Spotlight on Ten Dead Comedians by Fred Van Lente—and a Giveaway!

************

Title: Ten Dead Comedians
Author: Fred Van Lente
Publisher: Quirk Books
Publication Date: July 11, 2017
Genre: Mystery

************

Synopsis

As the story opens, nine comedians of various acclaim are summoned
to the island retreat of legendary Hollywood funnyman Dustin Walker.
The group includes a former late-night TV host, a washed-up improv
instructor, a ridiculously wealthy “blue collar” comic, and a
past-her-prime Vegas icon. All nine arrive via boat to find that
every building on the island is completely deserted. Marooned without
cell phone service or wifi signals, they soon find themselves being
murdered one by one. But who is doing the killing, and why?

A darkly clever take on Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None
and other classics of the genre, Ten Dead Comedians is a marvel
of literary ventriloquism, with hilarious comic monologues in
the voice of every suspect. It’s also an ingeniously plotted
puzzler with a twist you’ll never see coming!

************

Purchase Links:

Barnes & Noble // Kobo // Amazon // Indiebound

************

An Excerpt from Ten Dead Comedians

Chapter One

I

A bleep, a boop, a shudder, a swoosh, and there it was, on each of their phones:

Hey there Funny Person.

Steve Gordon didn’t see it at first.

He had a good excuse, though.

He was dying.

Steve had died before, of course. He knew how. At the Laugh Shack in Portland, Maine, in front of that bachelorette party. At that open mic in Des Moines, when he was first starting out. At his SNL audition, after his career was basically already over.

Dying on stage, in the middle of a set, was something every stand-up experienced. It was as inevitable and unavoidable as bad weather. The pros distinguished themselves from the wannabes by not buckling under the weight of the dead room, of the surly crowd, of their own (hopefully temporary) suckitude.

But tonight felt different.

Tonight Steve felt like he was running out of lives.

“Hey, thanks, everybody, for that great welcome. Are you ready to be the best Finance Department we can be?”

Bifocals, bad ties, and pantsuits peered at him from the audience of the Chicago Improv Underground. The theater used to be a strip club and still retained the vague air of being somewhat ashamed of itself, with its low ceiling and bad lighting and support beams blocking sight lines from a third of the seats. Like every other performer, Steve had to memorize the location of the ancient lump of blue putty covering the hole in the floor where the stripper pole had been sawed off to avoid tripping or stubbing his toe on it.

The tumbledown surroundings were part of the act—they helped draw herds of accountants from the Whatever Co. out of the glass tomb of their conference room, down the concrete staircase beneath the Aldi supermarket, for this quarter’s team-building seminar.

This ritualized descent into the underworld was all part of the initiation process. The staircase was flanked by black-and-white photos of the famous before they were famous, fresh-faced and poor, honing their skills on the Underground stage before their careers began to flourish on Saturday Night LiveMad TV, and The Daily Show.

By the time the audience arrived in the black box theater and took their broken-down seats, they understood they were ensconced in the loam of celebrity: the Improv Underground was the rich, dark soil from which impossible dreams were raised.

Or, in Steve’s case, the pure earth to which he had returned.

In the stairwell’s Before pictures, the audience had seen him twenty years younger. Now, as Steve faced them, one eye on the floor to avoid the ex-stripper-pole bump, they were looking at the After.

“All right, folks. For our first team-building exercise, I’m going to hunt you for sport, so if you could all line up against the far wall and get your panda costumes . . . What? No? C’mon, being hunted builds character! Man is the most dangerous game.

“No, you can tell I’m joshing. Tonight we’re gonna have fun improvising sketches, just like we used to do on What Just Happened? Teddy, could you come up here on stage? Teddy is the manager of Improv Underground. He’s a professional funnyman like me, which means he’s also an amateur degenerate.

“So we’ll make up a comedy scene right here in front of you. Now somebody give me a place. Any place. Doesn’t matter where. No wrong answers here. The one word you can’t use in improv is ‘no.’”

“Auschwitz!” blurted out a middle-aged CPA in the back row.

Steve blinked.

“Oooo . . . okay? Auschwitz. Sure! Now can somebody give me a profession?”

“Rodeo clown!” yelled the Executive Senior Vice President of Something in the front.

