Spotlight on Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey


Title: Not Her Daughter
Author: Rea Frey
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: August 21, 2018
Genres: Crime Fiction, Suspense


Purchase Links:
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Emma Grace Townsend. Five years old.
Gray eyes. Brown hair. Missing since June.

Emma Townsend is lonely. Living with her cruel mother and clueless
father, Emma retreats into her own world of quiet and solitude.

Sarah Walker. Successful entrepreneur. Broken-hearted.
Abandoned by her mother. Kidnapper.

Sarah has never seen a girl so precious as the gray-eyed child in a
crowded airport terminal—and when a second-chance encounter with
Emma presents itself, Sarah takes her, far away from home. But if it’s to
rescue a little girl from her damaging mother, is kidnapping wrong?

Amy Townsend. Unhappy wife. Unfit mother.
Unsure she wants her daughter back.

Amy’s life is a string of disappointments, but her biggest issue is her
inability to connect with her daughter. And now she’s gone without a trace.

As Sarah and Emma avoid the nationwide hunt, they form an
unshakeable bond. But her real mother is at home, waiting for
her to return—and the longer the search for Emma continues, Amy
is forced to question if she really wants her back.

Emotionally powerful and wire-taut, Not Her Daughter raises the
question of what it means to be a mother—and how
far someone will go to keep a child safe.


About the Author

Rea Frey is an award-winning author of four nonfiction books. She lives in Nashville with her husband and daughter. NOT HER DAUGHTER is her debut novel. Read more at:




Photo credit:  Alex Holguin


“In her provocative debut thriller, NOT HER DAUGHTER, Rea Frey
takes us on an emotional ride where the line between right and
wrong begins to fade, and all that remains are the tears of a child.
This story pulls you in from the very first page, and unlike most in
its genre, you won’t know how you want it to end until it does.”
– Wendy Walker, author of Emma in the Night

“NOT HER DAUGHTER is a deft and beautifully written examination of
taboo maternal fantasies: Can a kidnapping ever be justified? Can
motherhood be undone?  Engrossing and suspenseful, Frey writes her
characters with depth and compassion, challenging readers to question
their own code of ethics.”  —Zoje Stage, author of Baby Teeth


Spotlight on Lone Wolf in Jerusalem by Ehud Diskin—and a Giveaway!


Title: Lone Wolf in Jerusalem
Author: Ehud Diskin
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press
Publication Date: August 14, 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction


Purchase Links:
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Set primarily in post-WWII Israel, Lone Wolf in Jerusalem is a
suspenseful, action-packed novel that is a worthy contribution to
Jewish historical fiction. Using drama, adventure, and romance,
Diskin has created a colorful and captivating story that entertains
and educates through the exploits of main protagonist, David Gabinsky.

During the war, after losing his family to Hitler’s ”final solution,” young
David leads a courageous group of Jewish resistance fighters against
the Nazis. When Germany is defeated, he journeys to Jerusalem, to find
a new battle brewing. British occupation forces are entrenched in Israel,
blocking Holocaust survivors from immigrating to their Jewish homeland.

Determined to help his people find freedom, David uses his guerilla skills
to single-handedly wreak havoc on the British. As he begins his dangerous
quest, David meets and falls in love with the beautiful Shoshana, a young
Holocaust survivor whose spirit may have been damaged beyond repair.

Recounting the tragic losses and heroic triumphs of the Jewish people during
this critical stage in their history, Lone Wolf in Jerusalem brings these events to
life in a new and inspirational way, making them accessible to a new generation.
Originally written in Hebrew, this book quickly became a best seller in Israel.


An Excerpt from Lone Wolf in Jerusalem

Chapter 1

“Kill the one who comes to kill you” (from the Talmud, tractate Sanhedrin, 3rd–5th century)

Sergeant John Perry wrapped Sarah tightly in his arms once more, pressing his body to hers. The last thing he wanted this early in the morning was to relinquish the warmth of her embrace and step into the wintry darkness of Jerusalem. Had he known someone was lurking downstairs, waiting anxiously to snuff out his life, he surely would have stayed in bed.

