Sunday, 18 February 2018

#BookReview Mothers and Other Strangers by Gina Sorell @ginasorell @FreshFiction #FFreview

Mothers and Other Strangers by Gina Sorell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"My father proposed to my mother at gunpoint when she was nineteen, and knowing that she was already pregnant with a dead man’s child, she accepted."

Thus begins this riveting story of a woman's quest to understand her recently deceased mother, a glamorous, cruel narcissist who left her only child, Elsie, an inheritance of debts and mysteries. While coping with threats that she suspects are coming from the cult-like spiritual program her mother belonged to, Elsie works to unravel the message her dying mother left for her, a quest that ultimately takes her to the South African family homestead she never knew existed.


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To be honest, I thought MOTHERS AND OTHER STRANGERS was a thriller. At least that is the feeling I got from the book's blurb. The first thing the blurb says about the book is: "My father proposed to my mother at gunpoint when she was nineteen, and knowing that she was already pregnant with a dead man's child, she accepted." Wow, that is what I call a captivating line. I just had to read this book! Alas, this book is not a thriller. It's about a woman finding herself, learning more about the past, and finding peace.

READ THE WHOLE REVIEW OVER AT FRESH FICTION!

#BookReview The Lightkeeper's Daughters by Jean E. Pendziwol @JeanPendziwol @FreshFiction #FFreview

The Lightkeeper's Daughters by Jean E. Pendziwol
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Though her mind is still sharp, Elizabeth's eyes have failed. No longer able to linger over her beloved books or gaze at the paintings that move her spirit, she fills the void with music and memories of her family—a past that suddenly becomes all too present when her late father's journals are found amid the ruins of an old shipwreck.

With the help of Morgan, a delinquent teenager performing community service, Elizabeth goes through the diaries, a journey through time that brings the two women closer together. Entry by entry, these unlikely friends are drawn deep into a world far removed from their own—to Porphyry Island on Lake Superior, where Elizabeth’s father manned the lighthouse seventy years before.

As the words on these musty pages come alive, Elizabeth and Morgan begin to realize that their fates are connected to the isolated island in ways they never dreamed. While the discovery of Morgan's connection sheds light onto her own family mysteries, the faded pages of the journals hold more questions than answers for Elizabeth, and threaten the very core of who she is.

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THE LIGHTKEEPER'S DAUGHTERS is a book that I felt from the beginning was just my kind of book. I love books with dual storylines. Also, I was quite taken with the cover and blurb.

THE LIGHTKEEPER'S DAUGHTERS is about two twin sisters that were born at the beginning of the 20th-century to a lightkeeper and his wife on an isolated island. There, they grew up with their two older brothers. Several events, when they were older, would permanently change their lives and, in the end, make them move away from the island. Now one of the sisters, Elizabeth, is back and living in a nursing home.

READ THE REST OF THE REVIEW OVER AT FRESH FICTION!

Friday, 16 February 2018

#BookReview The Painted Queen by Elizabeth Peters @FreshFiction #FFreview

The Painted Queen by Elizabeth Peters
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Egypt, 1912—Amelia Peabody and her dashing archeologist husband, Radcliffe Emerson, are once again in danger as they search for a priceless, stolen bust of legendary Queen Nefertiti and Amelia finds herself the target of assassins in this long-awaited, eagerly anticipated final installment of Elizabeth Peters’s bestselling, beloved mystery series

Arriving in Cairo for another thrilling excavation season, Amelia Peabody is relaxing in a well-earned bubble bath in her elegant hotel suite in Cairo, when a man with knife protruding from his back staggers into the bath chamber and utters a single word—“Murder”—before collapsing on the tiled floor, dead. Among the few possessions he carried was a sheet of paper with Amelia’s name and room number, and a curious piece of pasteboard the size of a calling card bearing one word: “Judas.” Most peculiarly, the stranger was wearing a gold-rimmed monocle in his left eye.

It quickly becomes apparent that someone saved Amelia from a would-be assassin—someone who is keeping a careful eye on the intrepid Englishwoman. Discovering a terse note clearly meant for EmersonWhere were you?”—pushed under their door, there can be only one answer: the brilliant master of disguise, Sethos.

But neither assassins nor the Genius of Crime will deter Amelia as she and Emerson head to the excavation site at Armana, where they will witness the discovery of one of the most precious Egyptian artifacts: the iconic Nefertiti bust. In 1345 B.C. the sculptor Thutmose crafted the piece in tribute to the great beauty of this queen who was also the chief consort of Pharaoh Akhenaten and stepmother to King Tutankhamun.

