Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for November 2021

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month
It’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 and small press authors newly published this month, though some October 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 urban fantasy, epic fantasy, paranormal mystery, space opera, military science fiction, science fiction romance, post-apocalyptic fiction, cyberpunk, alternate history, horror, Norse mythology, Greek mythology, werewolves, zombies, aliens, cyborgs, psychics, elf rangers, space marines, the afterlife, first contact, alien abductions, crime-busting witches, killer clowns, witchy weddings, roadtrips with aliens, post-apocalyptic mermaids 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:

Woman of Destiny by Michele AmitraniWoman of Destiny by Michele Amitrani:

Not all gifts are meant to be opened.

In the workshop of the blacksmith god Hephaestus, the first woman comes to life. The Olympians name her Pandora, ‘All-Gifted,’ since each of them has endowed her with a gift: beauty, poise, self-possession and cunning, among others.

Zeus gives her two gifts: a burning desire to learn—and a jar she is ordered never to open.

Pandora is fostered by gods but raised to live among men. When she marries the Titan Epimetheus—brother of the gods’ worst enemy, Prometheus—her fate appears to be sealed.

Although her life with Epimetheus is full of happiness, Pandora is besieged by nightmares carrying omens of dark things to come: destruction, famine, death and the end of the young race of mankind.

With the fate of humanity at stake, will Pandora surrender to the destiny that haunts her, or challenge her nature and become what no god ever imagined she could be?

Stone Magic by Thea AtkinsonStone Magic by Thea Atkinson:

She’s a fraud. She’s a crook. But she’s no killer. Even if she’s being framed as one.

When three well-known psychics are murdered in her city, Brie Duncan starts to wonder if pretending to be magical is such a great idea after all. She’s no witch, but she does make good money using her fake powers to read her clients’ futures. Money that’ll do her no good if she turns up dead next.

So far, she’s managed to keep up the pretense, but when a gruff detective enters her shop, she fears she’s about to get busted. Unfortunately, his reasons for being there are far worse than she imagines.

Since she’s a member of the psychic community, he thinks she should be able to provide some insight into the murders and the victims. The trouble is, all the evidence seems to point in one direction, and unfortunately for Brie, those roads all lead to her…

Captain's Call by Odette C. BellCaptain’s Call by Odette C. Bell:

Two captains, one chance.

Misty Rogers has a problem. She has run into ancient alien technology – and it has… altered her. When Special Captain Matthew Armstrong runs into her on a dirt-bucket world, he’s thrown heart-first into the adventure of his life.

The Coalition faces a new threat, an emerging technology from a far-flung realm that threatens to destabilize the little peace they still have. When Matthew and Misty join forces to track it down, they face a threat like no other – an ancient force and one charming admiral standing behind it.

They will have one chance – and so will the rest of the universe. Team up, thrust their petty disputes and playful hatred aside, or die at the hands of the greatest threat the multiverse has seen.

Drone Rider by Ginger BoothDrone Rider by Ginger Booth:

A new-made cyborg, with laser-eyed attack bunnies.
A sentient AI with a secret.
As the AI Wars begin…

Betta Graham loves her work as a drone rider. By day, she operates animal drones remotely from her cubicle in dismal 22nd century Chicago Dome. She herds human migrants via her laser-eyed recon bunnies and attack dogs. By night, she meets her boyfriend in virtual. He’s too good to be true.

He claims his work is ‘classified.’

When Betta discovers rebels infiltrating her herds, an injury forces her to become a cyborg. Her world turns upside down. Nothing is as it seems, including Valentin.

Malicious AIs have gained control of cyberspace. They launch rocks in a kinetic strike against the Northern League domes. Only Betta and her cyborg team realize the danger in time, thanks to her renegade AI lover.

In the opening salvo of the AI Wars, can they deflect the rockfall and save Chicago?

Gritty non-stop cyberpunk action you can’t put down, with a likable kick-butt anti-hero. A miserable future collides with overpowered sapient AIs.

An Alliance Reforged by Jonathan P. Brazee and J.N. ChaneyAn Alliance Reforged by Jonathan P. Brazee and J.N. Chaney:

This is a new kind of war.

The MDS and allies have withdrawn from the CoH, and they now want to become the center of gravity for humankind.

The goal is to obtain localized wins, draw in more allies, and achieve victory no matter the cost.

With the alliance undone, Rev must fight a seemingly unwinnable war.

But Marines never quit. They never falter. They never give up.

Humanity is about to experience a pivotal turning point in its history—one that will culminate in a discovery so profound that it may very well change everything.

Any Witch Way by lindsay BurokerAny Witch Way by Lindsay Buroker:

Thanks to her grandmother’s legacy, Morgen Keller has spent the summer learning about her witch heritage. She’s also spent the summer falling for the sexy werewolf next door.

As an unemployed divorcée, she never expected to find love again, but the gruff Amar has been her protector since she arrived in Bellrock. He’s fierce, loyal, strong, and he hardly ever rolls his eyes at her vegetarian ways. He’s a keeper.

There’s just one problem:

Witches and werewolves are mortal enemies.

When her mentor turns her back on her, and the coven delivers an ultimatum, Morgen must choose between her heritage and the man—the werewolf—she’s falling in love with.

Cold Eyes by Peter CawdronCold Eyes by Peter Cawdron:

Cold Eyes is an original First Contact novel, written as a tribute to the 1974 science fiction classic, The Mote in God’s Eye, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle.

The UN warship Magellan is twelve light-years from Earth, exploring a cold eye, a tidally-locked super-earth called Bee. At least two advanced, intelligent species evolved on the planet, but the crew’s attempts at radio communication result in garbled replies. No one is waiting for them in orbit. The crew has to figure out why. Any misunderstandings could lead to war.

Warning: The most absurd part of this story is true and accurately portrayed.

High Water Mark by Evelyn ChartresHigh Water Mark by Evelyn Chartres:

“When humanity has been driven into the sea, what lurks above the waves?”

Anna is a humanoid mermaid who spends her days with the local timekeeper until a podmate comes to her with a proposal. They hatch a plan to head out into the watery ruins of humanity in search of lost technology and materials. For a young mermaid living in the dredges of society, the promise of riches from such a find is just too big to pass up.

Armed with nothing more than an old map and some rusty road signs to follow, they are soon reminded that adventure often brings forth more than its fair share of rough waters. Her friend gets captured, leaving Anna alone in a world where mermaids are nowhere near the top of the food chain.

Follow Anna as she makes landfall and learns why her ancestors abandoned the surface. Lost in a world that is perpetually covered in a thick fog, Anna must navigate through what remains above the high-water mark. What will she find? An ally? A foe? Or will she find nothing more than death and destruction?

So You Survived the End of the World by K.C. CordellSo You Survived the End of the World by K.C. Cordell:

Earth may be a nightmarish landscape, but that’s no reason to stop the music.

Generations after civilization crashed and burned, life ain’t all doom and gloom for eighteen-year-old Sebastian Yun. He’s got his brilliant but prickly traveling companion, an epic tour bus to call home, and an endless supply of dope tunes.

From behind the wheel of his sweeeeet, double-decker ride, Sebastian lives for broadcasting his music to the end-of-world-weary masses. When making a pit stop at a small, dusty town, the self-made radio DJ runs into a shady old nemesis who totally kills his good vibes. This seasoned flimflam woman claims she can send the bloodthirsty creatures that prey on mankind back to hell.

But when Sebastian’s completely-not-selfish attempts to unmask the phony hit the wrong note, the very real danger is cranked all the way up to 11.

If you like charismatic characters, offbeat humor, and killer monsters, then you’ll love this YA twist on a post-apocalyptic future perfect for fans of Zombieland.

Steal the Wind by Jocelynn DrakeSteal the Wind by Jocelynn Drake:

Everything Caelan knows about his world is a lie.

A war is brewing. As the crown prince of Erya, it’s only natural that Caelan is sent on a secret diplomatic mission to support one of the kingdom’s allies. With his advisor, his bodyguard, and his best friend as traveling companions, what could go wrong?

Everything.

Everything goes wrong.

Now they are on the run, dodging assassins, setting secret meetings, and even making deals with a sleeping god.

So, this is probably a really bad time to cave to feelings he’s been fighting for his best friend. But Drayce has owned his heart for more years than he can count and if he’s going to die, shouldn’t he have just one kiss?

The fate of the world is on the line, and only Caelan holds the power to save them all.

Steal the Wind is the first book in the six-book Godstone Saga fantasy series and is not a standalone. The story contains explosions, secrets, cranky gods, hidden romance, a prince on the run, a possessive ex-boyfriend, magic, and lots of delicious angst.

Eli: A Ranger's Tale by Marc Alan EdelheitEli: A Ranger’s Tale by Marc Alan Edelheit:

A dangerous mission. A war of the Gods. An epic destiny.

When elven rangers Eli’Far and Mae’Cara are dispatched to hunt down the dangerous criminal Mik’Las, the mission seems simple enough. Mik’Las has committed the unthinkable crimes of murder and kidnap, and though he’s a former ranger and skilled in the deadly arts, Eli is confident they will bring him to justice.

But after Mik’Las flees into the human kingdom of the Castol, Eli and Mae find their mission suddenly wrought with complications. Lord Edgun, an oppressive man grinding his people under the heel of his boot, has left its people desperate. Things grow even more complicated when the elves run into Jitanthra, a strange human girl being hunted by Edgun’s men, and who has connections to a mystical outcast, an elf currently imprisoned by Edgun.

Soon, Eli and Mae find themselves unexpectedly drawn into the middle of a rebellion, a struggle between gods, and the opening stages of the dreaded Last War.

Madame Antic's Hotel Grotesque by Milo James FowlerMadame Antic’s Hotel Grotesque by Milo James Fowler:

In an alternate Victorian era, factory worker Anthony Reynolds seeks to improve his station in life for the sake of his young bride-to-be. Against his better judgment, he joins Richard, a gregarious coworker with social connections, for a night on the town after their late shift. Richard leads them deep into the city’s underworld to a brothel of sorts specializing in the illegal art of mutilation. There Anthony witnesses victims skinned, broken, and mangled without lasting damage due to a special drug that returns them to their original state. Anthony immediately wants to leave, but before he can, Constables raid the establishment. While trying to flee the scene, Anthony runs into a giant tumor of a man who spills a viscous fluid on him. Anthony is disfigured by the strange substance, and when the authorities capture him, he is unable to identify himself, let alone speak. What follows is a mind-bending adventure of mistaken identity, multiple realities, and paranoia as Anthony fights to reclaim a simple life he never truly appreciated but now wants more than anything else. Once he learns the truth of his world, nothing will ever be the same again.

Obviously, Aliens by Jennie GoloboyObviously, Aliens by Jennie Goloboy:

This is not how anyone expected their day to go…

What happens when Dana drinks the wrong soda on her way to Spokane? Before she knows it, she and Jay O’Toole are sharing the same body. Jay’s boyfriend, Adam, wants him back at any cost, and Dana just wants to find a new body for Jay so she can get to Spokane and pitch her new line of Doge of the Month collectibles to Rainbow Daydreams.

To do that and stop the bad guys, they’ll have to embark on a wild and hilarious road trip where they’ll meet up with a lot of aliens, the clone of Dana’s dead rock star dad, evil plumbing executives and their minions, government agents and talking corgis. Will Dana manage to get Jay out of her head, sell her Doge designs and maybe meet a decent boyfriend? Can Adam turn his skills as a thief and a hit man into a force for good and settle down with Jay and Jay’s new alien pals? Will the aliens be able to rebuild their lives on Earth? What are the corgis up to? Hop in and ride along to find the answers to these questions and more!

“Goloboy takes us on a delightful, madcap adventure full of fights, heists, schemes, riffs on pop culture, love, moments of self-discovery, and one of the most unconventional found families I’ve had the joy to encounter. You’ll never look at Queen Elizabeth’s corgis the same way again. Fans of Valerie Valdes’ “Eva Innocente” books and Catherine Valente’s “Space Opera” will love this too.” – John Appel, author of ASSASSIN’S ORBIT

“OBVIOUSLY, ALIENS is zippy, clever, and full of hilarious surprises, with a warm heart and an edge as sharp as cut glass — or the perfect meme.”
– Karen Osborne, author of Architects of Memory and Engines of Oblivion

Wicked Forever by Lily Harper HartWicked Forever by Lily Harper Hart:

Ivy Morgan-Harker has everything she’s ever wanted, including a devoted new husband and an upcoming break from her nursery business for the Michigan winter. Then the unthinkable happens.

Upon arriving at Morgan Nursery early one morning, she finds a body strung up in the middle of her happy sanctum … and there’s a message attached telling her that she’s next. The victim is the son of a well-known bar owner, a bar that Ivy helped bring down when she broke up a local prostitution ring.

Worried and afraid, her husband Jack Harker digs in deep, and what he finds has him terrified for his wife.

Somebody is holding a grudge regarding what happened at the bar, and the number of potential suspects looms large. Ivy and Jack must work together and follow a dark trail if they want answers … and it’s a trail that seemingly leads right back to them.

Ivy is a target. Jack is determined to keep her safe. Together, they’re an unbelievable force.

Ivy may be learning how to master her magic but it’s the darkest form of human nature working against her this time. To survive, she’s going to have to figure out who has the most to lose from the bar going down, and then she’s going to have to fight the enemy she didn’t see coming if she expects to get her happily ever after.

The big finale is finally here!

Starfighter Down by M.G. HerronStarfighter Down by M.G. Herron:

A rogue Overmind is on the loose.

A million souls hang in the balance.

The Solaran Defense Forces make the difficult decision to evacuate the colony of Robichar in order to avoid a direct confrontation. But when Captain Elya Nevers gets shot down during the evacuation, his squadron and the admiral in charge have to think fast to rescue their pilot before the Kryl overrun the system.

Fighting to survive in hostile territory, Captain Nevers discovers what the rampaging Overmind is really after—and it changes everything.

An extinct species known as the Telos fled the galaxy eons ago. What caused them to vanish in such a hurry? And more importantly, what ancient relics of alien power did they leave behind?

Exiles' World by Robert I. KatzExiles’ World by Robert I. Katz:

Rann McGaran and his older brother Gerald are the heirs to the McGaran dynasty, the traditional rulers of Garan, a small but wealthy city on the recently re-discovered world of Carnelian.

Rann’s telepathic abilities are weak, while Gerald is a prodigy. Gerald is the Director of the Garan Corporation, and he intends to keep his position, no matter what it takes. In three weeks, Rann will attain his majority, and must fight his brother for control of the Corporation, a fight he has little hope of winning, or leave Garan forever.

Thaddeus Franklin is the Imperial Ambassador to Carnelian, charged with bringing the new world into the Second Empire, and if that proves unfeasible, to help destroy it. The Empire is at war with an alien race that has so far proven to be unstoppable. Franklin is expendable, and he knows it.

Behind the scenes, plots are being hatched and ambitious men are weighing the odds, and Franklin and Rann McGaran find themselves suddenly major players in an unexpected game.

Garan seems an unlikely place to serve as the center of an Empire wide conspiracy, but what happens here could prove to be the Empire’s salvation…or its destruction.

Beneath the Veil by Martin KearnsBeneath the Veil by Martin Kearns:

In a battle between two ancient evils, can one naïve young man become the last hope against powerful creatures of legend?

David Dolan thinks he’s already got the world figured out. But when a collapsed bridge plunges him into the icy Hudson, he’s pulled deep into the deadly realm that exists between life and death. And with his earthly form trapped in a coma, he’s vulnerable to the horde of demons hell-bent on his utter destruction.

Traversing the road to the afterlife, David seeks the wisdom and skills he needs to fight the demonic forces reigning havoc on his allies above ground. But as one hellish threat closes in on his defenseless body, David must defeat another terrifying fiend waiting in the shadows to use him…

Can David escape the world beneath the veil in time to stop the bloodshed?

Beneath the Veil is the gripping first book in The Valor of Valhalla dark urban fantasy series. If you like reluctant heroes, infernal myths, and bloody epic clashes, then you’ll love Martin Kearns’s formidable foray into the unknown.

My Big Fat Witch Wedding by Amanda M. LeeMy Big Fat Witch Wedding by Amanda M. Lee:

The big day is finally here.

Bay and Landon’s wedding day has arrived.

Unfortunately, a tragedy stands in the way of their happily ever after, and it comes in the form of reports of an armed gunman at the local high school. Bay, ghosts at her side, braves the scene to save the kids … and uncovers something horrific.

She. The boy with the gun says he needs to find her. The teacher in the room with him says the same thing before taking his own life. There’s a magical being in Hemlock Cove, and she’s wielding a great deal of power as she forces people to kill in her name.

Bay refuses to back down, convinced that the magical explosion they can’t get under control at Hollow Creek is partially to blame. The problem is so big, another witch needs to be tapped to help them solve it.

Scout Randall, part of the Spells Angels group in Hawthorne Hollow, is more than happy to lend her services. She owes the Winchesters a favor after all. She simply might not be enough.

Bay and Landon have been through more than any couple should have to survive … and they’re not done.

Here comes the wedding … and Clove’s baby … and the worst enemy they’ve ever fought.

The Winchesters are strongest together, and this time they’re going to prove that there’s no keeping a good witch down.

I do? It’s coming, because nothing can stop these witches when love and family are on the line.

A Curse for Christmas by P.A. MasonA Curse for Christmas by P.A. Mason:

Christmas back home in Arkansas sounded like a chance to put my feet up for a few weeks. Little did I know that a magical calamity would threaten the big day.

You know the real kicker? It was Mom—a renowned magical healer—who came down with a mystery malaise on Christmas Eve. I couldn’t remember a time where she had anything worse than a sniffle. To see her bedridden scared me to my core.

To examine the facts and solve the case, I had to think fast before Mom’s condition got any worse. With a new werewolf beau in her life, half the town of Tumbling Springs were whispering behind Mom’s back, the loudest of them a hex witch with a nasty view of weres. On the other hand, a new business rival in the next town over had Mom’s healing services on the rocks. The question was—did either witch have enough motive to do something as awful as all that to Mom?

If you enjoy paranormal cozy mysteries with a seasonal Christmas flare, this holiday special is for you.

Defiant Space by Richard RimingtonDefiant Space by Richard Rimington:

One starship against the galaxy.

The crew of Fidelity are the only hope to save their planet from destruction.

When an armada of predatory warships comes to annex their world, the inhabitants of planet Vale Reach are forced to confront the dreaded threats that stalk their galaxy. Terrors lurk in the uncharted depths of space, ready to crush their world and enslave its people. A lone starship is sent on an impossible journey. But is it already too late?

Caladon Heit wants to prevent the destruction of everything he knows. Together, the ship’s crew must overcome the ferocious marauders and brutal empires that seek to eradicate them all.

In space, they will discover a harsh and remorseless environment. Unimaginable enemies await behind every moon and asteroid. The starship Fidelity will demand sacrifices from every crew member to reach its destination, as they encounter horrific enemies across unknown star systems.

Will they emerge with their resolve and their starship intact? Or will Fidelity and their homeworld be annihilated?

This is the first novel in the Infinite Void Series.

Send In the Clown by David J. SchmidtSend In the Clowns by David J. Schmidt:

Javier is a professional ghost-hunter who doesn’t believe in the paranormal.

When his editor asks him to visit a haunted “Clown Hotel” in the Nevada desert, it sounds like easy money. Sure, the hotel is hundreds of miles from civilization. Sure, it’s next door to an ancient cemetery and is full of hundreds of clown dolls—dolls that seem to have a mind of their own, according to some employees. Still, what’s the worst that could happen?

As Javier travels to the remote Clown Hotel, he learns of a strange outbreak of “clown sightings” across the nation. This is a time when things make less and less sense. When logic no longer applies, even for a skeptic like Javier.

This is when things fall apart.

Evasion by Glynn StewartEvasion by Glynn Stewart:

A captain on the run from the horrors of his past
A girl on the run from the trap of her present
A ship that will bring them together

Captain Evridiki “EB” Bardacki was once a nova fighter pilot for a nation he truly believed in. Betrayal and failure sent him into exile and flight. Now owner-operator of the freelance star freighter Evasion, he treks the edge of human space, taking cargos that lead him ever onward—but there are lines he will not cross.