He reluctantly shrugged off the blanket and fumbled through the dark room for his clothes. After dressing, he put on his coat and then paused to touch the cold Webley .38 revolver heavy in his pocket, loaded and ready.

“John? You’re leaving already?” Sarah whispered in a voice hoarse with sleep.

“I have to report to my post within the hour,” he replied. “I’ll see you again next Tuesday night.”

It was February 1946 in the Land of Israel, or Mandatory Palestine as it was called at the time. The League of Nations 2  had granted Britain control over the historic Jewish homeland in the wake of the First World War. But Jerusalem was hardly a safe place for the British soldiers and police stationed in the ancient city, as their regime was frequently attacked by Jewish underground organizations. The darkness of night brought even more danger, especially in the quiet corners of the city.

I waited downstairs in the exposed stairwell, wincing from the sting of the icy wind blowing in from the street, reminding myself that life isn’t always fair. While Perry was feeling the soft curves of a woman against his body in the apartment above, I stood shivering and alone. But soon he would lie eternally cold, I thought, taking grim comfort in the fact. My plan to send Perry to the gates of Hell did nothing to warm my own body, but it did warm my soul.

Killing has never been my first choice, and I only resorted to it when I didn’t see any other choice. Perry was one of those cases. An agent in the CID, the intelligence unit for the British Mandate, he identified Jewish underground activists for arrest or assassination by the British army. He was in his late twenties, in excellent physical condition, talented, with a sharp mind—a real thorn in the side of the Jewish underground. It was essential to get rid of this guy for good. The rule of survival says, “Kill the one who comes to kill you.”

I planned to strangle him. I’d have preferred to use a gun, as I often had against the German soldiers I once fought as a partisan. But shooting him would wake the neighbors, not to mention leave unmistakable evidence that he’d been assassinated. By strangling him, there would be an outside chance that a British investigator would rule his death a robbery gone wrong.

I heard Perry shut the door on the floor above and then his heavy footfalls on the stairs. I hid in the dark alcove at the entrance to the stairwell, having already knocked out the overhead light to conceal myself. When Perry passed me, I leaped at him from behind, gripping his neck between my two forearms and pulling him back at the same time. He resisted, kicking his legs wildly as he tried to keep his feet on the ground.

I tightened my grip on his neck, using all my strength to drag him backward. Finally, the gasping stopped, and his body fell limp. I let go, and Perry slumped to the floor. Kneeling beside him, I checked his pulse—he was gone.

I quickly rifled through his pockets and was pleased to find his Webley, which I would add to my growing collection of weapons that I accumulated in the last five months, since I came to the Land of Israel. To create the illusion of a botched robbery, I slipped the money from his wallet into my pocket.

I didn’t want to leave any traces around the building, so after checking to make sure the coast was clear, I hoisted Perry’s body onto my shoulders and carried him to a nearby street, where I dumped him in one of the courtyards. With dawn about to break, I hurried back to my place on Zephaniah Street, not far away.

My apartment was a single room at the back of a one-story building. I silently opened the gate to the yard and followed the path to my private entrance in the rear. Before heading inside, I stopped in the backyard, which was enclosed by a fence of large stones. This part of the yard was visible only from my room. Crouching behind an apricot tree, I removed a large, loose stone from the fence to retrieve the locked metal box I kept in the hollow behind it. I placed the Webley inside. My arsenal of weapons and ammunition had become quite impressive.

Back in my apartment, I undressed and headed straight for the bathroom. A hot shower would have been welcome, but that required lighting a fire under the boiler and waiting for the water to heat. Instead, I stepped straight under the flow from the showerhead. It was a true Jerusalem winter, and the water was ice cold, but I had grown used to bathing outdoors in the Belarusian winters as a partisan and wasn’t going to let a little icy water trouble me. All I wanted was to wash away the last traces of that lowlife Brit as quickly as possible.

Afterward, I lay in bed but couldn’t fall asleep. My mind wandered back across the past five years, since the Nazis had invaded my home in Belarus in Eastern Europe. I tried to recall the faces of my mother, my father, my older brother and sister, all dead and gone, like most of the hundred thousand Jews who had lived in our now-destroyed community in Minsk.