For Amelia, this excavation season will prove to be unforgettable. Throughout her journey, a parade of men in monocles will die under suspicious circumstances, fascinating new relics will be unearthed, a diabolical mystery will be solved, and a brilliant criminal will offer his final challenge . . . and perhaps be unmasked at last.


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I was thrilled for the chance to read THE PAINTED QUEEN. Before I started to read this book I didn't know that this is the last book in the Amelia Peabody series. Elizabeth Peters never finished it before she died and her good friend, Joan Hess, took over and spent three years working with it before it was released. I have to admit that reading about Elizabeth Peters made me a bit sad about the fact that she never got to finish this book. She was a wonderful person who was a dedicated author who loved writing.

READ THE WHOLE REVIEW OVER AT FRESH FICTION!

#BookReview Indigo by Charlaine Harris @FreshFiction #FFreview

Indigo by Charlaine Harris
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

Investigative reporter Nora Hesper spends her nights cloaked in shadows. As Indigo, she's become an urban myth, a brutal vigilante who can forge darkness into weapons and travel across the city by slipping from one patch of shadow to another. Her primary focus both as Nora and as Indigo has become a murderous criminal cult called the Children of Phonos. Children are being murdered in New York, and Nora is determined to make it stop, even if that means Indigo must eliminate every member. But in the aftermath of a bloody battle, a dying cultist makes claims that cause Indigo to question her own origin and memories.

Nora's parents were killed when she was nineteen years old. She took the life insurance money and went off to explore the world, leading to her becoming a student of meditation and strange magic in a mountaintop monastery in Nepal...a history that many would realize sounds suspiciously like the origins of several comic book characters. As Nora starts to pick apart her memory, it begins to unravel. Her parents are dead, but the rest is a series of lies. Where did she get the power inside her?

In a brilliant collaboration by New York Times and critically acclaimed coauthors Charlaine Harris, Christopher Golden, Kelley Armstrong, Jonathan Maberry, Kat Richardson, Seanan McGuire, Tim Lebbon, Cherie Priest, James Moore, and Mark Morris join forces to bring you a crime-solving novel like you've never read before.


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INDIGO is a book about reporter Nora Hester who has a secret identity as Indigo. Indigo is a vigilante that uses shadows to travel and fight evil by making weapons out of shadows. She primarily fights the members of Children of Phonos. When children are being killed in New York, Nora is sure that the cult is behind the killings and as Indigo she launches a brutal attack on them. But Nora is starting to fall apart, she isn't sure about her identity anymore. Are her memories really her own? Where did she get her powers from? She decided to try to figure out who she really is...

READ THE WHOLE REVIEW OVER AT FRESH FICTION!

Thursday, 15 February 2018

L.A.P. it Marketing #Spotlight on MARY - Tudor Princess by Tony Riches @tonyriches @lapitmarketing

From the author of the international best-selling Tudor Trilogy, the true story of the Tudor dynasty continues with the daughter of King Henry VII, sister to King Henry VIII. Mary Tudor watches her elder brother become King of England and wonders what the future holds for her.

Born into great privilege, Mary has beauty and intelligence beyond her years and is the most marriageable princess in Europe. Henry plans to use her marriage to build a powerful alliance against his enemies. Will she dare risk his anger by marrying for love?

Meticulously researched and based on actual events, this ‘sequel’ follows Mary’s story from book three of the Tudor Trilogy and is set during the reign of King Henry VIII.

Excerpt from Chapter Six – Spring 1514


The elderly Archbishop of Canterbury, William Warham, stumbled with the words of a Latin address at Mary’s wedding ceremony, on a warm August day at Greenwich Palace, earning a scowl from Henry. She’d renounced her compact with Charles. Taking it upon herself to announce that he had treated her poorly, she asked Henry’s forgiveness, which he reluctantly granted.

Mary glanced at the Duke of Longueville, standing in for King Louis and dressed, like her, in cloth of gold and purple satin. She could see why Jane was so attracted to him. Suave and handsome, he’d been released from the Tower to become the ambassador of France and joined Henry’s privileged inner circle.

The duke returned her glance, a twinkle of amusement in his eye, no doubt in anticipation of the intimate moment they were soon to share. Catherine’s well-intended warning of what was to come simply heightened her nerves and the prospect filled her with dread.

