life overlaps with that of Detective Victoria Perez.

With Perez on the sidelines, maybe she and Jake can finally come to an understanding. Or not.

Petreski’s working with a new partner, Jake’s declared a major, Jennifer Katz is moving on with her life, and Don has no idea that the new cat hanging around his apartment is not what she appears.

Contains even more carbs than “Not a Werewolf”, plus all you can eat shrimp!

Extra! Extra! Dead All About It by Amanda M. LeeExtra! Extra! Dead All About It by Amanda M. Lee:

The primary election is almost here and Avery Shaw is in her glory. Her boss has unleashed her on the leading candidates – including two of whom she downright loathes – and Macomb County’s leading reporter (and pot-stirrer extraordinaire) is about to turn the election on its ear.
She just needs to find a story first.
When her nemesis Tad Lancaster loses a volunteer, Avery sniffs out a bigger story … or at least she thinks she does. She has a pile of documents, too many insidious ideas to wrangle, and a long-suffering boyfriend who can do nothing but shake his head.
Avery is determined to find out the truth, even if it doesn’t lead to Lancaster’s downfall. She only has a limited time to do it, too, and the clock is ticking down to election day.
In short order, Avery has to uncover a pile of financial corruption, irritate her co-workers to the point where they don’t want to steal her story, hook her ex-boyfriend up with a new girlfriend, survive family dinner, convince her boyfriend she’s not chasing ghosts but rather something that’s really there, and save Macomb County’s election process for the people.
Oh, she also needs to figure out a way to avoid a baby shower, too.
It’s all in a day’s work for one hard-working and fast-talking reporter. She just needs to survive the final showdown to prove to everyone exactly how superior she really is.

In Silence Sealed by J.R. LindermuthIn Silence Sealed by J.R. Lindermuth:

Lydia, daughter of Swatara Creek Police Chief Aaron Brubaker, is accused of murdering her boyfriend, Jason Russell, handsome but feckless stepson of Clay Stoneroad, a famous writer who recently moved to a farm outside town.

Daniel ‘Sticks’ Hetrick, now a county detective, is determined to prove Lydia’s innocence. His job is made more difficult when the weapon her father insisted she carry is found missing.

Mysteries surround the Stoneroad family. Vickie Walker, a strange young woman—also recently arrived in town—insists Nan Calder, the writer’s secretary, is her sister, a claim Calder denies. Then Diana Wozniak, reporter for a sleazy tabloid, is the victim of a hit-and-run accident, and police learn she attempted to blackmail the writer.

The sudden disappearance of Lydia and Vickie puts Hetrick and his friends in a desperate race against time to find them, unravel secrets, and apprehend the real killer.

Oblivion by David NethOblivion by David Neth

Ethan still doesn’t know what happened to his missing brother four months ago. No idea where he went, who took him, or where to find the answers. But then he discovers Fizz, a mutant whose acid spit can melt off a man’s face, and he has a new lead.

Meanwhile, Carlo Martelli is in a rage. His cousin’s murder can only be a threat to his rule in the local mafia. The immediate suspect is the traitorous Michael Bello who ratted him out to the police. As the mob war erupts, Fuse finds himself in the cross-hairs, which may have been a trap for him all along.

Murder is in Fashion by Danielle OceanMurder is in Fashion by Danielle Ocean:

When Lindsey visits the site of the Fasha magazine photo shoot with her friend Jenna they expect to be dazzled by the spectacular clothes of the new edgy designer. What they don’t expect is to try to solve a murder. But then the stunning model, Dawn, is found murdered. The police decide to cancel the fashion show that was planned for that night at the same place for security reasons, unless the murderer is found. Lindsey decides to help out and try to find the killer before the show gets canceled.

This is the first novella in the Lindsey Brown mystery series.

Final Chapter by Pam StuckyFinal Chapter by Pam Stucky:

For Megan Montaigne, library director, living in the top floor of the mansion-turned-library is a dream come true. At least it was, before the murders started.

Megan Montaigne has always secretly wanted to be a forensics investigator. The small-town library director has just begun rebuilding her life after tragedy tore it apart less than a year ago, and is happily settling into her new apartment on the top floor of the library by the river. But when a local celebrity turns up dead, the time has come to put her sleuthing fantasies into action. Has she unwittingly invited the murderer into her own home? And will she be able to prove her innocence before she becomes a victim herself?

Serial Stalker by A. WoodleySerial Stalker by A. Woodley:

By murder number five, Lennie is becoming more and more aware that these killings could have something to do with her.
The man she keeps seeing in inconspicuous places, doing natural-looking, everyday things appears to be anything but innocent to her as time goes on, but is she being silly and paranoid? Or is he really out to get her?
Lennie is forced to make changes to her life in order to keep her contacts safe but while the body count rises around her, a pattern seems to be emerging and Lennie is sure it must be only a matter of time before he kills again.
Tracking the stalker, when the police come up empty, brings its own consequences and it begins to look as though he’ll never be caught.
Will Lennie ever be free of him?

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New Two-Fisted Todd Adventure Available: Flesh Trade

Remember thatI promised you that there would be more Two-Fisted Todd Adventures coming soon? Well, the next Two-Fisted Todd Adventure is finally here, albeit with some delay, because one of the vendors had problems getting new books up. Not to mention that I caught a nasty cold, which significantly impacted my writing, editing and blogging time.

Though Flesh Trade is the second Two-Fisted Todd Adventure published, it is actually the first one written. Because, as described in this post, approximately twelve years ago, I found some success selling short stories to a magazine that billed itself as a successor to the men’s adventure magazines of the 1960s.

Since I had hit upon a market that gave me steady sales, I also endeavoured to find out more about the actual men’s adventure magazines of the 1960s (about which I knew little aside from some lurid covers I found on the Internet). And so I also came across this art book which collects hundreds of covers of vintage men’s adventure magazines and also offers an overview about the genre, it’s development, prominent themes and subjects and what sort of content might be found inside those lurid covers. So I promptly bought the book.

The book also included interviews with artists, models and writers who had worked on these magazines. And one of the writers said that quite often, the covers were painted before there even a single story had been written. And afterwards, a writer would be commissioned to write a story to match the cover. And considering some of the really lurid illustrations on those covers – rugged men being attacked by all sorts of likely and unlikely wildlife, while buxom maidens were being tortured and menaced by evil Nazis, evil Communists, evil biker gangs and evil beatniks (the last one doesn’t quite fit) – coming up with a story to match must have been quite a challenge.

Now I have never been able to resist a writing challenge, so I decided to set myself the same challenge as those men’s adventure magazine writers of old, namely to write a story to match the cover of one of those magazines. So I opened the art book at random, picked one of the covers shown and decided to write a story based on it. The cover I picked was this one from the July 1960 issue of Man’s Life, by the way.

So I came up with a suitably rugged hero, freelance troubleshooter Todd Donovan a.k.a. Two-Fisted Todd, who is hired to find a bunch of American college students who have gone missing in the Caribbean, and sent him careening all over the island of San Ezequiel, punching suspects and taking names, all the while headed towards the scene depicted on the cover image I’d picked. The story eventually stalled out two thirds of the way through, so I set it aside. Then life got in the way and the magazine in question changed direction and became a sexy horror mag, depriving Two-Fisted Todd of his intended market (try as I might, I could not fit a sexy vampire into the story). Eventually, self-publishing became a thing, making previously unviable stories suddenly viable again. And through it all, Todd was biding his time in some tropical paradise, a cool drink in his hand, waiting for another job.

Todd’s moment finally came, when I dusted off the character for the 2017 July short story challenge and wrote what would eventually become The Crawling Death.

In the wake of editing and publishing The Crawling Death, I also took another look at the Two-Fisted Todd story I had abandoned years earlier. The story clearly needed some work, but I still liked it. And so I continued writing where I had originally left off and completed the story in a couple of days.

So here it finally is, more than ten years late: The very first Two-Fisted Todd story, which is now the second Two-Fisted Todd Adventure:

Flesh Trade
Flesh Trade by Cora Buhlert1966: Freelance troubleshooter Todd Donovan is hired to locate four American college students who have gone missing while doing humanitarian work on the Caribbean island of San Ezequiel.

While punching suspects and taking names, Todd learns that the college students as well as a young nun were kidnapped by a local crime boss named Cabeza.

So now Todd is engaged in a desperate race against time to rescue the kidnapped women before they can be sold to the highest bidder.

This is an adventure novelette of approx. 9800 words or 35 pages in the style of the men’s adventure pulps of the 1960s.

More information.
Length: 9800 words
List price: 2.99 USD, EUR or GBP
Buy it at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Netherlands, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Brazil, Amazon Japan, Amazon India, Amazon Mexico, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes, Google Play, Scribd, Smashwords, Inktera, Playster, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, e-Sentral, 24symbols and XinXii.

Will there eventually be more Two-Fisted Todd Adventures? I certainly wouldn’t rule it out, since they are fun to write. Plus, I have a whole book full of inspiration for more strange and deadly situations into which I can thrust poor Todd and watch him fight his way out.

But first, there are more In Love and War adventures coming, since I am currently about to finish the final proofread on the latest In Love and War story. After that, look forward to a new Hallowind Cove story, After the End 2 – More Stories of Life After the Apocalypse as well as Murder in the Family 2.

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for February 2018

Indie Speculative Fiction of the MonthIt’s that time of the month again, time for “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”.

So what is “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some January books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Once again, we have new releases covering the whole broad spectrum of speculative fiction. This month, we have epic fantasy, urban fantasy, YA fantasy, paranormal mystery, paranormal romance, space opera, military science fiction, science fantasy, Cyberpunk, dystopian fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, post-apocalyptic romance, horror, weird fiction, slipstream, vampires, werewolves, dragons, magic schools, dream mages,  spellships, time travel, cyborgs, alien attacks, missing scientists, mythic carnivals and much more.

Don’t forget that Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month is also crossposted to the Speculative Fiction Showcase, a group blog run by Jessica Rydill and myself, which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things speculative fiction several times per week.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

Scarab: Falling Through Time by Helen AllanScarab: Falling Through Time by Helen Allan:

Ancient Mystery – Timeless Love

An Eternity as an immortal in slavery was not what she had in mind!

Desperate and alone, sixteen-year-old Megan uses a powerful and ancient talisman to escape modern-day life and make a new start in ancient Egypt. But powerful enemies lie in wait, seeking her destruction and the magical scarab necklace she wields.

Will an alliance with another immortal, the handsome and secretive Franklin, help keep her from harm long enough to learn the secrets of the scarab? – Or will he cause her to lose everything – including her heart.

This, the first in the Scarab trilogy, will hook you in and leave you gasping – a time-travel romance with mystery, adventure, murder and love.

Mind Raider by S.M. Blooding and P.K. TylerMind Raider by S.M. Blooding and P.K. Tyler:

Keva Duste is an engineered human on a mission: find the weapon the corporate elite has amassed and secure it.

Humanity has conquered the black, but not their own inherent greed. The four systems surrounding Kalamatra Station provide members of the Elite class with everything they could want: mined minerals, abundant food, and an entire system to call their own, a place of paradise and riches. But for some, that isn’t enough.

Terrans and common spacers suffer under untenable work conditions and crumbling, radioactive stations while the Elite thrive. Now the commoners are threatening to revolt.

With the four systems on the verge of civil war, the Codex Syndicate’s covert intelligence network learns of an Elite weapon designed to alter the common people to their genetic core. The Elite have planned to test deployment on the mutinous Red Sky colony and force their compliance.

Codex Syndicate agent Keva Duste is an ex-military, engineered human with a score to settle. Together with a renegade space captain, an Elite refugee, and two sentient AIs, she must race to locate the weapon and stop the genocide of the human race before it can begin. Can Keva save Red Sky from destruction before the Elite turn this weapon on the rest of the settlements? And if she does, will she ignite a revolution?

Unraveled by Lindsay BurokerUnraveled by Lindsay Buroker:

A mission to a foreign land has left Captain Trip Yert with a responsibility he never anticipated: watching over two dozen magical stasis chambers containing half-dragon young, including eight that are half-human. As bewildering as he finds it, all of them are related to him.

He’s vowed to ensure they make it safely back to his homeland where the sorceress Sardelle can, he hopes, advise him on how to care for them. But while he, Rysha, and Major Kaika are investigating a friend’s death and trying to arrange passage home, someone steals one of the baby girls.

If Trip can’t deal with hostile mages, corrupt business moguls, and the surprising secrets of his mother’s past, he may lose the little sister he never had a chance to know.

The Sight Witch by E.M. CooperThe Sight Witch by E.M. Cooper:

Marnie Speck has completed her first year at the Fanglewick School of Magic, but is waiting for the arrival of her witchy powers. When they fail to show, she is left wondering about the actual date of her birth and her true identity. After a tumultuous return to the Old World, Marnie and her best friend, Seb are welcomed to Mangleworm Avenue by Professor Lexi Spindlewood. Soon they discover life on Thundery Way, in the heart of Wandermere, is fraught with elfin and dragon dangers. Retreating to Fanglewick, they realise it too is under attack and unsafe.

Mage Mystilic ventures to Wandermere and leads Marnie and Seb on a wild dragon ride across a fantastic landscape to Morgansol in an attempt to trace Marnie’s parents’ final journey. To complicate life in the Old World, a new boy, the last apprentice at Blends and Fizzles, the potions and alchemy emporium, shows an unhealthy curiosity about Marnie and her newfound divination skills.

Lock & Key by Clara CoulsonLock & Key by Clara Coulson:

In a world forever changed by The Unveiling, where so-called “supernaturals” revealed their existence to humanity…

Katherine “Kat” King is on the run.

Two years ago, she woke up in a cell, held captive by a mysterious organization known as Advent 9. Subjected to harsh experiments involving magic, mayhem, and genetic engineering, Kat struggled to hold on to her sanity.

But now, she’s escaped Advent 9’s grasp—and she intends to keep it that way. Using the only three things that Advent 9 couldn’t take from her: an alias, amnesia, and an attitude that could make a grown man cry.

___

Liam Crown had it all once up a time.

A washed-up star detective with a penchant for “magic tricks,” Liam’s life fell to pieces when an accident cost him his family—and his sobriety. Now he scrapes by with a PI license and his late father’s used bookshop and spends most of his free time with a bottle in his hand.