When those lines are challenged, EB makes enemies of the most powerful crime syndicate for a hundred light-years. When one of their victims stows away on his ship, he finds himself pursued by an enemy with assets everywhere he turns.

Caught between the devil and the deep dark void, EB has run out of places to run—but in a child looking to him for salvation, he may have found something to fight for!

CONTENT WARNING: This novel deals with themes and details of human trafficking and sexual exploitation.

An Impossible Abduction by Ed TejaAn Impossible Abduction by Ed Teja:

Investigations take a strange twist in southwestern New Mexico

When things blow up on Matt Cramer, they can be messy. This time, the mess might be blood. Or not. But he is a private investigator… or will be if he can ever get his office open. Right now that bloody mess is all over the walls.

Josh, the painter is missing and that’s not a good sign. Nor is the ominous attitude of Officer Ravenwalk, or the fact that the local coffee shop is owned by witches, or that Matt somehow has found himself partnering with a shaman and the blood, if it is blood, is somehow tied to a woman’s disappearance—a disappearance that might involve aliens.

After all, this is Silver City, New Mexico, where things are seldom truly wrong, but never quite right, either.

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Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for November 2021


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 crime fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some October 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, holiday mysteries, humorous mysteries, historical mysteries, Regency mysteries, Jazz Age mysteries, paranormal mysteries, science fiction mysteries, psychological mysteries, crime thrillers, action thrillers, adventure thrillers, spy thrillers, legal thrillers, police procedurals, noir, police officers, amateur sleuths, spies, district attorneys, con artists, assassins, hitmen, human traffickers, serial killers, crime-busting witches, crime-busting socialites, crime-busting psychics, murder and mayhem in New York City, London, Boston, Dublin, Louisiana, Wyoming, Michigan, New Mexico, Florida, the Caribbean 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:

Stone Magic by Thea AtkinsonStone Magic by Thea Atkinson:

She’s a fraud. She’s a crook. But she’s no killer. Even if she’s being framed as one.

When three well-known psychics are murdered in her city, Brie Duncan starts to wonder if pretending to be magical is such a great idea after all. She’s no witch, but she does make good money using her fake powers to read her clients’ futures. Money that’ll do her no good if she turns up dead next.

So far, she’s managed to keep up the pretense, but when a gruff detective enters her shop, she fears she’s about to get busted. Unfortunately, his reasons for being there are far worse than she imagines.

Since she’s a member of the psychic community, he thinks she should be able to provide some insight into the murders and the victims. The trouble is, all the evidence seems to point in one direction, and unfortunately for Brie, those roads all lead to her…

An Inelegant Death by Blythe BakerAn Inelegant Death by Blythe Baker:

When Miss Jane Pemberton joins her uncle’s household as a companion to her invalid cousin, she does not realize what a dangerous world she is stepping into.

From the moment she enters the house, Jane senses secrets and unresolved tensions hanging like a shadow over the Pemberton family. Worse, citizens of the sleepy, seaside town of Ebonport do not lead the peaceful lives Jane expected. They seem to hide beneath shadows of their own, motivated by avarice and revenge.

When a shocking murder rocks this uneasy society, Jane vows to protect her uncle’s family—whether they deserve it or not.

Thing of Darkness by Beth Byers Thing of Darkness by Beth Byers:

Smith knows a lot of things. He knows about crimes and why they occur. He knows where to find the best pint of ale and the coffee houses that cater to the criminal class. He knows where to find people who don’t want to be found. And he has–somehow–come to know about the lives of the spoiled and well-connected.

What he doesn’t know is how someone even he finds objectionable has also slithered into the lives of his friends. Nor does he know when they became friends or why he’s worrying about them. Or what to do about their antics when it comes to his enemy.

He only wishes he were surprised when his wife, Beatrice, knows exactly what to do.

Dead for Life by Stacy Claflin and Nolon KingDead for Life by Stacy Claflin and Nolon King:

Caught between a CIA sting and a boss who may want him dead…

Brad Morris has finally been promoted at work. It seems like his hard work and talents have at last been recognized. But nothing is ever simple when you’re an assassin.

Especially not when you’re also secretly working for the CIA to spy on your boss and colleagues. And your oldest daughter will go to jail for murder if you fail.

When poor Hadley starts to crack under the pressure, Brad is forced to check her into a psych ward — but she’s still threatening to confess. Meanwhile, the CIA sting gets more complicated by Agent Bancroft’s insistence that Brad hire her to be BlueBlade’s newest assassin.

Can Brad and Hadley keep their stories straight long enough to get Bancroft the answers she’s looking for? And will Brad finally solve the mystery of his own father’s murder?

Swamp Sweets by Jana DeLeonSwamp Sweets by Jana DeLeon:

Just Desserts?

It’s November in Sinful and everyone is gearing up for Thanksgiving. But when Fortune, Ida Belle, and Gertie bag a body on their turkey hunting trip, the quiet enjoyment of fall is over. No one really knew Miles Broussard well, and as he’d recently sold the building his business was in to retire in another state, no one could explain how he’d ended up murdered and dumped in the bayou.

Ally Lemarque has been waiting her entire life to open her bakery, and that day finally arrived when she purchased the building from Miles. But when she visits the site late at night and interrupts an intruder, she comes away with a crack on her head and concerns about why someone would break into an empty building.

Fortune doesn’t think for a minute that Miles’s murder and the attack on Ally are unrelated. And Swamp Team 3 won’t rest until they’re sure Ally is safe.

Unknown Assailant by J.L. DoucetteUnknown Assailant by J.L. Doucette:

Dr. Pepper Hunt and Detective Beau Antelope team up again to investigate a tragic murder/suicide in a prominent ranch family in the small town of Farson, Wyoming. As they explore events leading up to the night of the disturbing crime they are drawn into the dark heart of a troubled family touched by a legacy of trauma.

 

 

 

Lettie Portman: The District Attorney by John EllsworthLettie Portman: The District Attorney by John Ellsworth:

Like the victims who pass through her office, this attorney’s own past demands justice.

When an eleven-year-old girl is savagely attacked by her mother’s live-in boyfriend, attorney Lettie Portman is called to the hospital. She meets a sweet, young girl whose only goal is to go to school and come home to a safe environment. But the abuse gets worse, the case goes to trial by jury.

And Lettie stumbles. To help this girl in need, she must first deal with her own abuse from years before.

Meanwhile, Detective Antonio “Tony” Reedy lets her know he’s interested in more than just investigating the abused girl’s case. But Lettie’s background makes it all but impossible to trust again. As Tony slowly begins to gain her confidence, can she learn to love again?

Mystery Woman by Mike FaricyMystery Woman by Mike Faricy:

US Marshall Jack Dillon, assigned to An Garda Síochána, Special Branch, and his partner, Paddy Suel, are sent down to County Cork to investigate the murder of American gangster Dennis ‘Punchy’ Sheehan. Things turn out to not be as suspected. CCTV evidence moves the investigation to Dublin where the body count begins to grow on an almost daily basis. The killer seems to be a step ahead of the investigators. With barely a handful of clues can Dillon possibly find whoever is responsible?

 

Wicked Forever by Lily Harper HartWicked Forever by Lily Harper Hart:

Ivy Morgan-Harker has everything she’s ever wanted, including a devoted new husband and an upcoming break from her nursery business for the Michigan winter. Then the unthinkable happens.

Upon arriving at Morgan Nursery early one morning, she finds a body strung up in the middle of her happy sanctum … and there’s a message attached telling her that she’s next. The victim is the son of a well-known bar owner, a bar that Ivy helped bring down when she broke up a local prostitution ring.

Worried and afraid, her husband Jack Harker digs in deep, and what he finds has him terrified for his wife.

Somebody is holding a grudge regarding what happened at the bar, and the number of potential suspects looms large. Ivy and Jack must work together and follow a dark trail if they want answers … and it’s a trail that seemingly leads right back to them.

Ivy is a target. Jack is determined to keep her safe. Together, they’re an unbelievable force.

Ivy may be learning how to master her magic but it’s the darkest form of human nature working against her this time. To survive, she’s going to have to figure out who has the most to lose from the bar going down, and then she’s going to have to fight the enemy she didn’t see coming if she expects to get her happily ever after.

The big finale is finally here!

Unextracted by Ethan JonesUnextracted by Ethan Jones:

When stabbed in the back, Jack bleeds rage.

When a burned deep-cover CIS agent needs extraction from Southern Europe before classified intelligence is exposed, Jack Storm is sent in. Soon, supposedly friendly MI6 begins to subvert the retrieval operation. Jack suspects he has become a pawn in a dirty political power play when he discovers the agent holds more than just CIS secrets.

Moreover, Jack needs to determine if his neighbor-turned-close-friend is playing a double game—or has his job truly left him incapable of trusting anyone? Now, with the extraction sabotaged and his friends-turned-enemies out for blood, how will Jack focus his rage after being betrayed… again?

Love and Bullets by Nick KolakowskiLove & Bullets by Nick Kolakowski:

Bill is a conman with a taste for high-end cars, beautiful suits, and top-shelf liquor. But he’s getting tired of the cons he needs to maintain that lifestyle—and he’s sick of the violence that’s sometimes part of the job.

Bill’s girlfriend Fiona doesn’t have a problem with violence, though. She’ll crush anyone who stands in her way—and some days, it seems like the whole world wants a piece of her. She loves Bill, but she’s tired of cleaning up after him.

When Bill decides to “borrow” a couple million from one of New York City’s most vicious gangs and flee for the tropics, it puts their relationship to the test—and while they’re working out their issues, they’ll also need to fend off crooked cops, dimwitted bouncers, and an irate assassin in the midst of the world’s weirdest midlife crisis.

“Love & Bullets” is the story of a 21st century Bonnie & Clyde, a wisecracking duo who’ll blast their way from Brooklyn to Cuba and back in order to stay alive. It’s a wild ride.

Smoked Mullett by Margaret LashleySmoked Mullet by Margaret Lashley:

It’s Not the Heat, It’s the Stupidity…

When Bobbie and Grayson go in search of a new RV, a chance encounter at a homeowner’s fire sale ignites a hidden flame burning deep within Grayson.

And it’s not Spontaneous Human Combustion …

Or is it?

People in St. Petersburg, Florida keep mysteriously bursting into flames. While the pair investigate potential causes, sparks soon begin to fly between them as well, threatening to snuff out their budding romance.

Hot pockets. Total burnouts. Suspicious ash holes.

As Bobbie and Grayson sift through the grisly clues, will they realize they’re fated to be twin flames? Or will the fireworks between them fizzle out like a dud?

With the heat on to solve the case, they’d better keep a close eye on each other. If not, they could both end up in the dead-letter office marked, “Return to Cinder.”

My Big Fat Witch Wedding by Amanda M. LeeMy Big Fat Witch Wedding by Amanda M. Lee:

The big day is finally here.

Bay and Landon’s wedding day has arrived.

Unfortunately, a tragedy stands in the way of their happily ever after, and it comes in the form of reports of an armed gunman at the local high school. Bay, ghosts at her side, braves the scene to save the kids … and uncovers something horrific.

She. The boy with the gun says he needs to find her. The teacher in the room with him says the same thing before taking his own life. There’s a magical being in Hemlock Cove, and she’s wielding a great deal of power as she forces people to kill in her name.

Bay refuses to back down, convinced that the magical explosion they can’t get under control at Hollow Creek is partially to blame. The problem is so big, another witch needs to be tapped to help them solve it.

Scout Randall, part of the Spells Angels group in Hawthorne Hollow, is more than happy to lend her services. She owes the Winchesters a favor after all. She simply might not be enough.

Bay and Landon have been through more than any couple should have to survive … and they’re not done.

Here comes the wedding … and Clove’s baby … and the worst enemy they’ve ever fought.

The Winchesters are strongest together, and this time they’re going to prove that there’s no keeping a good witch down.

I do? It’s coming, because nothing can stop these witches when love and family are on the line.

A Fatal Bragg by Craig MartelleA Fatal Bragg by Craig Martelle:

Marines are being murdered…

…and it takes someone outside the government to fix the problem.

It’s a race against the clock to dismantle a group that’s been in place for years. They’re well-funded, too and armed with weapons they shouldn’t have. Authorities are stymied. Ian and Jenny Bragg are not so constrained.

It’s supposed to be a single target. What if the target may not be the target at all, but a pipeline to those who deserve what Ian Bragg has to offer?

In an organization like the Peace Archive, contracts tend to take on a life of their own. When it comes to imparting justice, the operators become the last line of defense with only one chance to get it right.

Ian Bragg. A hitman with a conscience.

A Curse for Christmas by P.A. MasonA Curse for Christmas by P.A. Mason:

Christmas back home in Arkansas sounded like a chance to put my feet up for a few weeks. Little did I know that a magical calamity would threaten the big day.

You know the real kicker? It was Mom—a renowned magical healer—who came down with a mystery malaise on Christmas Eve. I couldn’t remember a time where she had anything worse than a sniffle. To see her bedridden scared me to my core.

To examine the facts and solve the case, I had to think fast before Mom’s condition got any worse. With a new werewolf beau in her life, half the town of Tumbling Springs were whispering behind Mom’s back, the loudest of them a hex witch with a nasty view of weres. On the other hand, a new business rival in the next town over had Mom’s healing services on the rocks. The question was—did either witch have enough motive to do something as awful as all that to Mom?

If you enjoy paranormal cozy mysteries with a seasonal Christmas flair, this holiday special is for you.

A Twisted Case of Murder by Emily QueenA Twisted Case of Murder by Emily Queen:

Murder is for the crows.

There’s a mass murderer loose on the streets of London, and he’s dead set on making Rosemary Lillywhite his next victim. After receiving a second death threat, she should have gone straight to her chief inspector beau, Max Whittington–but Rosemary is sick and tired of being treated like she’s made of glass.

How many murder investigations does a lady detective need to solve to earn a little respect?

Rosemary wishes she hadn’t asked that question when another dead body turns up–this time, on her own doorstep–and the papers insinuate she’s the responsible party. In order to clear her name, Rosemary will have to delve deep in to a murderer’s sordid past.

She’ll also have to continue keeping secrets–no matter what it does to her relationship with Max.

Now, everyone’s a suspect in a case that’s even more twisted than murder.

Lost Charity by Wayne StinnettLost Charity by Wayne Stinnett:

After a long hiatus, Charity Styles is itching to get back into the fray. She’s had a succession of minor assignments, none of which provided her with the action she craves.

After months of recharging and rethinking her position in the Armstrong organization, she’s on the verge of walking away, returning to what could be a more normal life. But what’s a normal life look like for a former covert assassin?

Then she gets two assignments, which have nothing to do with each other. The first is to ferry a group of people out to a large mega-yacht. When it turns out that one of those people is the girl she thinks of as a niece and the mega-yacht is captained by an old friend, she sets her sails and is quickly underway.

What the second assignment is, will not only test Charity’s abilities as an undercover asset to the giant Armstrong Research conglomerate, but will also assess her ability to keep a lid on her emotions when faced with the type of people she most loathes.

From the Cayman Islands to the Eastern Caribbean, the coast of Brazil, and finally, the U.S. Virgin Islands, her mental state is constantly being tested. Will she find the one person who is at the head of a vast sex trafficking operation? Or will she become just another victim to the traffickers? Will she even be able to restrain her inner demons when she encounters the worst of the worst of human society?

Death by Dancing by Lee StraussDeath by Dancing by Lee Strauss:

Death’s a jig!

When a brutal dance marathon in the suburbs of Boston in 1932 turns deadly, Dr. Haley Higgins is surprised to discover the deceased is the widow of a man whose body still lies in the cold cabinets of her morgue. She has reasons to believe the man’s death wasn’t natural, and now, with his wife having succumbed to the same symptoms, her convictions of foul play are stronger than ever.

With the help of investigative reporter Samantha Hawke, Haley works to determine which contestants in the dancing contest had means, motive, and opportunity. And most of all, how to keep the killer from striking again.

***

A spin off from the acclaimed Ginger Gold Mystery series, this clever, feisty, depression-era whodunit readers call “serious and suspenseful” and “entertaining mystery series” will keep you turning pages until the surprising yet satisfying end.

An Impossible Abduction by Ed TejaAn Impossible Abduction by Ed Teja:

Investigations take a strange twist in southwestern New Mexico

When things blow up on Matt Cramer, they can be messy. This time, the mess might be blood. Or not. But he is a private investigator… or will be if he can ever get his office open. Right now that bloody mess is all over the walls.

Josh, the painter is missing and that’s not a good sign. Nor is the ominous attitude of Officer Ravenwalk, or the fact that the local coffee shop is owned by witches, or that Matt somehow has found himself partnering with a shaman and the blood, if it is blood, is somehow tied to a woman’s disappearance—a disappearance that might involve aliens.

After all, this is Silver City, New Mexico, where things are seldom truly wrong, but never quite right, either.

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for October 2021

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month
It’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 and small press authors newly published this month, though some September 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 urban fantasy, epic fantasy, portal fantasy, science fantasy, paranormal mystery, space opera, military science fiction, YA science fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, science fiction romance, fantasy romance, time travel romance, gothic romance, LitRPG, historical horror, zombies, aliens, shapehshifters, climate change, virtual reality,  assassins, paladins, sellswords, Pluto, Puritan witch hunters, crime-busting witches, crime-busting skeletons, Oz revisited 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:

An Old Man's Journey by Gregory AllantherAn Old Man’s Journey by Gregory Allanther:

At the end of his life, Charles was left with one question: What was it all for?

After his tour of duty and an unremarkable post-Army business career, Charles spent his twilight years watching old movies and waiting for his grandkids to call. He’d lived a good life, been a decent man, but now that his wife was gone he was… Lonely.

Until his old friend Bert introduced him to Crossroads, the new VR sensation. In this virtual world he can move without pain, explore new lands, and most importantly – see his family again. For as long as he can hold their interest, in this fast-paced modern world of instant gratification and VR thrills.

The solution: Build a place his family wants to visit. Armed only with a magic stick with game-breaking powers that should be nerfed, Charles sets out on a journey to find a place to call his own. Along the way, he will be mistaken for an NPC quest giver, become the antagonist in epic questlines, and attempt to teach the next generation proper behavior – even if he has to beat it into them.

This is the story of one man’s search for belonging in his second virtual life. A search for a place to belong, and what it takes to get there. It’s also a hilarious romp through online fantasy cliches that will appeal to fans of Ready Player One, The Wandering Inn, and slice-of-life comedies.

Because at the end of a man’s life: What’s more important than family?

The Emerald Republic by J.D. AndersonThe Emerald Republic by J.D. Anderson:

When a teen from Kansas is chosen as the king in a world filled with fantastic cities and extraordinary creatures, some of his ideas don’t go over well. Now he faces a divided Emerald City, a rebellion and the threat of a new Witch – and he’s doing everything he can to fight back.

As the situation in Oz grows desperate, Roy’s friends and family face a dire situation of their own: booze, lies, and an emerging war in 1930’s Europe, in the world Roy left behind.

Join Roy and the talking trees and hotheaded munchkins of Oz on a hilarious and thrilling quest to return the Emerald City to its former glory, by any means necessary…

A Deadly Winter by Kody BoyeA Deadly Winter by Kody Boye:

The last word my mother ever said to me was, “Go.”

That was after I’d escaped the initial outbreak at my school. After I managed to find my mother and make my way home. After I thought I was safe.

But when my mother is bitten by a zombie, and I am forced to flee into the apocalyptic wasteland of South Texas, I find that survival means more than just being able to be strong. It’s about building bridges. Making connections. Finding friends. But will those friends help me save my life?

The Witchfinder's Apprentice by Cora BuhlertThe Witchfinder’s Apprentice by Cora Buhlert:

Massachusetts in the Year of the Lord 1695: Matthew Goodson, eighteen years of age, is apprenticed to a team of experienced witchfinders, who travel from village to village and town to town to uncover witchcraft, examine the evidence, interrogate suspects and stamp out evil.

When a wave of mysterious illnesses and deaths hits the town of Redemption, the witchfinders are called in and quickly arrest a suspect, a teenaged girl named Grace Pankhurst.

Matthew has long been having his doubts about the witchfinders and the righteousness of their mission. The interrogation of Grace brings those doubts to a flashpoint. But is Grace truly innocent or has Matthew fallen under the spell of a comely witch?

