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$2.99 January 2021 eBook Deals

If you need a good book (or two) to get you through the chilly start to the year, look no further! Check out the ebooks we have on sale throughout the month of January!


Crimson Lake by Candice Fox

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How do you move on when the world won’t let you?

12:46: Claire Bingley stands alone at a bus stop
12:47: Ted Conkaffey parks his car beside her
12:52: The girl is missing . . .

Six minutes in the wrong place at the wrong time—that’s all it took to ruin Sydney detective Ted Conkaffey’s life. Accused but not convicted of a brutal abduction, Ted is now a free man—and public enemy number one. Maintaining his innocence, he flees north to keep a low profile amidst the steamy, croc-infested wetlands of Crimson Lake.

There, Ted’s lawyer introduces him to eccentric private investigator Amanda Pharrell, herself a convicted murderer. Not entirely convinced Amanda is a cold-blooded killer, Ted agrees to help with her investigation, a case full of deception and obsession, while secretly digging into her troubled past. The residents of Crimson Lake are watching the pair’s every move . . . and the town offers no place to hide.

Gathering Dark, the third book in the Crimson Lake series, is on sale March 16th! Catch up on the series by downloading the ebook of Crimson Lake now!

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Strong from the Heart by Jon Land

Image Place holder  of - 79Caitlin Strong wages her own personal war on drugs against the true power behind the illicit opioid trade in Strong from the Heart, the blistering and relentless 11th installment in Jon Land’s award-winning series.

The drug crisis hits home for fifth generation Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong when the son of her outlaw lover Cort Wesley Masters nearly dies from an opioid overdose. On top of that, she’s dealing with the inexplicable tragedy of a small Texas town where all the residents died in a single night.

When Caitlin realizes that these two pursuits are intrinsically connected, she finds herself following a trail that will take her to the truth behind the crisis that claimed 75,000 lives last year. Just in time, since the same force that has taken over the opiate trade has even more deadly intentions in mind, specifically the murder of tens of millions in pursuit of their even more nefarious goals.

The power base she’s up against—comprised of politicians and Big Pharma, along with corrupt doctors and drug distributors—has successfully beaten back all threats in the past. But they’ve never had to deal with the likes of Caitlin Strong before and have no idea what’s in store when the guns of Texas come calling.

At the root of the conspiracy lies a cabal nestled within the highest corridors of power that’s determined to destroy all threats posed to them. Caitlin and Cort Wesley may have finally met their match, finding themselves isolated and ostracized with nowhere to turn, even as they strive to remain strong from the heart.

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Margaret Truman’s Deadly Medicine by Donald Bain

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Donald Bain continues the beloved Capital Crimes series with Margaret Truman’s Deadly Medicine, a gripping tale of greed, betrayal—and murder.

If someone in the pharmaceutical industry came upon a cheaper, non-addictive, and more effective painkiller, would he kill for it?

Washington D.C. private detective Robert “Don’t call me Bobby” Brixton, along with his mentors, attorneys Mac and Annabel Smith, discover that the answer is a resounding “Yes,” as they try to help Jayla King, a medical researcher at a small D.C. pharmaceutical firm, carry on the work of her father. His experiments in the jungles of Papua New Guinea in search of such a breakthrough product led to his brutal murder and the theft of his papers.

Did Jayla’s father’s lab assistant kill the doctor and steal his research? Is this shadowy figure prepared to kill again to keep Jayla from profiting from her father’s work? Does her recent paramour’s romantic interest reflect his true feelings–or will he sell her out and reap the rewards for himself? And to what lengths would Big Pharma’s leading lobbyist go to cover up his involvement, and to protect a leading champion of the pharmaceutical industry–a Georgia senator with a shady past?

As Mac, Annabel, and Brixton soon realize, no pill can ease the pain that the answers to these questions inflict on everyone in this tale of greed, betrayal–and murder.

The 31st volume in the Margaret Truman’s Capital Crimes series, Murder on the Metro, is written by Jon Lan and is coming out on February 16th. Catch up on the series by downloading the ebook of Margaret Truman’s Deadly Medicine now!

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These sales end 1/31/2021 at 11:59 pm.

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Mysteries & Thrillers We’re Looking Forward to in 2021

When it’s cold outside, is there a better place to be than warm inside and deep in the pages of a thrilling book you can’t put down? From hot debuts to the return of some familiar favorites, Forge has got something for every mystery fan this season.


January 12th

Placeholder of  -14Waiting for the Night Song by Julie Carrick Dalton

Julie Carrick Dalton’s searing debut novel is an exploration of female friendships, a love song to the natural world, and a harrowing portrait of what happens when long-buried secrets are unearthed.

 

January 26th

Image Placeholder of - 10The Paradise Affair by Bill Pronzini

Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Bill Pronzini’s next Carpenter & Quincannon mystery is here! The Paradise Affair takes a favorite mystery-solving husband and wife team all the way to Honolulu for an unforgettable adventure.

 

February 9th

Image Place holder  of - 10Comes the War by Ed Ruggero

Ed Ruggero’s blistering follow-up to Blame the Dead follows Lieutenant Eddie Harkins on another murder investigation set against the backdrop of World War 2. This time he’s on the case in Britain and finds himself tied up in a web of Soviet secrets.

 

February 16th

Poster Placeholder of - 57Margaret Truman’s Murder on the Metro by Jon Land

Jon Land’s first entry in Margaret Truman’s New York Times bestselling Capital Crimes series is a thrill-ride from beginning to end. When Robert Brixton uncovers a terrorist plot with unimaginable consequences, it’s a race against time to save the lives of millions.

 

March 2nd

Place holder  of - 66Blood on the Table by Gerry Spence

New York Times bestselling author and trial attorney Gerry Spence’s newest thriller takes us to backcountry Wyoming where an 11-year-old boy takes the witness stand against a vicious prosecutor, corrupt police, and a prejudiced judge to keep his family safe.

 

The Eagle & The Viper by Loren D. Estleman

Multiple award-winning novelist Loren Estleman’s newest thriller is set in a world of terrorist training camps, international assassins, civilians in danger… and a threat against Napoleon. It’s Paris in 1800 and Estleman reveals just how close our world came to total war.

 

March 16th

Gathering Dark by Candice Fox

#1 New York Times bestselling author Candice Fox takes you from the gleaming mansions of Beverly Hills to the gritty streets of Compton in her newest standalone thriller. Four “bad girls” – a convicted killer, a gifted thief, a vicious ganglord and a disillusioned cop are a missing girl’s only hope. 

 

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Get a First Look at the Cover for Gathering Dark by Candice Fox!

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#1 New York Times and Globe and Mail bestselling author Candice Fox is back and better than ever in her new standalone thrillerGathering Dark. Featuring complex female characters and an atmospheric Los Angeles setting, this book is a thrilling race against time that will keep you guessing until the very end.

About Gathering Dark:

A convicted killer. A gifted thief. A vicious ganglord. A disillusioned cop. Together they’re a missing girl’s only hope.

Dr. Blair Harbour, once a wealthy, respected pediatric surgeon, is now an ex-con down on her luck. She’s determined to keep her nose clean and win back custody of her son. But when her former cellmate begs for help to find her missing daughter, Blair is compelled to put her new-found freedom on the line.

Detective Jessica Sanchez has always had a difficult relationship with the LAPD. And her inheritance of a multi-million dollar mansion as a reward for catching a killer has just made her police enemy number one.