But when a chance encounter with a strange woman makes him the target of a violent underground organization, Liam finds himself being dragged out of his stagnant life and back into the danger zone he thought he’d left forever.

And as the stakes begin to mount, Liam realizes that his old self is slowly coming back to life in the face of battle.

Now all he has to do is survive the war.

Vampire's Curse by Lysa DaleyVampire’s Curse by Lysa Daley:

Lacey thought she’d escaped her dark magical past. She was wrong.

Lacey McCray has a secret. She isn’t just a grad student living in Los Angeles. She’s also a Class 2 Animagus or a witch who can shift into any animal she pleases. When her grad school scholarship mysteriously gets canceled, she receives a strange offer to work for a firm that specializes in collecting missing supernatural treasures. Desperate to make enough money to pay her tuition, Lacey agrees to give it a try.

After breaking into a troll’s lair to retrieve an enchanted necklace, Lacey starts to think that she’s a natural. And the money’s not half bad either

It doesn’t take long before she’s ruffled the feathers of one of the firm’s top agents named Stryker Smith. Oh, and then there’s the young human cop who keeps turning up wherever Lacey happens to be.

Just when Lacey thinks she’s made enough money to pay her rent and go back to being a full-time grad student, a rogue vampire threatens the life of someone she loves. Lacey McCray will find out just how good she actually is at this new supernatural job.

Spellship by Chris FoxSpellship by Chris Fox:

The Last Dragonflight Holds the Key to Survival

Voria, Aran, and Nara survived their trip into the Umbral Depths. They retrieved the Talon, and are now searching for the First Spellship, the key to victory in their war against the Krox. Their search leads them to Virkonna, the home of the Last Dragonflight, a world where Dragons still rule. The world where Aran was born.

Aran’s past finally catches up with him, and he is forced to answer for killing Khalahk. The Wyrms demand he undergo a March of Honor, a brutal death march that few survive. Nara must not only accept Aran’s fate, but use it as a distraction to locate the First Spellship. Voria must forge an alliance with the ancient and very arrogant Wyrms of the Last Dragonflight, before the Krox do it first.

If even one of them fail, Krox will rise and the sector is doomed. Even success will carry a heavy price…

Night of Flames by J.J. GreenNight of Flames by J.J. Green:

A new world colony…

A moonless night…

An alien attack…

Ever wondered what it would be like to live on a starship? It was the only life Ethan knew.

When the colony starship Nova Fortuna reaches the end of its 184-year journey, most of its passengers have grown up aboard ship. They have no idea what it’s like to feel the wind on their faces or get wet in the rain.

On the first night of the new colony, Ethan is one of the lucky few who are sleeping planetside. Most of the others are Gens like Ethan, born and bred on the starship. A few are Woken, who were revived from cryonic suspension two years prior to Arrival.

The colonists settle down to sleep, but Ethan is restless. A strange noise disturbs him, and so begins the fight for his life, the lives of the settlers, and the colony itself.

Night of Flames is the prequel to the space colonization epic, Space Colony One.

Broken Shells by Michael Patrick HicksBroken Shells by Michael Patrick Hicks:

Antoine DeWitt is a man down on his luck. Broke and recently fired, he knows the winning Money Carlo ticket that has landed in his mailbox from a car dealership is nothing more than a scam. The promise of five thousand dollars, though, is too tantalizing to ignore.

Jon Dangle is a keeper of secrets, many of which are buried deep beneath his dealership. He works hard to keep them hidden, but occasionally sacrifices are required, sacrifices who are penniless, desperate, and who will not be missed. Sacrifices exactly like DeWitt.

When Antoine steps foot on Dangle’s car lot, it is with the hope of easy money. Instead, he finds himself trapped in a deep, dark hole, buried alive. If he is going to survive the nightmare ahead of him, if he has any chance of seeing his wife and child again, Antoine will have to do more than merely hope. He will have to fight his way back to the surface, and pray that Jon Dangle’s secrets do not kill him first.

Blank Tapes, edited by Paul HuxleyBlank Tapes, Volume 1: Weird and Dangerous Tales, edited by Paul Huxley:

Blank tapes brings you nine stories from the fringes of reality. Challenging, thought provoking and just plain absurd, these stories are not your regular feel-good tales. It’s their job to worm their way into your thoughts and never leave. Bold new voices bring you disturbing insights from the further reaches of the possible. Just because you’re from around here doesn’t mean that you’re not alien.

Red Arrows by Anna Cotton: When Raymond goes for a haircut he isn’t the only one who’s going to come out with a new look.
Shark Girls by Dermot Jelfs: Thoughts on the true nature of dolphins and other concerns.
Down in the Dirt by L. Tucker: Meet Colin, your kid’s new best friend.
BLOCK parts 1-3 by Paul Huxley: The boy, the businessman, the doctor and the mother. Four lives irrevocably changed by the impossible.
I Don’t Believe in Ghosts by Damn Sung: There’s something strange in this house, but who are you going to call?
Filiarch by Gareth Pale: She always tips well, but this is the last time this pizza-boy is making the delivery.
Binky by Paul Huxley: He’s such a sweet little thing, unless his master is threatened.

The Alabaster Army by Patty JansenThe Alabaster Army by Patty Jansen:

Deadly creatures, hostile climate, and that is just the scenery.

For many years, mysterious things have happened on the ice world of Tamer, but when a scientist goes missing from Barresh thought to be on Tamer, Cory is forced to take the issue by the horns.

Problem is, he is dealing with unexpected side effects of his fertility treatment, and, like his Coldi companions, he’s lost much of his night vision, and has trouble tolerating low temperatures.

Trouble is, a recent addition to his team has sent shockwaves through his group of loyal companions and things are still sorting themselves out.

Not his healthy self, under-resourced, frozen and half-blind, that’s not the best preparation to visit a world where humans are not at the top of the food chain, let alone dealing with enemies who will go to any lengths to hide their activities.

Evil Waking by Michael La RonnEvil Waking by Michael La Ronn:

My last adventure made me famous. Now the fame might kill me.

Overnight, I became the city’s premier dream mage when I saved it from an evil demon.

My dream reading business has been booming ever since, but other dream mages in the city aren’t too happy about my sudden stardom.

Now I’m a target.

I’ve got to watch my back. And take it from me—the last person you want pissed at you is a dream mage.

Evil Waking is the gripping Book 3 in bestselling author Michael La Ronn’s Magic Trackers series.

Freaky Places by Amanda M. LeeFreaky Places by Amanda M. Lee:

Mystic Caravan Circus is heading to the West Coast, and while everyone is happy for the change of scenery there’s a pall settling over the group.
Poet and Kade are in a good place and planning for a change, but it’s something Poet can’t focus on because she feels as if someone is watching … and whoever it is has evil in his or her heart.
The festival location is different, and instead of space, the circus denizens have festival workers and artisans on every side. They’re open and exposed, and hiding their secret has never been more important.
When one of their own goes missing, Poet is determined to figure out exactly what’s going on. The answers won’t be easy, though, and there are all different types of evil.
A fight is coming, and the enemy is different from anything they’ve ever faced. They’re outnumbered and might find themselves outmaneuvered.
Who will survive? More importantly, who will be lost to something even worse than death? Sometimes death really is better.

Peter Brown Called by Paul LevinsonPeter Brown Called: Tales of SciFi and Music by Paul Levinson:

Writing science fiction and songs have been two of my lifelong passions. This anthology combines them, with a selection of my science fiction and fantasy stories that has music as a theme, and my lyrics that deal with far-off suns, robots, and time travel.

 

 

 

The Poison People by Alex MakepeaceThe Poison People by Alex Makepeace:

Are you one of them?

With a childhood full of secrets, Matt only wants to blend in. But when his university friends fall prey to a terrifying illness, he begins to realise how truly different, and dangerous, he really is. The disease spreads across the country and society disintegrates into fear and violence. The authorities are talking about terrorism, but Matt knows the truth, and it’s much, much worse. He goes on the run, joining others like him in their struggle to survive. But will it be at humanity’s expense?

With mind-bending scenes of transformation and a story charged with moral ambiguity, The Poison People is a Jekyll and Hyde for our times.

Something Chosen by Alex OwensSomething Chosen by Alex Owens:

Death isn’t always the end… sometimes it’s only the beginning.

Claire’s trapped in a dead-end marriage, strapped for cash and getting desperate. Her chance at freedom comes in the form of a music con in Florida. Her mission? Win over a few big clients and collect a fat bonus check. It should have been easy, but Claire didn’t count on a bewitched violin, its sultry Italian owner, Bette, or her dark and dangerous companions.

Unfortunately, life isn’t all song lyrics and seduction. Tied to darkness by blood and power, Claire must harness her abilities if she has any hope of surviving this business trip from hell.

Someone Else's Wolf by Hollis ShilohSomeone Else’s Wolf by Hollis Shiloh:

Shane is a burned-out cop trying to mind his own business. Peter’s the new wolf at the precinct. Nerdy, awkward, and oddly attractive — and he seems strangely drawn to Shane.

Peter already has a partner on the job, the jealous and protective Sue. So, what’s the deal? Maybe he wants something else from Shane. Maybe his interest is purely personal…and not in the least professional. Shane’s starting to feel pretty unprofessional himself.

But having feelings for Peter is riskier than Shane could ever have guessed.

Varying Distances by Darren SpeegleVarying Distances by Darren Speegle:

In his latest short story collection of dark, unsettling tales, Darren Speegle takes us on a journey through the textured layers of time and space. From Flower Age Ibiza, Spain to present-day war-torn Iraq, from the mysteries of America’s Deep South to those of a haunting future landscape where humans and machines are virtually indistinguishable, these stories explore what it is to be us among the varying distances.

An infamous German writer searches for the meaning of consciousness.

A future artist is forced by a cult leader to try to capture his soul in a portrait.

An American contractor working a camp gate in Iraq is confronted by incoming vehicles the likes of which he has never seen before.

A godlike being welcomes in Halloween with a special device.

A hitman tries to determine which woman among a party of three is the android, his target.

This surreal collection includes:

Introduction by Jeffrey Thomas
In the Distance, a Familiar Sound
The Flesh Winks While the Ghost Weeps
The Staging Yard
For Love of War
Balearic Moon
A Carousel of Faces
Death Paper Burn
Twinkle, Twinkle, Amsterdam
That’s the Game
Song in a Sundress
A Puddle in the Wilderness
Nowhere

Compound 26 by Krista StreetCompound 26 by Krista Street:

A deadly virus. A brilliant, young researcher. And an infected survivor who threatens to steal her heart.

In a society ruled by sanctions and curfews, Dr. Meghan Forester emerges as the youngest and most promising scientist to join the fight against Makanza – the deadly virus that’s ravaged the world.

Inside Compound 26, a giant government-controlled research facility, Meghan’s new job involves studying the Kazzies, the rare survivors who carry the virus and now exhibit supernatural powers. But as her work enfolds, Meghan’s horrified at the brutal and unethical practices the Kazzies are subjected to. And most surprisingly, she falls in love with one.

Faced with growing conflict over helping the Kazzies versus following the Compound’s strict policies, Meghan must choose: obey the government’s unethical practices or risk everything to save the only man she’s ever loved.

Mind Games by Jeff TanyardMind Games by Jeff Tanyard:

Sergeant Jerry Harper recently caused an interstellar incident. As a result, tensions are high, and the Reliants of the Mentarchy have offered to host a conference to settle the matter peacefully. Jerry is ordered by his government to attend the talks and testify. He travels with the rest of the Agrarian diplomatic delegation to the planet Cortex, home of the Mentarch.

Cortex is supposed to be neutral ground, but that changes when an assassin targets the Agrarians. Jerry chases the shooter, but the pursuer quickly becomes the pursued, and he’s forced to go on the run. While Jerry’s wandering in the wilderness, the Mentarch activates its anti-gravity jammer, blockading space travel. The Agrarian delegates are now stuck on the planet, and Jerry is the only one in a position to do anything about it. He’s tasked with disabling the jammer.

Jerry has no idea how he’s going to do it, but he sets out anyway. Along the way, he starts to get a strange feeling about Cortex, some weird interaction between the planet and his psychic gift. He’s not sure what’s going on, but he suspects the Mentarch is up to something. Jerry must find a way to disable the jammer while also dealing with the Mentarch’s mind games. And if he wants to get his people off Cortex alive, he must do it before the place turns into a war zone.

Wetworld by John TriptychWetworld by John Triptych:

New Bali is a swamp world located 20 light-years from Earth. Colonized by humans almost two hundred years before, the planet is also home to an intelligent, methane-breathing race of amphibians. The natives have a unique culture that precludes war and vengeance, but recent events have begun to unravel a once fragile peace.

Sophie Singh, heir to a vast conglomerate, must decide whether to retain her family’s control of Wetworld while Brother Moises Borbon, a conflicted Jesuit researcher, races against time to unlock the true meaning behind an alien art form that might be the key to truly understanding the natives.

These and many more unforgettable characters will experience critical choices ahead in the first part of this science fiction saga on colonialism, war, and sociopolitical upheaval.

Aphrodite's Tears by Andrew VaillencourtAphrodite’s Tears by Andrew Vaillencourt

Roland Tankowicz hates Venus.

The last time he went there, he died. So, no one could really blame him if he never went back.

Nevertheless, when a squad of Venusian assassins ruins date night, everybody’s least-favorite Army-surplus cyborg decides to take a trip to Earth’s sister planet and have a sit-down with an infamous group of terrorists.
Perhaps it’s because he really likes date night. Maybe he just wants to keep the promise he once made to a troubled young man. It is even conceivable that he might still have a heap of unresolved issues with the separatists who blew his body apart years ago. For whatever reason, the big man and his motley crew of misfits strap on their guns and hurl themselves into the murky world of interplanetary terrorism.

To his dismay, Roland discovers that Venus has changed since his last visit. The black-and-white politics of the fanatics and governments he remembers have now merged into complicated shades of gray. Cyborg killers walk the halls without fear, and the soldiers stationed there seem no better than the thugs they fight. The sweltering underworld of Venus holds terrors and trials that will test the old soldier in ways he is not prepared for, while a crafty assassin stalks them all from shadows both real and imagined.