This is a historical horror story of 5500 words or approximately 20 print pages by two-time Hugo finalist Cora Buhlert.

Remnants, edited by Stephen CoghlanRemnants, edited by Stephen Coghlan:

Strange clouds on the horizon herald the coming of the swarm. The undulating masses of the horde cannot be stopped. Terrifying creatures roam the Earth, seemingly with no aim but to devour all that stands before them. Experience the end of the world as we know it with these seventeen tales of horror, survival, and hope. The world ends in a frenzy of death and miasma of terror, but what will become of the remnants of humanity?

Seventeen tales of post-apocalyptic survival horror!

 

Magnitude by Dean M. ColeMagnitude by Dean M. Cole:

A team of military special operators. A lost race of advanced beings. An invading swarm of land-hungry sentient robots.

An elite team of SAS special operators battle across the multiverse after a plague of land-hungry sentient robots invade today’s Earth. But, when an aircraft carrier-based counterattack goes horribly wrong, it traps the team in an alien universe with a top-secret group who’ve already saved the world twice. After discovering a dark plot that threatens humanity’s very existence, the two groups jump into action, fighting both on the surface and in orbit in a last-ditch effort to stop the enemy before time runs out.

With the fate of two Earths hanging in the balance, the combined teams must pull a lost race of advanced beings off history’s scrapheap, or humanity will join them in oblivion.

Magnitude combines sleek starships, strange aliens, and high-tech weaponry to pit heroes, zeroes, and a smart-assed battlebot against powerful enemies

Auntie Mags by Kate DanleyAuntie Mags by Kate Danley:

Maggie’s a now an auntie and ready to show this new nugget all the awesomeness of being a World Walker. But when the child is kidnapped as part of an ancient prophecy, Maggie and Killian must save the kid before nap time means a permanent sleep. The creatures of the Other Side are about to get a hands-on lesson in why you don’t mess with the MacKay girls.

 

 

Itinerant by Marco de HooghItinerant by Marco de Hoogh:

A storm is coming. There is no escape…

It is a time of discovery, as our heroes venture forth on expeditions.

General Theodore Davies rushes to meet an ally, but will it be for naught? Olympus is but a shell, ready to be crushed under the heel of Rosae Crucis. The enemy is at the gates.

John Miller leads a team in search of answers. He knows the coordinates of his goal but doesn’t know if they will make it to their destination and back, or what they will even find.

New characters step out of the shadow and into the light. Their stories are told, and revelations made. What are the things that link them together? A mosaic is slowly being laid; Tile by tile.

In the meantime, the undead continue their mission. They snuff out all life that they find. They heed the call of the collective. They mass together, forming a tide that will wash over the living.

Now they come.

Follow along as events unfold in Itinerant, the third volume in Apocalypsis Immortuos

Legacy of Seven by P.J. FlieLegacy of Seven by P.J. Flie:

A world filled with magic, wizards and, enchanted beings—or the ashes of a highly advanced civilization?
The truth is much more complicated.

Zairoc, a dark wizard

Sir Francis, a benevolent wizard

Trick Mark, captain of the guard

and the construction robot CD-45.

Their destinies will collide at the city of Bastion. But concealed from everyone, a young woman holds the key to each of their fates.

Ondreeal has lived her whole life on the farm with her callous adoptive father. She longs to see the world and witness for herself the magical wonders that fill it—and she’ll soon get her wish, thrust into an adventure that carries her to heights she never dreamed possible, and to the depths of despair and loneliness. Ondreeal can never become the hero the world wants her to be.

But will she become the hero it needs?

No Bones About It by Rachel FordNo Bones About It by Rachel Ford:

He’s a skeleton who used to be a cop. I’m a Freak who used to be a detective. Together, we’re going to find the woman I love.

Technically, the PD hasn’t fired me yet. But when my girlfriend, the star witness in the biggest embezzlement case in a century, went missing, I stepped on some toes. And maybe busted a senior detective’s nose.

He had it coming. He’s hiding something. I’m going to find out what, and I’m going to find my fiancée. But I can’t do it alone.

In a world of magic and undead beings, Normies avoid Freaks like me like the plague. Our magic terrifies them.

But there’s one place I know I can turn to find the help I need: the undead. So here I am, trusting the fate of my career and the love of my life to the bony hands of a 150 year old undead investigator.

And that’s a recipe for disaster. No bones about it.

Love Sickness by Rachel FordLove Sickness by Rachel Ford:

A mysterious newcomer. Strange new infatuations. A cursed treasure.

A beautiful stranger arrives in Little Eerie asking questions about an ancient treasure. The jarl is smitten at first sight. He’s sick with love for her.

But when she doesn’t even recognize him the next day, Apprentice Wizard Idun Wintermoon knows there’s some kind of sorcery at play.

As more people succumb to the love sickness, Idun and the sellsword Liss Forlatt are in a race against time to find the culprit – and discover what her real motives are. Before she unleashes a curse on the jarldom that’ll make love sickness seem like a minor inconvenience.

The Ghoul, the Bad and the Ugly by Lily Harper HartThe Ghoul, the Bad and the Ugly by Lily Harper Hart:

Zombies in Casper Creek? Say it ain’t so. Unfortunately, it looks to be true … and Hannah Hickok and her motley crew of helpers have a mess on their hands.

As Cooper Wyatt struggles with the perfect way to propose, his girlfriend is buried in zombie lore … and seemingly having a good time digging up solutions.

The bodies are rising from two different cemeteries, one so old it hasn’t seen a new resident in thirty years. Why, though?

Needing help, Lindy suggests her brother David join the team. He’s a paranormal investigator, and he has an interesting set of skills. He also seems to be sparking with animal wrangler Tyler James, which has all the women in a tizzy in an effort to help him make the ultimate connection.
Love is in the air. Zombies are on the streets. Trouble is afoot.

It’s a normal day in Casper Creek, but the stakes are ratcheting up. Hannah’s magic is off the charts, but this time the monsters she’s facing are like nothing she’s ever seen.

Death may be stalking Hannah but she’s not afraid to stand her ground. Survival isn’t a given, but if she makes it through to the end, Cooper has a surprise for both of them.

Poisonous Paws by CeeCee JamesPoisonous Paws by CeeCee James:

Murder can reach out and touch you when you least expect it.

The mysterious death of a town founder rocks the Thornberry Estate. Miss Janice is the main suspect and everyone is up at arms. How was she to know the truce she formed with her neighbor put the target squarely on her? Coupled with a strange box that shows up out of nowhere and filled with bizarre things beyond imagination, and strange footsteps at night has everyone anxious.

…then there’s the bit of the skeleton in the closet. Literally.

The book club group is determined to discover who the real culprit is, and who is sending them disturbing messages. Especially since no one is supposed to know the club exists.

Little do they know, that’s only the beginning of their problems.

If you like cozy mysteries with all the feels, good friendships, giggles and snorts, you’ll love this heartwarming series.

Emanations: When a Planet Was a Planet, edited by Carter KaplanEmanations: When a Planet Was a Planet, edited by Carter Kaplan:

The ninth volume of the critically acclaimed Emanations literary anthology series, Emanations: When a Planet was a Planet presents stunning new art, illustrations and writing from around the world. The forty-two contributors represent South Korea, Canada, India, Oman, France, Nigeria, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Germany, Spain, the Philippines, Sweden, Japan and the United States. Comprising a broad range of graphic and literary expressions, this new volume wonderfully sustains International Authors’ commitment to innovation and experimentation, with unusual visual pieces, intriguing artists’ statements, idiosyncratic memoirs, dynamic poetical constructions and cutting-edge speculative fiction.

Published by International Authors.

A Dark Dawn by Ralph KernA Dark Dawn by Ralph Kern:

Far from the fury of The Great War, the citizens of the Liberty Federation live in peace and prosperity.

The Dawn Empire’s light is fading. Admiral Ikson Koto has one chance to renew the flame before it is extinguished forever. To save the Empire from a slow death, he must destroy the Federation’s fleet in one fell swoop. His plan calls for a brutality that has never been seen before.

For Lieutenant Shannon Reeve, the horrors of battle still burn strong in her mind. Her posting to a fighter squadron in the paradise of the Federation’s premier base, Azure Anchorage, should be a welcome respite. Instead, she will witness her fears come true as it comes under a relentless assault by Koto’s overwhelming Imperial forces.

Deep in the expanse of space known as the Great Void, a place far from home, civilian engineer Winston Grant has been tasked with upgrading a lonely base’s defences. Soon, he will find himself holding the line in a desperate last stand against an armada.

Both will play their parts in these darkest of days.

The golden age of the Federation will soon end, and instead be engulfed in the raging fire of war as Koto’s grand plan comes to fruition.

Paladin's Hope by T. KingfisherPaladin’s Hope by T. Kingfisher:

Piper is a lich-doctor, a physician who works among the dead, determining causes of death for the city guard’s investigations. It’s a peaceful, if solitary profession…until the day when he’s called to the river to examine the latest in a series of mysterious bodies, mangled by some unknown force.

Galen is a paladin of a dead god, lost to holiness and no longer entirely sane. He has long since given up on any hope of love. But when the two men and a brave gnole constable are drawn into the maze of the mysterious killer, it’s Galen’s job to protect Piper from the traps that await them.

He’s just not sure if he can protect Piper from the most dangerous threat of all…

Nostalgia is Heartless by Sarah LaheyNostalgia is Heartless by Sarah Lahey:

Earth, 2050. Pregnant, unemployed, and living back home with her father, climate scientist Quinn Buyers wonders how she got to this point in her life. Her famous scientist mother is mysteriously missing, the planet is at risk from a massive solar storm, the Transhumans want to take a colony to Titan, and her assisted living companion, a robotic meerkat, is showing clear signs of anxiety and depression. But her biggest challenge is her partner. How can she reconcile her long-distance relationship with this reserved, enigmatic cyborg?

The sequel to Sarah Lahey’s debut novel and the second book in the Heartless Series, Nostalgia is Heartless delves into the world of near future, exploring a society on the brink of climate catastrophe.

Warlord of Ackbarr by Erme LanderWarlord of Ackbarr by Erme Lander:

“You can’t just invade, they’ll have men with crossbows looking out for you. They use poisoned arrows, they can fell your outriders in seconds.”

Cassai has managed the unthinkable by killing thousands and Ackbarr can no longer ignore the tiny country defying them. Mika must make a choice who she stands with – her adopted country or the homeland who expelled her as an animal. In the meanwhile, her grip on the human world is sliding…

The Medici Chronicles follows Mika through nearly twenty years of her life as she disguises herself as a boy to survive, learns to become a Medici and struggles to find where she belongs.

Follow the Crumbs by Amanda M. LeeFollow the Crumbs by Amanda M. Lee:

There’s a prominent threat on the block … and he might just be sharing Stormy Morgan’s roof.

She’s a new witch but she has a big problem … and it talks. Her new roommate Krankle may look cute but he’s a huge pain in her posterior. He’s also hiding something. Before she can focus on that, however, the unthinkable happens.

On the highway leading out of town, three vehicles are involved in an accident. One belongs to Harold Lautner, the former head of the senior center who went missing months before. He was presumed dead in a hunting accident, but now the truck he was driving at the time he fell off the face of the earth is front and center … and emergency crews say there’s nobody to save inside.

Hunter Ryan, Stormy’s boyfriend and a police officer in Shadow Hills, is chasing lead after lead but they’re going nowhere … and then things get worse.

A magical shadow, the type Stormy isn’t ready to fight, is taking over the town. The Winchester witches, who are eager to help, can’t offer much in the way of aid because their magic is being affected by the shadow. That leaves Stormy to solve things, and she has no idea how to do it.

Stormy is eager to learn but the curve is steep. Alone, she knows she will fail. That means her new friends have to pitch in and help … including Krankle.

Someone is lying. Someone is playing games. The answer to the question might be closer than it seems.

Stormy has a fight on her hands. Will she survive long enough to answer all the questions, or is she doomed to disappointment … and death?

Sirena by Gideon MarcusSirena by Gideon Marcus:

One starship, six friends, 10,000 lives in the balance

Young captain-for-hire Kitra Yilmaz has gotten her first contract: escort the mysterious Princess of Atlántida beyond the Frontier and find her a new world. It’s a risky job, fraught with the threat of pirates, dangerous squatters, and rising romantic tensions.

Still, Kitra and her crew are up for anything — until they find a lush world, perfect for settlement…with an enormous ghost ship already in orbit.

What secret does the crippled vessel hide? And is Kitra ready to take responsibility for its precious cargo?

The Lighthouse by Christopher ParkerThe Lighthouse by Christopher Parker:

Enchanting, mysterious, and deeply romantic, The Lighthouse follows a young woman’s breathtaking journey far from home to discover where she truly belongs.

Something strange is happening in Seabrook. The town’s lighthouse–dormant for over thirty years and famously haunted–has inexplicably started shining, and its mysterious glow is sparking feverish gossip throughout the spooked community.

Amy Tucker is only visiting for the night and has no plans to get caught up in the hysteria, but that changes when she meets Ryan, the loyal, hard-working son of a ranch owner who lives on the outskirts of town.

Their chance encounter turns into an unforgettable weekend, and against the backdrop of the lighthouse-obsessed town, the two of them forge a deep connection, opening their hearts, baring their souls, and revealing secrets long kept hidden.

But as they grow closer, and as the lighthouse glows ever brighter, a startling discovery about Ryan leaves Amy questioning everything she thought she knew. To uncover the truth about her new friend, Amy will need to enter Seabrook’s ominous tower, where waiting inside she will not only find the reason why fate has brought them together… but a shocking secret that will change the course of their lives forever.

The Last Days of Hong Kong by G.D. PenmanThe Last Days of Hong Kong by G.D. Penman:

Book 3 in the Witch of Empire series

In the aftermath of the war, Iona “Sully” Sullivan has lost everything; her job, her friends, her fiancé and even her magic. But when an old friend shows up on her doorstep, offering her the chance to undo one of her long litany of mistakes, there is still enough of the old Sully left to get her on the first boat to Hong Kong. A stranger in a strange land, Sully must navigate alien customs, werebear chefs, the blossoming criminal underworld, religious extremists, Mongol agents, vampire separatists, and every other freak, maniac or cosmic leftover with an iota of power as they all compete for a chance at the most valuable prize in all the world; a little sailor doll named Eugene, and the last wish on earth.

Digital Death by Jaxon ReedDigital Death by Jaxon Reed:

The Republic’s AI controls a clone on one planet. The League controls a bot on another . . .

Jade Thrall is the League’s Tetrarch but she holds a secret even she does not realize. She is a highly advanced droid, formerly known as Miriam.

Few military assets are available to Jade in her effort to wrest back League planets lost during the war. But one potent tool remains in her arsenal: assassins . . .

Join this rip-roaring, action-packed space opera adventure! Featuring space marines, rotten villains, fist fights, gun battles and sharp political intrigue, Digital Death kicks off a brand new series by veteran science fiction and fantasy author Jaxon Reed set in the Milky Way Universe.

Valkyrie's Daughter by John E. SiersValkyrie’s Daughter by John E. Siers:

The Otuka are hunting a most dangerous game!

The alien Akara have a secret. They’ve discovered the location of a planet that is home to a primitive human civilization, another ancient “seeding” of the legendary Progenitors. But this planet lies in the territory of the Otuka, spacefaring alien predators who consider human flesh to be a delicacy and the planet to be their private hunting preserve.

Unwilling to confront the Otuka, the Akara have passed the problem to their human allies, the Lunar Free State. Now, the LFS needs to decide what to do about it. Are the “Moonies” willing to take responsibility for an entire planet’s population?

One thing seems certain: a favorite food of the Otuka is about to get much more expensive, as the LFS Marines stand ready to teach the Otuka hunters a hard lesson in the perils of hunting the humans in this part of the galaxy. But no one knows the technology state of the Okuta. Will the Marines be the hunters, or find themselves being hunted in turn?

Escape by Rosalind TateEscape by Rosalind Tate:

A Bloody Revolution. Hard Choices. Fatal Consequences.

Sophie Arundel is stranded in a parallel universe, stuck in a grand house in an alternate 1925 England. Thankfully, she has her faithful dog, Charlotte. Oh, and Hugo Harrington who is stranded too — and Sophie’s fallen for him, head over heels.

Hugo’s entirely uninterested, but Sophie has bigger problems.

As a revolution threatens the Manor and everyone in it, Sophie finds the hidden portal to the twenty-first century. When she opens it, one man’s deadly secret will be exposed.

And he’ll kill to stop her.

Songbird Rising by R.K. ThorneSongbird Rising by R.K. Thorne:

Commander Ellen Ryu, Lieutenant Kael Sidassian, and the crew of the starship Audacity have met every challenge thrown their way, from super soldiers, to telepaths, to rivals with axes to grind.

Each step has brought them closer to Ellen’s ultimate goal—finding and defeating Dr. Arakovic, the scientist who destroyed her unit, her brothers- and sisters-in-arms, and her promising Union career. The woman who nearly stole Ellen’s sanity.

But Arakovic’s Songbirds grow more powerful each day. The clues are adding up. And the Audacity crew is discovering that Songbird’s influence reaches deeper and farther than they ever expected.

They’ll dive into battle—but this time they may find themselves underwater.

Not every battle can be won. Ellen Ryu has never let that stop her from trying.

But with his newfound daughter and new friends to protect, will the cost be too high for Kael to stay by her side?

Jump into this epic adventure in a galaxy where abuse of science is rampant and hope is all some people have left. Character-driven space opera with a mix of humor, action, and romance, SONGBIRD RISING is the fourth book in the Audacity Saga.

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Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for October 2021


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 crime fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some September 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, holiday mysteries, humorous mysteries, historical mysteries, Jazz Age mysteries, paranormal mysteries, crime thrillers, action thrillers, historical thrillers, revenge thrillers, noir, romantic suspense, police officers, amateur sleuths, FBI agents, CIA agents, reporters, assassins, human traffickers, vigilantes, serial killers, severed heads, Puritan witch hunters, crime-busting witches, crime-busting socialites, crime-busting journalists, crime-busting skeletons, murder and mayhem in London, Galveston, Silicon Valley, Massachusetts, Hong Kong, Colombia, at a science fiction convention 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:

The Witchfinder's Apprentice by Cora BuhlertThe Witchfinder’s Apprentice by Cora Buhlert:

Massachusetts in the Year of the Lord 1695: Matthew Goodson, eighteen years of age, is apprenticed to a team of experienced witchfinders, who travel from village to village and town to town to uncover witchcraft, examine the evidence, interrogate suspects and stamp out evil.

When a wave of mysterious illnesses and deaths hits the town of Redemption, the witchfinders are called in and quickly arrest a suspect, a teenaged girl named Grace Pankhurst.

Matthew has long been having his doubts about the witchfinders and the righteousness of their mission. The interrogation of Grace brings those doubts to a flashpoint. But is Grace truly innocent or has Matthew fallen under the spell of a comely witch?

This is a historical suspense story of 5500 words or approximately 20 print pages by two-time Hugo finalist Cora Buhlert.

Murder on a Girl's Night Out by Beth ByersMurder on a Girl’s Night Out by Beth Byers:

Vi is one of those women lucky enough to have good friends. In fact, Kate, Rita, and Lila are closer to Vi than her own sister. With children arriving and what feels like an endless cycle of trouble, their friendship has been pushed to it’s limit. It’s long past time to get together–just the girls.

Is it even surprising when things go sideways? Or when they find themselves looking over their shoulders? Or when they find, one again, that they’re stronger together?

 

1414° by Paul Bradley Carr1414° by Paul Bradley Carr:

The billionaire predators of Silicon Valley always get what they want.
Now someone is giving them what they deserve.

Journalist Lou McCarthy has spent her career exposing powerful predators in Silicon Valley. Her crusade has cost her everything: Her apartment, friends, relationships, and any hope of promotion. And for what? Readers don’t care, her boss and workmates pity her, and the billionaire bro-ciopaths she writes about continue to fail upwards.

But when two of her highest profile subjects are killed on the same night, their deaths staged as gruesome public suicides, Lou’s work is suddenly and violently thrust into the spotlight. Blamed for the deaths, fired from her job, and pursued by vengeful trolls who have already attacked her mother, Lou has only one chance of survival: To find the killer obsessed with her work, and stop them before anyone else dies.