Steve swallowed. “No,” he said.

“You said that was the one thing you couldn’t say!” the ESVPoS exclaimed with a near-audible harumph.

“No, I said that was the one thing you couldn’t say,” Steve said. And looking at Teddy’s face when he said it, and the face of the executive’s assistant sitting next to him when he said it, he knew instantly he shouldn’t have said it, because this guy hadn’t been told no by anybody still with a job since 1998.

At that moment Steve thought maybe he really was dying. The spark that had animated his existence since he was a kid was sputtering out, that desire to make people laugh, to book that next gig, to not punch an audience member in the face. What was it all for, the bad food and canceled flights? He could go back to law school like his mother always wanted. At his age, it would be a sitcom waiting to happen. Or he could flip burgers.

Flipping burgers was sounding better and better by the second. His phone vibrated again. Steve ignored Teddy’s look, a look that said “Oh no you will not check your damn phone while you’re in the middle of a gig, you pitiful sketch-show has-been” and turned his back on the audience.

“Just a second,” Steve said. “I’ll be right back.”

He pulled out the phone out and read:

II

You don’t know who I am, but you MIGHT know who I work for.

*****
Excerpted from TEN DEAD COMEDIANS © Copyright 2017 by Fred Van Lente. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

************

About the Author

Fred Van Lente is the #1 New York Times bestselling, award-winning writer of comics like Archer & Armstrong (Harvey Award nominee, Best Series), Action Philosophers! (American Library Association Best Graphic Novel for Teens), and Cowboys & Aliens (with Andrew Foley), the basis for the feature film.

His many other titles include Weird Detective, The Comic Book History of Comics, The Incredible Hercules (with Greg Pak), Taskmaster, Marvel Zombies and The Amazing Spider-Man.

He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, the playwright Crystal Skillman, and some mostly ungrateful cats.

Fred loves hearing from readers at fred.vanlente@gmail.com

Find Fred on his Website and Twitter.

************

To enter the drawing for a print copy
of Ten Dead Comedians, leave a
comment below. The winning name will
be drawn Saturday evening, July 22nd.
Open to residents of the US.

************

“[this] debut fiction could possibly become, in its own way, as
much of a classic as the novel it honors.”—New York Journal of Books

“Van Lente’s first foray into mystery is both a tribute to
Agatha Christie and a dark showbiz satire.”—Library Journal

Spotlight on Beyond Reason by Kat Martin

************

Title: Beyond Reason
Series: The Texas Trilogy #1
Author: Kat Martin
Publisher: Zebra/Kensington
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Genres: Mystery, Romantic Suspense

************

Synopsis

Five weeks ago Carly Drake stood at her grandfather’s grave.
Now she’s burying Drake Trucking’s top driver, and the cops
have no leads on the hijacking or murder. Faced with bankruptcy,
phone threats and the fear of failure, Carly has to team
up with the last man she wants to owe—Lincoln Cain.

Cain is magnetic, powerful, controlling—and hiding more than
one secret. He promised Carly’s granddad he’d protect her. The
old man took a chance on him when he was nothing but a kid
with a record, and now he’s the multi-millionaire owner of a rival firm.

But Linc’s money can’t protect Carly from the men who’ll do
anything to shut her down, or the secrets behind Drake Trucking.
If she won’t sell out, the only way to keep her safe is
to keep her close . . . and fight like hell.

************

Purchase Links:

Barnes & Noble // Kobo // iBooks // Google Play //
Amazon // Indiebound  // Books-A-Million
Kensington Books // Hudson Booksellers

************

An Excerpt from Beyond Reason

Lincoln Cain, no middle name.  Entrepreneur, developer, investor, philanthropist.  Born in Pleasant Hill, Texas.  July 4, 1980.  Which made him thirty-five years old, six years older than Carly.

Co-owner of Texas American Enterprises.  His partner’s name was Beaumont Reese.  She’d heard of Beau Reese, son of a wealthy Texas family, famous for his flashy lifestyle and his expensive hobby–driving formula one race cars, kind of a Texas Paul Newman.  Though apparently he just drove for fun these days.  When she had a little more time, she’d Google Reese, too.