As I stared at the ceiling, I tried to remember how I’d been back then—a sentimental seventeen-year-old boy who couldn’t bear the sight of a chicken being slaughtered. How could acts of war come so easily to me now? But necessity can drive men to do unfathomable things. As I witnessed the unspeakable evils the Nazis had unleashed on my people, on my family, it had hardened my spirit. In the face of such devastation against the entire Jewish race, how could I not commit myself to doing everything in my power to create a safe and secure home for the Jewish people and for myself?

Of course, the British were not the Nazis, but they had taken control of our ancestral homeland and enacted policies to explicitly limit Jewish immigration. Their navy was blocking Israeli shores, stopping boats full of Jewish immigrants, most of whom were concentration camp survivors; then they were sending those survivors right back to camps in Cyprus or, even worse, in Germany.

We had no choice but to fight the British for a homeland where we could live free, and I knew I must use the skills I acquired fighting the Nazis in the forests of Belarus to accomplish that. I wouldn’t stop until an independent state for the Jewish people in our ancient homeland became ours again.

Copyright © 2018 Ehud Diskin. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.


About the Author

Ehud Diskin was born in Jerusalem. He served as an officer in combat roles during Israel’s wars, as detailed in his memoir, YES, IT’S POSSIBLE, and ended his military career with the rank of colonel. After attending the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, he earned a PhD in business management and became the director of the LIBI fund, collecting contributions from all over the world to provide support for the education of soldiers. Later, he left the public sector and became a businessman, establishing several successful enterprises in the United States. Find out more at, Twitter and Facebook .


To enter the drawing for a print
copy of Lone Wolf in Jerusalem by
Ehud Diskin,
leave a comment below.
The winning
name will be drawn
Monday evening,
August 20th. This
drawing is open
to residents of the US.


“In addition to the suspense and the romanticism of the story,
Lone Wolf in Jerusalem brings forth the accurate history of the
time period before the state of Israel was established. Readers
will learn about the struggle for a Jewish State.”- Nathan Sharansky, 
human rights activist and author who spent nine years in Soviet prisons

Excerpt and Spotlight on Tear Me Apart by J.T. Ellison—and a Giveaway!


Title: Tear Me Apart
Author: J.T. Ellison
Publisher: MIRA
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Genres: Mystery, Thriller


Purchase Links:
Barnes & Noble // Kobo // Books-A-Million
Amazon // Indiebound



The follow-up to her critically acclaimed Lie to Me, J.T. Ellison’s
Tear Me Apart is the powerful story of a mother willing to do
anything to protect her daughter even as their carefully
constructed world unravels around them.

One moment will change their lives forever…

Competitive skier Mindy Wright is a superstar in the making until
a spectacular downhill crash threatens not just her racing career
but her life. During surgery, doctors discover she’s suffering
from a severe form of leukemia, and a stem cell transplant is her
only hope. But when her parents are tested, a
frightening truth emerges. Mindy is not their daughter.

Who knows the answers?

The race to save Mindy’s life means unraveling years of lies. Was she
accidentally switched at birth or is there something more sinister
at play? The search for the truth will tear a family apart…and someone
is going to deadly extremes to protect the family’s deepest secrets.

With vivid movement through time, Tear Me Apart examines the
impact layer after layer of lies and betrayal has on two families, the
secrets they guard, and the desperate fight to hide the darkness within.


An Excerpt from Tear Me Apart

Not for the first time, Mindy wishes her mom had ridden up the mountain in the gondola with her. She can imagine her perfectly: starkly beautiful, not speaking, her mouth tight, her blond hair mussed and sticking out from under her red snowflake hat, holding her daughter’s gloved hand tightly. It isn’t allowed, but it would be nice. Then again, maybe it wouldn’t. Mindy sometimes wonders if her mom is more nervous than she is when it comes to the final run. She wouldn’t want that negative energy seeping into her psyche.

Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go.