The team must to walk a narrow path between terrorists, soldiers, and their own dark pasts if they expect to get out of this one alive. Is The Fixer strong enough to pull an entire population from the ashes of civil war?

If he isn’t, they may all drown in a flood of:
APHRODITE’S TEARS.

Rune Legacy by Sandell WallRune Legacy by Sandell Wall:

The emperor is dead, and the White City of Amalt has fallen. Those who defy Savaroth’s tyranny are enslaved, thrown into chains and forced to carry out his sinister designs. As Savaroth’s corruption claims the Alkomian empire, an ancient and terrible evil rises from the bowels of the earth. Rumors of a creeping, entangling horror sweep through the war-torn countryside. No soul is safe as man, woman, and child cower in the ruins of the once mighty empire.

From deep within a living forest, Aventine leads a fragile rebellion against Savaroth’s forces. Yet even as they seek to strike out against the tyrant, they are hunted by an eldritch monster that hounds their every step.

On the coast of the empire, Remus haunts the skies, harrying Savaroth’s forces with the might of the Black Citadel. Time is running out, and he must find a way to fight back or flee Alkomia forever.

Remus and Aventine are mankind’s last hope for survival. Together they will fall, or rise up and overcome the greatest threat the empire has ever known.

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Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for February 2018

Welcome to the latest edition of “Indie Crime Fiction of the Month”.

So what is “Indie Crime Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some January books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Our new releases cover the broad spectrum of crime fiction. We have cozy mysteries, small town mysteries, paranormal mysteries, historical mysteries, police procedurals, legal thrillers, crime thrillers, psychological thrillers, domestic thrillers, men’s adventure, missing girls, stolen women, lost memories, serial killers, vigilantes, lawyers, innocents on death row and much more.

Don’t forget that Indie Crime Fiction of the Month is also crossposted to the Indie Crime Scene, a group blog which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things crime fiction several times per week.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

Treachery on Tap by Constance BarkerTreachery on Tap by Constance Barker:

Ghost Hunters on the Loose

The Grumpy Chicken Pub is infiltrated by a famous Ghost Hunting television show and our ghost chicken is not amused. When one of the ghost hunting crew ends up on the opposite side of the living, Ginger and her ragtag of misfits leap into action. Will the Grumpy Chicken ghost help solve the crime like before, or are there more ghosts to contend with?

Find out in this next installment of The Grumpy Chicken Irish Pub Series.

An Occupied Grave by A.G. BarnettAn Occupied Grave by A.G. Barnett:

A village of secrets finds its past lies waiting…

When mourners gather in the village of Lower Gladdock, the grave is found to be already occupied. The victim is soon linked to a tragedy that tore the village apart five years ago and is handed over to the Bexford police to solve.

Detective-sergeant Guy Poole is hoping to put his traumatic past behind him and settle into his new station at Bexford. Now history is threatening to raise its head again, and he has a murder case to contend with.

Detective Inspector Sam Brock has a new recruit to take under his wing, and he’s determined this one isn’t going to die. As if that wasn’t enough of a headache, his wife is coming home and may be on the verge of discovering the lie he’s been telling her.

Newly paired duo Brock & Poole must track down the killer before more lives are lost.

The Starlet and the Dead Duke by Bianca BlytheThe Starlet and the Dead Duke by Bianca Blythe:

Murder. Manor homes. Malfunctioning chandeliers.

Hollywood starlets are supposed to be happily on set in sunny California, and not trapped in drafty manor houses during ferocious snowstorms.

But after Cora Clarke’s best friend and fellow actress elopes with an English earl, Cora visits England to help her friend brave the aristocratic disapproval of her new husband’s family.

Unfortunately the holiday turns nightmarish when a chandelier crashes down and kills somebody. When suspicion falls on her friend, Cora vows to figure out the identity of the murderer. After all, blizzards have a habit of preventing the police from arriving, and body counts have a dreadful habit of growing.

Flesh Trade by Cora BuhlertFlesh Trade by Cora Buhlert:

1966: Freelance troubleshooter Todd Donovan is hired to locate four American college students who have gone missing while doing humanitarian work on the Caribbean island of San Ezequiel.

While punching suspects and taking names, Todd learns that the college students as well as a young nun were kidnapped by a local crime boss named Cabeza.

So now Todd is engaged in a desperate race against time to rescue the kidnapped women before they can be sold to the highest bidder.

This is an adventure novelette of approx. 9800 words or 35 pages in the style of the men’s adventure pulps of the 1960s.

Tell Me I'm Wrong by Adam CroftTell Me I’m Wrong by Adam Croft:

What if you discovered your husband was a serial killer?

Megan Miller is an ordinary woman with a young family — until a shocking discovery shatters her perfect world.

When two young boys are brutally murdered in their tight-knit village community, Megan slowly begins to realise the signs all point to the lovable local primary school teacher — her husband.

But when she begins to delve deeper into her husband’s secret life, she makes discoveries that will make her question everything she knows — and make her fear for her young daughter’s life.

Facing an impossible decision, she is desperate to uncover the truth. But once you know something, it can’t be unknown. And the more she learns, the more she wishes she never knew anything at all…

Change of Fortune by Jana DeLeonChange of Fortune by Jana DeLeon:

Sinful, Louisiana, is always a hotbed of activity, and despite the steamy heat, August is no exception. Godzilla is terrorizing the town, looking for a home-cooked meal, and Gertie is worried someone will take the gator out before she can get him under control. Francine has a situation of her own at the café, where food is missing from inventory. And Celia is always up to no good.

But summer is almost over, which could mean huge changes for Fortune Redding. Her undercover time in Sinful has always been limited to three months, and that time is almost up. With Ahmad still on the loose, Fortune is forced to remain in hiding, but soon she’ll have to move to another town and start all over with a new identity. And that’s the last thing she wants to do. Determined to get her life back, Fortune decides to draw Ahmad out and end this once and for all.

Can Fortune take down one of the most dangerous men in the world? And if she can, does she have a future in Sinful?

30 Days of Justis by John Ellsworth30 Days of Justis by John Ellsworth

She’s a daughter he didn’t know he had. Until she calls him…from death row.

From USA Today bestselling author John Ellsworth comes another book so thrilling the pages all but turn themselves. Written as a standalone novel.

Michael Gresham meets his lost daughter, Cache, in her prison cell. She is scheduled for execution in 30 days. Her other lawyers have given up; there is nothing left to do. On a hunch, Michael reviews ancient records. He is astonished at what he finds. He goes before the appeals court. The lawyers at the other table hammer him; the judges pursue him. He leaves with a heavy heart. With gathering speed, the days tick past.

30 Days of Justis is the story of a frantic father who happens to be a lawyer–but is he lawyer enough to save his child? Will there be a last minute call? Or is he in Cache’s life only as the last face she sees before it goes dark? A psychological thriller? Yes, definitely. A legal thriller? Yes, definitely. And so much more.

Murder at Macbeth in Susan HarperMurder at Macbeth by Susan Harper:

There’s nothing more relaxing than a day at the theater…until Macbeth is actually murdered

Kendell, a fiery flight attendant, and Pauline, a globe-trotting retiree, get stuck in London. Determined to make the best of their layover, they decide to take in a play at the Globe Theater. When the lead actor is murdered on stage, the new friends are thrust into a murder investigation. Can the new friends work together to clear their names and catch the real killer of Macbeth?

Murder at Macbeth is part of the Flight Risk Cozy Mystery series. If you like fast paced mysteries with interesting characters and unexpected twists, you’re going to love the Flight Risk Cozy Mystery series.

A Stolen Woman by Catherine LeaA Stolen Woman by Catherine Lea:

“Find Me!”

Those are the words on the note crumpled in Laney Donohue’s disabled sister’s hand. All Laney knows is that the young nurse aid who wrote them was taken by a man, and no one stopped him. Laney owes this young woman. She cared for Laney’s sister when Laney couldn’t. Now she’s disappeared without trace. Laney intends to find out why.

Meanwhile, it’s Elizabeth McClaine’s birthday. Or it would be if her PA had gotten the date right. So what better time to leave her unwanted party than when the call comes telling her a client of her charitable foundation has been found beaten and left cowering in a closet, her nurse aid missing.

But from the moment Elizabeth asks the first question, it’s obvious someone out there is hell-bent on stopping her. And when the trail left by Laney Donohue leads to the brothels and casinos of an organized crime syndicate two states away, Elizabeth must pit her wits against the brilliant and ruthless crime boss to save her. The problem is…

…he already knows she’s coming.

Freaky Places by Amanda M. LeeFreaky Places by Amanda M. Lee:

Mystic Caravan Circus is heading to the West Coast, and while everyone is happy for the change of scenery there’s a pall settling over the group.
Poet and Kade are in a good place and planning for a change, but it’s something Poet can’t focus on because she feels as if someone is watching … and whoever it is has evil in his or her heart.
The festival location is different, and instead of space, the circus denizens have festival workers and artisans on every side. They’re open and exposed, and hiding their secret has never been more important.
When one of their own goes missing, Poet is determined to figure out exactly what’s going on. The answers won’t be easy, though, and there are all different types of evil.
A fight is coming, and the enemy is different from anything they’ve ever faced. They’re outnumbered and might find themselves outmaneuvered.
Who will survive? More importantly, who will be lost to something even worse than death? Sometimes death really is better.

Take Five by Vishal ReddyTake Five by Vishal Reddy:

Every death starts with a life…

The first 48 hours of a murder investigation are critical… but what about the last 48 hours of the victim’s life?

TAKE FIVE (Book 2 in the Equinox Mystery Series) turns the classic police procedural on its head by alternating between the first 48 hours of the murder investigation and the last 48 hours of the murder victim’s life, told from her point of view.

THE VICTIM

In Sunnyvale, California, — the heart of Silicon Valley – Daisy Hale is a 24-year-old coder for MagnaSwift, one of the tech industry’s fastest-growing companies. Despite experiencing tragedy as a child and homelessness as a young adult, Daisy has overcome numerous obstacles to create a life of her own.

But MagnaSwift is a misogynistic hotbed of mistreatment and harassment, and Daisy’s furious that her impressive skills aren’t helping her advance within the company. So she comes up with a plan that will not only destroy MagnaSwift… but will also make her $10 million richer.

But Daisy’s fate is sealed, because she’s also dealing with a toxic boyfriend, a violent loan shark, a creepy stalker, and others who would rather kill her than see her succeed in life.

THE DETECTIVE

Meanwhile, Detective Stellan Coleman of the Sunnyvale Homicide Department needs to find out who murdered Daisy, the brilliant young woman cut down in the prime of her life. And like Daisy, Stellan has dealt with his share of tragedy too. Recently widowed and taking care of his young and tech-obsessed daughter, Stellan — together with his volatile partner, Detective Enrique Montoya — will stop at nothing to find justice for Daisy.

As Daisy and Stellan’s timelines alternate back and forth, the line between lies and the truth becomes blurred beyond recognition. Because in this fast-paced mystery full of heart-stopping twists, everybody’s a suspect… and nobody’s confessing.

Vanishing Girls by Lisa ReganVanishing Girls by Lisa Regan:

When Isabelle Coleman, a blonde, beautiful young girl goes missing, everyone from the small town of Denton joins the search. They can find no trace of the town’s darling, but Detective Josie Quinn finds another girl they didn’t even know was missing.

Mute and unresponsive, it’s clear this mysterious girl has been damaged beyond repair. All Josie can get from her is the name of a third girl and a flash of a neon tongue piercing that matches Isabelle’s.

The race is on to find Isabelle alive, and Josie fears there may be other girls in terrible danger. When the trail leads her to a cold case labelled a hoax by authorities, Josie begins to wonder is there anyone left she can trust?

Someone in this close-knit town is committing unspeakable crimes. Can Josie catch the killer before another victim loses their life?

13th Avenue by Thomas Shark13th Avenue by Thomas Shark

HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO TO SAVE YOUR OWN SKIN?

Detective Nicholas Graves never wanted to be a murderer, but during one long Sunday afternoon on 13th Avenue, he became exactly that. With his secret safe and buried for three whole years, it comes as a shock when he receives an anonymous email, threatening to expose his secret.

Over the next 12 hours, Detective Graves finds himself in a game with a killer who is smarter, more cunning and deranged than he could ever be. His only hope is his rookie partner, Detective Stasia Rhine, who becomes the final wall between Graves and his demise.

There’s only one problem.

The killer has a game for Stasia too…

The Hate Crime by Rachel SinclairThe Hate Crime by Rachel Sinclair:

Heather’s back!

Heather Morrison is back in Damien’s office, but this time, she’s not just there to work. Her boyfriend, Beck Harrison, is accused of killing a transgendered friend of Heather’s. The prosecutors are charging the murder as a hate crime. Beck insists that he’s innocent. After investigating Beck’s background, Damien’s not so sure. Beck has a dark past of involvement with the Aryan Brotherhood. But Damien soon finds out that this case is nothing like it seems. The victim’s past soon becomes the target of the investigation, as Damien finds the one key that will break this case wide open.

Did Damien solve the crime or was there somebody else that he never even thought of who might have been the culprit? A surprise witness at the 11th hour provides the clue.

Meanwhile, Connor has his own case for Damien. He’s been working with underprivileged youth, trying to steer them straight and not walk the same path that he has. He presses Damien to represent Tina, who is charged with drug distribution. Damien sees many parallels between Tina’s life and his own, and he can’t help wanting to save her.

But can he?

Imperfect Memories by Jody WennerImperfect Memories by Jody Wenner:

After losing her husband and daughter in an all-too-common act of senseless terror, Nina Rogers thinks she might also be losing her mind. Is she slipping because of the tragedy, or is her memory actually failing her? Is she experiencing the same thing her mother did, or is this something different? It might be easy to figure out in a normal person, but Nina is anything but normal. She has hyperthymesia: the ability to recall every minute of every day of her life.

As the days go on, she sinks even deeper into madness and knows that she needs to find some answers to what is happening to her before it’s too late. Tragically, the one person who may be able to help is also the man who killed her family.

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for January 2018

Indie Speculative Fiction of the MonthIt’s that time of the month again, time for “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”.