It’s been ten years since Jessica arrested Blair for cold-blooded murder. So when Jessica opens the door to the disgraced doctor late one night she expects abuse, maybe even violence. What comes next is a plea for help…

Here’s an exclusive first look at the cover for GATHERING DARK by Candice Fox, and keep scrolling down to read a special first sneak peek:

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Cover Design by Katie Klimowicz


BLAIR

I looked up into the eye of a gun. She’d been that quiet. That fast. At the edge of my vision I’d half-seen a figure pass the front window of the Pump’n’Jump gas station, a shadow-walker blur against the red sunset and silhouetted palm trees. That was it. She stuck the gun in my face before the buzzer had finished the one-note song that announced her, made her real. The gun was shaking, a bad thing made somehow worse. I put down the pen I’d been using to fill out the crossword.

Deep regret: Remorse. Maybe the last word I would ever write. One I was familiar with.

I spread my fingers flat on the counter, between the bowl of spotted bananas at a dollar a piece and the two-for-one Clark Bars.

“Don’t scream,” the girl said.

As I let my eyes move from the gun to her, all I could see was trouble. There was sweat and blood on her hand, on the finger that was sliding down the trigger, trying to find traction. The safety switch was off. The arm that held the weapon was thin and reedy, would soon get tired from holding a gun that clearly wasn’t hers, was too heavy. The face beyond the arm was the sickly purple-gray of a fresh corpses. She had a nasty gash in her forehead that was so deep I could see bone. Fingerprints in blood on her neck, also too big to be her own.

Screaming would have been a terrible idea. If I startled her, that slippery finger was going to jerk on the trigger and blow my brains all over the cigarette cabinet behind me. I didn’t want to be wasted in my stupid uniform, my hat emblazoned with a big pink kangaroo and the badge on my chest that truthfully read “Blair” but lied “I love to serve!” I had a flash of distracted thought, wondering what my young son, Jamie, would wear to my funeral. I knew he had a suit. He’d worn it to my parole hearing.

“Whoa,” I said, both an expression of surprise and a request.

“Empty the register.” The girl put out her hand and glanced through the window. The parking lot was empty. “And give me the keys to the car.”

“My car?” I touched my chest, making her reel backward, grip the gun tighter. I counseled myself not to move so fast or ask stupid questions. My bashed-up Honda was the only car visible, at the edge of the lot, parked under a billboard. Idris Elba with a watch that cost two college funds.

“Car, cash,” the girl said. Her teeth were locked. “Now, bitch.” “Listen,” I said slowly. For a moment I commanded the room. The

burrito freezer hummed gently. The lights behind the plastic face of the slushie machine made tinkling noises. “I can help you.”

Even as I said the words, I felt like an idiot. Once, I’d been able to help people. Sick children and their terrified parents. I’d worn surgical scrubs and suits; no kangaroos, no bullshit badges. But between then and now I’d worn a prison uniform, and my ability to help anyone had been sucked away.

The girl shuffled on her feet, waved the gun to get me moving. “Fuck you and your help. I don’t need it. I need to get out of here.”

“If you just—”

My words were cut off by a blast of light. The sound came after, a pop in my eardrums, a whump of pressure in my head as the bullet ripped past me, too close. She’d blown a hole in the Marlboro dispenser, just over my right shoulder. Burned tobacco and melted plastic in the air. My ears ringing. The gun came back to me.

“Okay,” I said. “Okay.”

I went to the register, snuck a sideways look at her. Gold curls. A small, almost button nose. There was something vaguely familiar about her, but during my time in prison I’d probably cast my eye over a thousand troubled, edgy, angry kids who knew their way around a handgun. I took the keys from the cup beside the machine.

“This is a cartel-owned gas station,” I said. I realized my hands were shaking. Soon I’d be sweating, panting, teeth chattering. My terror came on slowly. I’d trained it that way. “You should know that. You hit a place like this and they’ll come for you and your family. You can take the car, but—”

“Shut up.”

“They’ll come after you,” I said. I unlocked the register. She laughed. I glanced sideways at her as I scooped out stacks of cash. The laugh wasn’t humor, it was ironic scorn. Something sliced through me, icy and sharp. I looked at the windows before me, at our reflections. She was looking out there, too, into the gathering dark. No one else was visible. We seemed suddenly, achingly alone together and yet terrifyingly not alone. I handed her the cash.

“Someone’s already after you,” I surmised. She gave a single, stiff nod. I slowly took my car keys from my pocket and dropped them into her hand. When the barrel of the gun swept away from me, it was like a clamp loosening from around my windpipe.

I watched her turn and run out of the shop, get in the car, and drive away.

Through the windows, Koreatown at night seemed to breathe a sigh of relief, to become unpaused. Long-haired youths knocked each other around on the corner. A man returning home from work let the newspaper box slap closed, his paper tucked under his arm. The malignant presence I’d felt out there when the girl had been in the store was gone.

I could have called the police. If not to report the robbery, to report a girl running from something or someone with the furious desperation of a hunted animal, a girl out there in the dark, pursued, surviving for who knew how long. But Los Angeles was full of people like that; always had been. A jungle, prey fleeing predators. I’d give the girl a little head start with my car before I reported it missing. I lifted my shirt and wiped the sweat from my face on the hem, trying to regulate my breathing.

My addiction pulsed, a short, sharp desire that made me pick up my phone beside the register, my finger hovering, ready to dial. I forced myself to put the phone down. The clock on the wall said I had an hour left of my shift. I thought about calling Jamie but knew he’d be asleep.

Instead I went to the ATM in the corner of the store. I slipped my card into the machine and extracted four hundred dollars, about the amount  I knew the girl had taken. I went back and put the notes in the register. Though  I’d  never  met  the  gas  station’s  true  owners,  I’d  known cartel women in the can, and had picked up enough Spanish over the years to eavesdrop on their stories. The girl, whoever she was, didn’t need the San Marino 13s on her tail. Neither did I.

I hardly looked at the ATM receipt before I crumpled it and let it fall into the bin. It was going to be a long walk home.

JESSICA

“Here’s what I don’t understand,” Wallert said. He’d been saying it all day.  Listing  things  he  didn’t  get.  Waiting  for  people  to  explain  them to him. Jessica guessed they were probably into the triple digits now of things Wallert couldn’t comprehend. “What the hell did you do on the Silver Lake case that I didn’t do?”

She didn’t answer, just looked at Detective Wallert’s bloodshot eyes in the rear-view mirror. Jessica hated the back seat of the police cruiser, didn’t belong there. She was used to the side of Wallert’s ugly head, not the back. A biohazard company gave the back seat a proper clean out every month or so, but everybody knew that it never really got clean. The texture of the leather wasn’t right. Gritty in places. But Wallert was looking at her more than he was driving. Combined with the frequent sips of bourbon-spiked coffee from his paper coffee cup, he was eyeing the road about one in every fifteen seconds. In this case, she was in the dirtiest but likely the safest place in the car. Detective Vizchen, who they were babysitting for the night, sniffed in the front passenger seat when Jessica didn’t answer Wallert, as if her silence was insolence.

“I was there,” Wallert continued. They cruised by a bunch of kids standing outside a house pumping music into the night. “I was in the case. I was available to the guy whenever he needed me. Day or night. He knew that. It was me who came up with the lead about the trucker.” “A lead that went nowhere,” Jessica finally said. “A lead I told you would go nowhere before you began half-heartedly pursuing it. You weren’t of much assistance to Stan Beauvoir the few times he called on you.”

“This. Is. Bull. Shit,” Wallert snarled. He slammed the steering wheel with his palm to the beat of his words. Jessica said nothing. To say that Wallert wasn’t of much assistance on the Silver Lake case was an understatement. The nearly decade-old case had been handed to her and Wallert as a “hobby” job, a spare-time filler, something Wallert hadn’t taken seriously from the beginning. The series of abductions and murders of young women taken from parking lots in the Silver Lake area had ended as suddenly and mysteriously as it had begun, four women dead within the space of three months in 2007. Wallert was sure that the killer had been a long-haul trucker, someone who probably carried on their killing spree in another state, making it someone else’s problem. He’d looked at the photographs of the four young women who’d gone missing when Jessica first handed them to him and yawned, then remarked on Bernice Beauvoir’s full, pouty lips. “You don’t get lips like that from suckin’ jawbreakers,” he’d said. The picture was of Bernice’s head sitting like a trophy on a tree stump in the wooded area where she had been found.