Finally, the official signals. It’s time. She slaps her skis against the ice again. Tight, a little grainy, and she can barely see the track now because the snow is coming down so hard. But she knows it’s there, a long, invisible line flowing out from the tips of her skis downward. Without another thought, she leans forward, into the mountain, feels the hard bar across her shins. Sets her poles again. Takes a deep breath. Her coach’s voice now. Visualize it. Visualize winning.

The beep sounds, three times, and at the last she’s off, bursting out of the gate, poling hard, gaining speed quickly. She slices through the first turn, a hard bank left, her downhill edge rattling against the ice. It feels good, so good, and she tucks her poles against her body and lets the skis take her through the first flat. The skies do clear; she can finally see the blue lanes of the race course. Into the second turn, she starts gaining speed, feels the total thrill when she accelerates to eighty-five, ninety, ninety-five miles per hour. She is a rocket, a cheetah, the fastest girl on earth.

Left, right, left, right, poles stuck to her body, over the jump, airborne, arms windmilling slightly, but she stays tucked perfectly, totally in control. She has it; she has it, she is flying down the slopes. She can hear the screams and cheers as she flies past. She knows with the assurance of years of skiing that she is in the zone, is going faster than she ever has. All the hard work, the ski camps, the weight training, it is all coming together.

Left. Right. Left. Tuck.

The burst of swirling snow comes from nowhere. It catches her full in the face just as she makes the last gate. Her skis slip out of the ruts. The tip of her left ski hits the plastic guard of the flag, and she is in midair, flying for real this time.

Everything is silent. She doesn’t hear the gasps, the screams, just focuses on relaxing, like she’s always been taught. Though she is airborne, if she isn’t too far off, she can still make it if she keeps her tuck, lands correctly, gets the damn right ski down, and makes the next turn… The flag slaps her in the face, and she goes down in a flurry of skis and poles and snow.

She doesn’t know how long she lies there before she registers she has crashed. Her champion’s body resists the idea, continues to make the turns, her torso writhing in the snow.

The snow is cold.

My face hurts.

My leg hurts.

Her eyes are closed. She opens them to whiteness. I’m blind, oh my God, then realizes her face is freezing. She is facedown. She plants her arms in the snow and tries to rise. The pain in her leg is white-hot, and she cries out. Seconds later, she is surrounded. Ski patrols, red jackets, white crosses. The first touch is from a woman, her face deeply tanned, her goggles opaque.

“Your leg’s broken, sweetie, try not to move. I know it’s cold. Hang tight. We’ll get you splinted and get you on the sled.”

“My leg? It’s broken? How do you know? Did I make it all the way down?”

“Tough girl, you didn’t. You tagged that last flag, and it knocked you upside down. You did a backflip, came down hard. You’ve been out for a few minutes. Pretty spectacular crash. And your leg…trust me, honey, it’s broken. No, no, don’t look.”

Mindy ignores the admonition, wishes she hadn’t. There is a large jag of white sticking out of her shin. Her blood looks like rubies against the icy slush. She fights back the urge to scream. “But my time…if I don’t finish, I’m DQd from the event. I have to get down. You’ve gotta let me up.”

The patrol’s voice is sympathetic. “You’re out of it, now, sweetie, I’m sorry. Maybe you have enough points to qualify from your other races. But you can’t go anywhere, this leg’s pretty gnarly. Okay, here’s the splint, hang tight, this is going to hurt like a bitch.”

Mindy grits her teeth as they start pumping up the air cast. Fights back the tears, focuses on the voice that keeps saying, you didn’t make it, you didn’t make it. She stops fighting, tries to relax as they lift her into the sled and start down the remainder of the mountain. She tries to be a good sport about it, as she’s been taught, raises a fist toward the worried faces, and the crowd goes absolutely wild, cheering for their girl, but inside she is wailing.

She wanted this so badly. It’s all she’s ever wanted. And she’s blown it.

About the Author

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author J.T. Ellison writes standalone domestic noir and psychological thriller series, the latter starring Nashville Homicide Lt. Taylor Jackson and medical examiner Dr. Samantha Owens, and pens the international thriller series “A Brit in the FBI” with #1 New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter. Cohost of the Emmy Award-winning show, “A Word on Words”, Ellison lives in Nashville with her husband.