So what is “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some December books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Once again, we have new releases covering the whole broad spectrum of speculative fiction. This month, we have epic fantasy, urban fantasy, dark fantasy, historical fantasy, sword and sorcery, paranormal mystery, paranormal romance, science fiction romance, space opera, military science fiction, dystopian fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, post-apocalyptic romance, horror, Steampunk, weird western, reluctant witches, space vampires, dragons, djinns, crime-solving ghosts, aliens, rogue AIs, murderous androids, dead women revived, reincarnation, zombie-fighting sheriffs, imperiled hostages, remorseful executioners, Lovecraftian monsters, Frankenstein’s Bride, sentient office equipment and much more.

Don’t forget that Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month is also crossposted to the Speculative Fiction Showcase, a group blog run by Jessica Rydill and myself, which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things speculative fiction several times per week.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

The Legion and the Lioness by Robert D. ArmstrongThe Legion and the Lioness by Robert D. Armstrong:

They said I would never finish flight school. Never rank at the top of my class. Never fly with the top aces. Never return from combat against the Kelton androids. Never survive emergency surgery.

Here I am.

The year is 2151, Earth is gone. A hellscape. I’ve been unfrozen after 72 years of cryosleep on a medical facility on Saturn’s moon, Titan. I have nothing, no home, no friends, no concept of this new world, these Titans.

All that remains is the old conflict that has blackened my veins and memories of the ones I loved still fresh in my heart. Forgotten for decades.

But it seems war hasn’t forgotten me, no, even in my slumber. My name is Captain Victoria Ann Belic, I was a wife and an ace fighter pilot, and have been revived for one reason–to die again.

Zombie Wild West: Death Wals In by Eric BakerZombie Wild West: Death Walks In by Eric Baker:

“Is this the end? The apocalypse?”

The dead are coming back to life, and there’s going to be a showdown in the sleepy town of Dire.

Sheriff Eli Roberts has had more hardship in his life than one man should ever have. Now he’s started over: a new town, a new life, and as of this morning, new problems. A stranger has walked into town and fallen dead in the middle of the main street. Once again the wild west has earned its name.

As if zombies in town weren’t enough, the Sheriff also has to deal with an ornery Doctor, a saloon girl, and a corrupt Mayor. To make it even worse, they’ll have to work together if they want to make it through the night.

Sawyer by Theresa BeachmanSawyer by Theresa Beachman:

Surviving the invasion was only the beginning.

Ben Sawyer is a man of morals, driven by conflict and haunted by a dark past, where doing the right thing came at high personal cost.

Following an attack on her lab, he helps weapons engineer Julia Simmons across the alien infested landscape of London to the safety of the underground Command Base. Safe for the moment, Sawyer falls hard for her brilliant mind and dangerous curves.

Struggling to come to terms with Earth’s devastation, completing her newest weapon gives Julia hope and purpose. But, her decision leaves her no time for a relationship. She makes Sawyer promise they will not fall in love, because there’s no time for love in the apocalypse, right?

Still fighting his own demons and believing himself beyond redemption, Sawyer agrees to Julia’s terms–comfort without emotional entanglement.

But events escalate and an unexpected alien mutation threatens the very heart of the previously impenetrable base. Even if they can survive the dangers closing in on them, Julia and Sawyer may not survive each other’s dark secrets.

The question then becomes, who will be the first to admit to love?

Life Under the Noose by James BeeLife Under the Noose by James Bee:

Fifteen years ago, Rivers was stolen from his village, under the orders of a King. Forced to serve, Rivers’ life was safe as long as his village stayed loyal. Only now it seems that they have broken faith with the King, and the noose around his neck grows tight. His life is forfeit, unless he travels back to his home, and delivers the punishment himself. Now Rivers is faced with an impossible choice. If the life he has carved out for himself is to survive, he must destroy his old world. How far will he go to save his own life? How far can one man be pushed before he breaks?

Life Under the Noose is a fast paced, character driven novel for readers who love gritty action, and high stakes.

Vengeance by S.M. Schmidt and Lisa BlackwoodVengeance by Lisa Blackwood and S.M. Schmitz:

When rogue AIs steal everything that matters most, the only thing left is vengeance.

As the flagship of the Spire Empire, Vengeance is a legendary AI whose broken heart has proven his greatest battle yet. But his new telepathic link, a little girl named Hayley, finally teaches him to love again—until rogue AIs attack her planet and level her home in a storm of fire and destruction. Vengeance is left with only one hope in his potentially immortal existence: the chance to avenge his innocent link.

Twenty years later, a young engineer joins his crew, and he’s inextricably drawn to her. But the closer he tries to get to her, the harder she pushes him away. Olivia Hawthorne risks everything—her friendship with her telepathic sisters and even her life—to assume a new identity so she can serve aboard Vengeance. After suffering at the hands of rogue AIs, she should be wary of trusting one again, even her old friend. And yet, she can’t seem to stay away from him. But when rogues raid Spire colonies, Vengeance and Liv must learn to overcome the fears shackling them to the past. Because if they want to survive, they’ll have to seek vengeance together.

Beyond Night by Eric S. Brown and Steven L. ShrewsburyBeyond Night by Eric S. Brown and Steven L. Shrewsbury:

An Epic Fantasy tale of action, adventure, heroism, horror and sorcery…

Beyond Night is a Dark Fantasy Horror novel that pulls back the veil of nearly two thousand years of jaded history. Come trod in the bloody footprints left by monsters, soldiers and wizards and behold what lies hidden Beyond Night itself.

It’s Bigfoot War mixed with Lovecraftian horror on the edge of the Roman Empire.

How could Rome lose a Legion? What could’ve happened to blot out the existence of over five thousand men not only from history but the Earth itself?

As the Legion moves north to engage the forces of Pictdom, a dark horror emerges from the bowels of the Earth. Thought to be random attacks by hulking monsters, Decurion August soon learns a dire truth, that these bloody events are directed by opposing the wizards of the Picts. While one side assembles all tribes in a confederated army to battle the Legion, the other pulls these Greyman beasts from the depths of the Earth.

August fights not only these creatures and workers of magicks, but internal passions in the Legion itself.

Can he discover a way to survive the enormous bloodletting about to take place that will only serve to satisfy the wizards of Pictdom?

Origins by Lindsay BurokerOrigins by Lindsay Buroker:

Are you still human if your father was a dragon?

Even though Captain Trip always knew he was a little odd, he’s still shocked by the revelation that the elder gold dragon, Agarrenon Shivar, sired him. It’s time, however, to accept reality and learn to use his power, even if it alienates him from his magic-fearing friends—and the woman he’s come to care about. With enemy dragons threatening to kill or enslave everyone in his homeland, he has no choice.

But even if he becomes a great sorcerer, it won’t be enough to fight off all the dragons threatening Iskandia, so Trip suggests a mission to General Zirkander. He wants to lead a team, with the scholarly Lieutenant Ravenwood’s help, to locate his sire. Agarrenon Shivar, once respected and feared by his own kind, may be the perfect ally for Iskandia—if Trip can talk him into siding with humanity.

Just one problem: the ancient dragon hasn’t been seen for thousands of years, and Trip has no idea how his long-dead mother found him.

Banished by Cynthia Joyce ClayBanished by Cynthia Joyce Clay:

n this third book of The Saga of the Dragon Born, Tristabé-airta, banished from her father’s kingdom of Allsongs, must find a mentor so that she can advance in her training in magic. But no one wants to teach a miscreant, especially one who pulled from the ocean ten waterspouts and destroyed a village with them. On the road alone and prey to griffons, ruffians, and a frightening god who lusts for her, Tristabé-airta must find a way to improve her control over her magic.

And Allsongs? Allsongs must prepare for a truly terrible winter, having banished the one person with the magical ability to right the weather–Tristabé-airta. The poets have always said Tristabé-airta is Allsongs’s best defense, so having her driven her out, the new heirs of Allsongs must protect Allsongs from enemy kings and their own dragon natures on their own. Despite the king’s decree, Tristabé-airta’s milk sister Em keeps in touch with Tristabé-airta and gives her what help her magic can provide.

Copper Cove by Robert DahlenCopper Cove by Robert Dahlen:

Copper Cove, city of marvels powered by magic and steam, is abuzz over the coming of the new rail line. Crafter Tabitha Miles would love to be on the first trip of the Velessan Express, but there’s work to be done. Staying awake past midnight to make ends meet, difficult clients, runaway automatons, guild enforcers, all just another typical day for her.

Tabitha’s latest commission seems like just another job at first but then she meets newspaper reporter Sophie Haverford and falls into a web of conspiracy and murder. Can Tabitha unravel the mystery, prevent a disaster, and win Sophie’s heart in time for tea?

Rain Dance by D.N. EriksonRain Dance by D.N. Erikson:

Eden Hunter has a little secret that could get her killed. Again.

Paradise isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Reaper Eden Hunter would know: she spends her days working for a local vampire warlord, harvesting the souls of the recently departed. But even bad situations can get worse. And when a body washes up on shore near Eden’s secluded beachfront villa, the former con artist finds herself under investigation by the FBI.

But Eden’s not concerned about being charged with murder. She’s got a bigger secret she needs to keep quiet. It’s why she’s living miles from anyone else, even on an island that appears on no map. If that secret gets out, the fate awaiting her is far worse than life in prison. Too bad the FBI won’t stop digging until it might be too late…

Rain Dance is the first book in the all-new Sunshine & Scythes urban fantasy series starring (semi) reformed con artist turned Reaper (and occasional FBI consultant) Eden Hunter. Each novel can be enjoyed on its own without reading the others, but there is an ongoing series arc.

Their Last Hope by Sarah EttrichTheir Last Hope by Sarah Ettrich:

AI specialist Liz Price is determined to see sentient androids in her lifetime, but then she’s diagnosed with terminal cancer. Hoping that her dream will be realized in the future, she arranges to be cryogenically frozen upon her death.

When Liz is revived years later, she expects to be cured. But sentient androids are taking humans and killing them for some unknown reason. They control the medical system, and they don’t treat serious illnesses.

A resistance group wants Liz to turn the androids back into mindless machines. They tell her that’s the only way to stop the androids, and the only way she’ll be cured.

Liz wants to live, so she agrees to work with the resistance. She secretly hopes she can reason with the androids, but then she finds out why they’re taking humans.

McEdifice Returns by Camestros FelaptonMcEdifice Returns by Timothy T. Cat and Straw Puppy with a little help by Camestros Felapton:

Veteran space marine Chiseled McEdifice wanted a peaceful life after decades of fighting evil but a cowardly attack sets him off on a bicycle ride of revenge and into an adventure across space and time.

From the pen of Timothy the Talking Cat and his surprisingly loud imaginary friend Straw Puppy, comes a space adventure like no other (except ones a bit like it). Featuring a chapter full of the word ‘I’, a dancing photocopier and guest appearances galore.

The City of Ashes by Robert I. KatzThe City of Ashes by Robert I. Katz:

Douglas survived the siege.

But will he survive the tournament?

The contest takes place every five years. The best and brightest fight for riches and glory. But the hidden battle isn’t with fists or weapons, it’s a game of words and diplomacy. Behind the scenes deals are being struck. Sides are being chosen. And betrayal is in the air.

Does this mean war?

Can Douglas uncover the truth?

And if he wins, can he survive long enough to enjoy his victory?

As the game unfolds, the Grand Tournament is just the opening gambit. What comes next will blow you away.

The Empire's Orphans by Robin KristoffThe Empire’s Orphans by Robin Kristoff:

In the space of three days, Rogan loses his royal privilege, his country, and his mother. Now knowing that his father, the King of Kanrine, orchestrated his mother’s execution, Rogan is left stranded in his mother’s homeland. Sickened by the idea of returning home, Rogan lowers himself to washing and sweeping for a local healer to survive. He’s now a drudge, a mongrel, a nobody with airs. His one friend is Bryna, the poverty-stricken daughter of the city’s former baron, who has her own reasons for skirting the notice of the city’s occupying soldiers.

Before Rogan can decide his next move, the mysterious death of a soldier pulls him and Bryna into a web of politics, murder, and magic. The two of them must race to separate truth from lies as the authorities’ investigations quickly turn personal…and deadly.

Told from the alternating perspectives of a conqueror’s son and a conquered lord’s daughter, THE EMPIRE’S ORPHANS follows two twelve-year-olds in a country simmering with national, racial, and class.

Witchin' USA by Amanda M. LeeWitchin’ USA by Amanda M. Lee:

Hadley Hunter has lived a normal life, in a normal suburb, with a normal job and a normal father. All that changes when a grandmother she didn’t even know existed dies and leaves her a fabulous lighthouse on Moonstone Bay Island.

Hadley, ready for an adventure, decides to check things out and finds herself plunged into a world she never envisioned.
From the naked woman swimming in the ocean outside her back door, to the hot sheriff who seems to be hiding a secret, Hadley is intrigued from the start. That’s before magical things start happening – including to Hadley – and a body washes up on the beach.

It seems Moonstone Bay has a killer on the loose … and he may be stalking Hadley, although no one can figure out why.

Things are about to spiral for Moonstone Bay’s newest reluctant – and baffled – witch. She has to learn about the past, investigate the present and hold on to her future for dear life. Along the way she will meet a bevy of new friends who have a few particular abilities … and a lot of really odd quirks.

Set sail for adventure, because once you visit Moonstone Bay, you’ll never be the same again.

Three Wishes by Lisa ManifoldThree Wishes by Lisa Manifold:

To find out what might have been, she has to give up control over what will be.

After a long night of eating too much ice cream and lamenting her less than wise choices, Tibby Holloway wakes up to find a freelancing djinn sitting on her bed. He makes her the offer of a lifetime: three wishes – three chances to go back and change her life.

She can choose a different career, find the man she loved and lost – in short, she can go back and do everything right this time.

But there’s a catch.

Once she’s gone back three times, once she’s created three new—and hopefully better—realities, the djinn will decide where she ends up.

Maybe it would be better not to even know … but that’s a chance Tibby will have to take if she wants to have her THREE WISHES.