Carly glanced down the page.  There was a ton of stuff about Cain.  One sentence caught her eye: net worth estimated at over five hundred million.  Oh. My. God.

Mother deceased.  No mention of his father.  She went back to the web links, spotted the word Prison and clicked up the link.  It was an article in People Magazine.

She didn’t have time to read it all so she skimmed the page, paused halfway down the article.  An entire section was devoted to Cain’s teenage years, which mentioned a stint in juvenile detention when he was a junior in high school and another stay as a senior.

At age eighteen, he’d been arrested for attempted armed robbery of a convenience store along with two other youths, all three apprehended at the scene.  Having just turned eighteen, Cain was sentenced to two years in prison while the other two kids, still seventeen, received lesser sentences and their juvenile records were sealed.  Cain had never revealed their identities.

According to the article, after prison Cain had turned his life around and set himself on a course that had made him the multi-millionaire he was today.

A knock at the door ended her reading.  Instead of bursting in as she usually did, Donna waited for permission, which meant Lincoln Cain had arrived.

She shut down the computer and answered the knock.  “Come on in.”

Donna opened the door, her cheeks flushed and her eyes bright, the same affect the man had had on Brittany.  “I’m sorry to bother you, Ms. Drake, but Mr. Cain is here to see you.”

Cain walked past Donna, wearing a charcoal suit today, Armani or Gucci, or some equally posh designer.  At Delta, she had worked the first class section.  She knew high-dollar clothes.  The briefcase he carried was expensive belted leather.

Carly stood up behind the desk in her jeans and T-shirt.  Suddenly remembering what was printed on the front, she froze.  Cain’s gold-flecked green eyes ran over the words Bad Mother Trucker, and his mouth edged up.

Carly hadn’t expected the jolt of heat that faint smile created.  She hadn’t expected to notice his lips at all, the slight tilt, the sexy way they curved.  She wished to God she hadn’t.

She looked down at the bold white letters.  “I…umm… spilled coffee on my blouse and one of the guys loaned me this.  I thought I’d have time to change, but…”  She shrugged.  She was babbling.  It was ridiculous.  She didn’t owe Cain an explanation.

“No need to apologize,” he said.  “I don’t always wear a suit and tie.”

One of her eyebrows went up.  “Just most of the time?”

“Only when I have to.”

“Which is most of the time?”

His faint smile broadened.  Those faint groves appeared and her stomach lifted.  Forgodsake, he was only a man, good looking, but so what?  He was also rich and powerful, undoubtedly controlling.  She’d dated men like Cain.  She had no interest in doing it again.

He said, “Too damned much of the time–that’s for sure.”

She relaxed a little.  Maybe he actually had a sense of humor.  “Why don’t we sit down?”  Carly walked over to the round Formica table and metal folding chairs in the corner, and both of them sat down.

“So what can I do for you, Mr. Cain?”

“Linc would suit me better.  If I can call you Carly.  I feel as if I’ve known you for a while.  Your grandfather talked a lot about you.”

She wished Joe had talked about Lincoln Cain.  Why hadn’t he?  But then they never seemed to have enough time to really talk at all.

“All right, Linc, what can I do for you?”

“As I said before, your grandfather and I were friends.  He helped me when I needed it.  In return, I’m here to help you.”

She studied the strong, masculine lines of his face, noticed the beginnings of a beard shadow along his jaw.  She wondered if she could trust him.  “Help me how?”

Cain opened his briefcase and pulled out a sheaf of papers, set the thick stack of pages down on the table.  “This is an offer to buy Drake Trucking.  I expect you to take it to your financial advisor as well as your attorney, but you’ll find the offer is extremely generous and the transaction will hold you harmless from any problems from the day we close the deal.”

She couldn’t believe it.  Lincoln Cain was there to buy the company.  Damn, she wished she’d had time to read more about him.

“What makes you think I’m interested in selling?”

One of his dark eyebrows went up.  “I assumed that would be your first priority now that Joe’s gone.  You’re telling me you don’t want to sell?”

She didn’t have to think about it.  She had known almost from the day Joe died.  “That’s exactly what I’m saying.  My grandfather’s health issues left Drake in less than perfect financial condition, but with a little hard work–“

“Why go to all the trouble?  If you take my offer, you can do whatever you want.  You moved back here from San Francisco, I understand.  As a flight attendant, you traveled all over the world.  I can’t imagine you’d want to stay here in Iron Springs.”