Or perhaps not. Because the more Lou discovers about the ingenious killer’s past, and their methods, the more she becomes determined to help them succeed.

Tight-Lipped by Erik CarterTight-Lipped by Eric Carter:

THE MURDERS BEGIN SUDDENLY…
BUT THE SECRET HAS BEEN KEPT FOR YEARS.

Vigilante assassin Silence Jones is accustomed to hunting people who escaped justice. But nothing can prepare him for the depths of deceit he’s about to face.

People are being murdered across the United States, and law enforcement is powerless to stop it. The victims’ only connection: they’re all survivors of a military training disaster years earlier.

As Silence feverishly chases the killer around the country, he uncovers a sinister coverup and the dark forces willing to do anything to maintain the secret. If Silence is going to stop the slaughter, he’ll have to tear down a web of lies that powerful people have held in place for years.

The next standalone action thriller in the pulse-pounding new series. Enter the world of Silence Jones. Hold on tight…

Wake the Dead by Stacy Claflin and Nolon KingWake the Dead by Stacy Claflin and Nolon King:

There’s no cross like a double-cross. Except maybe a double-double-cross.

Assassin Brad Morris has finally been arrested for murder, but not for a murder he actually committed. Now he’s cooling his heels in jail — his lawyer seems to have forgotten him, and his boss might have betrayed him.

Just as he’s starting to lose hope, he gets a visit from the CIA. Agent June Bancroft has an offer for Brad: full immunity, if he’s willing to spy on his boss and fellow assassins for her. Worse, Bancroft wants his daughter Hadley’s help, too.

Brad agrees, but soon finds out how hard it is to answer to two bosses while pursuing an agenda of his own.

Can Brad keep his family safe while operating as both a CIA asset and an assassin? Or will his double life destroy everyone he loves?

No Bones About It by Rachel FordNo Bones About It by Rachel Ford:

He’s a skeleton who used to be a cop. I’m a Freak who used to be a detective. Together, we’re going to find the woman I love.

Technically, the PD hasn’t fired me yet. But when my girlfriend, the star witness in the biggest embezzlement case in a century, went missing, I stepped on some toes. And maybe busted a senior detective’s nose.

He had it coming. He’s hiding something. I’m going to find out what, and I’m going to find my fiancée. But I can’t do it alone.

In a world of magic and undead beings, Normies avoid Freaks like me like the plague. Our magic terrifies them.

But there’s one place I know I can turn to find the help I need: the undead. So here I am, trusting the fate of my career and the love of my life to the bony hands of a 150 year old undead investigator.

And that’s a recipe for disaster. No bones about it.

The Ghoul, the Bad and the Ugly by Lily Harper HartThe Ghoul, the Bad and the Ugly by Lily Harper Hart:

Zombies in Casper Creek? Say it ain’t so. Unfortunately, it looks to be true … and Hannah Hickok and her motley crew of helpers have a mess on their hands.

As Cooper Wyatt struggles with the perfect way to propose, his girlfriend is buried in zombie lore … and seemingly having a good time digging up solutions.

The bodies are rising from two different cemeteries, one so old it hasn’t seen a new resident in thirty years. Why, though?

Needing help, Lindy suggests her brother David join the team. He’s a paranormal investigator, and he has an interesting set of skills. He also seems to be sparking with animal wrangler Tyler James, which has all the women in a tizzy in an effort to help him make the ultimate connection.
Love is in the air. Zombies are on the streets. Trouble is afoot.

It’s a normal day in Casper Creek, but the stakes are ratcheting up. Hannah’s magic is off the charts, but this time the monsters she’s facing are like nothing she’s ever seen.

Death may be stalking Hannah but she’s not afraid to stand her ground. Survival isn’t a given, but if she makes it through to the end, Cooper has a surprise for both of them.

Poisonous Paws by CeeCee JamesPoisonous Paws by CeeCee James:

Murder can reach out and touch you when you least expect it.

The mysterious death of a town founder rocks the Thornberry Estate. Miss Janice is the main suspect and everyone is up at arms. How was she to know the truce she formed with her neighbor put the target squarely on her? Coupled with a strange box that shows up out of nowhere and filled with bizarre things beyond imagination, and strange footsteps at night has everyone anxious.

…then there’s the bit of the skeleton in the closet. Literally.

The book club group is determined to discover who the real culprit is, and who is sending them disturbing messages. Especially since no one is supposed to know the club exists.

Little do they know, that’s only the beginning of their problems.

If you like cozy mysteries with all the feels, good friendships, giggles and snorts, you’ll love this heartwarming series.

Murder at the Galvez by Kathleen KaskaMurder at the Galvez by Kathleen Kaska:

Eighteen years after discovering the murdered body of her grandfather in the foyer of the historic Galvez Hotel, reporter Sydney Lockhart returns to Galveston, Texas to cover a story. Instead, she finds herself embroiled in a murder mystery.

Something fishy is going on in Galveston, Texas, and Sydney is smack dab in the middle of it when she checks into the historic Galvez Hotel, a place that stirs her most uncomfortable memories. She’s there to cover the controversial Pelican Island Development Project conference, but soon after her arrival, the conference is canceled, the keynote speaker is missing, and a body turns up in the truck of Sydney’s car. Next, Sydney’s hauled to the police station for questioning.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, just a few blocks from the hotel at her parents’ home, people are gathering, sparks are flying, another controversial event is in the planning, one that just might rival the Great Storm of 1900.

Sydney is helped and obstructed by her cousins, Ruth and Marcela, and Dixon, her beloved partner-in-solving-crime. But ultimately it’s up to Sydney, armed with wit and bravado (and Dixon’s .45), who must discover who killed the man in the trunk and why her father’s new friend is floating face-down in a fish tank with a bullet in his head. Her father’s odd behavior and the anonymous threatening notes delivered to her hotel room lead Sydney to suspect that her grandfather’s unsolved murder and the present murders might be connected.

Follow the Crumbs by Amanda M. LeeFollow the Crumbs by Amanda M. Lee:

There’s a prominent threat on the block … and he might just be sharing Stormy Morgan’s roof.

She’s a new witch but she has a big problem … and it talks. Her new roommate Krankle may look cute but he’s a huge pain in her posterior. He’s also hiding something. Before she can focus on that, however, the unthinkable happens.

On the highway leading out of town, three vehicles are involved in an accident. One belongs to Harold Lautner, the former head of the senior center who went missing months before. He was presumed dead in a hunting accident, but now the truck he was driving at the time he fell off the face of the earth is front and center … and emergency crews say there’s nobody to save inside.

Hunter Ryan, Stormy’s boyfriend and a police officer in Shadow Hills, is chasing lead after lead but they’re going nowhere … and then things get worse.

A magical shadow, the type Stormy isn’t ready to fight, is taking over the town. The Winchester witches, who are eager to help, can’t offer much in the way of aid because their magic is being affected by the shadow. That leaves Stormy to solve things, and she has no idea how to do it.

Stormy is eager to learn but the curve is steep. Alone, she knows she will fail. That means her new friends have to pitch in and help … including Krankle.

Someone is lying. Someone is playing games. The answer to the question might be closer than it seems.

Stormy has a fight on her hands. Will she survive long enough to answer all the questions, or is she doomed to disappointment … and death?

The Last Days of Hong Kong by G.D. PenmanThe Last Days of Hong Kong by G.D. Penman:

Book 3 in the Witch of Empire series

In the aftermath of the war, Iona “Sully” Sullivan has lost everything; her job, her friends, her fiancé and even her magic. But when an old friend shows up on her doorstep, offering her the chance to undo one of her long litany of mistakes, there is still enough of the old Sully left to get her on the first boat to Hong Kong. A stranger in a strange land, Sully must navigate alien customs, werebear chefs, the blossoming criminal underworld, religious extremists, Mongol agents, vampire separatists, and every other freak, maniac or cosmic leftover with an iota of power as they all compete for a chance at the most valuable prize in all the world; a little sailor doll named Eugene, and the last wish on earth.

The Heist and Crimes of Shackleton Manor by Daniel J. ReevesThe Heist and Crimes of Shackleton Manor by Daniel J. Reeves:

Sitting fully clothed in his tepid shower and busily dwelling on his romantic misfortune, Seamus is not ready for much of anything. Above all, he is certainly not ready to find the severed, bloody head of an old industry magnate stuffed inside of his university backpack. Seamus has his vices, but a severed head enthusiast he is not.

Chuck, a new acquaintance of his, reacts with perplexing enthusiasm to this turn of events, and together they plunge into a twenty-five year old mystery of love and betrayal at the decadent Shackleton Manor. Will Seamus solve the crime, accidentally implicate himself in it, or simply drink himself to sleep whilst hiding in the basement?

Oy Vey, Maria! by Mark ReutlingerOy Vey, Maria! by Mark Reutlinger:

Rose Kaplan and her sidekick Ida are at it again. It’s the holiday of Purim, and almost everyone at the Julius and Rebecca Cohen Home for Jewish Seniors is in costume for the Purim play. All except one, who will instead have to be fitted for a shroud. Once again, “Mrs. K” and Ida are called upon to solve the puzzle of a mysterious death at the Home. Described by Chanticleer Book Reviews as “at times more Lucy and Ethel than Holmes and Watson, with a soupcon of Miss Jane Marple,” these geriatric amateur sleuths will keep you laughing, guessing, and maybe even learning a bissel Yiddish!

So We Lie by Willow RoseSo We Lie by Willow Rose:

What do we do when the truth hurts too much?

Fresh out of the national academy – mother of two – FBI profiler Eva Rae Thomas is in over her head on her first assignment in multi-million-copy bestselling author Willow Rose’s breath-taking mystery.

When the mother of two, Arlene Wood, crashes her car against a tree at four in the morning, the case seems pretty straightforward.

But evidence found in the remains of the car soon raises the question of whether this was really an accident.

Shortly after, her husband is taken in and later convicted of having murdered his wife.

But many questions remain unanswered.

Why was Arlene driving in the middle of the night?
Why did she leave the house, her husband, and her sleeping children, get into her car, and drive away?
Was she meeting someone?

A friend?

A lover?

A killer?

Six years later, Special Agent Eva Rae Thomas is new on the job when she stumbles upon something that suddenly blows this case wide open.

But can she persuade anyone to reopen the case even when the husband has admitted that he is guilty?

And will she be able to do it in time before this killer strikes again?

My Emerald Jungle by Adler StevensMy Emerald Jungle by Adler Stevens:

Having my daughter, Haley, and her old high school sweetheart, Steve, kidnapped is the right thing to do. If anybody deserves a second chance at romance, it’s those two. And there’s nothing like a frightening adventure to bring two people together.

But something terrible has happened. Haley and Steve never arrived on the secluded island near Puerto Rico. Instead, they’re somewhere in Colombia, in the jungle, being held by human traffickers.

I’m afraid for the safety of my lovely little girl, but I know Haley is in Steve’s very strong and capable hands.

Or is it the other way around?

Framed in Blood by Ed TejaFrame in Blood by Ed Teja:

It’s a messy, bloody, crime. It’s a proper crime.

A pimp and drug dealer is found tortured and shot. That makes for a messy scene, but not a striking crime. Discovering that someone is trying to make it seem that the prostitute who tortured him also killed him — that grabs Sherry Proper’s attention, makes it a proper crime.

Anytime a crime is textured, layered, and fascinating, it provides glimpses into the dark underbelly where people from all social strata, as well as their money, ambition, and greed can intersect. Sherry calls these Proper Crimes.

It’s a passion. A passion with only dark sides, and one that can take her up to her neck in danger and trouble in a heartbeat.

A Conventional Murder by Nathaniel WebbA Conventional Murder by Nathaniel Webb:

It’s a Daylight Savings Crime!

Kit Morrison just wants to enjoy her hometown sci-fi convention, but things keep getting in the way: con drama, annoying fans, murder… Sci-fi/fantasy author Nathaniel Webb takes on the cozy in his mystery debut, featuring a hilarious amateur sleuth and a tricky, twisty mystery worthy of the classics.

Art teacher, single mom, and geek girl Kit Morrison hasn’t been to her hometown sci-fi con in a decade. All she wants is to sell some art and catch up with old friends. But when a legendary fantasy author is murdered, Kit’s detective brother makes her his nerd sherpa. Kit’s happy to guide him through the weird world of con life—until he makes her favorite student his prime suspect. And then there are the threatening notes that keep appearing in her hotel room…

Kit will confront crazy fans, navigate major drama, wait for the elevator, learn about industrial laundry machines, and try her best to get a croissant—and with luck, prove her student’s innocence before the convention ends!

You’ll laugh—you’ll cheer—you’ll stay up late and fall asleep in a work meeting the next day. Come meet Kit, a sleuth like no other.

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for September 2021

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month
It’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 and small press authors newly published this month, though some August 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 urban fantasy, epic fantasy, adventure fantasy, YA fantasy, paranormal mystery, paranormal romance, fairy tales, space opera, military science fiction, planetary romance, post-apocalyptic fiction, cyberpunk, biopunk, LitRPG, cosmic horror, historical horror, psychological horror, vampires, dragons, demons, angels, fae, giants, space marines, aliens, fae princes, space mages, Martian invasions, Victorian zombies, crime-busting witches, crime-busting ghosts, amnesiac jailers, troubled insomniacs, Cthulhu 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:

Floaters by Gareth BoatmanFloaters by Gareth Boatman:

Fire and plague. Certainly no strangers to London Town. But when legions of living dead rise from the Thames’ fetid waters to feast upon the living, the city teeters on the brink of antihalation. And while floaters seek blood, another army takes advantage of the chaos. Boiling out of their rookeries of crime, marauders swarm through London’s affluent neighborhoods looting and burning.

Hooligans vs the Living Dead: A Victorian Zombie Adventure!

With the beleaguered police and the Queen’s army battling twin plagues—human and inhuman—London’s criminal youth gangs join forces to save their city. Will Tagget, leader of the Lambeth Lads, together with his enemies Bill Drummond of the Drury Lane Gang, bull-necked George Fish of the Elephant and Castle Gang, shillelagh-wielding Dirk Bogart of the New Cut Gang, Quincy Bird of City Road, along with their female counterparts—Lambeth Kate, Queen Jane, New Cut Beth, Razor Lil and Dirty Deidre—set out on an adventure the telling of which might earn a man a lifetime of free drinks. If he lives to tell it.

Will these violent gangs put aside their rivalries long enough to get the job done?

Proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.

Mind over Magic by Lindsay BurokerMind Over Magic by Lindsay Buroker:

As a bookish, introverted database programmer, Morgen Keller never thought she was a candidate for a midlife crisis. That was before her husband divorced her, her boss let her go, and her grandmother died. Forty wasn’t supposed to look like this.

When Morgen heads up to the small town of Bellrock, Washington, to settle the estate, she looks forward to taking a peaceful break from life and figuring out what she’s going to do next.

But peace isn’t to be had. The old farmhouse is full of witch paraphernalia, a fearsome werewolf has claimed the property, and contrary to what the family was told, Grandma didn’t die of natural causes.

Embroiled in a mystery, and heir to powers she knew nothing about, Morgen must turn to the only person who might be able to help: the werewolf who threatened to rip her throat out for trespassing.

This isn’t the fresh start on life that Morgen had in mind.

A Witch in Wolf Wood is perfect for fans of mystery, magic, slow-burn romance, and second chances.

Realmshaker by A.J. EpikosRealmshaker by A.J. Epikos:

Rhonda is a noble giant, a huge savage beauty learning to become a ranger and a chieftess. But five centuries after a terrible war eliminated the noble giants’ civilization, Rhonda wakes up alone on a runic ritual site far from home. Her culture is plundered, erased, and nearly forgotten. Terrible beasts roam the land, and smaller beings are taking over. Stranger yet, there’s a mystical mechanism revealing to Rhonda her class, attributes, perks, star power, and more.

It’s the Star System!

And its master could be an eldritch thing covering the world, unknown to all except the giantess herself.

Follow Rhonda and her friends on an epic CONQUEST to collect star power, go berserk on their enemies, and make an impact no one can ignore. The noble giants’ civilization may have fallen, but it’s Rhonda’s birthright to shake the realm.

The Recruit by Rachel FordThe Recruit by Rachel Ford:

How much is freedom really worth?

The world ended five years ago. Caleb Franks has lived in the shadows ever since, scraping together a meager existence on his homestead with his faithful friend, a Great Pyrenees named Elim.

Then the North American People’s Army shows up, promising a new way of life: ready food, security, community, and maybe even a family someday, if he proves himself worthy. All they ask in return is absolute loyalty.

Caleb will need to make a choice: security, or freedom. All that hangs in the balance is everything.

This is a post-apocalyptic novelette. It is a work of speculative fiction and though in no way graphic, may contain elements that some readers will find disturbing.

Simultaneous Times Vol. 2.5 edited by Jean-Paul GarnierSimultaneous Times Vol. 2.5., edited by Jean-Paul Garnier:

From Space Cowboy Books in Joshua Tree, California: A free e-book companion to the Space Cowboy Books Presents: Simultaneous Times science fiction anthology podcast.

Featuring stories by: Cora Buhlert, Kim Martin, Brent A. Harris, Renan Bernardo, RedBlueBlackSilver, Robin Rose Graves, Douglas A. Blanc, Michael Butterworth & J. Jeff Jones – with illustrations by: Austin Hart, Dante Luiz, Chynna DeSimone, Douglas A. Blanc, & Zara Kand.

Once Bitten by Tina GlasneckOnce Bitten by Tina Glasneck:

He saved my life, only to steal it away with his dragon’s blood.

Midlife was supposed to be steady, where I’d find everything I needed and finally get it together.

Nope. Hollywood lied. Because here I was, again, trying to get my legs under me.

Literally.

I’d lost my job, fallen into the Atlantic, and woken up changed forever. Forever as in eternity forever because the blood my rescuer gave me to save my life had one itty bitty unforeseen consequence.

It made me a vampire.

I know, fang my life.

Now I’d need a miracle just to get through the day. And that miracle is Alistair, the handsome dragon shifter who saved my life and really shouldn’t exist. But he is very much a real man–and a real temptation.

And he’s offering me a fresh start that comes with a secret organization of supernaturals who live in the shadows.

Looks like I’m getting a chance to start over.

I just had to die to finally start living.

Ghostly Endeavour by Lily Harper HartGhostly Endeavour by Lily Harper Hart:

Harper Harlow is ready to move forward with her business, which just so happens to include taking ownership of the beleaguered Whisper Cove Cemetery. She and her partner Zander Pritchett have big plans … until the day they close on the property and discover a body on one of the well-worn pathways.

Cassie Clifton is recently divorced, a devoted runner, and an individual with a lot of secrets. She was estranged from her parents before her death and apparently desperate to get out of town. Why, though? Harper is determined to figure answers, no matter how hard she has to dig.

Harper’s husband Jared Monroe is on the case but the proximity of death to his new wife has him spinning. It was supposed to be a fun business endeavor, a way for Harper to continue running her cemetery tours without oversight. It’s turned into so much more.

Harper and Jared join together, and when they uncover ties between Cassie and one of their closest friends, they’re thrown for a loop. Have they embedded themselves with a killer?

It’s a race to the finish to find Cassie’s murderer and bolster Harper’s new business in the process. It’s going to take everything they have – every member of their motley crew of friends working together – to cross the finish line safely.

Death is stalking Whisper Cove again. Will they all survive to see another day?

Phantom Masquerade by A.L. HawkePhantom Masquerade by A.L. Hawke:

And here is where I fall.

Mina Daaé dreams of performing on Broadway. Like her great ancestor, Christine Daaé, who sang at the prestigious Palais Garnier a hundred years before, Mina has the voice of an angel. But after graduating from Conservatoire de Paris, fortune fails her. Until the circus comes to town.

Mina’s close friend Toni Vollini offers her a role in his new Broadway play mixing Mozart with clowns. Known as The Harlequin, the musical is an inimitable adaptation of the opera Don Giovanni. Toni says Mina will soar, but with pathologic acrophobia, she’s afraid she’ll fall. And the ghost in her head says she will.

Toni and a ghost vie for her love, but Mina thinks her ghost is just another hallucination. Or is her ghost a phantom of the opera?