“House like that,” Vizchen broke the silence. “Gotta be—what? Five

million dollars?”

“You  don’t  just  give  a  five-million-dollar  house  to  someone  who worked on a case for you.” Wallert’s eyes seared into Jessica in the rearview mirror. “Just say you sucked his dick, Jess. It would make me feel better.”

Jessica felt her teeth lock together.

“I’d suck a dick for five million dollars,” Vizchen mused.

“Vizchen, you shut your mouth or I’ll stick my gun in it. See how you like the taste of that,” she snapped.

They pulled in to Lonscote Place. Blackened houses, perfect stillness. Wallert kept the emergency lights off but gunned it to number 4652, where the sighting had occurred, and slammed the car into park. He wanted to get this over with so he could go back to his pity party.

Jessica got out of the car, checked her weapon, called in the 459— possible burglary—and told the operator they were responding as the nearest unit to the scene. She looked at the moonlight reflecting off the stucco walls of the houses around her, dancing through diamond wire onto bare yards. No dogs barking. Wallert’s hand on her shoulder was like a hammer swinging down.

“You’re going to take the house, aren’t you?” He turned her too roughly. “Is it just like that? They just give you the keys?”

“Get your fucking hands off me, Wally.” Jessica shoved him in the chest. “I’ve had one phone call about this mess. One. I know as much as you do. I’ve got to meet with the executor of the guy’s will and see what it’s  all  about.  This  could  all  be  a  stupid  goddamn  mistake,  you  know that? You’re treating me like I’ve taken the inheritance and moved to Brentwood already, and all I’ve got so far is—”

“Every house in Brentwood has a pool,” Vizchen said. He was leaning against the car, his arms folded. “Place has got a pool, right?”

“If  there  was  any  justice”—Wallert  poked  her  in  the  chest—“you’d split the house with me. It’s only fair. I was on that case, too.”

“You didn’t work it! You—”

“I don’t see any goddamn prowler.” Wallert stormed back toward the car and flung a hand at the surrounding neighborhood. “It’s a false alarm. Let’s get out of here. I need a proper drink.” He leaned on the car rather than getting in, big hands spread on the roof, his round belly pressed against the window. He looked at Vizchen. “Even if she gave me a quarter of what it’s worth, I’d be set for life.”

“Set for life,” Vizchen agreed, nodding, smiling at Jessica in the dark like an asshole.

Jessica heard the whimper.

She thought it was Wallert crying and was about to blast him for     a day’s covert drinking ending in a mewling, slobbering, pitiful mess. But some instinct told her it was a sound carried on the wind, something distant, half-heard. Sound bounces around the poorer neighborhoods. All the concrete. She looked right, toward the silhouette of the mountains.

“Doesn’t Harrison Ford live over there?” Vizchen wondered aloud. “I know Arnie does.”

“Did you guys hear that?”

“She got on pretty damn well with the guy. The father. Beauvoir,” Wallert grumbled to Vizchen. “I mean, if you’d seen them together. She spent  hours  at  his  place.  Just  ‘talking  about  the  case,’  about  the  dead daughter. Yeah, right. Now we know the truth.”

“Shut the fuck up, both of you.” Jessica flipped her flashlight on. “I heard something. That way. We gotta go. We gotta check this out.”

“You check it out.” Vizchen jutted his chin at her. “You’re the hero cop.”

The sound returned, faintly this time, no more than a whisper on the breeze. Vizchen smirked at her as Wallert fished in the car for his cup.

Jessica headed east along the curve of the road, waiting for the sound to come again. Between the houses she caught a slice of gold light. Movement. Rather than continuing to follow the road around, she walked down the side of a quiet house, brushed past wet palm fronds as she found the gate leading into the yard. She vaulted it, jogged across the earth in case of dogs, vaulted the next fence. The house in Brentwood and Wallert’s rage were forgotten now. She could feel the heat. The danger. Like electricity in the air. She hit the ground and grabbed her radio as she headed for the garage of a large brick home.

A body. She knew the instant her boot made contact with it in the driveway, the sag of weight forward with the impact and then back against the front of her foot. It was still warm. Damp. She bent down and felt around in the shadows of a sprawling aloe vera bush that was growing over the low front fence. Belly, chest. Ragged, wet throat. No pulse. Jessica’s heart was hammering as she grabbed her radio.

“Wally, I’ve got a code two here,” she said. “Repeat. Code two at 4699 Lonscote Place.”

A sound in the garage ahead of her, up the driveway. The roller door was raised a foot or so, and from its blindingly bright interior she heard the whimper come again. A thump. A growl.

“Wallert, are you there? Vizchen?” she whispered into her radio. Nothing.

“Wallert, Vizchen, respond!” She squeezed the receiver so that the plastic squeaked and crackled in her hand. Static. “Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.”

Jessica pulled her gun and headed for the garage. Stopped at the corner of the building to radio command.

“Detective Jessica Sanchez, badge 260719. I’ve got a 10–54 and code three at 4699 Lonscote Place, Baldwin Village. Repeat, code three.”

There was a flash in her mind of Wallert and Vizchen laughing. Another officer might have wondered about the two of them, why they weren’t responding. If they were in danger. But not Jessica, not today. She’d heard Vizchen’s words, knew she would hear them again in the coming weeks, from her brethren at the station. You’re the hero cop. No one was coming to help her. She’d betrayed them all with the Brentwood inheritance. She’d marked herself as a traitor.

She sank to the ground, flattened, and rolled under the garage door, rose and held the gun on him. He was a big man, even crouching as he was, a heaving lump of flesh, bent back straining. At first she thought the old woman and the young man were kissing on the ground. Intimate. Mouth to throat. But then she saw the blood on his hands, all over his face, her neck. Jessica thought of vampires and zombies, of magical, impossible things, and had to steady herself against a pool table. Her mind split as the full force of terror hit it, half of it wailing and screaming at her to flee. The other half assessing what this was. A vicious assault in progress.  Assailant  likely  under  the  influence  of  drugs.  Bath  salts—they’d been hitting the streets hard in the past few weeks, making kids do crazy things: gouge their own eyes out, kill animals, ride their bikes off cliffs. She was watching a man eat a woman alive.

“Drop her!” she shouted. An absurd part of her brain noted she was talking as if to a dog. A wolf. A werewolf. “Drop her! Stand back!”

The man raised his bloody face. The old woman in his hands bucked, tried to shift away. Too weak. Almost dead. Every vein in the man’s body was sticking out like a slick blue rope on his sweat-soaked skin. He wasn’t seeing Jessica. He was trapped in his fantasy.

“Back up now or I’ll shoot!”

The man lifted the woman to his lips. Jessica fired over his head, hit a dart board hanging on the wall, sending it clanging to the ground. He got up, staggered away from the noise. She fired again and hit him in the left shoulder. The bullet flecked his shirt with blood, embedded itself in the muscle. He didn’t flinch. The man came for her, gathering speed in three long strides. She fired again, a double tap in the chest. A kill shot. He kept coming. A big hand seized her face and shoved her into the wall, then dragged her toward him with the strength of an inhuman thing.

She thought of Wallert as the man’s teeth bit down into the flesh of her bicep. Her partner out there, somewhere in the dark, laughing at her.