He was beginning to annoy her.  “Then you’re a man of little imagination, Mr. Cain.  Because that is exactly my plan.  I’ve traveled.  I’ve done the things I wanted to do.  Now I’m ready for a change.  I need a new challenge and I’ve found it right here.  I’m going to rebuild Drake Trucking, make it the successful company it was before.”

“It’s just Linc, and that’s a fine ambition, but how much experience have you had running a trucking firm?”

Not enough, but that was beside the point.  “I learned a lot from Joe.  I’ve forgotten some of it, but it’s beginning to come back to me.  I’m a fast learner and a hard worker.  I’ll figure things out.”

Cain shoved the paperwork across the table.  “At least take a look, see what I’m offering.”

Her irritation mounted.  Carly stood up from her chair.  “I’ll be blunt, Mr.  Cain.  Drake Trucking is edging toward bankruptcy.  It isn’t worth whatever you’re offering–which you would find out as soon as you looked at the books.  So I’m saving you a lot of grief by simply saying no.”

Cain stood up, too, his towering height putting her at a disadvantage.  “Buying companies in trouble and turning them around is what I do.  I’ll cut you a deal that will cover your debts and let you walk away with a cool million dollars.”

A million dollars!  And all her worries over.  For one crazy instant, she actually considered it.  Carly shook her head.  “Thank you, but no.”  She had a debt to repay.  And she needed a purpose in life.  She had found it here in Iron Springs.

His deep voice softened, rolled over her like a caress.  “This deal isn’t just about money, Carly.  It’s about friendship.  Mine and Joe’s.  Look at the paperwork, give yourself some time to think it over, then call me.  My card is in the envelope.”

Carly slid the paperwork back to him.  “I’m not interested.  I appreciate whatever it is you think you’re doing, but I’m not selling.  Drake Trucking is not for sale.”

He studied her for several long moments.  “You’re not what I expected,” he said softly, making a little curl of heat slip into her stomach.  Picking up the papers, he put them back in his briefcase and closed the lid.

He pulled a card out of his inside coat pocket and set it down on the table.  “If you need anything, call me.  It’s what your grandfather would want.”  Grabbing the handle of the briefcase, he turned and walked out of the room.

As soon as the door closed behind him, Carly sagged down in the chair.  Her hands were trembling.  A shaky breath whispered out.  Just being in the same room with Cain made her nervous.

She hoped he wouldn’t come back again.

************

About the Author

Credit Juan Carlos

Kat Martin is the New York Times bestselling author of sixty-five books across multiple genres.  Sixteen million copies are in print and she has been published in twenty-one foreign countries, including Japan, France, Argentina, Greece, China, and Spain. Her books have been nominated for the prestigious RITA award and won both the Lifetime Achievement and Reviewer’s Choice Awards from RT Book Reviews.

A resident of Missoula, Montana, Kat is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara, where she majored in Anthropology and also studied History. She and her author husband, L.J. Martin, spend their winters in Ventura, California. She is currently writing her next Romantic Suspense.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Goodreads * BookBub * Amazon

************

Follow the tour here.

************

Spotlight on After the Fall by Julie Cohen

************

Title: After the Fall
Author: Julie Cohen
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
Genres: Women’s Fiction

************

Synopsis

From the author who brought you Dear Thing,
Julie Cohen, comes After the Fall–a poignant,
beautifully heartbreaking novel about what it
means to be family, the ties that bind us, and
the secrets that threaten to tear us apart.

When an unfortunate accident forces Honor back
into the lives of her widowed daughter-in-law, Jo,
and her only granddaughter, Lydia, she cannot wait
to be well enough to get back to her own home.
However, the longer she stays with Jo and Lydia, the
more they start to feel like a real family. But each of
the three women is keeping secrets from the others that
threaten to destroy the lives they’ve come to know.

Honor’s secret threatens to rob her of the independence
she’s guarded ferociously for eighty years.

Jo’s secret could destroy the “normal” family life
she’s fought so hard to build and maintain.

Lydia’s secret could bring her love―or the loss of
everything that matters most to her.