Gone with the Ghost by Erin McCarthyGone with the Ghost by Erin McCarthy:

Bailey Burke has had a rough six months—it’s not easy thinking your romantic overtures toward your best friend caused him to kill himself. Except that’s exactly what happened. Ryan is very much dead, having shot himself with his own police-issued gun. Guilt and grief shouldn’t cause hallucinations though, but six months after Ryan went into the ground, Bailey is freaking out and swearing his ghost is standing in her kitchen. Which he is…

Ryan claims he didn’t commit suicide, but was murdered, and he needs Bailey to help him find his killer so he can earn his ticket out of purgatory. Ryan’s counting on a stairway to heaven, as opposed to wings, since that might be a little unmanly for a cop, even a dead one.

An expert in home design, with her own staging business, Bailey can tell you where to place a couch to improve flow and comfort, but solving a crime? Not her area of expertise. But with help from Ryan’s former partner, Marner, she is unraveling the mystery of what happened to Ryan that day… and unwittingly putting herself in grave danger.

Bride by Kyle Alexander RominesBride by Kyle Alexander Romines:

The year is 1795. Frankenstein’s monster has given his creator an ultimatum: Victor must build the creature a mate, or watch as the monster destroys everything and everyone he has ever loved.

You know their story.

You don’t know hers.

She is born into darkness, her destiny entwined with an unspeakable evil. Her sole companion is her creator, the inscrutable Victor Frankenstein, gatekeeper to a life she has never experienced. As her understanding of humanity takes shape, she must contend with the horrific nature of her intended mate and conflicting feelings for her creator.

She wants more from life than to be the bride of Frankenstein’s monster, but will she seek freedom, vengeance, or something else entirely?

Smoke City by Keith RossonSmoke City by Keith Rosson

Marvin Deitz has some serious problems. His mob-connected landlord is strong-arming him out of his storefront. His therapist has concerns about his stability. He’s compelled to volunteer at the local Children’s Hospital even though it breaks his heart every week.

Oh, and he’s also the guilt-ridden reincarnation of Geoffroy Thérage, the French executioner who lit Joan of Arc’s pyre in 1431. He’s just seen a woman on a Los Angeles talk show claiming to be Joan, and absolution seems closer than it’s ever been . . . but how will he find her?

When Marvin heads to Los Angeles to locate the woman who may or may not be Joan, he’s picked up hitchhiking by Mike Vale, a self-destructive alcoholic painter traveling to his ex-wife’s funeral. As they move through a California landscape populated with “smokes” (ghostly apparitions that’ve inexplicably begun appearing throughout the southwestern US), each seeks absolution in his own way.

In Smoke City, Keith Rosson continues to blur genre and literary fiction in a way that is in turns surprising, heartfelt, brutal, relentlessly inventive, and entirely his own.

Lessons Learned by Alice SaboLessons Learned by Alice Sabo:

While a wildfire threatens High Meadow, an uninvited guest sows seeds of dissent.

The president arrives at High Meadow with his entourage of bureaucrats and faux-military. Tillie and Angus don’t have time for any distractions as a massive wildfire bears down on their settlement. It will take more than hard work and good intentions to get them through this catastrophe.

Martin is leery about sending all of his men to aid those in the path of the fire thereby leaving their borders unprotected. They are most vulnerable in their commitment to help others.

Wisp and Nick work the fire lines seeking out people fleeing the raging flames. Only Wisp can find those lost in the heavy smoke, risking his life to bring them to safety.

Behind their backs, certain people are questioning every decision. At a time when they most need to work together, the outsiders are creating divisiveness.

Ghosts of the Sea Moon by A.F. StewartGhosts of the Sea Moon by A.F. Stewart:

In the Outer Islands, gods and magic rule the ocean.
Under the command of Captain Rafe Morrow, the crew of the Celestial Jewel ferry souls to the After World and defend the seas from monsters. Rafe has dedicated his life to protecting the lost, but the tides have shifted and times have changed.
His sister, the Goddess of the Moon, is on a rampage and her creatures are terrorizing the islands. The survival of the living and dead hinge on the courage and cunning of a beleaguered captain and his motley crew of men and ghosts.
What he doesn’t know is that her threat is part of a larger game. That an ancient, black-winged malevolence is using them all as pawns…

Come set sail with ghosts, gods and sea monsters.

ONSET: Stay of Execution by Glynn StewartONSET: Stay of Execution by Glynn Stewart:

The Vampire War is over.
The United States is reeling.
The Masquerade is fragmenting.
The Apocalypse is here…

The long and bloody war with the vampires in the United States has finally ended, thanks to the efforts of the vampire Arbiter and ONSET Commander David White—and a nuclear explosion on American soil.
The final battle proves harder to conceal than hoped, however, and a series of high profile incidents end any chance of hiding the supernatural. Suddenly the world is faced with the fact that it is both more wonderful and more terrible than humanity ever realized.
But as the US Government struggles to adapt to this new reality, old enemies have set into motion plans that could render humanity’s struggles irrelevant. There are those beyond the Seal who were once Gods…and they want their planet back!

Fire Fight by Chris WardFire Fight by Chris Ward:

A gripping new space opera saga from acclaimed author Chris Ward …

On the fire planet of Abalon 3, an evil warlord threatens to unleash a wave of destruction in order to take control of the planet’s valuable source of trioxyglobin, a dangerous but valuable liquid used for starship fuel. The only person capable of stopping him is Lianetta Jansen, a disgraced former Galactic Military Policewoman now turned smuggler, who is haunted by a terrible tragedy in her past. Along with her ragtag, wisecracking crew—the one-armed pilot Caladan, and the malfunctioning droid, Harlan5—Lia must confront her own demons, while trying to stop another.

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Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for January 2018

Welcome to the latest edition of “Indie Crime Fiction of the Month”.

So what is “Indie Crime Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some December books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Our new releases cover the broad spectrum of crime fiction. We have cozy mysteries, small town mysteries, culinary mysteries, paranormal mysteries, hardboiled mysteries, historical mysteries, police procedurals, legal thrillers, crime thrillers, psychological thrillers, men’s adventure, private eyes, missing persons, prosecutors, reluctant witches, domestic violence, murdered grandmothers, the pit of crawling death and much more.

Don’t forget that Indie Crime Fiction of the Month is also crossposted to the Indie Crime Scene, a group blog which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things crime fiction several times per week.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

A Frosty Mug of Murder by Constance BarkerA Frosty Mug of Murder by Constance Barker:

Who Killed the Black Widow?

The Grumpy Chicken Irish Pub is in full blast mode when proprietor Ginger O’Mallory discovers someone has offed the town’s Black Widow before the woman can take out another husband. Secrets swirl and the hooch flows in this brand new series centering around an Irish Pub with a crazy clucker name. And what is with all the spooky goings on with a ghost chicken attached? Find out in this hilarious romp filled with colorful and wisecracking characters.

 

The Crawling Death by Cora Buhlert
The Crawling Death by Cora Buhlert:

1966. Freelance troubleshooter Todd Donovan is hired to locate Dr. Pat Turner, a biologist who has gone missing in the South American jungle. It seems like an easy job at first, but then Todd finds himself staring into the barrel of a gun.

Captured and taken to the jungle compound of the drug lord Durango, Todd finally meets up with Dr. Turner, who turns out to be not just a beautiful woman, but also Durango’s prisoner.

Durango is not the sort of man to leave potential witnesses alive. And so Todd and Dr. Pat Turner are soon facing a painful end in Durango’s pit of crawling death…

This is a short adventure story of approx. 5500 words or 20 pages in the style of the men’s adventure pulps of the 1960s.

The Mystery of Ruby's Sugar by Rose DonovanThe Mystery of Ruby’s Sugar by Rose Donovan:

Christmas, 1934.

The snow lies heavy around Pauncefort Hall. Dress designers Ruby Dove and Fina Aubrey-Havelock leave behind their Oxford exams to rescue Lady Charlotte’s wardrobe. But what Lady Charlotte doesn’t know is that Ruby is on a mission—a mission to avenge her family and bring down an empire.

As the weather worsens, Ruby and Fina are drawn into the intrigues of Lady Charlotte’s other guests, who include a princess, a furiously left-wing don, a West End starlet—and, it seems, a murderer. After the two resident cads are poisoned, Ruby and Fina must find the culprit and still carry out their secret plans—all before the law arrives. But Pauncefort Hall can remain snowbound for only so long.

The Mystery of Ruby’s Sugar is the first book in the Ruby Dove historical cozy mystery series.

Bleeding Levee Blues by Nick DorseyBleeding Levee Blues by Nick Dorsey:

Tom Connelly left the New Orleans Police Department after the madness of Hurricane Katrina, and his life has gone downhill ever since. Shunned by his brothers in blue, he broke down and gave in to drink. He lost his friends. He lost his wife. And now his son barely knows his name.

But a figure from his past has asked Tom to help a wealthy politician find his missing daughter. If Tom keeps this quiet, the politician promises Tom the one thing he needs most: redemption. A name cleared from past controversy. A new life moving forward.

The search for the young woman leads Tom into the dark corners of the decaying New Orleans landscape and beyond, right into the heart of a deadly human trafficking organization and to the other side of the world. Now Tom isn’t just worried about redeeming himself, he’s hoping he can get out of this alive.

For Better or Worse by Donna Huston MurrayFor Better or Worse by Donna Huston Murray:

Finally back to her spunky self after the loss of her husband, men have once again become an issue for amateur sleuth Ginger Barnes—men who mistreat their wives, men accused of murder, and men who ask her out.

While working on a DIY project at her newlywed daughter’s house, a bag of bricks is thrown from the neighboring third-story window. Next, pops that sound like muffled gunshots have Gin racing for her phone. Eric, who lives in the house with his grandmother, claims she’s obsessed with mystery novels. Yet after the septuagenarian falls down a flight of stairs, she’s so frantic to keep Eric away that Gin must intervene. Was the fall actually attempted murder?In her husband’s eyes, Cissie Voight can’t do anything right. Gin occasionally helps the frazzled young mother, and when she needs a dresser carried upstairs, Gin brings Eric along. Bad move! The electricity between the two new acquaintances sparks a chilling premonition. This time Gin’s good intentions will produce grave consequences—for everyone involved.

Deep Zero by V.S. KemanisDeep Zero by V.S. Kemanis:

It’s one a.m. Do you know where your teenagers are? Prosecutor Dana Hargrove makes it a point to know. But one night, in the dead of winter, she should have known more.

In February 2009, Dana is the newly-elected district attorney of a suburban county north of Manhattan, where she lives with her husband, attorney Evan Goodhue, and their two teenage children. The Great Recession has seen a rise in substance abuse and domestic violence. It’s also the era of burgeoning social media, an intoxicating lure for wayward and disaffected teens who find new methods of victimization: a game to some, with no thought of the consequences.

During an arctic cold snap, the body of a high school student is discovered, lodged in the ice floes of the Hudson River. People are crying for justice, but there doesn’t seem to be a law that fits. Days later, in one hellish night, Dana’s children are sucked into a criminal investigation against several of their classmates, making her a convenient target for community outrage.

In Deep Zero, the fourth standalone legal mystery featuring the dynamic prosecutor, Dana walks the tightrope like never before in her tricky balance between professional ethics and family loyalties.

Witchin' USA by Amanda M. LeeWitchin’ USA by Amanda M. Lee:

Hadley Hunter has lived a normal life, in a normal suburb, with a normal job and a normal father. All that changes when a grandmother she didn’t even know existed dies and leaves her a fabulous lighthouse on Moonstone Bay Island.

Hadley, ready for an adventure, decides to check things out and finds herself plunged into a world she never envisioned.
From the naked woman swimming in the ocean outside her back door, to the hot sheriff who seems to be hiding a secret, Hadley is intrigued from the start. That’s before magical things start happening – including to Hadley – and a body washes up on the beach.

It seems Moonstone Bay has a killer on the loose … and he may be stalking Hadley, although no one can figure out why.

Things are about to spiral for Moonstone Bay’s newest reluctant – and baffled – witch. She has to learn about the past, investigate the present and hold on to her future for dear life. Along the way she will meet a bevy of new friends who have a few particular abilities … and a lot of really odd quirks.

Set sail for adventure, because once you visit Moonstone Bay, you’ll never be the same again.

Murder at Home by Faith MartinMurder at Home by Faith Martin:

Meet DI HILLARY GREENE, a policewoman struggling to save her career and catch criminals.

Flo Jenkins is found murdered in her armchair, a paperknife sticking out of her chest. The old woman was well liked and nothing seems to have been stolen from her home. And it was common knowledge that she only had weeks to live.

Why kill a dying woman? This is going to be one of the toughest cases yet for Hillary to solve.

Hillary also has to deal with a new colleague who has a terrible temper and a rocky past.

With no forensics, no leads, and only a drug-addict nephew as a suspect, will this be Hillary’s first failure to solve a murder case?

Gone with the Ghost by Erin McCarthyGone with the Ghost by Erin McCarthy:

Bailey Burke has had a rough six months—it’s not easy thinking your romantic overtures toward your best friend caused him to kill himself. Except that’s exactly what happened. Ryan is very much dead, having shot himself with his own police-issued gun. Guilt and grief shouldn’t cause hallucinations though, but six months after Ryan went into the ground, Bailey is freaking out and swearing his ghost is standing in her kitchen. Which he is…

Ryan claims he didn’t commit suicide, but was murdered, and he needs Bailey to help him find his killer so he can earn his ticket out of purgatory. Ryan’s counting on a stairway to heaven, as opposed to wings, since that might be a little unmanly for a cop, even a dead one.

An expert in home design, with her own staging business, Bailey can tell you where to place a couch to improve flow and comfort, but solving a crime? Not her area of expertise. But with help from Ryan’s former partner, Marner, she is unraveling the mystery of what happened to Ryan that day… and unwittingly putting herself in grave danger.

Chocolate Cake with a Side of Murder by Meredith PottsChocolate Cake with a Side of Murder by Meredith Potts:

Wedding season has come to Treasure Cove. But a shocking murder threatens to turn the entire town on its head.

Even worse, amateur sleuth Sabrina Daley and her detective fiancé are unable to uncover a single suspect.

Will Sabrina be able to track down the killer before they get away, or will this case go cold?

 

The Accused by Rachel SinclairThe Accused by Rachel Sinclair

Harper is back…and this time it’s personal.