Connect with J. T.
Website // Facebook // Twitter


Follow the tour here.


To enter the drawing for a print
copy of Tear Me Apart by J.T. Ellison,
leave a comment below. The winning
name will be drawn Friday evening,
August 17th. This drawing is
to residents of the US and Canada.


Spotlight on A Breath After Drowning by Alice Blanchard—and a Giveaway!


Title: A Breath After Drowning
Author: Alice Blanchard
Publisher: Titan Books
Publication Date: April 10, 2018
Genres: Mystery, Thriller


Purchase Links:
Barnes & Noble // Kobo // Amazon // Indiebound



Child psychiatrist Kate Wolfe’s world comes crashing down
when one of her young patients commits suicide, so when a troubled
girl is left at the hospital ward, she doubts her ability to help.

However the girl knows things about Kate’s past, things she
shouldn’t know, forcing Kate to face the murky evidence
surrounding her own sister’s murder sixteen years before.

A murder for which a man is about to be executed.

Unearthing secrets about her own family, and forced to face
both her difficult relationship with her distant father and the
possibility that her mother might also have met a violent end,
the shocking final twist brings Kate face to face with her deepest fear.


About the Author

Alice Blanchard is an award-winning author. Her short story collection The Stuntman’s Daughter won the Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction. She has received a PEN Syndicated Fiction Award and a New Letters Literary Award.

Her thriller The Breathtaker was the official selection of NBC’s Today Show Book Club, presented by bestselling author Jacquelyn Mitchard. Her debut novel Darkness Peering was a New York Times’ Notable Book. Film rights to Darkness Peering and The Breathtaker were optioned by Hollywood’s Anonymous Content and John Wells Productions. Her work has been published in 16 countries.

“My goal is to write fiction that marries the sweeping scope of the thriller with the more personal epiphanies of the short story.”

Website // Twitter // Goodreads


“This riveting thriller from Blanchard … offers three-dimensional,
empathetic characters caught up in twisting events…”
—Publishers Weekly

“A BREATH AFTER DROWNING had me hooked from page one.
A spectacular, gripping, psychological thriller not to be missed.”
—Lisa Lutz, New York Times bestselling author of The Passenger


To enter the drawing for a paperback
copy of A Breath After Drowning by
Alice Blanchard,
leave a comment below.
The winning
name will be drawn Sunday
evening, April 29th. This drawing is
open to residents of the US, UK and Canada.


Spotlight on Shadow on the Bridge by Suzanne Zewan

Continue reading

Spotlight on The Fourth Gunman by John Lansing


Title: The Fourth Gunman
Series: Jack Bertolino #4
Author: John Lansing
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: March 6, 2018
Genres: Mystery, Thriller



Retired inspector Jack Bertolino straddles two perilous worlds. Known for his impeccable police work, Jack has also done a priceless favor for an infamous Mafia Don: he saved the gangster’s kidnapped daughter from being sold into the sex trade, and brought her safely home.

In Jack’s line of work, he can’t help but have friends—and enemies—on both sides of the law.

So when FBI agent Luke Hunter goes missing after a deep undercover assignment with that same mob boss, the FBI calls Jack in, looking for a favor. With his connections and skills, Jack’s the only man for the job: find Luke Hunter, dead or alive.

The Mobster operates an illegal gambling yacht in international waters off of Southern California, and when Luke went missing, so did half a million dollars of the mob’s money. As Jack dives into the case, he’ll learn the true mystery isn’t the agent’s disappearance, but something far more ominous…


Purchase Links:

Barnes & Noble // Kobo // Amazon


An Excerpt from The Fourth Gunman

Twenty-four hours had passed since the death of Luke Hunter, and the weather had turned nasty. The sea was whitecapped, the crescent moon blanketed by a thick marine layer. A perfect night for what Roxy and Trent had to accomplish.

A perfect night to dump a body.

Trent was piloting the catamaran, heading south toward the San Pedro Channel and powered by the auxiliary engine. He knew the depth of the basin was good for at least 2,250 feet. He’d studied the charts, set the GPS, and they were just a few minutes from their destination.