One summer’s day, grandmother, mother and
daughter’s secrets will be forced out in the open
in a single dramatic moment that leaves them
all asking: is there such a thing as second chances?

************

Purchase Links:

Barnes & Noble // Kobo // Amazon // Indiebound

************

“Give this perfect blend of laugh-out-loud and
heart-tugging moments to readers who like
complicated, realistic relationships joyously rendered,
like those from Jojo Moyes or Jill Mansell.”
-Booklist (Starred Review)

“Cohen is a talented author who has touched
upon a topic that is very much in the news today
and has given it a positive voice.”
-RT Reviews (4 Stars!)

“After the Fall explores a truth that we’re inclined
to ignore–that loving on any and every level takes
massive amounts of courage. And that sometimes we need
that courage to even love ourselves. And that while
taking that unsure first step may be frightening,
“falling” is ultimately and always worth the pain.”
-Jennifer Scott, bestselling author of The Accidental Book Club

************

About the Author

Photo by Rowan Coleman

Julie Cohen grew up in Maine, USA, and studied English at Brown University, Rhode Island and Cambridge University in England. She moved to the UK permanently to research fairies in Victorian children’s literature at the University of Reading, and then taught English at secondary level. She now writes full time and is a popular speaker and teacher of creative writing. She lives with her husband and their son in Berkshire. She is also the author of Dear Thing and Where Love Lies.

http://www.julie-cohen.com/

Spotlight on Secrets of Death by Stephen Booth

************

Title: Secrets of Death
Series: A Cooper & Fry Mystery #16
Author: Stephen Booth
Publisher: Witness Impulse
Publication Date: April 4, 2017
Genres: Mystery, Police Procedural

************

Synopsis

Residents of the Peak District are used to tourists
descending on its soaring hills and brooding valleys.
However, this summer brings a different kind of visitor
to the idyllic landscape, leaving behind bodies and secrets.

A series of suicides throughout the Peaks throws
Detective Inspector Ben Cooper and his team in
Derbyshire’s E Division into a race against time to find
a connection to these seemingly random acts — with
no way of predicting where the next body will turn
up. Meanwhile, in Nottingham Detective Sergeant
Diane Fry finds a key witness has vanished…

But what are the mysterious Secrets of Death?

And is there one victim whose fate wasn’t suicide at all?

************

Purchase Links:

Barnes & Noble // Kobo // iBooks // Amazon

************

An Excerpt from Secrets of Death

And this is the first secret of death. There’s always a right time and place to die.

It was important to remember. So important that Roger Farrell was repeating it to himself over and over in his head by the time he drew into the car park. When he pulled up and switched off the engine, he found he was moving his lips to the words and even saying it out loud – though only someone in the car with him would have heard it.

And he was alone, of course. Just him, and the package on the back seat.

There’s always a right time and place to die.

As instructed, Farrell had come properly equipped. He’d practised at home to make sure he got everything just right. It was vital to do this thing precisely. A mistake meant disaster. So getting it wrong was inconceivable. Who knew what would come afterwards? It didn’t bear thinking about.

Last night, he’d experienced a horrible dream, a nightmare about weeds growing from his own body. He’d been pulling clumps of ragwort and thistles out of his chest, ripping roots from his crumbling skin as if he’d turned to earth in the night. He could still feel the tendrils scraping against his ribs as they dragged through his flesh.

He knew what it meant. He was already in the ground. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Wasn’t that what they said at your graveside as they shovelled soil on to your coffin? The dream meant his body was recycling back into the earth. In his soul, he’d already died.

Farrell looked around the car park. There were plenty of vehicles here. Although it was the middle of the week, a burst of sunny weather had brought people out into the Peak District in their droves. They’d come to enjoy the special peace and beauty of Heeley Bank, just as he had.

Of course, in many other ways, they weren’t like him at all.

He let out a sigh of contentment. That was the feeling this scenery gave him. The green of the foliage down by the river was startling in its brightness. The farmland he could see stretching up the sides of the hills was a glowing patchwork between a tracery of dry-stone walls. Cattle munched on the new grass in the fields. Further up, a scattering of white blobs covered the rougher grazing where the moors began.