Harper must defend Damien, who has been arrested for the murder of his birth father, Josh Roland. Harper knows that Damien didn’t do it. He couldn’t do it. Yet his past comes to haunt him, as Harper finds out things about Damien that she never knew.

The victim, Josh Roland, was, for many years, a bastard. He sexually harassed most of his female employees and was a serial rapist. He was also involved with many shady and crooked financial deals that broke the many contractors who had the misfortune of dealing with him. In short, there were many, many people who wanted this man dead. So why was Damien made the prime target of the investigation? The answer to this question stuns Harper and causes her to question everything about what she thought she knew about her law partner.

In the meantime, her tween daughters are giving her fits – even Abby has been acting out lately. They’re 13, at the most awkward age imaginable, and Harper is at the end of her rope with them. Throw in some romantic troubles with her longtime beau, Axel, and you have one seriously frazzled lawyer. She keeps it together, Harper-style, which means that her life is perpetually a mess, but she always fights her way out.

With the twists and turns that you’ve come to expect in a Harper Ross/Damien Harrington legal thriller, The Accused is not to be missed!

Who Killed Granny? by Stephanie VillegasWho Killed Granny? by Stephanie Villegas:

When Barbara Smythe finds her grandmother unconscious and sprawled out on the sofa, she suspects foul play. Worried the attacker will come after her next, Barbara rushes around Los Angeles in a desperate attempt to find and warn her twin sister of the peril they face. With the killer hot on her trail, she must race against the clock to discover who killed Granny and bring them to justice.

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A New Release and a New Series – Introducing Two-Fisted Todd

Yes, this is another new release announcement and also the announcement of a new series. But first, let’s travel back in time.

About twelve years ago, I sold several short stories to a magazine that billed itself as a successor to the men’s adventure magazines of the 1960s. Most of those stories were historicals featuring more or less scantily clad damsels in distress, while one was a take on the spicy pulps of the 1930s featuring The Silencer. All but one of those stories have been republished in e-book form since then.

At the time, I didn’t know much about the actual men’s adventure mags of the 1950s and 1960s beyond having seen a few cover scans on the internet. The editor of the mag in question helpfully sent me some scans of the interiors of actual men’s adventure mags. What is more, I also came across this art book which collects hundreds of covers of vintage men’s adventure magazines and also offers an overview about the genre, it’s development, prominent themes and subjects and what sort of content might be found inside. So I promptly bought the book.

The art book also included some statements by artists, models and writers who had worked on these magazines. And one of the writers said that quite often, the covers were painted before there was even a single word of content. And afterwards, a writer would be commissioned to write a story to match the cover. And considering some of the really lurid illustrations on those covers – rugged men being attacked by all sorts of likely and unlikely wildlife, while buxom maidens were being tortured and menaced by evil Nazis, evil Communists, evil biker gangs and evil beatniks (the last one doesn’t quite fit) – coming up with a story to match must have been quite a challenge.

Now I have never been able to resist a writing challenge, so I decided to set myself the same challenge as those men’s adventure magazine writers of old, namely to write a story to match the cover of one of those magazines. So I opened the art book at random, picked one of the covers shown and decided to write a story based on it.

Of course, a men’s adventure tale also needed a suitably manly and rugged hero and so I came up with “Two-Fisted” Todd Donovan, a freelance troubleshooter who travels around the globe to solve other people’s problems, provided the price is right. That was a vague enough description to allow for pretty much any kind of adventure from dealing with lethal wildlife via rescuing young women from dastardly villains to tangling with biker gangs and those really, really dangerous beatniks. And of course, it also had series potential.

So now I had my hero and an image to serve as inspiration, so I started writing. The story stalled out at about three-quarters through. So I set it aside. Then life and work got in the way and the magazine changed direction to become a sexy horror mag, depriving Two-Fisted Todd of his intended market. Eventually, self-publishing became a thing, making previously unviable stories suddenly viable again. And through it all, Todd was biding his time in some tropical paradise, a cool drink in his hand, waiting for another job.

Eventually, I started doing the July short story challenges and one of the things I used for inspiration was the art book of men’s adventure magazine covers, because both the lurid covers and ridiculous headlines made for excellent inspiration. And so several of the stories in Bug-Eyed Monsters and the Women Who Love Them as well as the story “Mock Duck” in Operation: Rubber Ducky were inspired by either headlines or illustrations in vintage men’s adventure mags that I found in that book.

Because the art book was such a gold mine of inspiration, I used it again for the 2017 July short story challenge. Only that this time, I didn’t even open it. I looked at the cover – a lurid illustration of a man and a woman tied up with scorpions crawling all over them – and thought, “Actually, that’s a great image. Why don’t I write a story for that one?”

Of course, I still needed a plot – beyond two people getting tied up and menaced by scorpions – and a hero to go with it. And this is where Todd Donovan suddenly emerged from the depths of my subconscious, cleared his throat and said, “That looks like a job for me.”

And since one of my rules for the July short story challenge is “Go along with whatever pops up, no matter how weird” I sent Todd on a quest to locate a missing scientist (who of course turns out to be a very attractive woman who also isn’t willing to take any macho crap neither from Todd nor the villain) only to find trouble in the form of a murderous druglord and his pit full of scorpions. I also decided to keep the story a period piece set in the mid 1960s.

With the July challenge stories, I normally try to keep research to a minimum. However, this story required some research beyond googling what coca plants actually look like. For starters, a pit full of deadly scorpions required a sufficiently lethal species of scorpion that made sense in the context and setting, since lethal scorpions that live in African or Asian deserts are not really suitable for a story that is set in a Latin American jungle. Finally, I did find a suitable species of scorpion, namely Tityus serrulatus, the Brazilian yellow scorpion, which even looks a little bit like the scorpions on the cover I used as inspiration. And since I had a pit full of lethal scorpions, I also needed to research what happens and what to do when someone gets stung.

That’s one of the benefits of writing. You learn all sorts of obscure facts when researching stories, which is why it baffles me when certain authors, usually of the literary persuasion, insist that they never do research, such as this dude who portrayed cellphones and e-mail as common in a novel set in the early 1990s and also relocated a town from Serbia to Croatia, which is kind of a massive faux pas, especially when the Balkan wars are one of the subjects of the novel.

Te next challenge was finding the right kind of cover for the story. Now the striking cover art of vintage men’s adventure magazines is largely impossible to recreate in the modern era without access to custom illustration. The look of men’s adventure paperbacks such as The Executioner or The Destroyer is also difficult to recreate in the modern era.

In the end, I combined influences from vintage paperbacks and German pulp magazines and found a stock photo of a young lady lying in the grass in clothes that fit both the description in the story and that also looked suitably vintage (too modern clothing and make-up is a curse when browsing stock photos). Of course, there were no scorpions, so I had to photoshop some in. Next came the typography, inspired by looking at the kind of fonts used on actual vintage magazines and paperbacks of the era, and finally some photoshopped grit for that beat up paperback look.

I think the result is pretty good, at least unless I can somehow resurrect Norm Eastman or Rafael DeSoto and persuade them to make covers for me.

Finally, do you remember that first Two-Fisted Todd story, the one I started and never finished? Well, in the wake of editing, proofing and publishing, I dug up that story again as well and found that what I’d written way back when still held up pretty well. What is more, I finished the story. It’s currently going through editing, so there will be at least one more Two-Fisted Todd adventure in the very near future. And then, who knows? After all, I have a big book full of artwork to serve as a potential inspiration for more adventures for Todd Donovan, freelance troubleshooter.

And for those of you who are not into retro pulp stuff, I also have more In Love and War stories coming up very soon (again, currently in editing) as well as at least one more Helen Shepherd Mystery as well as Murder in the Family 2 and After the End 2: More Stories of Life After the Apocalypse.

But for now, buckle up and follow Two-Fisted Todd Donovan into the jungle, as he faces…

The Crawling Death
The Crawling Death by Cora Buhlert1966. Freelance troubleshooter Todd Donovan is hired to locate Dr. Pat Turner, a biologist who has gone missing in the South American jungle. It seems like an easy job at first, but then Todd finds himself staring into the barrel of a gun.

Captured and taken to the jungle compound of the drug lord Durango, Todd finally meets up with Dr. Turner, who turns out to be not just a beautiful woman, but also Durango’s prisoner.

Durango is not the sort of man to leave potential witnesses alive. And so Todd and Dr. Pat Turner are soon facing a painful end in Durango’s pit of crawling death…

This is a short adventure story of approx. 5500 words or 20 pages in the style of the men’s adventure pulps of the 1960s.

More information.
Length: 5500 words
List price: 0.99 USD, EUR or GBP
Buy it at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Netherlands, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Brazil, Amazon Japan, Amazon India, Amazon Mexico, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes, Google Play, Scribd, Smashwords, Inktera, Playster, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, e-Sentral, 24symbols and XinXii.

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for December 2017

Indie Speculative Fiction of the MonthIt’s that time of the month again, time for “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”.

So what is “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some November books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Once again, we have new releases covering the whole broad spectrum of speculative fiction. This month, we have epic fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal mystery, paranormal romance, science fiction romance, space opera, military science fiction, dystopian fiction, post-apocalyptic science fiction, time travel, witches, werewolves, vampires, dragons, cyborgs, fugitives, angels, demons and demon slayers, assassins, Christmas in space and much more.

Don’t forget that Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month is also crossposted to the Speculative Fiction Showcase, a group blog run by Jessica Rydill and myself, which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things speculative fiction several times per week.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

Fringe Campaign by Rachel AukesFringe Campaign by Rachel Aukes:

There is no turning back from war now.

The Fringe Liberation Campaign has sparked protests and rebellions across the Collective. Can the fringe unite into a single front before the Collective Unified Forces send everything they’ve got to destroy the Campaign and kill every last torrent?

 

 

Fugitive by Krista D. BallFugitive by Krista D. Ball:

Hope is a luxury traitors can’t afford.

To say Rebecca has some doubts about her personal choices would be underestimating the situation. In this second installment of the Collaborator series, Rebecca finds herself being chased by Blackout officers, border patrol, military intelligence, and surveillance drones.

Rebecca still isn’t sure she can trust any of these people who’d escaped the exploding station, but what choice does she have? She is a fugitive and a certain Blackout officer wants her back.

Christmas on Iago Prime by Cora BuhlertChristmas on Iago Prime by Cora Buhlert

Eight-year-old Libby has come with her parents to spend a year at the newly established colony on the planet Iago Prime. Libby’s parents believe that this is a great opportunity for all of them, but Libby is unhappy on Iago Prime. There are no other children on Iago Prime and Libby can’t go anywhere, because she doesn’t even have a space suit. Worst of all, they will spend Christmas on Iago Prime, where there aren’t even any Christmas trees.

However, Libby’s parents, with a little help from Santa Claus himself, conspire to give Libby an unforgettable Christmas on Iago Prime.

This is a science fictional Christmas story of 6600 words or approx. 22 print pages.

Dragon Storm by Lindsay BurokerDragon Storm by Lindsay Buroker

Dragons have been gone from the world for over a thousand years. Now they’re back.

Telryn “Trip” Yert has always been a little odd, with hunches that are too accurate to explain. Magic is feared and forbidden in Iskandia, so he’s struggled his whole life to hide his eccentricities. As a boy, he was forced to watch his mother’s execution. Her crime? Witchcraft.

Understandably, Trip wants nothing to do with the power that lurks within him, always threatening to reveal itself. Instead, he dedicates himself to serving as an officer in the king’s army, to battling pirates and imperial conquerors. He longs to become a soldier as respected and renowned as the legendary General Zirkander.

But his country is in need of more than a soldier.

After disappearing for over a thousand years, dragons have returned to the world. A few of them are willing to be allies to mankind, as they were millennia before, but far more want to destroy or enslave humans and claim the world for themselves.

There are few people left with the power to fight dragons. For reasons he doesn’t understand, Trip may be one of those people. But if he chooses to learn more about his heritage and the power he can wield, he risks losing everyone he loves and everything he longs to be.

I Wtich You a Merry Christmas by Snow EdenI Witch You a Merry Christmas by Snow Eden:

A heart-warming story about Christmas, elves, Santa Claus…and a really mad witch.

There are many things Cinnamon Mercy Claus is struggling with this holiday season: the memories of long forgotten holidays when the Christmas season was about family; that she’s just found out her grandfather is Santa Claus; and that her grandmother is a witch—who is bent on destroying Christmas for them all.

This is a 30,000-word novella with a dose of Hallmark warmth and crazy witch mayhem!

It is a ‘clean’ read with no cursing. Situations should be appropriate for all ages.

Valence by Jennifer Foehner WellsValence by Jennifer Foehner Wells:

Earth’s days are numbered.

Two very different women race to prepare for the battle to come. The future of Earth is in their hands.

One struggles to resurrect her ruined ship so she can navigate the politics at the galactic core in a desperate bid to recruit allies.

The other strives to master alien technology to supply the forces of Earth with the tools needed to defend themselves against the ravenous Swarm.

Between them, Jane and Zara offer humanity its best chance at survival, but the odds are stacked against them and their best may not be good enough.

Blood Ties by K. GormanBlood Ties by K. Gorman:

Together again, and ready to bring the system to its knees.

Karin Makos has spent the last two months running from one thing or another—but all that’s about to change. Her sister’s back, and Nomiki’s ready to grab their problems by the horns, throw them on their backs, and rip into them with her modified carbon steel blades.

With the backing of the Fallon Empire and a promising new lead, the two are determined to reach down into the mystery of their past and pull out its secrets, once and for all.

But they aren’t the only ones on the move. And looking may uncover more than even they could have bargained for.

Nerves of Steel by Lee HaytonNerves of Steel by Lee Hayton:

For a thousand years, vampires ruled the earth. They bent men to their will and molded cities into hotbeds of depravity.

Ha! Just kidding. Vampires are weaklings that catch fire if you push them into sunlight. As soon as humans found out they existed, they captured the suckers, enslaved them, and put the pallid creatures to work.

So, imagine my surprise when a free vampire strolled into Joe’s Bar just before closing. Fair enough if he’s ditched his chains but walking around in public? That does not compute. As an escapee cyborg with a bounty on her head, I don’t want to dig for trouble. Don’t see, don’t tell is the motto for survival on the empire’s rough streets.