Trent looked right at home, almost regal, standing behind the wheel of the craft that bucked, rolled, and cut through the waves, never veering off course. He was a Saudi national and a U.S. citizen, raised in the States from the age of eight, so he had no discernible accent. He was twenty-eight years old, with a boyish open face, a buffed physique, a swarthy complexion, buzz-cut brown hair, and gray eyes that could set Roxy’s heart thrumming. A finely inked tiger ran the length of one muscled forearm, the tattooed claws drawing red blood.

Roxy stepped out of the cabin and carefully made her way behind him, wrapped her arms around his six-pack, and leaned her cheek against his back, trying to still the beating of her heart.

Trent gave her hand a firm squeeze before grabbing the wheel with both hands. “You’re a brave woman, Roxy,” he shouted over his shoulder, fighting the howling wind. “A warrior.”

The moment he announced they were approaching their destination, the GPS system gave off a shrill cry. The night was black; there were no other boats in the area, no container ships navigating the channel. It was time to get to work. He shut off the engine, locked the wheel, and lowered himself into the cabin, followed by Roxy.

Luke, head still covered with the plastic garbage bag, was dressed in nothing but his briefs. He’d been rolled onto the cabin floor; his body lay on top of the duvet cover.

Trent grabbed two fifty-pound diving belts from their scuba gear and carried them up to the main deck. Roxy handed a twenty-five-pounder through the hatch. Trent ran back down, wrapped Luke’s body tightly in the blanket, and, with Roxy’s help, dragged his deadweight up the stairs and onto the aft deck behind the wheelhouse.

Trent pulled back the duvet and fastened one belt, cinched it tight around Luke’s waist, and then made short work of the second. He grabbed the twenty-five-pound belt, wrapped it twice around Luke’s neck, and secured it. Postmortem lividity had turned Luke’s back, buttocks, and legs a blackish-purple where the blood had settled.

Trent pulled the duvet taut, rolling Luke’s body over, and ripped a cut from top to bottom on the garbage bag so it would disengage after splashdown and be dragged out to sea. He worried it might fill with air as the corpse decomposed, and drag the body to the surface.

Roxy steeled herself as she looked down at Luke. His face was bone-white, his eyes devoid of color, just a thick opaque film. If there was one life lesson she had learned from her father, it was to meet trouble head-on. Never roll over, never look back, and never run. She swallowed her rising bile and choked, “Do it.”

Trent grabbed both ends of the blanket and muscled Luke’s body with 125 pounds of lead weights off the stern of the catamaran, tossing the duvet into the chop behind him.

Roxy and Trent stood shoulder to shoulder as they watched Luke float for a second and then slip below the water’s surface; they were confident he was permanently buried at sea and they could move forward with their plan.


Excerpt from The Fourth Gunman by John Lansing. Copyright © 2017 by John Lansing. Reproduced with permission from John Lansing. All rights reserved.


About the Author

Best-selling author John Lansing started his career as an actor in New York City. He spent a year at the Royale Theatre performing the lead in the Broadway production of “Grease” before putting together a rock ‘n’ roll band and playing the iconic club CBGB.

Lansing closed up his Tribeca loft and headed for the West Coast where he landed a co-starring role in George Lucas’ “More American Graffiti,” and guest-starred on numerous television shows.

During his fifteen-year writing career, Lansing wrote and produced “Walker Texas Ranger,” co-wrote two CBS Movies of the Week, and co-executive produced the ABC series “Scoundrels.”

John’s first book was Good Cop Bad Money, a true crime tome he co-wrote with former NYPD Inspector Glen Morisano.

The Devil’s Necktie, his first Jack Bertolino novel, became a best seller on Barnes & Noble and hit #1 in Amazon’s Kindle store in the Crime Fiction genre.

Jack Bertolino returns in John’s fourth novel, The Fourth Gunman.

A native of Long Island, John now resides in Los Angeles.

Catch Up With John on, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!


Follow the tour here.