Jessica grabbed at the man’s rock-hard shoulders and landed a knee in his crotch. They went to the ground, rolled on the floor together. He pinned her on her front, his belt buckle jutting into her hip. Another bite on her left shoulder blade, the pop sound of the fabric as his teeth cut clean through her shirt. Jessica pushed off the ground the few inches she could manage and smacked her elbow into the man’s face. The crunch of his nasal bone. He bit her left shoulder. Clamping down, trying to tear the flesh away, a good mouthful. She looked into the eyes of the now dead old woman only feet away from her and thought again about how no one was coming.

He tried to get on top of her, accidentally nudging her dropped gun within reach. Jessica grabbed the weapon and twisted under him, put the gun to his forehead as the teeth came down again toward her.

She fired.

Preorder Your Copy of Gathering Dark, available March 16, 2021:

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Listen to an Audiobook Excerpt of Gone by Midnight by Candice Fox!

Poster Placeholder of - 32Did you know that Gone by Midnight by Candice Fox is also available as an audiobook? That’s right, you can listen to the adventures of the rag-tag team of private investigators, Ted Conkaffey and Amanda Pharrell, as they solve the newest crime plaguing the Australian town of Crimson Lake.

All three books in the series are narrated by Euan Morton, who has been playing King George in the musical Hamilton on Broadway since 2017. His narration for the first book in the series, Crimson Lake, won the 2019 Audie Award for Best Thriller/Suspense Audiobook. He’s also narrated other Forge audiobooks, like The Devil’s Half Mile by Paddy Hirsch, so he has a knack for telling a chilling and thrilling story out loud. Read more about Gone by Midnight and listen to the first three chapters below!


 

 

Crimson Lake is where people with dark pasts come to disappear—and where others vanish into thin air…

When Sara Farrow’s son goes missing from a locked hotel room, she frantically turns for help to Crimson Lake’s unlikeliest private investigators—disgraced cop Ted Conkaffey and convicted killer Amanda Pharrell.

Just the sort of twisted puzzle that gets Amanda’s blood pumping, the disappearance couldn’t have come at a worse time for Ted. He has just this one week with Lillian, the daughter he barely knows…but the clock is ticking for the lost boy. 

Amanda and Ted’s search dredges up the area’s worst characters, and the danger they uncover could well put Ted’s own child in deadly peril.

Order the audiobook

Order the Hardcover

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5 Things You Might Not Know About Candice Fox

By Alison Bunis

With her blend of vivid, eccentric characters and engrossingly horrific crimes, every book from Australian author Candice Fox is a thrill to read. She’s a New York Times bestseller with James Patterson and their Harriet Blue series, and her next book Gone by Midnight, the next book in the Crimson Lake series, will be out on March 10.

We know the wait is tough, but we’re making it easier with some fun facts to pass the time about mystery-writing superstar Candice Fox.

 

She’s Spent Christmas at a Prison

No, not as an inmate. When she was young, her dad worked as a parole officer at the local prison, and every year they had a company Christmas party there. The food was prepared by the inmates, who were then put in lockdown for the night. Then the kids would go on tour where they saw the exercise yard, the mental ward, inmates in their cells, and collections of confiscated shivs. She’s sure they’ve stopped doing that by now, though…

 

Her Mother Took Care of a *Lot* of Children During Candice’s Childhood

In addition to her five siblings, there were usually six foster kids living with Candice and her family at any given time. From her experiences living with them, she heard various dark stories of what her foster siblings had gone through giving her a different perspective into how grim the world could be – a view that was probably further enforced by the fact that a favorite family outing spot was the local cemetery, where the kids could run and play but it wasn’t too crowded for their mom to keep an eye on them.

 

She Got Into Crime Early

Too early, some might say. Candice recalls picking up her first true crime book, called Killer Kids, at the age of seven. When she first met her future collaborator James Patterson, she mentioned that she’d been a fan since she read his book Kiss the Girls when she was twelve years old. A shocked Patterson replied that her mother really should have hidden away the crime books better.

 

She Describes Her Mother as a “Functional Hoarder”

One of Candice’s mother’s favorite pastimes was, and still is, looking through piles of what other people are throwing out to see what can be taken home. When she was growing up, the whole family would ride around in a minivan with their mom and go “scabbing,” as they called it. Some of her mom’s most memorable finds were a huge disco ball, five (at least) pairs of mannequin arms, a giant papier-mâché flamingo, a life-sized mannequin in a full bridal outfit, and three sheds full of hubcaps.

 

Her First Computer Was a Piece of Trash

Literally – it came from one of her mom’s scabbing outings. Candice began asking her mother for her own laptop so she could remove her writing from the family computer and keep her siblings from reading it and making fun of it as only siblings can do. Not long after, her mom proudly brought back an old, bulky laptop with a green screen that had to be plugged in at all times. It was no longer cutting-edge, but Candice was thrilled to be able to keep her writing private.

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Excerpt: Gone by Midnight by Candice Fox

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Image Place holder  of - 21#1 New York Times and Globe and Mail bestselling author Candice Fox delivers a compulsive new crime thriller with Gone by Midnight.

Crimson Lake is where people with dark pasts come to disappear—and where others vanish into thin air…

Four young boys are left alone in a hotel room while their parents dine downstairs. When Sara Farrow checks on the children at midnight, her son is missing.

Distrustful of the police, Sara turns to Crimson Lake’s unlikeliest private investigators—disgraced cop Ted Conkaffey and convicted killer Amanda Pharrell. For Ted, the case couldn’t have come at a worse time. Two years ago a false accusation robbed him of his career, his reputation, and most importantly, his family. But now Lillian, the daughter he barely knows, is coming to stay in his ramshackle cottage by the lake.

Ted must dredge up the area’s worst characters to find the missing boy. The clock is ticking, and the danger he uncovers could well put his own child in deadly peril.

Gone by Midnight will be available on March 10, 2020. Please enjoy the following excerpt.


One of them was missing.

I snapped out of my sleep, the sweltering night materializing around me, loud through the open windows of the house. The rain had come and gone, but the reptilian and amphibian creatures that dwelled in the forest around my property kept up their barking, hoping for more to break the heat.

I threw back the sheets, sitting on the edge of the bed as the thought evolved from a panicked impulse into a clear message.

I’d put six geese away that evening. Not seven.

It was something I felt rather than knew. My geese are well-trained. They obey my commands like fat, feathered soldiers, and when I’d opened up their coop at sunset and told them to get in, I’d observed a row enter the little house without feeling the need to do a roll call. There should have been six gray, one white. I went out into the hall and through the kitchen, finding my way by the square cutouts of moonlit rainforest in each room, until I grabbed my torch and pushed through the back screen door.

My heart was beating hard. The dog, Celine, knew something was up immediately, guessed wrongly that it was her residency on the cane lounge—a terrible misdeed. She slithered guiltily off the cushions as I jogged down the stairs and through the wet grass to the goose coop.

Six heads popped up from under wings.

“Shit,” I whispered, pushing on feathered chests as they came crowding at the entrance to be let out. I refastened the door of the coop and swung the torch around the property, the wire fence at the waterline, the gently lapping lake, still as pale glass in the moonlight. I braced for that terrible sight—a scattering of feathers trailing into the woods where the missing bird had been dragged by a fox or wild cat. Celine was whimpering at the edge of the porch, wagging her tail encouragingly so that it thumped the boards as she tried to work out my mission.

My geese are important to me. I had rescued the family of birds from certain death on the banks of Crimson Lake a year earlier, unaware that they would be the ones to rescue me. I’d taken comfort in caring for creatures more helpless than myself after an accusation had destroyed my life and taken away my home, my job, and my family.

Now one of them was gone.

I did a lap of the house and caught sight of a pale mound underneath the lounge Celine had been sleeping on. The bird was tucked against the wall at the very back corner of the porch. I flattened on the wooden boards and shined the torch on the bird, and she lifted her head slightly.