The sight of those sheep made Farrell smile. He’d always associated them with the Peaks. This landscape wouldn’t be the same without sheep. They’d been here for centuries, helping to shape the countryside. And they’d still be here long after he’d gone.

It really was so green out there. So very green.

But there’s always a right time and place.

A silver SUV had pulled into a parking space nearby. Farrell watched a young couple get out and unload two bikes from a rack attached to their vehicle. One of the bikes had a carrier on the back for the small girl sitting in a child seat in the car. She was pre-school, about two years old, wearing a bright yellow dress and an orange sun hat. Her father lifted her out, her toes wiggling with pleasure as she felt the warm air on her skin. The family all laughed together, for no apparent reason.

Farrell had observed people doing that before, laughing at nothing in particular. He’d never understood it. He often didn’t get jokes that others found hilarious. And laughing when there wasn’t even a joke, when no one had actually said anything? That seemed very strange. It was as if they were laughing simply because they were, well . . . happy.

For Roger Farrell, happy was just a word, the appearance of happiness an illusion. He was convinced people put on a façade and acted that way because it was expected of them. It was all just an artificial front. Deep down, no one could be happy in this world. It just wasn’t possible. Happiness was a sham – and a cruel one at that, since no one could attain it. All these people would realise it in the end.

With a surge of pity, Farrell looked away. He’d watched the family too long. Across the car park, an elderly man hobbled on two sticks, accompanied by a woman with a small pug dog on a lead. She had to walk deliberately slowly, so that she didn’t leave the man behind. The pug tugged half-heartedly at its lead, but the woman yanked it back.

These two had probably been married for years and were no doubt suffering from various illnesses that came with age. Did they look happy? Farrell looked more closely at their faces. Definitely not. Not even the dog.

He nodded to himself and closed his eyes as he leaned back in his seat. His breathing settled down to a steady rhythm as he listened to the birds singing in the woods, the tinkle of a stream nearby, the quiet whispering of a gentle breeze through the trees.

As the afternoon drew to a close, he watched the vehicles leave one by one. People were taking off their boots, climbing into cars and heading for home. All of them were complete strangers, absorbed in their own lives. They could see him, of course. An overweight middle-aged man with a receding hairline and a distant stare. But they would never remember him.

A few minutes later, a young man jogged past on to the woodland path, checking his watch as he ran, as if he knew the time was approaching. A black Land Rover eased into a spot opposite Farrell’s BMW, but no one emerged.

And finally, the lights went off in the information centre. A woman came out and locked the front doors. She took a glance round the car park, seemed to see nothing of any interest to her, and climbed into a Ford Focus parked in a bay reserved for staff. Farrell watched as she drove away.

When it was quiet and there were only a few cars left, he leaned over into the back seat and unzipped the holdall. Carefully, Farrell lifted out the gas canisters, uncoiling the plastic tubing as it writhed on to the seat. He placed the canisters in the footwell. They looked incongruous sitting there, painted in fluorescent orange with their pictures of party balloons on the side.

It had taken him a while to find the right brand of gas. Some manufacturers had started putting a percentage of air into the canisters, which made them quite useless for his purpose. That was when things went wrong, if you didn’t check and double-check, and make sure you got exactly the right equipment.

Still, you could find anything on the internet, as he well knew. Information, advice, someone to talk to who actually understood how you were feeling. And the inspiration. He would be nothing without that. He wouldn’t be here at Heeley Bank right now.

And this is the first secret of death. There’s always a right time and place to die.

Farrell said it again. You could never say it too often. It was so important. The most important thing in the world. Or in his world, at least.

He reached back into the holdall and lifted out the bag itself. He held it almost reverently, like a delicate surgical instrument. And it was, in a way. It could achieve every bit as much as any complicated heart operation or brain surgery. It could change someone’s life for the better. And instead of hours and hours of complicated medical procedures on the operating table, it took just a few minutes. It was so simple.

With black tape from a roll, he attached the tubing to the place he’d marked on the edge of the bag, tugging at it to make sure it was perfectly secure. Everything fine so far.

Farrell had spent days choosing a piece of music to play. The CD was waiting now in its case and he slid it out, catching a glimpse of his own reflection in the gleaming surface. He wondered what expression would be in his eyes in the last seconds.