If it weren’t for my best friend, I’d turn a blind eye. But I owe that thirteen-year-old vampire my freedom and most probably my life. If something is changing for his species, then he deserves to know.

Sure, this investigation might open a seething can of bother, but if trouble comes for me, I’m ready. My body is 34% titanium, my skin is silicone polymer, and I’ve got nerves of steel.

Star Keeper by Chris Heinicke and Kate ReedwoodStar Keeper by Chris Heinicke and Kate Reedwood:

Axel Ryan is running for his life.

Pursued by bounty hunters with a price on his head, he should disappear into the stars to hide and continue his search for Stardrives. But his soulmate, Element Cruz, has resurfaced and after spending the last six months searching for her with no luck, finding her again is worth gambling his life. She’s putting her own in danger by infiltrating an illegal slave auction where the Star Keeper of Endaria is being sold; a woman with empathic abilities, worth more credits then Axel can legally gather.

It should be an easy mission. Crash the auction, save his girl, and fly off into the galaxy to live happily ever after together. But the universe has another destiny in store for Axel, one he’ll need to embrace to save them all, or die trying.

The Siege of Sirius by Eddie R. HicksThe Siege of Sirius by Eddie R. Hicks:

The dream to travel to the stars has become the nightmare to escape from them.

Rebecca’s passion for space exploration made her a captain. Living through an alien invasion made her strong enough to endure the harshness of the galaxy.

Rebecca has been given the opportunity of a life time, command of the ESRS Carl Sagan an exploration and colonization starship. She along with her trusted crew embark on an expedition to establish the human race’s most remote colony located in the heart of the Sirius system.

Upon awaking from their multiyear cryostasis sleep, Rebecca and her crew quickly discovers that what exists in the Sirius system isn’t what scientists had predicted.

Not even remotely close.

Their journey to the brightest star in the skies of Earth has now become a dreadful catastrophe with the potential to reach Earth if left unchecked. With innocent colonists at risk and no means of communicating with Earth, Rebecca must abandon her primary mission of exploration in order to take on a new one, survival.

Magic Runes by Devyn JayseMagic Runes by Devyn Jayse:

Meet Carmen Rebello – Rune Witch, owner of the best magic store in Barcelona, and black sheep of her family.

When Carmen successfully removes a spell from a bewitched human, she never thought she would get ensnared in an ongoing Supernatural Bureau of Investigation case. Her life is already complicated by trying to stay hidden from her powerful family members, Carmen can’t afford the attention of joining the investigation but the SBI insist on her involvement. Add an annoying (but hot) SBI agent and her life is getting more difficult by the day. Can she help the SBI without exposing her identity?

Magic Runes is the intriguing first novel in the Magic Runes series. If you enjoy stories filled with supernatural creatures, magic and mystery, and a sprinkle of romance in an urban fantasy setting, this is the book for you!

Blue Skin by Steven JenkinsBlue Skin by Steven Jenkins:

What will you do when they come for your children?

The world has turned inward, away from the sun, in the wake of a mysterious disease that has altered the human race. No longer able to bear healthy human children, our mothers and daughters have brought vampire-like hybrids into the world, and with it a new order. Now that reproduction has been banned, those left with young children face a terrible and devastating decision – turn your babies over to the government or pay the price. For young Freya, keeping her brother hidden is the only real option.

Enemies of the state, Freya must stand between her family and the forces of a fearful world. Although her brother may not be human, there is little else separating her and those of the blue skin.

Choices will be made. Lines will be drawn. The battle for humanity has only just begun.

BLUE SKIN is the first book in a 5 part vampire dystopian, thriller horror series.

Chameleon's Death Dance by B.R. KingsolverChameleon’s Death Dance by B.R. Kingsolver:

Even a chameleon can be a target.

Libby makes her money as a thief and an assassin, but a girl has to have a cover. To her surprise, her business installing security systems in 23rd century Toronto is taking off, as is her romance with Wil—North America’s top cop.

Then an insurance company hires her to recover a fortune in stolen art and jewelry. Bring them the stolen goods and they’ll pay an outrageous fee, no questions asked.

The Vancouver art scene is hot, in more ways than one. Billionaires compete for bragging rights, and they aren’t picky who they deal with.

With big money and reputations on the line, Libby is on a collision course with the super-rich. When too many questions make the art thieves uncomfortable, one of the world’s top assassins is hired to eliminate those who know too much—including Libby.

The Lion of Ackbarr by Erme LanderThe Lion of Ackbarr by Erme Lander:

“Primal forest, dim light and the muscular grace of a large predator sliding through the undergrowth. Mika twitched, caught up in her dream. Gnats swarmed above the moss coated pools. The crashing of beasts in the distance and the humming of bees. She threaded her way through, blinking in the green light.”

Fifteen year old Mika is to be married to a foreign boy she has only met once, despite her family mourning the recent disappearance of her twin brother, Kaylan. Forced to live in a strange land, far from her home in Cassai, she is resigned to her life as a lady until the day she discovers her new family dead around her. Mika escapes the city and disguises herself to travel to Ackbarr, certain she will discover the real reason for her brother’s disappearance.

Meanwhile, her dreams are filled with a predator stalking the forests of her homeland. Dreams that leave her trembling with the taste of blood.

The Ministry of Detection: Project Cocoon by James LawsonThe Ministry of Detection: Project Cocoon by James Lawson:

Arthur Winter’s job at the Ministry of Detection used to be simple: track down the humanoid alien hybrids and lock them up.

But after a botched operation, he finds himself on a different kind of assignment. One that’s off the books and very hush-hush.

Mary Haddon, eminent scientist and daughter of a senior politician, is missing and its Winter’s job to find her.

But when Winter discovers Mary’s history of communication with illegal alien hybrids, he realizes that his assignment is about more than just a missing woman. As he gets deeper, he finds questions going in every direction.

If Mary ran, who is chasing her? Why is her disappearance a matter of secrecy? And what is Project Cocoon?

The only thing Winter knows for sure is this is definitely above his pay grade.

Back to Black by Kyoko M.Back to Black by Kyoko M.:

Seer and demon slayer Jordan Amador has had it rough lately: separated from her husband the archangel Michael, hated by the angels who think she betrayed them, hunted by demons who want her dead or enslaved, and rejected by her friends and family for lying to them. Disgraced and miserable, she’s all but ready to lay down and die until another Seer named Myra Bennett saves her life. Myra gives Jordan a new mission: to wipe out a nest of demons that are terrorizing her family as well as the innocent people of Houston, Texas. Jordan goes undercover to infiltrate the demons’ nest and figure out how to eliminate them. Meanwhile, she’s locked in a deadly game with the archdemon Belial, who constantly visits her night after night in her dreams to convince her to give him her soul. Between the insanely gorgeous, but dangerous archdemon poking around in her head and the vicious creatures surrounding her, she’s not sure how much longer she can survive.

Back to Black takes place between She Who Fights Monsters and The Holy Dark in the Black Parade

Not His Christmas by Annie NicholasNot His Christmas by Annie Nicholas:

It’s Eoin and Angie’s first Christmas together and he wants to make it special. But his dragoness is lacking holiday spirit and doesn’t want anything to do with celebrating. Does Angie think Eoin is the type of dragon who could ignore her unhappiness? Clipping on his jingle bells and grabbing the mistletoe, Eoin is on a mission.

 

 

 

How Aunt Tillie Stole Christmas by Amanda M. LeeHow Aunt Tillie Stole Christmas by Amanda M. Lee:

Fourteen years ago, Christmas hit Walkerville with a bang. Or, rather, a big ball of fire.
When a local group home for orphaned children goes up in smoke right before the holidays, Tillie Winchester volunteers her family to take in some kids – even though her arch nemesis Margaret Little is dead-set against it. Of course, that’s part of the appeal for Tillie so she’s considering it a win.

Three boys – all of them with a little attitude – have no idea what to expect from the Winchester household. No matter what, Tillie is sure they’re about to get more than they bargained for. In short order, they’re welcomed into the family at the same time the town is on edge due to a second fire.

Tillie is determined to prove the boys are innocent while also finding them a forever home … even if she has to take on a local judge and declare all out war to do it.

So, hang your stockings by the fire and sit back for another Christmas with the Winchesters. You’ll never be the same again.

Note: This is a 28,000-word novella set in the Wicked Witches of the Midwest world. It’s set back in the past so it can be read in any order.

Christmas in New York by Monique MartinChristmas in New York by Monique Martin:

Time-Traveling adventurers Simon and Elizabeth Cross return in an all-new Christmas novella!

Along with their young daughter, Charlotte, the Crosses travel back to 1937 New York City to visit an old friend, Charlie Blue. But Charlie’s in trouble — holiday-sized trouble — and their plans for a pleasant little Christmas vacation soon fly out the window.

Christmas in New York is the fast-paced and heartwarming tale of the true meaning of Christmas — and the importance of the people we share it with.

Snowed in with the Alien Dragon by Sonia NovaSnowed in with the Alien Dragon by Sonia Nova

A Christmas without warmth…
Rachel hates her life in Alaska. She hates the weather, but even more, she hates her job which requires her to stay in the sodden state even for the holidays! Instead of going to visit her family in sunny California, she will be spending the holidays alone in the cold north. But when she encounters an unconscious, golden alien on the way home from work – amidst a massive snowstorm to top it all off – it looks like the holidays might not end up as boring as she’d thought after all!

A dragon paralyzed by cold…
Captain Erro of Traag never thought to go down in a battle. Even less did he think to find his mate on the surface of the planet he crashes on! Trapped in the planet’s frozen wasteland, Erro can hardly function in the cold climate. He’s a dragon, for heaven’s sake! He needs some heat! And yet, despite the icy weather seeping into his bones, every time the strangely beautiful alien female smiles at him, his inner flame burns stronger than ever. She is his mate, there is no question about that.

Now, if only he could understand what the hell she was saying…

Snowed in with the Alien Dragon is a standalone sci-fi romance novella with a scorching hot dragon, a HEA and no cliffhangers. Intended for mature audiences only.

The Krampus Hunters by J.P. ReedmanThe Krampus Hunters by J.P. Reedman:

Krampus, haunter of the dark winter’s nights before Yule, comes bearing a switch to beat ‘bad children’…

Young Snoefrith, daughter of the Erl-King, leaves her homeland on a quest to find her lost mother…and a life. As she travels in wild, unfamiliar lands, she is accosted by Old Nickor, a red-robed goblin who flies the wintry skies in a sleigh pulled by coal-black deer, and his bestial companion, Krampus. Nickor sets Krampus upon Snowfrith, seeking to capture her to sell to the Kobold King who dwells under the mountains.
Rescued by Red Roo, a feisty girl who is the best archer in the Wandron tribe, Snoefrith believes she is now safe.
But Krampus is determined to capture his prey and please his master, Nickor. Under cover of darkness, he destroys the Wandron’s caravans and sends Snoefrith and Red Roo fleeing into the forest and beyond.
Soon they learn that they cannot flee forever.
The hunted must become the hunters….

KRAMPUS HUNTERS

A short fantasy novelette for all ages, 15,000 words.

Joyeux by Tansy Rayner RobertsJoyeux: A Musketeer Space Novella by Tansy Rayner Roberts

There’s mistletoe growing out of the walls, it’s snowing inside the space station, and a sex scandal is brewing that could bring down the monarchy. Must be Joyeux!

Joyeux on Paris Satellite is a seven day festival of drunken bets, poor decision-making, religious contemplation and tinsel. But mostly, poor decision-making. Athos and Porthos aren’t going to sleep together. Aramis is breaking up with her girlfriend because it’s that or marry her. Athos is not ready to deal with the ghost of his ex-husband. Oh, and no one wants Prince Alek to break his marriage contract by hooking up with a sexy Ambassador…

It’s down to the Musketeers and the Red Guard to save the space station and the solar system from disaster. So… that’s not going to end well.

This novella is a festive prequel to Musketeer Space, a genderflipped space opera retelling of The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas.

Jingle Stars by Jenny SchwartzJingle Starr by Jenny Schwartz:

When a starship decides to play Santa Claus…

Ahab is a mLa’an artificial intelligence embedded in the starship, Orion.

The campaign for AIs to be recognized as full citizens of Galaxy Proper is within reach of its extraordinary goal. The only thing that could stop it now is if an AI did something foolish…like take a space station hostage to save eight orphaned children.

***
And this is the letter to Santa that starts it all:

Dear Santa

I don’t know if yourreindeers work in space. But if you have room in your sleigh after you finishdelivering presents to the lucky kids with parents and homes, can you come and getme and my friends? Please?

We’ve been good. Well,we haven’t been really bad. We’re on Station Elphame, in the junkyard, and Zoeis sick. She’s bad sick. I think she’d be better on a planet. We don’t needpresents. We just need a way out of here. Ollie tried to sneak onto atrampship…he died.

Please, Santa, I don’twant any more of my friends to die.

Aiden.

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Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for December 2017

Welcome to the latest edition of “Indie Crime Fiction of the Month”.

So what is “Indie Crime Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some November books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Our new releases cover the broad spectrum of crime fiction. We have cozy mysteries, small town mysteries, culinary mysteries, paranormal mysteries, historical mysteries, a whole lot of holiday mysteries, police procedurals, legal thrillers, crime thrillers, psychological thrillers, private eyes, missing children and missing adults, lawyers, meddling witches, crime solving housemaids, deadly doughnuts and much more.

Don’t forget that Indie Crime Fiction of the Month is also crossposted to the Indie Crime Scene, a group blog which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things crime fiction several times per week.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

Fatal Festive Donuts by Cindy BellFatal Festive Donuts by Cindy Bell:

Christmastime at the holiday market means mistletoe, colorful lights and…a dead body.

It is almost Christmas and Joyce and Brenda are excited to get a coveted spot at the local holiday market. Business is thriving and they are looking forward to celebrating the holidays.

But Christmas becomes the last thing on their minds when a dead body is found on ‘Donuts on the Move’. Not only is their truck shut down, but they become the prime suspects. With the evidence stacking up against them and a detective who thinks they’re guilty, they decide to take things into their own hands and find the murderer.