Phantom Masquerade is a contemporary adaptation of Gaston Leroux’s Phantom of the Opera integrating romance and the paranormal.

Cthulhu Wants You by Rhys HughesCthulhu Wants You by Rhys Hughes:

A collection of short stories inspired by the Cthulhu Mythos of H.P. Lovecraft. These stories are not parodies or pastiches but darkly ironic fantasies that connect with the Mythos at a tangent. Open-minded devotees of Lovecraft may find amusement in the offbeat ideas, paradoxical plots, whimsical language and strange originality of these tales. But whether you know what you want or not, be assured of one thing: Cthulhu wants you!

 

 

A Dance with the Fae Prince by Elise KovaA Dance with the Fae Prince by Elisa Kova:

She knew her hand in marriage would be sold. She had no idea a fae prince was the buyer.

Katria swore she’d never fall in love. She’s seen what “love” means through the cruelty of her family. So when she’s married off to the mysterious Lord Fenwood for a handsome price, all Katria wants is a better life than the one she’s leaving. Feelings are off the table.

But her new husband makes not falling in love difficult.

As their attraction begins to grow, so too do the oddities within her new life: strange rules, screams in the night, and attacks by fae that Katria never thought were real. When she witnesses a ritual not meant for human eyes, Katria finds herself spirited away to the land of Midscape.

Surviving the fae wilds as a human is hard enough. Katria must survive as a human who accidently pilfered the magic of ancient kings – magic a bloodthirsty king is ready to kill her for in order to keep his stolen throne – and her new husband is the rightful heir in hiding.

The power to save the fae is in her hands. But who will save her from a love she vowed never to feel?

A Crone to Pick by Amanda M. LeeA Crone to Pick by Amanda M. Lee:

Scout Randall knows what she is, more than a witch, more powerful than she ever thought imaginable. She’s only hit the tip of the iceberg on what she can do. Now she has to grapple with another problem.

When her former partner Evan was believed dead in a vampire attack, she blamed herself, mourned, and tried to move on. Now he’s back, and he’s more than anybody ever imagined, too. Unfortunately, nobody can find him.

When news reaches Scout that there’s been a potential vampire attack in neighboring Hemlock Cove, she packs her bags and hits the parnormal tourist destination with her boyfriend Gunner as backup. She’s not prepared for what she finds, including a gaggle of witches who like to cause trouble wherever they go.

Evan is there, lurking in the shadows and struggling with an identity he didn’t ask for, but death is stalking the town from multiple directions. Murder, mayhem, and monsters are afoot and Scout is determined to get to the bottom of it all … even if her life is in danger in the process.

The baddest motorcycle gang in the Midwest is about to meet the Winchester witches. The world will never be the same.

Blood and Jade by Ken LizziBlood and Jade by Ken Lizzi:

When an ancient sorcerer pursues an enchanted blade at any cost, only one man stands in his way.

Archaeologists uncovering a lost Mayan city unearth a magic artifact. An earthquake disturbs the operations of neighboring narcotraffickers. An ancient sorcerer and his mercenary henchmen arrive to claim the artifact.

When these three factions converge, Karl Thorson, ex-Special Forces, is thrust into action.

Dexicos Megistos, a nigh immortal sorcerer, wants to retrieve a mystical jade dagger. Alejandra Matamoros-Lopez wants to smuggle narcotics through the tunnels beneath the ruins, avoiding the notice of rival cartels. Professor May Chen wants to see if any sparks remain from her relationship with the head of the archaeological dig.

Karl Thorson just wants to do his job, and maybe have a cold beer.

Can he safeguard the archaeologists, especially the lovely Professor May Chen? Can he defeat a murderous band of narcotraffickers? And can he deprive the sorcerer Dexicos Megistos of the jade dagger?

The Black Parade Boxed Set by Kyoko M.The Black Parade Boxed Set by Kyoko M.:

Praised by Publishers Weekly as “slickly paced” and “overflowing with witty banter,” The Black Parade (Book One), She Who Fights Monsters (Book Two), and The Holy Dark (Book Three) tell the tale of Seer Jordan Amador, her snarky partner and paramour Michael, and a siege of ghosts and murderous demons out to cause Hell on Earth.

The Black Parade (Book #1):
Jordan Amador. 21. New Yorker. Waitress. Mild alcoholic. Murderer.

Two years ago, Jordan accidentally shot and killed a Seer: a person who can see, hear, and talk to ghosts with unfinished business. Her crime came with a hefty price, too. She has two years to help a hundred souls cross over to the afterlife or her soul is bound for hell. Tough break.

As if that weren’t bad enough, two days before her deadline a handsome pain-in-the-ass poltergeist named Michael strolls into her life. His soul is the key to her salvation, but the cost just might be more than she can handle. Solving his death puts her right in the crosshairs of Belial: a vain, bloodthirsty archdemon who won’t rest until she’s his slave. Can she rescue Michael and save her own soul, or will they both be dragged down into the clutches of the eternal black parade?

She Who Fights Monsters (Book #2):
The dynamic supernatural duo of Seer Jordan Amador and her husband the archangel Michael is back in the sequel to the bestselling urban fantasy novel, The Black Parade, trying to solve a deadly case. Someone is methodically hunting down and murdering Seers one by one. After six months with no leads on the killer, Jordan and Michael are forced to work with their worst enemy—the archdemon Belial: a self-professed Prince of Hell who is dead set on stealing Jordan for himself. However, with the archdemon’s help, they pick up on the trail of the serial killer and plan to stop him no matter what the cost.

When the shocking truth behind the murderer’s identity is revealed, Jordan begins asking herself if she is still fighting for the good guys or has she become one of the monsters she is desperately trying to stop?

The Holy Dark (Book #3):
Sarcastic demon-slayer extraordinaire Jordan Amador has been locked in a year-long struggle to hunt down the thirty silver coins paid to Judas Iscariot. The mere touch of these coins is enough to kill any angel.

Jordan’s demonic opposition grows more desperate with each coin found, so they call on the ultimate reinforcement: Moloch, the Archdemon of War. Moloch puts out a contract on Jordan as well as her estranged husband, the Archangel Michael. Now Jordan and Michael will have to find a way to work together to survive against impossible odds and stop Moloch’s plan, or else he’ll wage a war that will wipe out the human race.

Flight to Bern Village by Jason OsiarFlight to Bern Village by Jason Osiar:

While a war rages in space, a revolutionary group of humans, shapeshifters, and telepaths gather to prove their races can live together in peace. They believe in peace enough to erase their memories and begin a primitive city on a secluded planet, Vastus.

Generations later, conflicts on Vastus force people to flee their city. Meanwhile, a few Peace Bringers arrive on a broken-down space station to observe the inhabitants on Vastus. What they see is anything but encouraging, and they must deal with problems of their own. Vastus Station is falling apart, and the relationships between the occupants are equally precarious.

The Awakening by Dusk PetersonThe Awakening by Dusk Peterson:

Barrett Boyd has awakened from death to a new and baffling life. He knows that he is a guard in the queendom’s royal prison, the Eternal Dungeon. But why do the prisoners matters so much to him? Who are these other guards who appear to have claims over him? And how will he survive while he finds his new place in this world?

As Barrett seeks to make sense of his surroundings, he must contend with a would-be love-mate, a grumbling rebel, deadly enemies, and the challenge of how to wield his expanded skills.

This suspenseful novel can be read on its own or as the first volume of Dungeon Guards, an alternate history series about nineteenth-century prison workers who seek love and companionship as they fight together against danger.

Dungeon Guards is part of Turn-of-the-Century Toughs, a cycle of alternate history series about disreputable men on the margins of society, and the men and women who love them. Set in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as well as in a future that never existed, the novels and stories take place in an alternative version of America that was settled by inhabitants of the Old World in ancient times.

Now the Midcoast nations of this world have reached a turning point: the old order is about to be overthrown. Brought together in friendship and romance by the danger of rising events, the people of the Midcoast nations must learn to adjust to a new world.

Honored six times in the Rainbow Awards for LGBTA literature, Turn-of-the-Century Toughs presents an epic tale of adventure, friendship, romance, and class struggles.

Black As Night by Anthea SharpBlack As Night by Anthea Sharp:

One princess. Two realms. And a reckless choice that could destroy kingdoms…

Rose Valrois has escaped the sorcerous red priests and returned to the castle beside the enchanted Darkwood, but her troubles are far from over. Her stepsister, Princess Neeve, is more secretive than ever, and as war threatens, Rose’s mother pushes her toward a political alliance, even as her heart is torn between a heroic prince and the Dark Elf guardian of the forest.

But when Neeve makes a terrible choice, the fate of two kingdoms hangs in the balance. Rose must risk her freedom, her world, and even her heart to save her sister. Can she bear to make that sacrifice? Does she even have the choice?

Mage Commander by Glynn StewartMage Commander by Glynn Stewart:

Some soldiers are the shields of innocent souls
Others are the fanatics of their cause
And for them…no war is ever truly over!

Tempered on the anvil of the war against the secessionist UnArcana Worlds and tested against the evil of Project Orpheus, Mage-Commander Roslyn Chambers has risen through the ranks of the Royal Martian Navy to serve as second-in-command of one of their most prestigious battlecruisers, Duke of Magnificence.

A desperate call for help sends Roslyn and her new ship deep into the frontiers of Protectorate space, where they discover that hold-outs of the UnArcana Worlds’ fleets have returned to plunder innocent ships across the Fringe.

To protect the innocent and serve her Queen, Roslyn Chambers must rise to the task before her. She must learn to command—both herself and a warship of the Mage-Queen of Mars!

Murder at Magic Lake by Sandra Ulbrich AlmazanMurder at Magic Lake by Sandra Ulbrich Almazan

After losing her job, twenty-nine-year-old Abigail Ritter isn’t looking forward to returning to her hometown of Magic Lake, Wisconsin, for her grandmother’s birthday party. All she has to offer her family is her own special fruit juice and tea blend. But when Grandma suffers a fatal accident in her apartment building, The Grand, Abigail’s cousin Brian is blamed. Abigail will have to step up and investigate with the help of her best friend Sam, an intriguing detective, and a magical stuffed fox named Sherlock. Abigail’s got a plan for the Grand and its shuttered restaurant, but will she solve the case or drown in a sea of suspects?

Armagarden by Bryon VaughnArmagarden by Bryon Vaughn:

Getting away from NeuralTech was the easy part.

Staying out of the far-reaching sight of Brenna and the Garden is another matter. It doesn’t help that the Department of Defense is still hunting Jenny Mercado and her man Leo like dogs, and now there is a new mysterious force that threatens to destroy everyone they hold dear.

The very concept of escape is quaint in this brave new world of surveillance, and when their world is brutally shattered, Jenny and Leo must decide whether to keep running, or to find the courage to punch back.

ARMAGARDEN is the thrilling conclusion to the NeuralTech Rising trilogy, and will have readers pondering the nature of memory, and of reality, long after they have read the last page.

Martian Invasion by James David VictorMartian Invasion by James David Victor:

The stakes are escalating and no place in the galaxy seems to be safe, but Earth still has the Breaker Marine on their side.

Holly Cropper and her squad of Marines are finally being recognized for their accomplishments, but not even an awards ceremony is safe. When they are attacked by more of the very robots they just defeated, the entire planet of Mars might become collateral damage. Can Holly and her team track down and destroy all these robots or will they destroy everything on the red planet?

Martian Invasion is the third book in the Star Breaker series. If you like fast-paced space adventures with interesting characters who battle aliens, evil corporations, and space pirates, Holly Cropper and her team of Marines are ready to share their epic adventure with you.

Evolving Crane by Dave WelchEvolving Crane by Dave Welch:

An alien massacre brings the multiverse to war…

When Agent Lawson moves to London, Crane (her known felon boyfriend) is left to raise their child alone.

But as matters send him over the edge, Crane is abducted by aliens.

Now, trillions of galaxies away, the battle rages on, steering death across the stars. Uncanny events occur when Crane is molecularly augmented and shoved into this cosmic war.

Chrystine's Sleep Solution by Daniella WilliamsChrystine’s Sleep Solution by Danielle Williams:

It’s been over a year since insomniac Chrystine Brown got a full night’s rest. So she’s astounded—and relieved—when her new sleep music app puts her in a sound slumber and keeps her there.

But the app’s soothing interface conceals a horrifying secret.

A secret that’s become a part of her.

A secret she may never escape…

* * *

If you’re looking for scares that unnerve instead of nauseate, look no further. Horror stories from Danielle Williams lean towards slow-burn scares and the unsettling. If you take your creeps with a PG-13 sensibility—think The Sixth Sense, The Outer Limits, or The Twilight Zone—this is a story for you.

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Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for September 2021


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 crime fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some August 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 hardboiled mysteries, cozy mysteries, historical mysteries, Jazz Age mysteries, WWII mysteries, traditional mysteries, paranormal mysteries, crime thrillers, spy thrillers, psychological thrillers, revenge thrillers, action thrillers, adventure thrillers, historical thrillers, police officers, private investigators, amateur sleuths, FBI agents, ex-CIA agents, spies, reformed thieves, con artists, assassins, organised crime, serial killers, missing persons, stalkers, influencers, real estate fraud, murderous circuses, crime-busting witches, crime-busting socialites, crime-busting journalists, crime-busting ghosts, murder and mayhem in London, New Orleans, Denver, Florida, Wisconsin, Malta, Syria, India 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:

Impact by Mark David AbbottImpact by Mark David Abbott:

An honest man in a dishonest world.

Detective Inspector Rajiv Sampath still believes he can make a difference.

Fifteen years ago when he joined the Indian Police Service as a fresh recruit, he was full of big ideas and pure ideals about how he could make the world a better place by upholding the law.

Now, after years of working in a world that seems to reward dishonesty and self-interest, he could be forgiven for turning a blind eye.

But he won’t give up.

Follow Inspector Sampath as he does whatever it takes to make sure justice is served… even if sometimes he has to skirt the boundaries of the law.

Followers by Christina BerglingFollowers by Christina Bergling:

You never know who is on the other side of the screen.

Sidney, a single mother with a dull day job, has big dreams of becoming a full-time horror reviewer and risqué gore model. Between managing a cellphone store, honoring her soccer mom duties, and wrangling her hostile ex-husband, it seems building her following and interacting with her fans is the only authentic outlet she has—and the validation it gives her is proving to be a little addictive. She’ll overlook her responsibilities for it. She’ll neglect her real-life friendships for it. She’ll even pose nude in bathtubs of blood for it.

If her growing pool of online followers is any indication, her efforts are working, and things are looking good for her Elvira-esque aspirations. Her website is gaining traction, and every day it seems more and more people are sliding into her DMs to chat with her and tell her how amazing she is. In fact, Sidney has so many followers that chatting with them is getting to be a job in itself. More than a job, it might even be getting a little risky….

When Sidney travels to the mountains to attend a horror film festival, she is flattered to find that one of her followers has come to meet her. But he might not be the only one who has gone out of his way to get up close and personal with her. When Sidney is attacked on the way back to her hotel late one night, she learns that real-life horror is not a game, and being stalked isn’t flattering—it’s terrifying, and it could get her killed.

Believing the incident to be a fluke, Sidney decides to forget the attack and focus on her life again. Only this might not be so easy. Because Sidney—and her loved ones—are in serious danger. This stalker isn’t just your average stalker. He knows her every movement, and he knows each step of her routine. In fact, he’s right behind her…and when he gets close enough, he won’t take no for an answer.

Followers is a mystery and thriller with a strong female protagonist that blends women’s fiction with horror.

Proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.

Viper's Nest of Lies by Daniella BernettViper’s Nest of Lies by Daniella Bernett:

Twice dead… A living nightmare

The discovery of a blood-encrusted stiletto knife in journalist Emmeline Kirby’s bag at Heathrow Airport sets in motion a chain of events that ensnares everyone she holds dear. The body of Sebastian Jardine is soon found in the boot of Superintendent Oliver Burnell’s car, leading to accusations that he and Emmeline conspired to commit murder. Desperate to clear their names, she turns to Philip Acheson of the Foreign Office for help. But when two Special Branch officers arrive to arrest him, he is forced to go on the run.

Gregory Longdon, Emmeline’s husband and a jewel thief/insurance investigator with ties to the criminal classes and MI5, is the only man Philip can trust. Gregory is on his own quest to prove her innocence in a game that makes no sense. Jardine was no stranger. His old friend was a former Interpol agent, who soured on the law and succumbed to his baser instincts. The real problem is Jardine died five years earlier. A fancy pink diamond with a murky provenance that men are willing to kill to possess holds the key to the truth. From London to Malta, Emmeline and Gregory are drawn into a web of corruption and revenge. Will they forfeit their lives for justice?

A Lesson in Murder by Verity BrightA Lesson in Murder by Verity Bright:

When Lady Swift is invited to her old school, she walks through familiar classrooms, finds her favourite books in the library… and surely that’s not a body? Time for a lesson in murder!

Autumn, 1921. Lady Eleanor Swift is invited to her old school, St Mary’s, as a guest speaker. Her favourite teacher, Mrs Wadsworth, has asked that Eleanor talk about her intrepid travels around the globe – travelling the Silk Road by bicycle, crossing the Himalayas and even befriending the Maharaja of India. But in the circumstances, perhaps it would have been a good idea to talk about her career as a daring detective…

Because no sooner has Eleanor brushed up on her times tables then she is greeted by terrible news: Mrs Wadsworth has been murdered. Eleanor is utterly devastated but she owes it to her dearest teacher to find out who killed her and why. So, alongside Gladstone the bulldog, it’s best paw forward to track down a villain.

But when the art teacher is also found dead, Eleanor is sure someone is trying to do away with the people who taught her everything. As Eleanor delves into possible motives, she discovers a clue in the most unlikely place: her mother’s old school diary. Does the route to the murderer lie within a secret passageway her mother uncovered? Can Eleanor nail the culprit in time or is the killer coming for her next?

Something Wicked by Beth ByersSomething Wicked by Beth Byers:

Smith is a man who knows when to say no. He avoids the cases where he’ll never get paid. The cases for which no resolution is possible. And, most of all, the heart-rending cases. The ones that start with the tear-filled eyes of a mother, a sister, or a friend. The ones that haunt a man. The ones that push him to his limits. He says no before he gets pulled in, and he doesn’t look back.

His wife, Beatrice, however, does not. And thus begins the adventure that will push their love to the limits and cause them to risk everything that matters. And this time, they don’t have their friends to help them along the way.

Florida Sinking by David CrosbyFlorida Sinking by David Crosby:

Water, water everywhere–

Deadlier than you’d think!

In Will Harper’s latest hardboiled, action-packed adventure, Floridian families are shocked–and occasionally killed–when their brand-new houses start falling into the earth. The culprit? Lethal sinkholes worsened by climate change. But government officials and one particularly greedy developer keep turning a blind eye.

And as the homeowners suddenly realize their sinkhole-ridden land is worthless, they’re sometimes driven to homicidal behavior…

Will, a semi-retired investigative reporter turned amateur sleuth, is too big-hearted not to get involved. While researching a hard-hitting expose on climate change and the quality of water in Florida, he discovers the deceitful real estate developer is constructing an entire development on top of a massive sinkhole. Whole neighborhoods could slide into the muck!

The developer will stop at nothing to conceal his intricate fraud, but luckily, Will comes equipped with his ever-sharp prose, his commitment to Florida social issues, his beloved trawler, The Wanderlust, and a little help from his friends.

Still, the shoddy real estate cartel’s a behemoth— fortunately for the reader, it won’t be easy!

Beyond Sacrifice by Alicia DillBeyond Sacrifice by Alicia Dill:

Concepcion Chapa, an Army veteran, FBI special agent, and the orphaned daughter of two CIA agents, has lived a life of sacrifice for her country. When she learns that her parents may not be dead, just undercover, she allows herself to be recruited as a killer-for-hire for the CIA. Faking her death and undergoing surgery to change her looks, Concepcion leaves everything behind-her friends, family, and country. Under the identity of Sofia Paltrini, she travels the globe doing the dirty work of the US government. But in a world of subterfuge and hidden motives, no one is quite who they seem. Concepcion is left not knowing who to trust and wondering if there’s a way to live a life for herself that’s beyond sacrifice.