“Peeper,” I called, reaching. “What are you doing, you silly thing?”

She wouldn’t come. I jumped up and slid the couch away, and lifted the large, warm bird from the ground. I knew immediately that something wasn’t right. When I picked up the geese they usually peddled their feet in protest. Peeper’s legs remained limp. I set her down and she stood for only a second before sinking again into a bundle, her head tucked against her chest.

“Oh no.” I lifted her once more with shaking hands. “No, no, no.”

 

 

I drove furiously. A part of my brain was already whispering placations about the bird in the box in the back of the car, trying to prepare for that awful moment when I arrived at the veterinarian’s office seconds too late. Her limp body at the bottom of the plastic carrier, a wing splayed, the neck like a dropped rope. It’s a stupid bird, I thought. They can’t live forever. You gave them the best life you could. Though the words were easy to find, they were impossible to believe.

The headlights lit the dirt roads lined by high golden walls of cane, making fluttery embers of thousands of grasshoppers and moths disturbed by my passage. I glanced at the clock. It was three in the morning. The run-down houses and abandoned barns in the fields near my home were dark and empty.

I knew only one vet in the area. I’d taken the geese there the day I found them, when I was drunk and still ravaged by my time in prison. The veterinarian had made no effort to disguise his hatred when he discovered who I was, but he had already treated my birds. I was headed there when I saw for the first time a new, bright blue sign in the distance: VET.

I scanned the façade quickly for any indication that they gave twenty-four-hour emergency care, but there was none. I grabbed the box from the back of the car anyway, not daring to look inside, and ran to the glass doors.

I pounded and yelled for only a few seconds before lights began flickering on at the back of the building. Hope. The silhouette that jogged toward me through the dark was petite and lean, a woman pulling a thin dressing gown around her. She must have lived above the surgery. I lowered my eyes to the box in my hands, but I knew there was going to be no disguising who I was. Everyone in the country knew me. My trial, and its aftermath, had been a national sensation. I began speaking before she could unlock the door.

“Please don’t turn me away,” I said. “My bird is sick. She’s really sick and needs help right now. I’ll go. Just please help her. She—”

“Why would I send you away?” The woman frowned at me. Her accent was British. Northern. My mind raced. Was she new to the country? Her big, green eyes were searching mine, no sign of recognition in them.

I swallowed, shook my head.

“No reason. I meant, uh. It’s just the hour. The terribly late hour.”

“Come in.” She held the door open and I slid past her. A wall of scent, disinfectant and animal fur, the husky smell of the bags of seed and dry dog food stacked on shelves near the counter.

In the light of the surgery room I got a better look at the doctor. Honey-colored hair falling from a hastily applied clip. Her small face was crowded with big, sumptuous features. I was prickling with emotions, relief and terror as she opened the box and peered inside.

“Oh hello, birdy,” she murmured, almost to herself. Then to me: “I’ll be thirty seconds.” She jogged into a back room. I couldn’t look into the box, did a restless lap of the surgery room instead. The certificate on the wall read Dr. Elaine Bass.

Dr. Bass came back in a minute dressed in a T-shirt and denim shorts, pulling on white latex gloves.

“I didn’t catch your name,” she said.

“It’s Ted. Collins.” One truth, one lie.

“Laney.” She smiled, reaching slowly into the box. “And this is?”

“Oh.” I felt heat come into my face. “Peeper. She’s a year old.”

“How long has she been unwell?”

“I don’t know.” The dread was returning. I watched as Laney lifted Peeper onto the examination table. “She didn’t go into the coop with the others at sunset. I found her under a couch.”

Laney took the big bird’s wing in her hand and pulled it gently away from the feathery body, stretching the beautiful arc, fanning shades of gray, black, cream. She felt around the base of the bird’s neck and smoothed back the feathers on her head.

“All right, Ted. I’m going to ask you to leave her with me.”

“Can I please stay?” I cleared my throat. “Just, you know. Until we know something.”

“Of course.” Laney gestured to the door through which we’d come. “Stay as long as you like.”

I heard her talking to my bird, calling her by her name, through the door to the waiting area. I read every brochure in the room, coming to the conclusion that there were far too many types of parasites in the world. When Laney fell silent, I sat on the couch and surrendered to my crushing worry.

The truth was, without my birds I might not have been able to recover from what had happened. On the side of the highway one fateful day, I’d pulled over to fix a noise in my car, not realizing that I’d parked only meters from a young girl waiting for a bus. She’d been abducted and brutally assaulted only minutes after I left her side. I was accused of the crime, charged, put on trial, and then the charges were dropped, the judiciary leaving me to be sentenced by the public when they couldn’t find the evidence to do it themselves.

I’d been an ordinary man. A drug squad cop. A husband. A father. Now I was Australia’s most hated man.

I’d fled to the property in the remote wetlands of Far North Queensland, and taken heart at caring for a group of birds who might have died without my help. They were a symbol of something for me. Of hope. Of worthiness.

When Laney appeared in the doorway an hour later, I realized with embarrassment that I had turned my thoughts to her to escape the tension of not knowing how Peeper was doing. I’d been wondering how long she’d been in the area. Whether she owned this shop or rented it. Why on earth she’d come from wherever it was she’d been born in England to this faraway tangle of rainforest on the edge of nowhere. It was a novelty for me to meet people who didn’t know me from my time in the media spotlight.

She didn’t mess around. “I’ll have to wait for some tests to come back, but I’m almost certain she’s got aspergillosis,” Laney said.

“That sounds bad.”

“It can be. But you may have brought her in just in time. Aspergillus is a fungus. Gets in the lungs.”

“Is it something I’ve done?”

“I’m sure it isn’t,” she said. “You seem like a pretty attentive owner. It’s the Tropical North. Fungus loves it here, and poultry are susceptible to it. Is this a pet goose or do you have a farm?”

“No, no, she’s a pet. But I have six others.”

“Huh.” She gave me an appreciative look. “The bird man of Crimson Lake.”

I managed a smile.

“Go home and check the others,” she said. “And keep an eye on their behavior over the coming days. Because Peeper separated herself off from the rest, the others may be fine. Empty all their water, clean out their living quarters, sterilize everything. I’m going to give you some potassium iodine drops and instructions for treating their water.”

She went behind the counter and started looking through bottles and packages there.

“Is she going to be okay, do you think?”

“Look.” Laney sighed, bringing a small bottle to me. “Ted, birds can be really flaky. It’s very difficult to predict in the early stages how treatment will go.”

I nodded, locking my eyes on the bottle in my hands, trying to keep my face hard.

“Give me your number and I’ll let you know how we go. Okay?” She rubbed my bare forearm, a gesture that surprised me and, it seemed, her. Her hand fluttered at her eyebrow, embarrassed. “If she makes it, I’ll have to have her here for a few days at least.”

We finished up, and Laney saw me to the door. I waved, a strange tingling in my chest as I climbed into the car. I put the feeling down to nerves. It was only a matter of time before this woman found out who I was, and most likely that realization would come swiftly, when an employee asked about the bird, perhaps, and she described me. She had run my credit card and failed to notice the different surname, but that was a lucky break. In a couple of days, if Peeper survived, I’d come back in to pick the bird up and find Dr. Bass’s warm smile had soured into the uncomfortable grimace I was used to seeing on the faces of most people I dealt with.

 

 

A heavy heart is best lightened by work. Though the sun was only just rising over the tips of the blue mountains across the lake, I parked beside my house and went right out the back. The birds marched out of their coop like they weren’t missing one of their number. I took the grain container from the edge of the porch and poured out a handful, settling among the birds as they stabbed hungrily at my palm with their beaks, spilling grain everywhere. Woman, the mother of the geese and the only pure white bird, stood at the back and eyed me without reducing herself to the indignity of hand-feeding.