A polite clearing of the throat broke through her reverie. It was time to repeat her vows, in French as rehearsed the previous day. She spoke clearly and with as much sincerity as she could, for this was not the time to suggest she was anything other than a willing bride for so great a king.

The duke took her right hand in his and smiled as he placed a gold ring on her fourth finger, then kissed her. The heavy ring was a little loose and she made a mental note to have a goldsmith improve the size. The kiss surprised her with its tenderness and the sensation of it lingered.

Mary glanced at the watching crowd of guests and saw a satisfied expression on the face of Thomas Wolsey. Behind him, standing well back, was Charles Brandon. Their eyes met for the briefest moment before she turned her attention back to the ceremony.

Queen Catherine, proud to be pregnant for the fourth time, gave Mary a nod of approval. She had been right. A new peace treaty was already declared with France, and the reparation of a million gold crowns more than compensated for the expense of Mary’s dowry.

At last the dreaded time came and she was led to the richly decorated bedchamber, followed by the guests who were to act as witnesses. Bishops and foreign ambassadors, knights and nobles, and even a scarlet-capped papal envoy thronged to watch the strange ritual.

She allowed her ladies to undress her, unplaiting and combing her long hair so it flowed over her shoulders, a sign of her purity. Standing in her white satin nightdress, she crossed her hands protectively over her breasts, then summoned all her strength of will and let her arms fall to her side. Mary did her best to stand straight and proud, despite the many eyes upon her.

Her handmaidens led her to the bed where she lay, eyes closed, trying to focus on repeating the words of her chosen prayer, Deus in adiutorium meum intende Domine ad adiuvandum me festina. O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me.

She opened her eyes in time to see the handsome Duke of Longueville place his bared leg against hers. The symbolic act of intimate contact drew a raucous cheer from some of Henry’s lusty nobles and a blush to Mary’s face. There would be no going back now her marriage was consummated before so many witnesses.

She closed her eyes again. No man had ever touched her like that before and she sensed her life would never be the same again. Mary continued her repeated psalm, Confundantur et revereantur qui quaerunt animam meam. Let them be confounded and ashamed that seek my soul.

An image drifted into her consciousness. The face of Charles Brandon after she’d said her wedding vows. The special bond shared between them should have meant at least a smile of acknowledgement. Instead all she’d seen in his eyes was a bleak, empty look of deep sadness.

Mary saw no sign of Brandon at the High Mass in the palace chapel, the lavish banquet or the dancing which followed. Even the sight of her brother’s boisterous and increasingly drunken dancing failed to amuse her.

About the Author:


Tony Riches is a full-time author of best-selling historical fiction. He lives in Pembrokeshire, West Wales and is a specialist in the fifteenth century, with a particular interest in the Wars of the Roses and the lives of the early Tudors. For more information about Tony’s other books please visit his website and his popular blog, The Writing Desk and find him on Facebook and Twitter, See links below.

Links:

Twitter @tonyriches




#CoverCrush King's Mountain by Sharyn McCrumb

For new visitors do I want to explain that Cover Crush is something that my friend Erin over at Flashlight Commentary came up with and I adopted the idea together with some other friends. And, now we try to put up a Cover Crush every week. You can check below my pick of the week for their choices this week!


From the New York Times bestselling author—the first Ballad novel to feature the epic, and gorgeously-portrayed, American Revolution

John Sevier had not taken much interest in the American Revolution. Homesteading in the Carolina mountains, Sevier was too busy fighting Indians and taming the wilderness to worry much about a far-off war, but when an arrogant British officer sends a message over the mountains, threatening to burn the settlers' farms and kill their families, the war becomes personal.

That abrasive officer is British Army Major Patrick Ferguson, who is both charmingly antagonistic and surprisingly endearing. The younger son of a Scottish earl, Ferguson suffers constant misfortunes, making his dedication and courage count for nothing. When he loses the use of his arm from an injury at Brandywine, his commander sends him south, away from the war--which, in 1780, George Washington and the Continental Army are losing. Ordered to recruit wealthy Southern planters to the British cause, Ferguson courts disaster by provoking the frontiersmen, and suddenly the far-off war is a sword's length away. The British aristocrat on a fine white horse is the antihero to Sevier's American pioneer spirit. Two Tory washerwomen, Virginia Sal--whose lucid voice lends humor and mysticism to the pages--and Virginia Paul, a mysterious woman too well-acquainted with death, portray the human side of the king's army. With a regiment of British regulars and local Tory volunteers, Ferguson believes he's an indomitable force.