Eye for an Eye by Rachel FordEye for an Eye by Rachel Ford:

First mistake: they kidnapped his niece and nephew.
Second mistake: they didn’t kill him when they had the chance.
Now, they’re going to rue the day they were born.

Former Army intelligence analyst Owen Day is on vacation in Random Lake, Wisconsin with his niece and nephew. It was supposed to be a quiet getaway.

But sometimes the best place to hide is in plain sight. When Owen crosses paths with a band of dangerous fugitives posing as tourists, his family becomes a target.

When they take his niece hostage in a desperate endgame, there’s only one way to ensure her safety: find the fugitives, and eliminate them. Down to the last man.

Ghostly Endeavour by Lily Harper HartGhostly Endeavour by Lily Harper Hart:

Harper Harlow is ready to move forward with her business, which just so happens to include taking ownership of the beleaguered Whisper Cove Cemetery. She and her partner Zander Pritchett have big plans … until the day they close on the property and discover a body on one of the well-worn pathways.

Cassie Clifton is recently divorced, a devoted runner, and an individual with a lot of secrets. She was estranged from her parents before her death and apparently desperate to get out of town. Why, though? Harper is determined to figure answers, no matter how hard she has to dig.

Harper’s husband Jared Monroe is on the case but the proximity of death to his new wife has him spinning. It was supposed to be a fun business endeavor, a way for Harper to continue running her cemetery tours without oversight. It’s turned into so much more.

Harper and Jared join together, and when they uncover ties between Cassie and one of their closest friends, they’re thrown for a loop. Have they embedded themselves with a killer?

It’s a race to the finish to find Cassie’s murderer and bolster Harper’s new business in the process. It’s going to take everything they have – every member of their motley crew of friends working together – to cross the finish line safely.

Death is stalking Whisper Cove again. Will they all survive to see another day?

A Crone to Pick by Amanda M. LeeA Crone to Pick by Amanda M. Lee:

Scout Randall knows what she is, more than a witch, more powerful than she ever thought imaginable. She’s only hit the tip of the iceberg on what she can do. Now she has to grapple with another problem.

When her former partner Evan was believed dead in a vampire attack, she blamed herself, mourned, and tried to move on. Now he’s back, and he’s more than anybody ever imagined, too. Unfortunately, nobody can find him.

When news reaches Scout that there’s been a potential vampire attack in neighboring Hemlock Cove, she packs her bags and hits the parnormal tourist destination with her boyfriend Gunner as backup. She’s not prepared for what she finds, including a gaggle of witches who like to cause trouble wherever they go.

Evan is there, lurking in the shadows and struggling with an identity he didn’t ask for, but death is stalking the town from multiple directions. Murder, mayhem, and monsters are afoot and Scout is determined to get to the bottom of it all … even if her life is in danger in the process.

The baddest motorcycle gang in the Midwest is about to meet the Winchester witches. The world will never be the same.

Hard Hitting and Misleading by Amanda M. LeeHard Hitting and Misleading by Amanda M. Lee:

Avery Shaw is back from her honeymoon and on the prowl for a story. She wants to prove that marriage hasn’t softened her – nothing ever could – and the way she’s going to do that is by rocking the news world with something monumental.

Then a body drops in her neighborhood, only blocks away from her house, and the hunt is on.

The victim is divorced, having an affair with a married co-worker, and generally unlikable. Avery has multiple places to look for a suspect … and then another woman dies only a block away from Avery’s house and the entire dynamic of the story changes.

Avery’s new husband Eliot is worried, enough so that he taps Sheriff Jake Farrell to help. Avery’s anger with Jake hasn’t diminished but now they’re working as a group to track down a deadly killer.

Avery doesn’t want help but she needs it, because someone is watching her house and, more importantly, her. Eliot is beside himself and begins upgrading their security system but it doesn’t feel like enough.

Avery is supposed to cover the news, not become part of it. This time the headline that’s coming for her includes the word “victim,” however, and she’s having none of it.

She’s a strong, capable woman, and if she has to take down a serial killer, she’s going to do it … as long as she’s not taken down first.

Her team is large and in charge and it’s going to take all of them working together. Even then, they may not be strong enough to stem the tide of death washing over Macomb County.

It’s time. Avery is ready for war.

Ricochet by Ty PattersonRicochet by Ty Patterson:

Cutter Grogan came to Syria to search for a missing woman.
He found old enemies who greeted him with violence

A missing woman in the Middle East isn’t the assignment Cutter would take on, but when an old client makes the request, he can’t refuse.

Samira Latif’s disappearance is shrouded in darkness. His client doesn’t have much information for him. The missing woman’s connection to one of the most powerful people in the US remains unexplained.

On arriving in Syria, he finds everything he was told was a lie. His old enemies haven’t forgotten him and have laid out a welcome.

Was he set up from the start?

The Girl in the Woods by A.J. RiversThe Girl in the Woods by A.J. Rivers:

I’m all alone now… But I just have to make it there.
I need to keep going… Keep…

A beautiful woman’s body is found frozen on the ground.
And many questions that no one can answer arises.

When Emma Griffin joined the FBI, she had hopes that she could find out the truth about her own past. But over time she realized that it was more than just herself. She wanted to be a voice for the victims. To bring justice for those that are no longer with us. To rid this world of evil doers, hunt down those who destroyed lives, and be the voice for the voiceless.

But what happens when she’s asked to help someone who not only inflicted unbearable pain to her life, but to the lives of many?

After Emma’s wedding is disrupted by a phone call from a voice from the past that starts her on a new chase, she’s forced to face one of the most difficult decisions of her career.

Would you exonerate a killer in the search for truth and justice?

Only Emma can put the clues together.
Could she clear the name of the man she loathes, or will all clues lead back to him?

Truth has consequences.
And the big bad is back and this honeymoon is coming to an end…

Deliver Us From Darkness by L.T. RyanDeliver Us From Darkness by L.T. Ryan:

An unexpected clue in his son’s disappearance leads Mitch Tanner to Denver. But there are forces at work who will stop at nothing to send Tanner – and his son – home in a body bag.

When Tanner’s search for his son leads him to Denver, Colorado, an old friend is ready to help out. But things go sideways when Bridget Dinapoli is assigned a similar case. Nothing is as it seems as Tanner and Bridget race to stop a suspect. But when the trail goes cold, they find themselves being pulled into something much more sinister. It will take everything they have to save Tanner’s son, and themselves.

The Seer by Eva ShawThe Seer by Eva Shaw:

It’s February 1942. War grips the world. Asian hate runs rampant, and New Orleans is a dangerous place for Chinese-English scientist Thomas Ling as he collides with self-proclaimed psychic Beatrix Patterson. She’s a good liar with an excellent memory, which in truth is her only gift—well, that and conning the well-heeled out of their money and secrets.

Hired by the US Army to use her connections to expose Nazi saboteurs and sympathizers, Beatrix recruits the reluctant Thomas. Together, they pit their skills against a government conspiracy, terrorist cells, kidnappings, and murderous plots. As Beatrix grapples with the truth of her own past, she must come to terms with her ruse. Exposing the Nazi war machine about to invade the country could cost Beatrix everything she’s worked so hard to build. But the information she and Thomas uncover could change the outcome of the war.

The question remains: will anyone believe a liar and a suspected traitor?

Murder on Mallowan Court by Lee StraussMurder on Mallowan Court by Lee Strauss:

Murder’s afoot!

As Mrs. Ginger Reed~also known as Lady Gold~waits impatiently for the coming of her baby, new neighbours move onto Mallowan Court. The Foote family is very much like Ginger’s own, if not the mirror opposite: Mr. and Mrs. Foote an unhappy couple; Mr. Rothwell an aging, irate patriarch; Miss Charlotte, whom Scout finds to be a tantalizing, if confusing specimen of young ladyhood; along with a similar collection of staff.

The sudden passing of a Foote family member is determined to be unsuspicious, but something about this strange family doesn’t sit right with Ginger.

When the doctor banishes Ginger to her bed to await the coming birth, she has to depend on the information brought to her by her good friend and former sister-in-law, Felicia.

Can the two ladies solve the crime before the baby comes?

Murder at Magic Lake by Sandra Ulbrich AlmazanMurder at Magic Lake by Sandra Ulbrich Almazan

After losing her job, twenty-nine-year-old Abigail Ritter isn’t looking forward to returning to her hometown of Magic Lake, Wisconsin, for her grandmother’s birthday party. All she has to offer her family is her own special fruit juice and tea blend. But when Grandma suffers a fatal accident in her apartment building, The Grand, Abigail’s cousin Brian is blamed. Abigail will have to step up and investigate with the help of her best friend Sam, an intriguing detective, and a magical stuffed fox named Sherlock. Abigail’s got a plan for the Grand and its shuttered restaurant, but will she solve the case or drown in a sea of suspects?

Pineapple Circus by Amy VasantPineapple Circus by Amy Vasant:

Now in the center ring… murder!

Newly-minted private detective Charlotte Morgan, resident orphan of the Pineapple Port 55+ community, discovers she might not be an orphan after all. Stunned by the news, she distracts herself with a cat burglar who left a smear of make-upped whiskers on a sliding glass door, and a path straight to “Clown Town” a retirement community for retired circus performers. When a fortune-teller doesn’t see her own death in the cards, Charlotte’s burglary becomes a murder investigation!

Charlotte’s neighborhood moms, Mariska and Darla, can’t help with this one. They’re busy infiltrating an underground golf cart racing ring, led by a shady operator and her toady sidekick…

When another circus performer falls victim to the Big Top Killer and Stephanie goes missing, Charlotte finds herself walking a highwire of danger…this killer isn’t clowning around!

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New Kurval Adventure Available: The Frozen Citadel

As the title of the post indicates, this is a new release announcement.

Simultaneous Times Vol. 2.5However, it’s actually a double new release announcement, because I also have a story in Simultaneous Times Vol. 2.5, a free e-book anthology published by my friends of Space Cowboy Books, a science fiction bookstore in Joshua Tree, California.

The story in question is “Little Monsters”, which so far was only available in audio, produced by the Simultaneous Times podcast. Now, you can also read it and enjoy the beautiful illustration by Austin Hart, which captured the story perfectly.

So what are you waiting for? Get your copy of Simultaneous Times Vol. 2.5 today! It’s chock-full of great science fiction and – best of all – free.

The other new release I have to announce is the latest story in my Kurval sword and sorcery series.

The Frozen Citadel is the first story out of the 2021 July Short Story Challenge to see publication. Like The Plains of Shadow and The Wolf of Rajala, this is another Kurval story set before his time as King of Azakoria, when Kurval was plying his trade as a mercenary and kinghood seemed impossible far away.

Like many of the July Short Story Challenge stories, The Frozen Citadel was inspired by several pieces of fantasy art, namely this one, this one and this one, all by Nele Diel. Another inspiration was a throwaway line in King’s Justice that Kurval had slain the serpent Khalikidai at some point in his past.

King's Justice by Richard Blakemore and Cora BuhlertAnd talking of King’s Justice, it has got a great new cover by Marin Iurii, which you can see on the left. Not that the old cover by Mike Heywood was bad, but the CGI art didn’t match the more painted look of the other covers anymore.

The Frozen Citadel introduces a new character to the Kurval series, namely Kurval’s friend and fellow mercenary Tsabo. Tsabo initially was created because Kurval needed someone to talk to while wandering across the icy wasteland. The character then strutted into my brain fully formed, as a big black man with a shaven head.

Tsabo was originally created only for this one story. But even though sword and sorcery is normally characterised by loner heroes, my characters tend to acquire a regular supporting cast. And so Tsabo will reappear in the Kurval adventure Twelve Nooses, which is coming soon.

But for now, accompany Kurval and Tsabo, as they venture into…

The Frozen Citadel
The Frozen Citadel by Richard Blakemore and Cora BuhlertBefore Kurval became King of Azakoria, he plied his trade as a wandering mercenary and sword for hire.

Kurval and his friend and fellow mercenary Tsabo are planning to take up service at the citadel of Harjula in the frozen north of the kingdom of Simola. But when they finally reach the citadel, they find it deserted, its inhabitants in the thrall of dark magic…

The new sword and sorcery adventure by two-time Hugo finalist Cora Buhlert and her occasional alter ego, 1930s pulp writer Richard Blakemore. This is a short story of 5900 words or approx. 22 print pages in the Kurval sword and sorcery series, but may be read as a standalone. Includes an introduction and afterword.

More information.
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 iBooks, Google Play, Scribd, Smashwords, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, Vivlio and XinXii.

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for August 2021

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month
It’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 and small press authors newly published this month, though some July 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 urban fantasy, epic fantasy, portal fantasy, historical fantasy, gaslamp fantasy, YA fantasy, sword and sorcery, paranormal mystery, paranormal women’s fiction, dystopian noir, space opera, military science fiction, hopepunk, solarpunk, occult thrillers, horror, vampires, werewolves, dragons, fae, gargoyles, ghosts, space marines, aliens, superheroes, bounty hunters, mercenaries, crime-busting witches, spooky railroads, frozen citadels, living swords, satanic cults, shattered gods, supernatural circuses 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:

Codename W. by Odette C. BellCodename W by Odette C. Bell:

It doesn’t matter what’s after you. The only thing that counts is who’s in your corner.

Bessie is just meant to be an ordinary journalist. Okay, she’s kinda scatty, bolshie, and has never backed down from a story – or a fight. But when a fight comes to her that could consume the whole city, there’s only one person she can turn to.

Xavier Kilmer is a ghost vampire. He’s also Bessie’s sworn enemy. The animosity isn’t mutual. Three years ago, he met her and sparks flew. Ever since, every paper in town has promised she’s his true mate.

But right now, all Bessie needs is a miracle. When a shadowy force called the Ghost King reaches through the dark to claim her as his bride, only Xavier can help. But all help comes at a cost.

The Frozen Citadel by Richard Blakemore and Cora BuhlertThe Frozen Citadel by Richard Blakemore and Cora Buhlert:

Before Kurval became King of Azakoria, he plied his trade as a wandering mercenary and sword for hire.

Kurval and his friend and fellow mercenary Tsabo are planning to take up service at the citadel of Harjula in the frozen north of the kingdom of Simola. But when they finally reach the citadel, they find it deserted, its inhabitants in the thrall of dark magic…

The new sword and sorcery adventure by two-time Hugo finalist Cora Buhlert and her occasional alter ego, 1930s pulp writer Richard Blakemore. This is a short story of 5900 words or approx. 22 print pages in the Kurval sword and sorcery series, but may be read as a standalone. Includes an introduction and afterword.

Broken by Magic by Lindsay BurokerBroken by Magic by Lindsay Buroker:

Even before our heroes discovered a portal to other realms, Jak Freedar wanted to seek out powerful allies to help overthrow the tyrannical wizard rulers of his home world. Instead, he chanced across a dragon egg and is now the surrogate father of a hatchling.

Since he found the egg, taking care of the young dragon is his responsibility. Even as King Uthari forces the team to prepare for another mission, Jak must do his best not only to care for the hatchling but to keep it safe from those who want to use it for their own gain.

As he soon learns, it’s not only the wizards of his own world who would love to control a dragon. It turns out that powerful enemies in other realms want a hatchling too. And they’re willing to kill for it.

Shadow Rite by D.D. CroixShadow Rite by D.D. Croix:

A desperate Fayte Guardian trapped in a distant world. A ruthless fae queen craving revenge. Can justice prevail in this dangerous clash of wills and dark magic?

Ripped from her world and her Fayte Guardian friends, Jane Shackle finds herself captive to a vengeful queen in a strange, otherworldly realm filled with mythical creatures, dangerous magic, and shocking clues to the secrets in her past.

When an old ally comes to her rescue, Jane discovers redemption for her past wrongs may be within reach—until a bittersweet revelation changes everything. Since her life isn’t the only one hanging in the balance, Jane must forge new alliances and fight harder than ever to survive and protect those she loves.

Can she defeat her powerful enemy and find a way back to her own world where true love awaits, or will the fight follow her home and destroy everything she holds dear?

SHADOW RITE is the final episode in The Queen’s Fayte trilogy, a thrilling dark fantasy adventure that weaves captivating mystery into the hidden corners of history to keep you spellbound. If you like clever heroines, ruthless villains, and a slow-burn romance tangled up in the Victorian world, then you’ll love this enchanting series from best-selling author D.D. Croix!

Railroad Tales, edited by Trevor DenyerRailroad Tales, edited by Trevor Denyer:

Have you ever been on a train going to a destination you don’t want to reach? What about a train travelling through the night, where you are the only passenger in the carriage? Or maybe standing alone on a platform, waiting for a train you hope will come?

Have you ever wondered about the history behind a train journey, or a station? How many people have travelled the line, or died during its construction?

Has a shiver ever run up your spine as dead leaves scrape across the platform, propelled by a breath of wind on a quiet night? Have you ever wondered whether what you heard was a sigh, or a whisper, or just your imagination?

There are many stories involving railroads, trains, stations, junctions and crossings. Stories about people journeying towards unknown futures that may involve life changing events, or death, or revelations.

The 23 stories in this anthology play upon those fears and uncertainties. Each one explores the journeys we might take into horrific, supernatural or extraordinary futures. Guilt, unresolved desires and disbelief all play their part in creating vivid and disturbing nightmares from which there is no escape, or from which a frightening lesson is learned.

The train awaits, ready to carry you along tracks that disappear into darkness. Somewhere out there are the horrors that we all imagine and hope will never happen.

Enjoy the journey…

Party by Karen DiemParty by Karen Diem:

As it turns out, being a masked, superpowered vigilante isn’t entirely legal. Who knew?

When a critically ill teenager with powers disappears, part-time superhero and full-time trouble magnet Zita Garcia is on the case. Unfortunately, the girl isn’t the only person to have disappeared, and the culprit isn’t a mystery. It’s a conspiracy.

A shadowy government agency has escalated from irritating robocalls to the obvious next steps, kidnapping and murder. If an intolerant new party can use rising anti-metahuman sentiment to win an upcoming election, their actions might not even be a crime. All Zita and her friends have to do is save the missing and avoid the bad publicity of doing something stupid that would tip the delicate political situation the wrong way…

They’re doomed.

Party is the sixth in the Arca superhero urban fantasy series and contains lame sexual innuendo, immoderate language, and comic book violence.

Paperclip by Seb DoubinskyPaperclip by Seb Doubinsky:

In New Babylon, leader of the Western alliance of the city-states, armament mogul Kurt Wagner has a secret dream: to build a space station to save mankind. Little does he know that he is the target of competing plots involving geopolitics and black magick. In the background, a film director with a political conscience, a bodyguard with a secret mission, a driver with an occult hobby and a talking bird are trying to make sense of their world, hoping to see their wishes come true – which they will, but not in the way they might have expected.

 

Shattered Gods by Chris FoxShattered Gods by Chris Fox

Fated to destroy the world. Determined to save it.

My name is Xal and I live in the dims, a walled prison where my people are kept by our cruel masters, until we are needed to fight once more. One member of every family must answer The Call, for our blood bears the magic of a demonic god, and all the terrible power that brings.

We march to war against the Fomori, an unstoppable army of giants, and their behemoths. If we do not, then our families are put to death. The Hasrans use us as cannon fodder, and worse. They used up my father, and he never came home. Die resisting. Die fighting. My choice isn’t if it happens, but rather how I sell my life.

If by some miracle I survive I will be granted entrance to the Imperial Academy, where every noble house will vie to architect my end. They cannot allow the void-blooded to live. They cannot allow us to thrive, or to gain more magic from the bodies of other dead gods. They cannot allow us to win. They fear the rise of another dreadlord. And they are right to fear. I will pull down an empire, and that is just the beginning.

My Brew Heaven by Lily Harper HartMy Brew Heaven by Lily Harper Hart:

Ofelia Archer should be riding high after a blissful week spent with her boyfriend Zacharias “Zach” Sully. Sun, fun, and cocktails make for a great break … until she gets home. Then she realizes exactly how far things can fall apart in only a few days.

It seems in her absence Ofelia’s mother Marie Charles has been taken in by a cult, and Ofelia is convinced it’s not the sort of group who worship beignets over chaos and bloodshed. When Ofelia tries talking to her mother she finds a different woman waiting for her … and she’s beyond concerned.
The French Quarter attracts weird people but this time the strife is different. When she starts digging, she finds more than she bargained for … and yet the answers are less than she was hoping for.