In fact, I’d already cleaned out my goose coop and their water trays with a pressure cleaner the day before, because this was an important day, one I had been counting down to.

My daughter Lillian, who was almost three, was coming to visit me in my home for the first time.

My cleaning efforts had not been so much inspired by a desire to impress her as to impress her mother, my ex-wife, Kelly. After my arrest our marriage had dissolved, and she’d since taken up with a man who worked in the fitness industry, like her. Things were serious between them, and had been for some time. I didn’t know if Jett, the boyfriend, really believed the accusation against me, or if he was just a territorial dick, but I did know he was completely against leaving Lillian with me for several nights. The house needed to be clean, orderly, safe, welcoming. That meant fungus-free. I went around the side of the house to grab the pressure cleaner for a second round and stopped dead at the sight of the police car in my driveway.

I stared at the two officers as they exited the vehicle and headed toward me.

They were young patrol officers. A couple of Cairns boys, it looked like. I knew all of the cops in Crimson Lake and Holloways Beach by sight, some of them from working cases in the area as a private investigator with my partner, Amanda. A continued career in the police force had been out of the question after my arrest, but Amanda Pharrell had employed me on two murder investigations and a smattering of the private-eye jobs small towns seem to generate—poisoned family pets, cheating husbands, injury insurance fraud.

The young officers strode down the small incline toward me, and their lifted chins and smirks didn’t give me much confidence that this was a friendly visit. I turned on my heel and started walking back around the side of the house.

“Hold up, Conkaffey!”

I went straight to my phone, which I’d left on the cane lounge on the porch. Celine ran over to the officers and did a tight circle of them, sniffing and barking good-naturedly.

I picked up my phone and typed a quick message to Amanda. Three letters.

SOS.

I knew it was all I had time for. And I was right. In seconds the two officers were boxing me in against the wall of the porch.

“Ted Conkaffey?” snapped one of the officers, a square-headed guy with tattoos poking up from his collar, and a name badge that read Frisp.

“You know who I am,” I said.

“We’re here to escort you to Cairns. Please hand me that phone and do not resist arrest.”

This was my nightmare. The moment I had played and replayed a thousand times in my sleep, the moment that pressed into my consciousness sometimes hourly, no matter where I was or what I was doing. Fear of rearrest. It was happening. All I could hope for was that the action plan I had put in place for this very scenario would make the experience as painless as possible.

I had never been acquitted of the charges laid against me. They had simply been dropped due to a lack of evidence. When the tables started to turn in the courtroom, the state had decided they didn’t want to proceed with my trial for fear of my being acquitted and them never being able to charge me again. I’d gone to bed every night since my release knowing that it might be my last free night, that a piece of evidence or a witness out of the blue might reopen my case at any time. Although recently the New South Wales police had released an official statement saying that I was no longer a “person of interest” in the abduction and rape of Claire Bingley, few news outlets had given the statement much coverage. It’s hard to turn the great ship of public opinion around. Most people tend to believe an accusation as terrible as mine couldn’t possibly fall on the completely innocent. If I wasn’t guilty of Claire’s assault, I was surely guilty of something.

I had briefed my few allies on what to do if I was ever arrested again.

Step one, Amanda would receive my distress signal. She would open an app on her mobile that traced the location of my phone. She would then call my lawyer, Sean Wilkins, who would make plans to get to where I was being held as soon as possible. Amanda would then call my friend Dr. Valerie Gratteur, who would go to my house and oversee any police searches that occurred there to make sure they were performed properly.

While all this was happening, I would say nothing of consequence to the police and try to make sure my rights weren’t trampled on. It was a good plan, one I’d worked on carefully over a series of months. But of course it hinged on everyone following the script, and the two young cowboys standing before me didn’t look like they planned to do that at all.

I held on to my phone and backed into the corner of the porch.

“I will not comply without an arrest warrant.” I held up the phone and turned the camera toward them as I thumbed the screen. “I’m recording this, which is my right. I want to see the warrant and—”

Gamble, Frisp’s squat, long-armed partner, faked grabbing at the phone. As I swung it away from him, Frisp snatched it from my hand. My plan was already going awry. Celine stood on the edge of the porch, terror in her big black eyes, the hackles rising along her wide back. She gave a low, groaning growl, a sound I’d never heard her make. Dangerous, from the pit of her belly.

“Celine, it’s okay, honey,” I assured her.

“Hands on the wall.” Frisp pointed.

“I want to know what I’m being arrested for. That’s my right.”

“If that fat fucking dog goes for me, I’m going to swat it.” Gamble had a hand on his baton, Celine tracking him as he stepped back from her.

“You touch my dog and I will end you.” I looked Gamble in the eyes, my whole body trembling with rage. “I mean it. I will fucking. End. You.”

Gamble must have seen something in me that turned him. He glanced at Frisp for encouragement, but found none. Trying to breathe, I put my hands on the wall, still talking for the sake of the officers’ body recorders, which I hoped were turned on.

“I have not been read my rights,” I said. “I’ve seen no arrest warrant. My property has been unlawfully confiscated. I don’t know where I’m being taken or why.”

“Save the victim act for the courtroom, Conkaffey.” Frisp cuffed my hands behind my back, ratcheting the metal bands too tight.

My mind was crashing. I needed to stay calm, stay ahead of the game, but blood was rushing into my neck and face. I couldn’t swallow. I let them lead me to the car to avoid upsetting my animals any more than was necessary. As I turned the corner at the side of the house, I saw the geese were on their feet at the end of the yard, beaks high with distress, wings splayed out from panting breasts. Celine followed us, whimpering and growling, until I stopped beside the driveway.

“Celine, it’s okay. Go to your bed and stay.” She took uncertain, fearful steps back toward the porch. “Good girl. On your bed.”

In the car, Frisp tossed my phone into the center console, which was stuffed with cigarette butts. There was a pressure in my chest and back like hands pushing against my ribcage, squeezing the life out of me, making my eyes bulge. I sucked in air and tried to stay calm, tried to rationalize the situation. Amanda would already be putting the SOS plan into action. There was nothing I could do now to stay free, but I could do things to get free again. Time to change tactics. Gather information.

As far as I was concerned, there were three possibilities.

First, that my charges for the abduction, sexual assault, and attempted murder of Claire Bingley had been brought again. If that was the case, then I had a plan. I knew who had really assaulted Claire, and her father did, too. Months earlier, I had watched helplessly as Dale Bingley had murdered her attacker, a young man named Kevin Driscoll, in a Sydney warehouse. To prove my innocence to him, at least, I’d helped Claire’s father find the real perpetrator. And he’d enacted his brutal revenge. A diary had been found in Driscoll’s car that implicated him in Claire’s attack. I would use that to defend myself in a new trial. It wasn’t much, but it was something.

That brought about the second possibility. The New South Wales police had questioned me extensively over Kevin Driscoll’s death. They had bits and pieces to go on—my phone had been in the area of the crime scene, and I had communicated with Claire Bingley’s father in the lead-up to the murder. He had come to my house, slept on my porch, drunk my whiskey, and then been found at the scene, calm but unwilling to cooperate with police inquiries. Dale was in the same position I was—no one could prove that he had done more than stumble into the warehouse where Kevin Driscoll was killed. There was no murder weapon, no physical evidence to link him to the crime. His charges were dropped, but not dismissed. Maybe things had changed. Maybe I was being arrested now because they’d found something that could definitively put me in that warehouse on that awful night.

The third possibility was that something completely new had happened. That at some time in the past twenty-four hours a child had been stolen, assaulted, or abused, and I was being brought in as a suspect. It was possible that a new accusation against me had emerged. It had happened before. If that was the case, I needed to think about my alibi. I’d spent the whole night at home, only leaving to visit the vet at 3 a.m. But I’d sent messages and made phone calls, used the Internet. I was sweating, my brain thrumming with ideas, trying to form and consolidate strategies.