Joyce and Brenda’s investigations lead them straight towards danger. Will they find the killer before they land up in handcuffs or even become victims themselves?

Recipe Included: Baked Gingerbread Donuts with Ginger Glaze

Merry Masquerade in Savannah by Hope CallaghanMerry Masquerade in Savannah by Hope Callaghan

Carlita, Mercedes, and Tony are gearing up to celebrate their first Thanksgiving at their new home in historic Savannah, Georgia. Along with the excitement of the upcoming holiday season, there’s a lingering sadness because part of their family won’t be there to celebrate.

When Carlita’s friend, Victoria “Tori” Montgomery, invites the Garlucci family to her “Merry Masquerade” party at Montgomery Hall, Carlita is thrilled to have something to take her mind off the approaching holiday.

Despite a recent theft and an assault on her butler, Tori moves forward with her party plans, a grand affair and a gathering of Savannah’s elite. The Merry Masquerade turns out to be everything it was billed to be and more, when one of Tori’s employees is found murdered inside the pool house.

Is the murder linked to the recent break-in and the butler’s attack at Montgomery Hall? Could the killer be living under Tori’s roof? Or was it a masked party guest trying to make it look like an inside job?

Join the Garlucci women as they help one of Savannah’s most prominent residents track down a killer!

Tampa Two by David ChillTampa Two by David Chill:

David Chill’s colorful and brilliant mystery captures both Raymond Chandler’s gritty vision and Robert B. Parker’s biting humor.

Tampa Two marks the return of Judy Atkin, the teenage runaway who P.I. Burnside arrested a decade earlier for prostitution. He made an enormous mistake by trying to help her, and wound up losing his job as an LAPD officer, along with his honor and reputation. Judy was the catalyst that led him down the path of becoming a Private Investigator, and all the good and bad that came with it.

But Judy is back in L.A. again, and is desperate for Burnside’s help. Her life is in danger, and she tries to persuade Burnside to accompany her into a dangerous situation. While Burnside isn’t fooled this time, she still manages to rope him in, and he quickly finds himself to be a person of interest in a grizzly Santa Monica homicide.

Tampa Two continues to showcase Burnside at his wise-cracking best, exchanging quips with an assortment of fascinating characters, no matter what side of the law they are on. This well-crafted novel is the embodiment of the classic Southern California noir mystery, set against a Los Angeles backdrop, a city that many think they know, but few really do. The story leads readers down a trail of theft, murder and deceit, with sharply honed banter and strikingly original characters. It is a tightly written story that is loaded with both suspense and humor, as well as some jaw-dropping surprises!

Little Lies by Stacy ClaflinLittle Lies by Stacy Claflin:

He’s dedicated his life to saving missing persons, but will it be enough to save himself?

Alex Mercer traded in his troubled past to protect the powerless. His blog for tracking down missing persons got his foot in the door at the police academy. But on his first day of training, a heroic act drops him into the hands of the captors he once hunted.

Zoey planned to tell Alex how she felt the night he disappeared. As she and Alex’s family discover the bloody signs of his fate, past regrets and dark secrets begin to come to light. It’s enough to tear Alex’s loved ones apart.

Without hope of rescue, Alex must rely on his cunning to escape captivity. In his line of work, he knows all too well that each passing hour could kill his chances of survival…

Little Lies is the third captivating standalone novel in the Alex Mercer series of thrillers. If you like edge-of-your-seat suspense, complex characters, and unflinching explorations of real-world problems, then you’ll love USA Today bestselling author Stacy Claflin’s pulse-pounding novel

Merry Buried Christmas by Lyndsey ColeMerry Buried Christmas by Lyndsey Cole:

Murder always ruins the best baked plans . . .

Annie Hunter has a lot on her plate just before Christmas, but it’s not all sugar and spice and everything nice! With an open house at her aunt’s new Blackbird Bed and Breakfast, all Annie hopes for is a drama-free day.

Of course, events never go as planned.

On top of preparing a whirlwind of food, holiday decorating, and keeping to a tight schedule, a surprise visitor is also on the menu. When that visitor turns up dead, Annie must search for the killer to keep everything from crumbling like a stale Christmas cookie.

Annie’s plan to flush out the murderer includes one tasty bribe, a pinch of needling, and a heaping tablespoon of accusation. When she is threatened, it’s time to put it all on the back burner.

But the killer has other ideas.

While the snowflakes fly, Annie finds herself caught between a cookie and a crazy person. This time, it looks like she bit off more than she can chew.

***Merry Buried Christmas is volume 12 in the Black Cat Cafe Cozy Mystery Series. Lyndsey’s books can be read and enjoyed in any order.

Where We Went Wrong by Andi HollowayWhere We Went Wrong by Andi Holloway:

Two families’ pasts unravel when the last person to see a missing girl alive is murdered and the victim’s crime-writing father becomes the prime suspect.

Second wife Harper Stone’s life is nothing like she imagined. A talented writer bound for the kind of greatness she inspires in her husband, Harper exchanges her lifelong dreams of becoming a bestselling author for the ready-made family of her nightmares.

With her eight-year-old stepson at the center of a missing person’s investigation, Harper struggles to balance the obligations of motherhood with her calling as an author, ultimately sacrificing her success in support of her husband, whose crime-writing career is fueled by their ordeal.

It’s only when he becomes the prime suspect in his son’s murder, years later, that she begins asking the difficult questions about his past, about their marriage, and about the disappearance of the little girl whose remains have never been found.

As Harper looks into the cold case where their problems began, she discovers people aren’t who they seem. Not the missing girl’s mother. Not Matthew, the last person to see the girl alive. Not her husband, whose obsession with the disappearance has caused an irreparable rift between them. Not even Harper herself, a woman trapped by obligation and circumstance.

In the throes of an investigation based in the past, solving Matthew’s murder means getting to the bottom of what happened all those years ago. Two families are destroyed by a single bad decision. The question is which decision, and whose was it?

How Aunt Tillie Stole Christmas by Amanda M. LeeHow Aunt Tillie Stole Christmas by Amanda M. Lee:

Fourteen years ago, Christmas hit Walkerville with a bang. Or, rather, a big ball of fire.
When a local group home for orphaned children goes up in smoke right before the holidays, Tillie Winchester volunteers her family to take in some kids – even though her arch nemesis Margaret Little is dead-set against it. Of course, that’s part of the appeal for Tillie so she’s considering it a win.

Three boys – all of them with a little attitude – have no idea what to expect from the Winchester household. No matter what, Tillie is sure they’re about to get more than they bargained for. In short order, they’re welcomed into the family at the same time the town is on edge due to a second fire.

Tillie is determined to prove the boys are innocent while also finding them a forever home … even if she has to take on a local judge and declare all out war to do it.

So, hang your stockings by the fire and sit back for another Christmas with the Winchesters. You’ll never be the same again.

Note: This is a 28,000-word novella set in the Wicked Witches of the Midwest world. It’s set back in the past so it can be read in any order.

Kathleen Catches a Killer by M. Louisa LockeKathleen Catches a Killer by M. Louisa Locke:

It’s the very end of December, 1880, and the servant Kathleen Hennessey expects to spend a quiet week taking care of the O’Farrell Street boarding house while her employers, Annie and Nate Dawson, are off spending the Christmas holidays with Nate’s family. However, when she agrees to help out one of her friends, Kathleen discovers that a simple case of a servant being dismissed without notice has turned into a complicated puzzle that she is determined to solve.

While featuring minor characters from Locke’s Victorian San Francisco mystery series, Kathleen Catches a Killer contains all the light romance, humor, and suspense of the longer works. Chronologically, this novella comes right after the events in Pilfered Promises, but it can be read as a stand-alone and an excellent introduction to this mystery series about the gas-lit world of the late 19th century.

Frostycake Murder by Summer PrescottFrostycake Murder by Summer Prescott:

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM MISSY AND CHAS!!!

Life is full of surprises in the sleepy beachside town of Calgon, Florida, and the holiday season proves to be no exception. Echo faces a new reality that could change her life forever, Missy and Chas wrestle with the pain of facing their own limitations and uncertainties, while Spencer finds himself in a sticky situation relationally.

In the midst of all of the personal turmoil, a gruesome murder is discovered, and Chas once again has to take charge and hope that he finds the ruthless killer, before tragedy strikes a bit closer to home.

Murder Over The Bones by Stephen RandorfMurder Over The Bones by Stephen Randorf:

Detective Gilbert Bass searches for the identity of a homeless man found dead in an archeological dig site. Dinosaur fossils unearthed in the city? Mrs. Wicker and her adult children want the bones, two partners in real estate want the land, and a local activist wants to keep his girlfriend.

 

 

 

Beset by E.H. ReinhardBeset by E.H. Reinhard:

Beset: The Lieutenant Harrington Series, Book 2.

When a spring breaker is found with his head all but removed along the side of a posh Miami Beach hotel, Lieutenant Nash Harrington is tasked with tracking down the person responsible.

But the dead college kid in the bushes is only the beginning. The victim came to town with friends—friends who start dropping like flies.

Just as the lieutenant closes in on his killer, the case takes an immediate left turn into the unknown, a place where Harrington could find himself directly in harm’s way.

North Pole Unlimited by Elle RushNorth Pole Unlimited: Decker and Joy by Elle Rush:
Jaded P.I. Decker Harkness must track down a missing prototype if he wants a shot at a corporate security contract. Sexy cat-lady Joy McCall has her own investigation running after someone breaks into her animal shelter. When they cross paths during a triple kitten-napping, they’ll have to work together to close their cases. Will everyone make it home to celebrate a merry Christmas together?

Only Santa knows.

 

Reasonable Doubt by Rachel SinclairReasonable Doubt by Rachel Sinclair:

A prominent artist from New York City, in town for a show, is found brutally murdered in the back of an art gallery. A prominent gay art dealer stands accused of the murder. He fears he might have done it. He doesn’t remember if he did or not. Damien must get at the truth, which is made more difficult by the fact that even his client doesn’t know the truth about what happened.

In the meantime, Damien throws himself into getting his three best friends out of prison. These men mean everything to him. But getting the three guys out means that they must leave Connor O’Brien behind. Damien can’t stand for this to happen, so he risks everything to make sure that Connor can be freed with the others.

With the hairpin turns and lightning fast pace that you’ve come to expect from a Rachel Sinclair legal thriller, “Reasonable Doubt” is not to be missed!

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Two new releases just in time for the holidays: Christmas on Iago Prime and Weihnachtsshopping mit gebrochenem Herzen

Well, I promised you more new release announcement in the run-up to the holidays and today, I am pleased to announce not one but two new releases. Both of them are holiday stories, one in English and one in German.

Let’s start with the English language story. Back during the first July short story challenge in 2015, I wrote a little story called Valentine’s Day on Iago Prime, in which a couple attempts to celebrate Valentine’s Day at a new settled space colony.

I’d assumed that this was the first and last time I’d ever visit the colony of Iago Prime. However, I try to write a holiday story every year. And when I searched for ideas for a holiday story for this year, I suddenly thought “Why not write a science fictional holiday story about Christmas in a space station or interplanetary colony?” And then I thought, “Why not reuse the Iago Prime setting?”

The result is Christmas on Iago Prime. The protagonist this time around is Libby, a little girl whose scientist parents are due to spend a whole year on Iago Prime, including Christmas. Libby is not at all thrilled about this, at least at first. Kai and Maisie from Valentine’s Day on Iago Prime also appear and they have big news to share.

Currently, the A Year on Iago Prime series has only two installments. However, I may well write other holiday stories set on Iago Prime. After all, we haven’t yet seen Easter on Iago Prime and we only get a tiny glimpse at Halloween on Iago Prime.

But for now, let’s blast off into space and celebrate…

Christmas on Iago Prime
Christmas on Iago PrimeEight-year-old Libby has come with her parents to spend a year at the newly established colony on the planet Iago Prime. Libby’s parents believe that this is a great opportunity for all of them, but Libby is unhappy on Iago Prime. There are no other children on Iago Prime and Libby can’t go anywhere, because she doesn’t even have a space suit. Worst of all, they will spend Christmas on Iago Prime, where there aren’t even any Christmas trees.

However, Libby’s parents, with a little help from Santa Claus himself, conspire to give Libby an unforgettable Christmas on Iago Prime.

This is a science fictional Christmas story of 6600 words or approx. 22 print pages.

More information.
Length: 6600 words
List price: 0.99 USD, EUR or GBP
Buy it at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Netherlands, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Brazil, Amazon Japan, Amazon India, Amazon Mexico, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes, Scribd, Smashwords, Inktera, Playster, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, e-Sentral, 24symbols and XinXii.

***

The second new release for today is not actually a brand-new story. Instead, it is an existing story, Christmas Shopping with a Broken Heart, translated into German.

So enjoy…

Weihnachtsshopping mit gebrochenem Herzen
Weihnachtsshopping mit gebrochenem HerzenZwei einsame Herzen finden im vorweihnachtlichen Shoppingchaos zueinander.

Als ihr Freund sie vier Wochen vor Weihnachten sitzenlässt, stürzt Hannah sich in die Weihnachtsvorbereitungen, um die Schmerzen zu betäuben. Aber nichts scheint zu helfen, bis Hannah beim Weihnachtseinkauf im wahrsten Sinne des Wortes mit Owen zusammenstößt.
Zwischen Hannah und Owen funkt es sofort. Dabei kämpft Owen mit seinen eigenen alten Schmerzen…

Dies ist eine kurze weihnachtliche Liebesgeschichte von ca. 6300 Worten oder ca. 25 Buchseiten.

Mehr Informationen.
Länge: 6300 Worte
Preis: 0,99 EUR, USD oder GBP
Erhältlich bei Amazon Deutschland, Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon Niederlande, Amazon Frankreich, Amazon Italien, Amazon Spanien, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australien, Amazon Brasilien, Amazon Mexico, Amazon Japan, Amazon Indien, Kobo, Apple iTunes, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, BOL, Osiander, Mayersche, buecher.de, buch.de, eBook.de, Barnes & Noble, Scribd, 24symbols, Playster, txtr, Inktera, Smashwords, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, Flipkart, e-Sentral und XinXii.

Dieses Buch gibt es auch auf English.

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