Despite his reluctance to see himself now, he couldn’t resist a glance in his rearview mirror. Only his eyes were visible, pale grey irises and a spider’s web of red lines. His pupils appeared tiny, as if he were on drugs or staring into a bright light. And maybe he was looking at the light. Perhaps it had already started.

The CD player whirred quietly and the music began to play. He’d selected a piece of Bach. It wasn’t his normal choice of music, but nothing was normal now. It hadn’t been for quite a while. The sounds of the Bach just seemed to suit the mood he was trying to achieve. Peace, certainly. And a sort of quiet, steady progression towards the inevitable conclusion.

As the sun set in the west over Bradwell Moor, a shaft of orange light burst over the landscape, transforming the colours into a kaleidoscope of unfamiliar shades, as if the Peak District had just become a tropical island.

Farrell held his breath, awed by the magic of the light. It was one of the amazing things he loved about this area, the way it changed from one minute to the next, from one month to another. Those hillsides he was looking at now would be ablaze with purple heather later in the summer. It was always a glorious sight.

For a moment, Farrell hesitated, wondering whether he should have left it until August or the beginning of September.

And then it hit him. That momentary twinge of doubt exploded inside him, filling his lungs and stopping the breath in his throat until he gathered all his strength to battle against it. His hands trembled with the effort as he forced the doubt back down into the darkness. As the tension collapsed, his shoulders sagged and his forehead prickled with a sheen of sweat.

Farrell felt as though he’d just experienced the pain and shock of a heart attack without the fatal consequences. His lips twitched in an ironic smile. That meant he was still in control. He remained capable of making his own mind up, deciding where and when to end his life. He was able to choose his own moment, his own perfect location.

There’s always a right time and place to die.

Roger Farrell took one last glance out of the window as the light began to fade over the Peak District hills.

The place was here.

And the time was now.

***

Excerpt from Secrets of Death by Stephen Booth.  Copyright © 2017 by Stephen Booth. Reproduced with permission from Witness Impulse. All rights reserved.

************

About the Author

A newspaper and magazine journalist for over 25 years, Stephen Booth was born in the English Pennine mill town of Burnley. He was brought up on the Lancashire coast at Blackpool, where he attended Arnold School. He began his career in journalism by editing his school magazine, and wrote his first novel at the age of 12. The Cooper & Fry series is now published by Little, Brown in the UK and by the Witness Impulse imprint of HarperCollins in the USA. In addition to publication in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, translation rights in the series have so far been sold in sixteen languages – French, German, Dutch, Italian, Swedish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Czech, Romanian, Bulgarian, Japanese and Hebrew.

Stephen left journalism in 2001 to write novels full time. He and his wife Lesley live in a village in rural Nottinghamshire, England (home of Robin Hood and the Pilgrim Fathers). They have three cats. In recent years, Stephen Booth has become a Library Champion in support of the UK’s ‘Love Libraries’ campaign, and a Reading Champion to support the National Year of Reading. He has also represented British literature at the Helsinki Book Fair in Finland, filmed a documentary for 20th Century Fox on the French detective Vidocq, taken part in online chats for World Book Day, and given talks at many conferences, conventions, libraries, bookshops and festivals around the world.

Catch up with Stephen Booth:

Website // Twitter // Facebook // Goodreads

************

Follow the tour:

4/04 Review @ A Bookaholic Swede
4/05 Showcase @ Buried Under Books
4/06 Showcase @ Bound 2 Escape
4/07 Showcase @ Books, Dreams, Life
4/08 Review @ Book Reviews From an Avid Reader
4/09 Interview/showcase @ CMash Reads
4/10 Showcase @ Bookalicious Traveladdict
4/11 Showcase @ Celticladys Reviews
4/12 Review @ Bless their hearts mom
4/14 Interview @ BooksChatter
4/15 Guest post @ The Book Divas Reads
4/16 showcase @ Lauras Interests
4/18 Guest post @ Books Direct
4/19 Showcase @ The Bookworm Lodge
4/20 Review @ Booksies Blog
4/26 Showcase @ The Pulp and Mystery shelf
4/27 Review @ JBronder Book Reviews
4/28 Review @ sunny island breezes
4/29 Review @ Booklove

************