I was distracted from my turmoil as the patrol car rolled toward Cairns, gliding down Kenny Street. I expected the car to turn left for the police station nestled in the heart of the tourist district, but they continued along Wharf Street, past palm-lined beaches, the newly risen sun just beginning its onslaught on the pavement. They continued past the sprawling, empty parking lot of the convention center toward the blazing-white blocks of the White Caps Hotel.

The back parking lot entrance was blocked with police cars. As we approached I caught a glimpse of a huddle of press at one of the side entrances, where more police officers stood guard, stern-faced and unaccommodating.

“What’s happened?” I asked.

They ignored me.

“Hey, shitbird.” I nudged the wire mesh between Frisp’s seat and mine. “I asked a question. What’s going on?”

“What’s going on is you pushed your luck too far this time, kiddie-fucker.” He glared at me in the rearview mirror. “You should have quit while you were ahead.”

 

Copyright © 2020 by Candice Fox

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Eight Mysteries We Can’t Wait to Solve This Year

Eight Mysteries We Can’t Wait to Solve This Year

By Alison Bunis

The new year is finally here. Take a deep breath and savor the clean slate. But what’s that scent drifting in? Is that…new book smell?? Of course it is! Forge has a whole new lineup of fantastic mysteries for 2020, and they’ll be bringing you all the new book smell, mysterious thrills, and page-turning plot twists your heart could ever desire. To get you excited, here are just a few of the books you can look forward to this year from Forge. On your marks…get set…read!

 

Blame the Dead by Ed Ruggero (3/3/20)

Placeholder of  -33The nurses of the US Army’s Field Hospitals contend with heat, dirt, German counterattacks,  and a flood of horribly wounded GIs. At the 11th Field Hospital near Palermo, Sicily, in the summer of 1943, they also live with the constant threat of violent assault by one of their own—until someone shoots Dr. Myers Stephenson in the head. Former Philadelphia beat cop turned Military Police lieutenant Eddie Harkins is assigned the case, and he has no idea how to investigate a murder. But Eddie is determined to get to the truth. As his investigation gets more complicated and more dangerous, it becomes clear that this hospital unit is rotten to its core, that the nurses are not safe, and that the patients who have survived Nazi bullets are still at risk in this place that is supposed to save them.

Gone By Midnight by Candice Fox (3/10/20)

Image Placeholder of - 23It’s every parent’s nightmare. Four young boys are left alone in a hotel room while their parents dine downstairs. When Sara Farrow checks on the children at midnight, her son has disappeared. Distrustful of the police, Sara turns to Crimson Lake’s unlikeliest private investigators: disgraced cop Ted Conkaffey and convicted killer Amanda Pharrell. For Ted, the case couldn’t have come at a worse time. Two years ago a false accusation robbed him of his career, his reputation, and most importantly, his family. But now Lillian, the daughter he barely knows, is coming to stay in his ramshackle cottage by the lake. With Lillian at his side, Ted must dredge up the area’s worst characters to find the missing boy. The clock is ticking, and the danger he uncovers could put his own child in deadly peril.

Do No Harm by Max Allan Collins (3/10/20)

Place holder  of - 38The latest book in the Nathan Heller series picks up in 1954, with Heller taking on the Sam Sheppard case: a young doctor is startled from sleep and discovers his wife brutally murdered. He claims that a mysterious intruder killed his wife. But all the evidence points to a disturbed husband who has grown tired of married life and yearned to be free at all costs. Sheppard is swiftly convicted and sent to rot in prison. But just how firm was the evidence…and was it tampered with to fit a convenient narrative that settled scores and pushed political agendas?

Dead West by Matt Goldman (6/2/20)

Image Place holder  of - 70In Matt Goldman’s fourth standalone entry in the Nils Shapiro series, Nils accepts what appears to be an easy, lucrative job: find out if Beverly Mayer’s grandson is throwing away his trust fund in Hollywood after his fiancée’s tragic death. But nothing is what it seems in Los Angeles. Nils quickly suspects that Ebben Mayer’s fiancée was murdered, and that Ebben himself may have been the target. As Nils moves into Ebben’s inner circle, he discovers that everyone in Ebben’s professional life—his agent, manager, a screenwriter, a producer—seem to have dubious motives at best. With Nil’s friend Jameson White, who has come to Los Angeles to deal with demons of his own, acting as Ebben’s bodyguard, Nils sets out to find a killer before it’s too late.

Of Mutts & Men by Spencer Quinn (7/7/20)

Poster Placeholder of - 78Get ready for another canine crime caper, narrated by the world’s fluffiest PI: Chet the dog. When Chet and his human, Bernie Little of the Little Detective Agency. arrive to a meeting with hydrologist Wendell Nero, they’re greeted by a shocking sight—Wendell has been killed. What did the hydrologist want to see them about? Is his death a random robbery, or something more? Chet and Bernie, working for nothing more than an eight-pack of Slim Jims, are on the case. As Chet and Bernie look into Wendell’s work, their search leads to a struggling winemaker who has received an offer he can’t refuse. Meanwhile, Chet is smelling water where there is no water, and soon Chet and Bernie are in danger like never before…

The First to Lie by Hank Phillippi Ryan (8/4/20)

We all have our reasons for being who we are—but what if being someone else could get you what you want? After a devastating betrayal, a young woman sets off on an obsessive path to justice, no matter what dark family secrets are revealed. What she doesn’t know—she isn’t the only one plotting her revenge. 

An affluent daughter of privilege. A glamorous manipulative wannabe. A determined reporter, in too deep. A grieving widow who has to choose her own reality. Who will be the first to lie? And when the stakes are life and death, do a few lies really matter?

And Now She’s Gone by Rachel Howzell Hall (9/22/20)

Isabel Lincoln is gone.

But is she missing?

It’s up to Grayson Sykes to find her. Although she is reluctant to track down a woman who may not want to be found, Gray’s search for Isabel Lincoln becomes more complicated and dangerous with every new revelation about the woman’s secrets and the truth she’s hidden from her friends and family—even as Grayson is forced to confront secrets from the past she thought she’d finally left behind.

A Resolution at Midnight by Shelley Noble (10/13/20)

It’s Christmas in Gilded Age Manhattan. For the first time ever an amazing, giant ball will drop along a rod on the roof of the New York Times building to ring in the New Year. Everyone plans to attend the event. But the murder of a prominent newsman puts something of a damper on the festivities. And when a young newspaperwoman is the target of a similar attack, it’s clear this is not just a single act of violence but a conspiracy of malicious proportions. Really, you’d think murderers would take a holiday. Something absolutely must be done. And Lady Dunbridge is happy to oblige.

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Six Mysteries That Kept Us On Our Toes In 2019

Six Mysteries That Kept Us On Our Toes In 2019

By Alison Bunis

How was your 2019? Did you hit your Reading Challenge goal of 25 books by the end of the year? Or however many books you wanted to read? If so, color me impressed! If not, we’ve got a few suggestions here with enough spine-tingling, page-turning mojo to make sure you rip right through them. And since you won’t be able to put these mind-bending mysteries down until you’ve finished them, you’ll definitely be able to pad your end-of-the-year reading numbers.

 

Redemption Point by Candice Fox

book-9780765398512

A disgraced former cop and a convicted murderer don’t sound like the P.I. dream-team, but Candice Fox is so good, she not only makes it work—she makes you wonder why you didn’t think of it first. In Redemption Point, the follow-up to Crimson Lake, Ted and Amanda are pulled in separate directions. As Amanda investigates the murders of two young bartenders, Ted desperately tries to prove, once and for all, that he was not the man who brutally abducted Claire Bingley. If Ted can’t prove his innocence, he’ll be the victim of a brutal revenge plot orchestrated by Claire’s devastated father. As Ted and Amanda circle closer to the truth, redemption appears to be on the cards—but it may cost them their lives.