Spotlight on The Shepherd’s Calculus by C. S. Farrelly


Title: The Shepherd’s Calculus
Authors: C. S. Farrelly
Publisher: Cavan Bridge Press
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Genres: Mystery, Thriller



When journalist Peter Merrick is asked to write a eulogy for
his mentor, Jesuit priest James Ingram, his biggest concern is
doing right by the man. But when his routine research reveals
disturbing ties to sexual abuse and clues to a shadowy deal trading
justice for power, everything he believed about his friend is called
into question. With the US presidential election looming, incumbent
Arthur Wyncott is quickly losing ground among religious voters.
Meanwhile, Owen Feeney, head of the US Conference of Catholic
Bishops, is facing nearly a billion dollars in payments to victims
of sex abuse. When Feeney hits on a solution to both men’s
problems, it seems the stars have aligned. That is until Ally
Larkin—Wyncott’s brilliant campaign aide—starts to piece together
the shocking details. As the election draws closer and the stakes get
higher, each choice becomes a calculation: Your faith, or your
church? Your principles, or your candidate? The person you most
respect, or the truth that could destroy their legacy?

When the line between right and wrong is blurred,
how do you act, and whom do you save?


Purchase Links:

Barnes & Noble // Amazon // Indiebound


An Excerpt from The Shepherd’s Calculus

When Peter Merrick’s cell phone rang around ten on a Monday morning, his first instinct was to ignore it. Anyone who knew him well enough to call that number would know he had a deadline for the last of a three-part series he was working on for the Economist. It was his first foray into magazine writing in some time, and he’d made it clear to his wife, his editors, and even the family dog that he wasn’t to be disturbed until after the last piece was done and delivered.

Several months had passed since his return from an extended and harrowing assignment tracking UN peacekeeping operations on the Kashmiri border with Pakistan, where violent protests had erupted following the death of a local Hizbul Mujahideen military commander. The assignment had left him with what his wife, Emma, solemnly declared to be post-traumatic stress disorder. It was, in his opinion, a dubious diagnosis she’d made based on nothing more than an Internet search, and he felt those covering the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan deserved greater sympathy. He’d been a bystander to tragedy, he told anyone who asked, not a victim.

One morning as he’d stood drinking strong Turkish coffee on the terrace of his apartment in Jammu, he watched as a car bomb detonated in front of the school across the road. No children were killed. It was a Saturday, and teachers had gathered there to meet with members of a French NGO dedicated to training staff at schools in developing nations. The arm landed on his terrace with a loud thud before Peter realized what it was. Pinned to the shoulder of what remained of its shirt was a name tag identifying Sheeraza Akhtar, presumably one of the teachers. At the time, he marveled at his complete lack of reaction to the torn limb, at the way his response was to read the letters on the tag, grab a pen, and start writing down details of the event—a description of jewelry on the woman’s hand, the streak of half-cauterized flesh running from where it tore from the arm socket to the bottom of her palm, the way smoke curled from the remains of the school’s front entrance, and the pitiful two-ambulance response that limped its way to the scene nearly twenty minutes after the explosion.

Even now as he recalled the moment, he wouldn’t describe what he felt as horror or disgust, just a complete separation from everything around him, an encompassing numbness. His wife kept telling him he needed to talk to someone about what he was feeling. But that was just the point, he thought, even if he couldn’t say it to her. He couldn’t quite articulate what he was feeling, beyond paralysis. Making the most rudimentary decisions had been excruciating since his return. It required shaking off the dull fog he’d come to prefer, the one that rescued him from having to connect to anything. The pangs of anxiety constricting his chest as he glanced from the screen of the laptop to his jangling cell phone were the most palpable emotional response he’d had in recent memory. The interruption required a decision of some kind. He wasn’t certain he could comply.

But in keeping with the career he had chosen, curiosity got the better of him. He looked at the incoming number. The area code matched that of his hometown in central Connecticut, less than an hour from where he and Emma now lived in Tarrytown, but his parents had long since retired to South Carolina. He made his decision to answer just as the call went to voice mail, which infuriated him even more than the interruption. For Peter, missing something by mere minutes or seconds was the sign of a journalist who didn’t do his job, who failed to act in time. Worse, he’d allowed a good number of calls to go to voice mail while under his deadline, and the thought of having to sift through them all made him weary. The phone buzzed to announce a new message. He looked again from his screen to the phone, paralyzed by the uncertainty and all-consuming indecision he’d begun exhibiting upon his return from Kashmir. After several minutes of failed progress on his article, the right words refusing to come to him, he committed to the message.