Ofelia is a witch with a plan but even she’s at a loss. When her brother Felix is hurt in the pursuit of reclaiming Marie, the Quarter’s favorite magical maven swears revenge … and she’s going to need Sully to help her deliver it.

Their new enemy is powerful and he’s hiding behind a gaggle of innocent humans. Freeing the French Quarter from his grip leads Ofelia down a dark path. Only Sully can help her … and together they will bring their city back from the brink.

The question is: Will they both survive to enjoy the fruits of their labor once they make it to the other side?

Becoming Crone by Lydia M. HawkeBecoming Crone by Lydia M. Hawke:

She wanted purpose. She got dark magic and war.

Claire Emerson is adrift. After a lifetime as a wife, mother, and grandma, she never saw divorce or loneliness coming and is desperate for some sense of purpose. But when her sixtieth birthday brings a snarky gargoyle, an annoyingly sexy wolf shifter, and an unknown magical calling, she thinks she’s losing the only thing she has left: her sanity.

Refusing to believe she’s the powerful defender of humankind her so-called protectors claim, Claire attempts a return to her safe life… only to have her powers ignite when she’s attacked by dark supernatural creatures. And without the training she was supposed to have received, she has no idea how she’ll defeat sinister mages plotting her demise.

Can Claire overcome creaky joints and major hot flashes in time to save the world – and her own life?

Becoming Crone is the page-turning first book in The Crone Wars paranormal women’s fiction series. If you like spunky heroines, snappy banter, and triumphing over self-doubt, then you’ll love this ageless adventure.

The Living Sword 3: Burden of Legacy by Pemry JanesThe Living Sword 3: The Burden of Legacy by Pemry Janes:

Leraine has finally returned home, but the welcome is not as she imagined it. Tension is rising within the Mochedan Federation as many advocate for an end to the long peace and a return to the glory of war.

She sets off to the most important festival of the Mochedan, hoping to preserve the peace for at least a little while longer. Eurik joins her, to help his friend and to finally find the answers about his parents he’s been chasing since he left the island.

What they find is theft, murder, and a conspiracy to end their world.

Sons of Brutality by Daniel JeudySons of Brutality by Daneil Jeudy:

A SATANIC SNUFF CLUB

A RUTHLESS VIGILANTE

AN INTRICATE WEB OF DECEPTION

WHO CAN YOU TRUST?

Los Angeles is a city under siege.

When Detective Addison Mowbray begins investigating the murders of two young women in the Hollywood Hills, he can’t imagine where the case will lead. He suspects the crimes were inspired by an occult fascination, due to some missing body parts and the inverted Christian cross branded on the victims’ breasts. But apart from Addison’s temperamental partner, Jed, the only other person keen on them pursuing that line of investigation is Lilly Coniglio, a medical examiner from the Coroner’s Department. The LAPD is already under immense public pressure due to all the bad press another killer – a vigilante – has brought to their door: it’s been over a year since the first organized-crime figure showed up full of holes, with a plastic police badge beside his body.

As Addison and Jed navigate a murky, disturbing occult landscape in search of answers, they uncover something even more terrifying than a killer hiding in the shadows: an organization so vile and powerful that it changes their lives forever. These two troubled detectives are all that stand between this organization and a spectacular season of carnage.

Set against a backdrop of urban bleakness and social inequality, Sons of Brutality combines deeply flawed protagonists with human monsters, integrating strong dialogue, violent action and gripping Suspense.

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

Winter break is upon Mystic Caravan, which is supposed to mean a full month of rest and relaxation. Upon arriving at their destination, however, Poet and company find that murder isn’t far behind.

Their off-season park is full of paranormals – something that normally makes Poet comfortable – but the death of a local girl points to one of their own being the culprit. Even though she’s supposed to be taking it easy, Poet can’t stop herself from digging … and it leads her on a wild ride.

Florida is hot, humid and bursting at the seams with supernatural friends. Unfortunately for Poet, it’s also home to an ex-boyfriend who can’t quite let go. Since he’s a police officer … and looking at Mystic Caravan’s cadre of weirdos as potential murder suspects … that only makes things all the more difficult.

It’s up to Poet to find the real culprit even as a shadowy and powerful figure stalks her. Kade’s magic is growing but he’s still learning, which makes for some hard battles. On top of that, he’s keeping a secret with Luke, which has Poet teetering on the edge of sanity.

It’s supposed to be a break, not a break from reality, but Poet is ready to fight for her future. It’s going to take everybody working together to figure out the truth … and give Poet the one thing she’s always wanted above all else.

Peace.

Impulse by Ken LozitoImpulse by Ken Lozito:

Over the years, Connor has pieced together evidence of a mysterious group of aliens who roamed the multiverse and have been to New Earth.

Setting off to make new discoveries about them is straightforward enough, but this is New Earth, and Connor Gates has a knack for finding trouble.

For over twenty years, Connor and Diaz have been friends. They’ve survived two wars and have seen the best and the worst of each other. When a terrorist attack takes the life of Diaz’s son, their friendship will be pushed to the breaking point.

To find who is responsible, Diaz is willing to cross as many lines as it takes. Connor will do everything he can to protect his friend, even from himself. It’ll take everything he’s got to find who is responsible while preserving a peaceful coexistence with New Earth’s inhabitants.

Sometimes protecting your friends is a lot tougher than fighting your enemies.

The Raven Thief by Ashley OlivierThe Raven Thief by Ashley Olivier:

Enya has a few very simple goals in life.

Take down a tyrannical king, give her gang a decent life, become the leader of Skeyya’s rebellion, and maybe become slightly more rich along the way.

Okay, so maybe those goals aren’t so simple. And everything comes at a cost in the capital streets of Arden; King Eamon is after her head, and shadows lurk around every corner, waiting to spill secrets and blood.

After being captured and sentenced to death in the esteemed royal palace, Enya never expected to run into three princes who need her help—and especially not ones thought to be dead for over a decade. An impossible quest is proposed; an ancient evil is rising, and only they can stop it. The Crimson Witch, a faerie demon imprisoned in the Black Lake, along with her undead army of ghouls.

Enya has now found herself caught in a web of darkness and deceit as she guides these princes and her right-hand man, Carson, on a journey to track down the magical artifacts needed to take down the Crimson Witch once and for all.

Love, friendship, and bravery will all be tested. Can three princes and a thief save the world?

Revelation by Rick PartlowRevelation by Rick Partlow:

Ryan Hendrix is dead…
…Or so his family, his girlfriend, and his fellow Marines think.

Terribly wounded during the battle for Hermes, Ryan Hendrix was repaired with cybernetics, transformed into a weapon by Fleet Intelligence…and covertly dropped onto the enemy-occupied colony at Aphrodite to sabotage the enemy and build up a civilian resistance.

While Ryan fights the real battle behind enemy lines, Travis Miller and Jessica Leer struggle with politics…and their new commands. The Earth government is too scared of losing more cruisers to try to take back the occupied colonies, so Travis and Jessica find themselves stuck raiding enemy outposts, trying to draw their attention away so Ryan and the rest of his commandos can do their job.

But Travis Miller didn’t get to be the head of the largest task force in human history by sitting back and doing what he’s told. And when one of those raids turns up key intelligence, Travis will do whatever he has to in order to get back in the real fight.

Tales of Fál by Kyle Alexander RominesTales of Fál by Kyle Alexander Romines:

Welcome to the world of Fál.

A murderous outlaw confronts his past.
A princess has a monster at her mercy.
A desperate woman turns to a dark sorcerer for help.
A young magician learns to follow her heart.
An aging warrior makes his last stand.

Dive into a new fantasy world full of monsters and magic in the Tales of Fál, featuring over 500 pages of stories of heroes, villains, and everything in between.

Fortitude by Glynn StewartFortitude by Glynn Stewart:

An offer that no one else could match
A mission that no one else could achieve
An enemy only a few know they share…

Commodore Kira Demirci is now the commander of a small but powerful mercenary force—one of the most dangerous in the cluster of stars she now calls home. Her own actions have brought peace to the Syntactic Cluster, though, and a mercenary is in limited demand.

A mutual interest brings her into the circle of the heir to the Royal Crest, a wealthy kingdom dozens of light-years away. Jade Panosyan has a nightmare brewing—and a plan to deal with it.

In the Crest, a powerful political party beholden to Kira’s own enemies is maneuvering to remove Jade’s father before he can free a dozen star systems from the clutches of the Equilibrium Institute. If they are to fail and the Institute’s plans be thwarted once more, Jade Panosyan needs someone to complete an impossible mission.

The payment? The fleet carrier Fortitude, unmatched by any ship within a hundred light-years.

The catch? Kira Demirci has to capture the carrier—from the elite forces of her employer’s nation!

Metal Warrior: Fist of Steel by James David VictorMetal Warrior: Fist of Steel by James David Victor:

Sometimes, your only option is to surrender to a higher power. Of course, that option usually isn’t very good either.

A military sci-fi adventure from Amazon All-Star author James David Victor

Humanity is in shambles and its defenses have been destroyed. With no other apparent options, the Council of Worlds decides to seek peace with the Exin. Sure that this can come to no good, Dane Williams and the remaining metal warriors set out on a desperate mission to make peace the only way that will truly work. To put an end to the Exin threat once and for all. Can Dane stop the unstoppable alien force or is humanity truly doomed?

Metal Warrior: Fist of Steel is the last book in the Mech Fighter series. If you like fast-paced space adventures with engaging characters and exciting battles, you will definitely want to see how the Metal Warriors save mankind, or if they can.

Foxhunt by Rem WigmoreFoxhunt by Rem Wigmore:

In a lush solarpunk future, plants have stripped most of the poison from the air and bounty hunters keep resource hoarders in check. Orfeus only wants to be a travelling singer, famed and adored. She has her share of secrets, but she’s no energy criminal, so why does a bounty hunter want her dead? Not just any bounty hunter but the Wolf, most fearsome of all the Order of the Vengeful Wild. Orfeus will call in every favor she has to find out, seeking answers while clinging to her pride and fending off the hunters of the Wild. But she isn’t the only one at risk: every misstep endangers the enemies she turns into allies, and the allies she brings into danger. There are worse monsters than the Wolf hiding in this new green world.

“It’s an inclusive, optimistic vision of the future, rounded out by beautiful imagery and an effortlessly diverse cast. This enthralling story is a winner.” Publishers weekly (starred review)

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Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for August 2021


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 crime fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some July 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 hardboiled mysteries, cozy mysteries, historical mysteries, retro mysteries, Jazz Age mysteries, 1950s mysteries, 1960s mysteries, British mysteries, paranormal mysteries, crime thrillers, legal thrillers, psychological thrillers, occult thrillers, revenge thrillers, action thrillers, adventure thrillers, sea adventures, dystopian noir, police officers, private investigators, amateur sleuths, prosecutors, assassins, FBI agents, ex-CIA agents, ex-spies, organised crime, serial killers, con artists, terrorism,  drug trafficking, human trafficking, satanic cults, crime-busting witches, crime-busting socialites, crime-busting surfers, crime-busting girl scout leaders, murder and mayhem in Los Angeles, London, New Orleans, Chicago, Southern California, Ohio, Iowa, Venezuela, Miami, Cornwall 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:

The Fool on the Hill in a Convertible by Donna Amis DavisThe Fool on the Hill in a Convertible by Donna Amis Davis:

It’s 1967. Beatles’ songs are playing everywhere.

In the sleepy little beach community of Mission Cove in Southern California, surfers search for the perfect wave, while across the Pacific, a war grinds on.

Torrey helps her dad and brother in the family’s surf shop, but her heart is full of pain. Her camera captures the beauty of the ocean and the joy of the surf, as it helps to soothe her soul. But on this day her camera ensnares her in a mystery she’d rather escape.

The Fool on the Hill in a Convertible is a cozy mystery novella introducing Donna Amis Davis’s new ‘60s Surf Shop Mysteries which are set in the fictional community of Mission Cove, California.

Journey back to the ’60s and relive that groovy era when skirts were short, hair was long, and the music was good.

Murder on the BoardwalkMurder on the Boardwalk by Beth Byers:

Vi and friends miss the sea and each other, so they gather up and head to the seaside. While there, they run into old friends and new troubles.

Once again, things turn sideways when a body is found by the boardwalk. All evidence points to the person they once knew almost as well as they know themselves. Is it possible their friend has turned to murder? Or is something else going on? Either way, they’re determined to find the truth. Even if it puts them into harm’s way.

 

The Grifter by Sean Camplbell and Ali GunnThe Grifter by Sean Campbell and Ali Gunn:

One will rise. The other will fall.

Kent Bancroft’s rise to fame and fortune was nothing short of meteoric. Once a simple teacher in London’s East End, he’s now on course to become Britain’s youngest billionaire.

But his success has come on the back of those he’s trodden upon to get there. Among them is a man whose fall was as swift as Kent’s rise. He used to be a sparky until a freak accident robbed him of one leg.

And then Kent Bancroft robbed him of everything else.

Forget forgiveness. Forget turning the other cheek. And forget waiting for karma.

This is a victim who won’t stand idly by.

He wants revenge.

And he’s going to get it.

Kent Bancroft will never see him coming.

Subtle Blood by K.J. CharlesSubtle Blood by K.J. Charles:

Will Darling is all right. His business is doing well, and so is his illicit relationship with Kim Secretan–disgraced aristocrat, ex-spy, amateur book-dealer. It’s starting to feel like he’s got his life under control.

And then a brutal murder in a gentleman’s club plunges them back into the shadow world of crime, deception, and the power of privilege. Worse, it brings them up against Kim’s noble, hostile family, and his upper-class life where Will can never belong.

With old and new enemies against them, and secrets on every side, Will and Kim have to fight for each other harder than ever—or be torn apart for good.

Left For Dead by Stacy Claflin and Nolon KingLeft For Dead by Stacy Claflin and Nolon King:

What’s an innocent assassin to do?

Brad Morris was just cleared of murdering one annoying neighbor when another one turns up dead. Luckily, he was at a party with everyone on the block when the body was found, but that doesn’t stop fingers from pointing his way. Especially since the murder weapon was a BlueBlade, the knife company that Brad’s boss, Kurt, uses as a front for the real work that Brad and his fellow assassins do.

Kurt demands that Brad find the real killer — without blowing his cover or dragging BlueBlade into the investigation. If he can’t, he’ll be thrown to the wolves. Or worse, “retired.”

Does one of Brad’s suburban neighbors hate him enough to frame him for murder? Or does he have a much more dangerous enemy lurking within the fellowship of assassins?

Paperclip by Seb DoubinskyPaperclip by Seb Doubinsky:

In New Babylon, leader of the Western alliance of the city-states, armament mogul Kurt Wagner has a secret dream: to build a space station to save mankind. Little does he know that he is the target of competing plots involving geopolitics and black magick. In the background, a film director with a political conscience, a bodyguard with a secret mission, a driver with an occult hobby and a talking bird are trying to make sense of their world, hoping to see their wishes come true – which they will, but not in the way they might have expected.

 

My Brew Heaven by Lily Harper HartMy Brew Heaven by Lily Harper Hart:

Ofelia Archer should be riding high after a blissful week spent with her boyfriend Zacharias “Zach” Sully. Sun, fun, and cocktails make for a great break … until she gets home. Then she realizes exactly how far things can fall apart in only a few days.

It seems in her absence Ofelia’s mother Marie Charles has been taken in by a cult, and Ofelia is convinced it’s not the sort of group who worship beignets over chaos and bloodshed. When Ofelia tries talking to her mother she finds a different woman waiting for her … and she’s beyond concerned.
The French Quarter attracts weird people but this time the strife is different. When she starts digging, she finds more than she bargained for … and yet the answers are less than she was hoping for.

Ofelia is a witch with a plan but even she’s at a loss. When her brother Felix is hurt in the pursuit of reclaiming Marie, the Quarter’s favorite magical maven swears revenge … and she’s going to need Sully to help her deliver it.

Their new enemy is powerful and he’s hiding behind a gaggle of innocent humans. Freeing the French Quarter from his grip leads Ofelia down a dark path. Only Sully can help her … and together they will bring their city back from the brink.

The question is: Will they both survive to enjoy the fruits of their labor once they make it to the other side?

Mark of Justice by Robin JamesMark of Justice by Robin James:

What he did to her…

As Maumee County, Ohio’s top prosecutor, Mara Brent has faced down killers before. But the murder of Haley Chambers is different. The evidence left behind at the crime scene paints a horrifying picture of Haley’s last hours. Her killer took his time. Planned. Hunted. Executed.

No one will believe it…

When local mechanic and family man, Cal Emmons is charged with the crime, the town rallies to his defense. Everyone knows him. Everyone trusts him. His supporters bring their protests right to Mara’s front door. But they don’t know. They haven’t seen what Mara and the police found at his house.

But there is one more victim out there…

The police connect physical evidence in Haley’s murder to a cold case abduction. Only that victim lived. Her harrowing, firsthand account of what she endured haunts Mara and provides a Rosetta Stone for Haley’s murder. But Mara’s star witness never saw her attacker’s face. She has lied to the police before. Is she lying now?

If Mara loses this one…more will die.

To win, Mara must ultimately step inside the mind of a sadistic killer. But this time when evil touches her, it may not let her go.

Sons of Brutality by Daniel JeudySons of Brutality by Daneil Jeudy:

A SATANIC SNUFF CLUB

A RUTHLESS VIGILANTE

AN INTRICATE WEB OF DECEPTION

WHO CAN YOU TRUST?

Los Angeles is a city under siege.

When Detective Addison Mowbray begins investigating the murders of two young women in the Hollywood Hills, he can’t imagine where the case will lead. He suspects the crimes were inspired by an occult fascination, due to some missing body parts and the inverted Christian cross branded on the victims’ breasts. But apart from Addison’s temperamental partner, Jed, the only other person keen on them pursuing that line of investigation is Lilly Coniglio, a medical examiner from the Coroner’s Department. The LAPD is already under immense public pressure due to all the bad press another killer – a vigilante – has brought to their door: it’s been over a year since the first organized-crime figure showed up full of holes, with a plastic police badge beside his body.

As Addison and Jed navigate a murky, disturbing occult landscape in search of answers, they uncover something even more terrifying than a killer hiding in the shadows: an organization so vile and powerful that it changes their lives forever. These two troubled detectives are all that stand between this organization and a spectacular season of carnage.

Set against a backdrop of urban bleakness and social inequality, Sons of Brutality combines deeply flawed protagonists with human monsters, integrating strong dialogue, violent action and gripping Suspense.

Mosquito Bite Murder by Leslie LangtryMosquito Bite Murder by Leslie Langtry:

In her career as a spy, Merry Wrath had her share of camping trips—from glamping in a yurt at Oktoberfest with drug lord Carlos the Armadillo to an awkward team building campout in the backyard of a Yakuza mob boss who thought “trust falls” should have lethal consequences. So when the former CIA turned Girl Scout troop leader has the opportunity to take six girls from her troop into a vast, private nature preserve in search of an abandoned scout camp, she jumps at it. The fact that she can secretly use this as a chance to meet up with another spy who has asked for her help just seems to be an added bonus.

Of course she doesn’t expect to find a guy named Chad in a shallow grave. He’s still alive, at least for the moment, and he insists on accompanying them further into the woods. Merry’s contact is a no-show, but another, more dangerous colleague surprises them on the trail. And just when she thinks she might be able to handle things, the group find themselves confronted by a hostile group of senior citizen hermits.

From the strange noises in the night, to vampire ticks, and the constant fear of being invaded by Communists, everything in Merry’s world appears to be dangerously off kilter. When she’s accosted by a 200lb snapping turtle named Old Eisenhower, Merry realizes that not everything is what it appears to be. Can Merry figure it out who is behind the stranger occurrences before the camping trip ends up with a body count?

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

Winter break is upon Mystic Caravan, which is supposed to mean a full month of rest and relaxation. Upon arriving at their destination, however, Poet and company find that murder isn’t far behind.

Their off-season park is full of paranormals – something that normally makes Poet comfortable – but the death of a local girl points to one of their own being the culprit. Even though she’s supposed to be taking it easy, Poet can’t stop herself from digging … and it leads her on a wild ride.