 

Tell Me No Lies by Shelley Noble

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Lady Dunbridge—Phil to her friends—has no intention of sitting around and missing out on all the fun just because she happens to be a widow. She got into some wonderfully scandalous adventures in Ask Me No Questions, and now she’s back with her signature brand of stylish sleuthing in Tell Me No Lies. Murder and scandal abound in Gilded Age Manhattan, after all. This time, a handsome young business tycoon has been murdered. His death could send another financial panic through Wall Street and out into the country beyond. Someone simply must do something. And Lady Dunbridge is happy to oblige.

 

The Murder List by Hank Phillippi Ryan

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Rachel North loves her life. Her hard work and dedication in law school have paid off in the form of a top-notch internship with the Boston DA’s office. She’s in a loving, happy marriage, and her handsome, devoted husband just happens to be a successful defense attorney. Rachel knows that it’s her smarts and her determination to do the right thing got her here, and she’s got a clear picture of what the future will bring. 

Problem is, of course, she’s wrong. And in this cat-and-mouse game, the battle for justice is about to become a fight for survival.

 

Hudson’s Kill by Paddy Hirsch

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When Justy Flanagan became a city marshal at the end of The Devil’s Half Mile, he thought he’d seen the worst New York City had to offer. Now, in 1803, the city continues to surprise him with worse depravities than anyone could have imagined. When a young black girl is found stabbed to death in an alleyway, Justy and his old friend Kerry O’Toole, now a schoolteacher, each follow the girl’s murder down separate paths to the same shadowy community on the edge of the growing city. There is a craven political conspiracy in the heart of the city, and it’s tied up with a stunningly depraved criminal enterprise—and Justy and Kerry must fight to save the city, save themselves, and bring the girl’s killer to justice.

 

They All Fall Down by Rachel Howzell Hall

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A group of sinners. An isolated island. A mysterious force picking them off one by one. If it sounds familiar, no, this is not And Then There Were None, although you’d be forgiven for thinking that—Rachel Howzell Hall was inspired by Agatha Christie’s classic when she sat down to write They All Fall Down. In this case, ten sinners become seven, and we’re updated to present day, where Miriam Macy receives a surprise invitation and sails off to a luxurious private island off the coast of Mexico with six other strangers. Surrounded by miles of open water, everyone soon learns that they have been brought to the remote island under false pretenses—and that they all harbor a secret. Danger lurks in the lush forest and the lonely mansion. Sporadic cell-phone coverage and miles of ocean keeps the group trapped. And strange accidents stir suspicions, as one by one . . .they all fall down

 

Heart of Barkness by Spencer Quinn

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No offense to all the human narrators in the crime fiction genre, but Chet the dog might just take the cake as our very favorite crime narrator. He’s a dog who solves crime—along with his P.I. pal Bernie, of course. Chet & Bernie are both music lovers, so when former country superstar Lotty Pilgrim turns up at a local bar, they drive out to catch her act. Bernie’s surprised to see someone who was once so big performing in such a dive, and drops a C-note the Little Detective Agency can’t afford to part with into the tip jar. And then the C-note is stolen right from under their noses—even from under Chet’s, the nose that misses nothing. Soon they’re working the most puzzling case of their career, and Chet & Bernie find themselves sucked into a real-life murder ballad where there’s no one to trust but each other.

 

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Four Books That’ll Convince You to Keep Your Lights on at Night

Four Books That’ll Convince You to Keep Your Lights on at Night

By Mary Halabani 

Spooky season is finally here! What better way to celebrate than with a stack of extra thrilling and oh-so chilling reads? Get comfortable in your coziest jammies and be sure to sleep with one eye open: it’s going to be a long night of suspicious noises from potential murder suspects.

Trust Me by Hank Phillippi Ryan 

Image Placeholder of - 45Ashlyn Bryant is on trial for the heinous murder of her daughter, and it’s all anyone in Boston can talk about. Mercer Hennessy is assigned to cover the trial and spin it into a best-selling true crime book, but the subject is hitting too close to home. In award-winning author Hank Phillippi Ryan’s Trust Me, the unlikely alliance between grieving journalist and accused killer leads to a dangerous cat and mouse game that is sure to leave you breathless.

When Old Midnight Comes Along by Loren D. Estleman

Image Place holder  of - 81Award-winning author Loren D. Estleman is back with a new Amos Walker mystery to satisfy longtime fans and new readers alike. This time, Amos Walker is hired by one Francis X. Lawes, a private-sector mover and shaker in Detroit politics, to prove that his wife, Paula, who disappeared under sinister circumstances six years ago, is dead, so he can remarry without having to wait for the seven-year-declaration-of-death rule to kick in. But Lawes is still the police’s prime suspect, and Walker has to wonder: if Lawes is really guilty, why would he put himself in jeopardy by hiring Walker to find the body and give the forensics team something to work on? 

Redemption Point by Candice Fox

Placeholder of  -94The follow-up to Candice Fox’s Crimson Lake is just as compulsively readable and thrilling. Ted Conkaffey is the most infamous man in Australia, accused but never convicted of abducting a young girl named Claire Bingley. He attempts to disappear to Crimson Lake, but nowhere is safe from Claire’s grieving father. Dale Bingley wants revenge on the real abductor, and if that fails, Ted will be his first casualty. Meanwhile, Amanda Pharrell–a convicted killer, and Ted’s partner in the PI business–takes on the homicide case of two young bartenders. Ted and Amanda must hunt for the truth to redeem themselves, but it could cost them their lives.

They All Fall Down by Rachel Howzell Hall

Place holder  of - 3A surprise invitation lands Miriam Macy and six other strangers on a luxurious private island off the coast of Mexico. But they’ve been invited there under false pretenses, and nothing is what it seems. When secrets begin to divide the strangers and strange accidents start to occur the guests are left wondering who to trust, and more importantly…who will be next?

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Listen to the Fourth Episode of the Innocent Ted Podcast!

Poster Placeholder of - 60Disclaimer: Innocent Ted is a fictional podcast from the Crimson Lake series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Candice Fox. Redemption Point, the newest book in the series, is on sale now.


Did Ted Conkaffey really commit one of Syndey’s most horrific crimes, or was he just at the wrong place at the wrong time? That’s the question The Innocent Ted Podcast is trying to uncover.

In episode three, you went inside Ted Conkaffey and Amanda Pharrell’s murder investigation. There’s more on Ted’s plate than just solving murders, though—he still needs to clear his name. To do that, he’s agreed to a television interview on the program Stories & Lives. Will the interview redeem him in the eyes of the Australian public, or will they become even more convinced of his guilt? Listen in on an excerpt from that fateful interview.

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More information on Redemption Point:

When former police detective Ted Conkaffey was wrongly accused of abducting Claire Bingley, he hoped the Queensland rain forest town of Crimson Lake would be a good place to disappear. But nowhere is safe from Claire’s devastated father.

Dale Bingley has a brutal revenge plan all worked out — and if Ted doesn’t help find the real abductor, he’ll be its first casualty.

Meanwhile, in a dark roadside hovel called the Barking Frog Inn, the bodies of two young bartenders lie on the beer-sodden floor. It’s Detective Inspector Pip Sweeney’s first homicide investigation — complicated by the arrival of private detective Amanda Pharrell to “assist” on the case. Amanda’s conviction for murder a decade ago has left her with some odd behavioral traits, top-to-toe tats — and a keen eye for killers.

For Ted and Amanda, the hunt for the truth will draw them into a violent dance with evil. Redemption is certainly in the cards — but it may well cost them their lives.

Order Your Copy:

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