He grabbed the phone and dialed, browsing online news sites as inconsequential voices droned on. His editor. His sister. His roommate from college asking if he’d heard the news and to call him back. Finally, a message from Patricia Roedlin in the Office of Public Affairs at his alma mater, Ignatius University in Greenwich, Connecticut. Father Ingram, the president of the university, had passed away unexpectedly, and the university

would be delighted if one of their most successful graduates would be willing to write a piece celebrating his life for the Hartford Courant.

The news failed to register. Again, a somewhat common experience since his return. He tapped his fingers on the desk and spotted the newspaper on the floor where Emma had slipped it under the door. In the course of their ten-year marriage, Peter had almost never closed his office door. “If I can write an article with mortar shells falling around me, I think I can handle the sound of a food processor,” he had joked. But lately that had changed, and Emma had responded without comment, politely leaving him alone when the door was shut and sliding pieces of the outside world in to him with silent cooperation. He picked up the newspaper, scanned the front page, and moved on to the local news. There it was, in a small blurb on page three. “Pedestrian Killed in Aftermath of Ice Storm.” The aging president of a local university was the victim of an accident after leaving a diner in Bronxville. His body was found near the car he’d parked on a side street. Wounds to the back of his head were consistent with a fall on the ice, and hypothermia was believed to be the cause of death.

To Peter’s eye the name of the victim, James Ingram, stuck out in bold print. An optical illusion, he knew, but it felt real. He reached for the second drawer on the right side of his desk and opened it. A pile of envelopes rested within. He rooted around and grasped one. The stamp was American but the destination was Peter’s address in Jammu. The script was at once shaky and assured, flourishes on the ending consonants with trembling hesitation in the middle. Folded linen paper fell from the opened envelope with little prompting. He scanned the contents of the letter, front and back, until his eyes landed on the closing lines.

“Well, Peter my boy, it’s time for me to close this missive. You may well be on your way to Kabul or Beirut by the time this reaches you, but I have no small belief that the comfort it is meant to bring will find its way to you regardless of borders.

You do God’s work, Peter. Remember, the point of faith isn’t to explain away all the evil in this world. It’s

meant to help you live here in spite of it.

Benedictum Nomen Iesu,

Ingram, SJ

Peter dialed Patricia Roedlin’s number. She was so happy to hear from him it made him uncomfortable. “I’d be honored to write a piece,” he spoke into the phone. “He talked about you to anyone who would listen, you know,” she said. “I think he would be pleased. Really proud.” He heard her breath catch in her throat, the stifled sobs that had likely stricken her since she’d heard the news.

“It’s okay,” he found himself saying to this complete stranger, an effort to head off her tears. “I can’t imagine what I’d be doing now if it weren’t for him.” He hoped it would give her time to recover. “He was an extraordinary man and an outstanding teacher.”

Patricia’s breathing slowed as she regained control. “I hope to do him justice,” Peter finished. It was only when he hung up the phone that he noticed them, the drops of liquid that had accumulated on the desk where he’d been leaning forward as he talked. He lifted a hand to his face and felt the moisture line from his eye to his chin. After several long months at home, the tears had finally come.


Excerpt from The Shepherd’s Calculus by C.S. Farrelly. Copyright © 2017 by C.S. Farrelly. Reproduced with permission from C.S. Farrelly. All rights reserved.


About the Author

C.S. Farrelly was raised in Wyoming and Pennsylvania. A graduate of Fordham University (BA, English), her eclectic career has spanned a Manhattan investment bank, the NYC Department of Education and, most recently, the British Government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office. She was a 2015 Presidential Leadership Scholar and obtained a master’s degree from Trinity College Dublin, where she was a George J. Mitchell scholar.

She has lived in New York City, Washington, D.C., Ireland, and England. An avid hiker, she camped her way through East Africa, from Victoria Falls to Nairobi. She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her family.

The Shepherd’s Calculus is her first novel.

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