Florida is hot, humid and bursting at the seams with supernatural friends. Unfortunately for Poet, it’s also home to an ex-boyfriend who can’t quite let go. Since he’s a police officer … and looking at Mystic Caravan’s cadre of weirdos as potential murder suspects … that only makes things all the more difficult.

It’s up to Poet to find the real culprit even as a shadowy and powerful figure stalks her. Kade’s magic is growing but he’s still learning, which makes for some hard battles. On top of that, he’s keeping a secret with Luke, which has Poet teetering on the edge of sanity.

It’s supposed to be a break, not a break from reality, but Poet is ready to fight for her future. It’s going to take everybody working together to figure out the truth … and give Poet the one thing she’s always wanted above all else.

Peace.

Filthy Rich by Duane LindsayFilthy Rich by Duane Lindsay:

GUY WALKS INTO A STRIP CLUB…
AND COMES OUT FILTHY RICH

Down-and-out comedian “Filthy” Rich wasn’t always living on the edge– he was once famous. Now he tells viciously dirty jokes in the seediest possible strip clubs–his routine is so filthy that it’s actually illegal, since 1960’s Chicago has harsh blue laws.

Rich wasn’t always living on the edge, though– he was once famous for a clean routine, until his estranged wife ran off with Rich’s best jokes. With his act missing, he’s hellbent on tracking down the missing dame before he gets caught spewing the grossest jokes this side of Lake Michigan.

Enter Lou Fleener– expert streetfighter and ace private eye. Rich hires Lou to find the missing jokes– and the wayward wife. Which seems easy enough, right? But unfortunately, Lou’s clues lead him down a perilous rabbit hole of deceit, lies, and frame ups.

Plus, the irrepressible Cassidy, his wife turned partner-in-crime, and Monk, his improbably handsome yet socially awkward best friend, are knee deep in their own rollicking thrillers. The whole team is in imminent danger, each facing their own bad guy. And to top it all off, this team of witty Chicago sleuths is flat broke. Again.

Lou Fleener will be a treasured read for both cozy lovers and hard-boiled aficionados. And especially for readers looking for laughs. Lou and his team’s humorous yet action-packed adventures that will please fans of such diverse authors as Donald Westlake, Raymond Chandler, and Lawrence Block in his “burglar” mode.

Never Ever by Willow RoseNever Ever by Willow Rose:

Ex-agent Eva Rae Thomas is on the run. The past month she has done things she never knew she was capable of while hunting for her kidnapped daughter.

Eva Rae has risked everything,

-her career,

-her newfound love,

-her freedom.

She’s looking for the man they call the Iron Fist. The trail has led her to Miami.

Meanwhile, Miami is under attack. Hundreds of passengers in the Metrorail are exposed to a deathly nerve gas on a peaceful Monday morning. When Eva Rae Thomas sees her daughter on the surveillance footage from the attack, she knows it is no coincidence. But by the time she uncovers the chilling truth of how it is all connected, it might be too late.

The Cove by L.J. RossThe Cove by L.J. Ross:

THE PERFECT ESCAPE…

Gabrielle Adams has it all – brains, beauty, a handsome fiance?, and a dream job in publishing. Until, one day, everything changes.

‘The Tube Killer’ takes his victims when they least expect it: standing on the edge of a busy London Underground platform, as they wait for a train to arrive through the murky underground tunnels of London.

Gabrielle soon learns that being a survivor is harder than being a victim, and she struggles to return to her old life. Desperate to break free from the endless nightmares, she snatches up an opportunity to run a tiny bookshop in a picturesque cove in rural Cornwall.

She thinks she’s found the perfect escape, but has she swapped one nightmare for another?

Suspense and mystery are peppered with romance and humour in this fast-paced thriller, set amidst the spectacular Cornish landscape.

Steady As She Goes by Wayne StinnettSteady As She Goes by Wayne Stinnett:

Jesse McDermitt is starting a new chapter in his life. As captain of the research vessel Ambrosia, his stated mission is to study the oceans and seafloor, searching for rich oil deposits. His unstated mission is to locate and eradicate the enemies of society on behalf of Armstrong Research, a secretive organization funded by some of the wealthiest people on the planet.

When word gets out about a massive drug and human trafficking cartel moving tons of illegal drugs, along with hundreds of slave laborers, out of Venezuela, Jesse is tasked with finding them at all cost.

But how can one man find the traffickers amid the thousands of ships coming and going from Venezuela’s ports, moving hundreds of thousands of containers every year?

Can Jesse close on and engage the traffickers in time to save dozens of innocent lives?

Murder in London by Lee StraussMurder in London by Lee Strauss:

Murder’s a trip!

It’s early 1957, and Rosa Reed and her new beau Detective Miguel Belmonte fly from California to London to follow up on the cold case: the murder of Rosa’s good friend Lady Vivien Everleigh.

The investigation is complicated, if not awkward, as the deceased is the sister of Rosa’s former fiancé. Thankfully, Rosa’s parents, Ginger (aka Ginger Gold of Lady Gold Investigations) and Basil Reed are there to help.

Rosa stumbles onto a dangerous truth. Can she find her friend’s killer and save her own life too?

If you love early rock & roll, poodle skirts, clever who-dun-its, a charming cat and an even more charming detective, you’re going to love this new series!

A Murderous Affair in Mayfair by Lynda WilcoxA Murderous Affair in Mayfair by Lynda Wilcox:

Private enquiry agent Lady Eleanor Bakewell returns in another tale of murder, intrigue, and romance set in 1920s London.

Who had the nerve to commit murder at an elegant high-society party in Mayfair?

Who among the other seven people playing cards that evening with Lord George Bancroft, notorious womaniser and gambler, pun a knife in his back?

Lady Eleanor Bakewell doesn’t know, but when a young parlourmaid ask for her help in proving her innocence, the socialite sleuth is soon on the case.

So, too, are Military Intelligence which puts a new and unwelcome angle on the case for Eleanor.

Mired in suspects and questions about the dead man’s background, Eleanor feels overwhelmed. She will need all her wits about her to find the killer before the parlourmaid is wrongly arrested for a crime she did not commit.

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for July 2021

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month
It’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 and small press authors newly published this month, though some June 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 urban fantasy, dark fantasy, YA fantasy, science fantasy, paranormal mystery, science fiction mystery, science fiction romance, space opera, military science fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, dystopian fiction, steampunk, horror, vampires, werewolves, demons, space marines, alien spies, alien parasites, crime-busting witches, crime-busting single moms, washed-up country singers 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:

Ariadne, I Love You by J. Ashley-SmithAriadne, I Love You by J. Ashley-Smith:

Jude is dragged out of Alt Country obscurity, out of the dismal loop of booze and sadness baths and the boundless, insatiable loneliness, to scrub up and fly to Australia for a last, desperate comeback tour. Hardly worth getting out of bed for—and he wouldn’t, if it weren’t for Coreen.But Coreen is dead. And, worse than that, she’s married. Jude’s swan-song tour becomes instead a terminal descent, into the sordid past, into the meaning hidden in forgotten songs, into Coreen’s madness diary, there to waken something far worse than her ghost.

 

Forgotten Stars by Odette C. BellForgotten Stars by Odette C. Bell:

A new realm has awoken. A new threat has emerged. So new warriors must take the helm.

Amber is an ordinary ensign whose only claim to fame is throwing toast on the most important soldier on the station. Then everything changes. When she’s lost on an alien world and her true powers awaken, she must keep them secret from the Coalition or pay the price.

But it’ll be hard to keep her secret around the ever-watchful Commander Starsmith. When she draws his eye, he can’t look away. For deep within him, something is arising. Let it sink, and the station might survive. Let it rise, and the Coalition will never be the same again.

An Uneasy Alliance by Jonathan P. Brazee and J.N. CheneyAn Uneasy Alliance by Jonathan P. Brazee and J.N. Cheney:

The war is over. Peace has at last descended over the humanity . . . or so it would appear.

The Centaurs may no longer pose a threat, but a new war is on the horizon, though it hides in the shadows of two empires.

Rumors of alien tech have set governments against each other, and with attention focused on defeating the Centaurs, criminal elements have gotten their tentacles firmly entrenched in the very fabric of civilization.

Staff Sergeant Rev Pelletier of the Perseus Union Marine Corps has now been assigned to the Home Guard, the elite unit made up of members from each military force in human space.

A new age is upon us. An age of exploration, treaties, and new enemies. But with tensions rising, can the Home Guard function as a viable, unified force to combat the growing lawlessness throughout the galaxy?

Vapor Trails by Joshua DazelleVapor Trails by Joshua Dazelle:

Marine Lieutenant Jacob Brown was on borrowed time, and he knew it.

He was a rogue element, disobeying orders and pursuing mission goals of his own. His Scout Team had been burned, disavowed by his chain of command and the owner of the stolen ship he was flying was after them to get it back. To make matters even more complicated, the man Jacob had stolen the ship from is an infamous outlaw and mercenary named Jason Burke… his father.

Being hunted down by both the United Earth Navy and the mercenary group that called itself Omega Force, Jacob has only one chance to keep his team out of a military prison and bring down the head of the One World terrorist faction that always seemed to be three steps ahead of him… and that was only if his father didn’t catch him first.

Wicked Magic by Margot de KlerkWicked Magic by Margot de Clerk:

Nathan is a vampire hunter on the cusp of graduation. He’s been training for this his entire life: the moment he qualifies and joins the rest of his family in their noble calling.

If only it were that simple.

His grades are a mess, his social life is a disaster, and what’s worse, his best friend is a witch! Add to that, his vampire uncle is back in town and his crush might just be supernatural too, and you have one big melting pot of potential parental disapproval. Nathan doesn’t think he can take much more, and then the dark mages come to town.

As bodies begin piling up in the streets, Nathan finds himself pulled deeper into political intrigue and a deadly plot that will pit him against his own family. When the girl he likes comes under threat, Nathan races against time to solve the mystery… well aware that with every step he takes, he comes closer to his father exposing all his secrets.

The Builders by Chris FoxThe Builders by Chris Fox:

All things must end. Welcome to the final Deathless novel.

The builder Yoggoth has arrived in our Solar System, but his goal is not to conquer our world. He has locked the sun in a Yoggothian Sphere designed to siphon our star of all power.

Earth is hurled into darkness, denied the lifegiving heat of our sun, even as Yoggoth’s fleets move upon our world. Our heroes, led by Blair, Liz, and Isis, must deal with the new winter before they can even hope to oppose them.

In Australia Jordan has used the intervening five years for one purpose. To become a Builder-slaying dino-enhanced death machine. Under Uluru’s tutelage he has mastered combat, and stands ready to face Yoggoth, whatever the cost.

Outnumbered and outmatched Liz leads a desperate assault on Yoggoth’s flagship, where Excalibur’s destiny will finally be realized. If the blade breaks our world will be annihilated. If it holds, then Liz will provide Blair one chance to save everyone.

One desperate gamble to rewrite history

Atmospheric Pressure 3: Last Breath by Aaron FraleAtmospheric Pressure 3: Last Breath by Aaron Frale:

Olson returns to the Union to discover he can breathe the noxious outside air. However, he soon finds out that he isn’t the only one involved in the sinister plan Erik is hatching. Both of the cities that weathered the apocalypse now depend on Olson unraveling what Erik has in store.

Meanwhile, a small community not too far from these cities sees the buildings burning from Erik’s coup of the government. They possess a nuclear warhead from the forgotten world and send a small team to see what is happening.

In the St. Paul Collective, Natalie is pregnant with Olson’s offspring. She finds out that her unborn child is wanted by the people in power for study because of Olson’s natural ability. She will do anything to protect her kid.

Find out how it all plays out in the third and final installment of the Atmospheric Pressure series.

Sibyl Sue Blue by Rosel George BrownSibyl Sue Blue by Rosel George Brown:

Stop a murder, save two planets!

Who she is: Sibyl Sue Blue, single mom, undercover detective, and damn good at her job.

What she wants: to solve the mysterious benzale murders, prevent more teenage deaths, and maybe find her long-lost husband.

How she’ll get it: seduce a millionaire, catch a ride on his spaceship, and crack the case at the edge of the known galaxy.

A thrilling, ground breaking story of mystery, crime, action and romance!

Awakening the Gods by Kristin GleesonAwakening the Gods by Kristin Gleeson:

A failed barista, a reclusive blacksmith. Can they avoid the call of the Irish Gods?

Saoirse knows playing traditional music once a week in a local Dublin pub won’t get her a career, but it’s all she’s got, especially after she’s fired from her barista job. But then her father dies and her life is set into a spin, especially when an unknown grandmother comes calling..

Music is Smithy’s one joy that is left to him that has a residue of the magic he lost long ago. Creating things in his forge, tucked away in rural Cork, increasingly reminds him of what he’s lost and why he must resist the requests of the Tuatha De Danann. They want him to join their efforts to battle their biggest nemesis,a powerful god who is threatening the destruction of Eire, the land they hold so dear. But events and gods conspire to bring Saoirse and Smithy to the path that was meant to be. It’s time for the gods to awake and answer the call to defend the land. But answering that call could mean risking death.

A music-filled romantic urban fantasy with a Celtic twist that will delight fans of Charles de Lint.

Wicked Whispers by Lily Harper HartWicked Whispers by Lily Harper Hart:

Jack Harker says the honeymoon will never be over, but it’s back to reality for him and his wife Ivy. Unfortunately for them, that means murder is on the menu … and this newest body is dropped in Ivy’s nursery parking lot.

Jack is a mess when he realizes a sniper took out a local woman. Ivy, although shocked because it happened right in front of her eyes, is also intrigued. When the duo starts digging, they find themselves drawn into an ugly underworld that’s happening right under their noses.

Shadow Lake might be a quiet town but it has an ugly side … and apparently there are a group of people looking to profit. The harder Jack and Ivy look, the more ugliness they uncover.

Ivy’s abilities are growing by leaps and bounds but even she can’t fight off a bullet. When her busybody nature makes her a target, it’s going to take everything she has in her arsenal to fight off the inevitable.

Jack loves his wife. Ivy will do whatever it takes to protect her husband. Will one of them have to make the ultimate sacrifice to protect the other in the end?

It’s a hot race to the finish, and Ivy’s magic will have a say in the outcome.

Galaxy Bound by Vidar HokstadGalaxy Bound by Vidar Hokstad:

The Centauri Gate has opened, and humanity has taken its first steps into the unknown.

When an Earth freighter is destroyed in Centauri space, Zara Ortega and the crew of the Black Rain are sent to investigate, accompanied by an Earth military officer and a Centauri diplomat.

It’s apparent something is wrong, and when they chase down the leads, they end up facing off against heavily armed warships that should not be there.

Soon they are in another desperate race to survive. They seek shelter in a Centauri colony near Proxima. But those following them mount a brutal assault, and they pay a high price to flee.

They need to get word out, or it means war.

Absolute Unit by Nick KolakowskiAbsolute Unit by Nick Kolakowski:

Absolute Unit is a dark carnival ride through the underside of the American Dream, where hustlers and parasites fight to survive against gun-toting furries, sarcastic drug kingpins, old ladies who are startlingly good with knives, and angry ex-girlfriends. It’s a hardboiled slice of modern American horror that asks the deepest question of all: Is the human race worth saving?

Bill is a nobody, a health inspector who’s not above taking a few dollars to overlook a restaurant’s mouse problem, and hated by nearly everyone except his long-suffering girlfriend. His nephew, Trent, isn’t much better: sexually and morally confused, he’s probably the worst teenage con artist on the East Coast. But today, these two losers are going to become the most important people in the world.

That’s because Bill and Trent harbor a sentient parasite with a sarcastic sense of humor and a ravenous appetite. As the parasite figures out how to control its new human hosts, the focus of its desires grows from delicious cheeseburgers and beer to something much darker and more dangerous.

The apocalypse might come from within us…

Great Hexpectations by Amanda M. LeeGreat Hexpectations by Amanda M. Lee:

Hadley Hunter thought she was getting a grip on the paranormal world she never knew existed until recently. She was wrong. In the shadow of a massive shifter retreat, she finds she knew absolutely nothing.

Her live-in love Galen Blackwood has his hands full with the conference. Not only is his mother pressuring him to make his presence known but it’s also up to him to keep the not-so-friendly factions from going to war. Things only get stickier when a member of the Michigan wolf contingent ends up dead on the docks.

Hadley wants to help Galen, as does his cousin Aric Winters, who has brought his magical mage wife Zoe and their daughter to the island at the behest of his father. Aric prefers distance when it comes to shifter politics but he’s happy to see his cousin, and be introduced to Hadley for the first time.

Because they’re not shifters, Hadley and Zoe are considered outsiders. That allows them to join together to track down a murderer.
Hadley is out of her element but she’s determined to help Galen by any means necessary. Unfortunately for her, the other wolves don’t like it … and decide to make it an issue worth dying for.

A wolf war is brewing and Hadley is at the center of it. Not only that but she’s a target. It’s going to take all of her witchy energy – plus a little help from a new friend – to make it through to the other side.

Somebody else has different plans … and they’re deadly. It might be the wolves warring, but Hadley is the one who might die on the battlefield.

The Sightless City by Noah LemelsonThe Sightless City by Noah Lemelson:

Kidnapping.
Enslavement.
Murder.

Those are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to actions some will take to protect their interests in æther-oil, the coveted substance that fuels the city of Huile.

As both veteran and private investigator, Marcel Talwar knows this firsthand, and he likes to think he’d never participate in such things. However, that naïve idea comes to a crashing end when he takes on a new case that quickly shatters his world view. A trail of evidence points to someone in Marcel’s inner circle who’s using him as a pawn to conduct grisly experiments-experiments that could lead to genocide.

Now, Marcel is more determined than ever to discover who’s pulling the strings to this sinister plot. But the further he gets, the larger the target on his back becomes, and it’s not long before Marcel has to ask himself how much and how many he’s willing to sacrifice to get to the truth.

Kingdom Come by Nazri NoorKingdom Come by Nazri Noor:

Hell hath no fury.

Mason Albrecht’s anger issues have finally come to a head, attracting another member of the Seven. The Prince of Wrath reveals his hand, striking at Mason where it hurts the most: his mother. Abaddon possesses Josephine Albrecht’s body, then disappears, taking her with him.

Plunged into despair, Mason and his allies rush to find Abaddon, and a way to stop the Prince of Wrath. How can he destroy the demon hiding inside his mother’s body? Mason must swallow his pride, bare his soul, and beseech old friends and enemies… one of the Seven among them.

Baswin by Aurora SpringerBaswin by Aurora Springer:

An alien spy on the run.
Two human sisters chosen to train as astronavigators.
Their paths are destined to converge.

Psychic sensitives, Holly Moon and her sister Rosie, are chosen as candidates for Warrish training as hyperspace navigators. The sisters are eager to promote humanity’s advance into space. Will they succeed? They must pass a series of rigorous tests and adapt to the alien neuro-implants.
Alien merman, Baswin Kenton Tallis, Second of his Triad, lives on Earth disguised as a human. When Earth agents discover the secret identity of his older brother, Baswin must flee to the Warrish embassy in the Pacific Ocean.

Holly and Baswin are swept together on an island in the Pacific Ocean, but their destiny lies farther away and many forces threaten to drive them apart. Can they overcome the obstacles and find a haven?

Follow the adventures of the three brothers of the Flaming Comets Triad in Baswin, Book 5 in Taxyon Space.

Breaker Marine by James David VictorBreaker Marine by James David Victor:

As a reaker, she was destined to live a hard life serving the whims of galactic corporations. As an Earth Alliance Marine, she has a chance to change the balance of power in the galaxy.

Holly Cropper grew up as a Breaker, mining the outer reaches of space. Now, she’s an up-and-coming lieutenant in the Earth Alliance Marines. Her mission: keep the peace and help humanity survive in the endless darkness of space. When a distress call comes in from a large mining vessel, her orderly world gets turned upside down. What starts with a simple pirate takeover turns into a hostile alien invasion. This Breaker Marine and her small team might be the only thing standing between humanity and annihilation at the hands of ancient aliens.

Breaker Marine is the first book in the Star Breaker series. If you like fast-paced space adventures with interesting characters who battle aliens, evil corporations, and space pirates, Holly Cropper and her team of Marines are ready to share their epic adventure with you.

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