Threatened by the Loyalists with invasion and the loss of their land, Sevier knows that Ferguson has to be stopped. In response, Sevier and his loyal comrades--many of whom would play key roles in later parts of American history--raise an unpaid volunteer militia of more than a thousand men. Bringing their own guns, riding their own horses, and wearing just their civilian clothes, the Overmountain Men ally themselves with other states' militias and march toward Charlotte in search of Ferguson's marauding army.

On a hill straddling the North and South Carolina lines, in what Thomas Jefferson later called "the turning point of the American Revolutionary War," the Overmountain Men triumph, proving that the British forces can be stopped. Their victory at King's Mountain inspired the colonies to fight on, ending the war one year later at Yorktown.

Peppered with lore and the authentic heart of the people in McCrumb's classic Ballads, this is an epic book that paints the brave action of Sevier and his comrades against a landscape of richly portrayed characters. Harrowing battle descriptions compete with provoking family histories, as McCrumb once again shares history and legend like no one else. Both a novel of war and family, crafted with heart and depth, King's Mountain celebrates one of Appalachia's finest hours.

Thoughts:

Oh, this cover is so beautiful. The landscape with the lonley woman standing facing the soldeires. It makes me curious to learn more about the book. . 

Check out what my friends have picked for Cover Crush's this week:

Stephanie @ Layered Pages





Wednesday, 14 February 2018

#BlogTour Force of Nature by Jane Harper @janeharperautho @LittleBrownUK @kimberleynyam

Force of Nature by Jane Harper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Is Alice here? Did she make it? Is she safe? In the chaos, in the night, it was impossible to say which of the four had asked after Alice's welfare. Later, when everything got worse, each would insist it had been them.

Five women reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking along the muddy track. Only four come out the other side.

The hike through the rugged landscape is meant to take the office colleagues out of their air-conditioned comfort zone and teach resilience and team building. At least that is what the corporate retreat website advertises.

Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a particularly keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing bushwalker. Alice Russell is the whistleblower in his latest case - and Alice knew secrets. About the company she worked for and the people she worked with.

Far from the hike encouraging teamwork, the women tell Falk a tale of suspicion, violence and disintegrating trust. And as he delves into the disappearance, it seems some dangers may run far deeper than anyone knew.

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So, is this book as fabulous The Dry? Definitely! Honestly, I found this book to be perhaps even better. There is just something tantalizing thrilling about this story, to follow the investigation led by Aaron Falk as he probes the remaining four women's stories while they search for the missing woman. Interwoven with Falk's story are the women's stories from day one when they are off to hiking as a team-building exercise. Only the five women are hardly friends, and there is tension from start.

Force of Nature is a thrilling page-turner. As always with thrillers is it hard to write a review since the less you know is the best. However, I will say this that both storylines are equally good. You know that something bad will happen during the hike since it's already been established in the beginning of the book that one of the women, Alice, is missing. But, why and where is she? What happened during the hike? What are the women hiding? You can really feel the tension rising among the women as the story progresses and you definitely feel that they are hiding something as Falk interrogates them.

Jane Harper is a fantastic writer and I'm thrilled to have given a chance to read this book. One thing I especially like is the setting of Australia. It's so refreshing to read books set down under. I can't wait to find out what's next for Aaron Falk. This is a series that keep on getting stronger and I'm really looking forward to the next book!


Tuesday, 13 February 2018

#BlogTour Death Theory by John D. Mimms @JohnDMimms @partnersincr1me

Death Theory by John D. Mimms Tour Banner

Death Theory

by John D. Mimms

on Tour February 1 - March 31, 2018

Synopsis:

Death Theory by John D. Mimms
Mankind’s greatest fear is also its greatest obsession. What awaits when we shuffle off the mortal coil of this world? We all have our beliefs based on faith or science, but both struggle to provide a tangible answer. Perhaps it is possible to prove the existence of the soul, to prove it goes on after death. Following the violent death of his parents, Jeff Granger seeks reassurance that they have moved on. After recording what he believes to be his mother’s voice at the site of the accident, Jeff’s obsession throws him into paranormal research. Realizing that most people are doing it just for fun, Jeff forms his own group. He is joined by Debbie Gillerson, a school teacher; Aaron Presley, a mortician; and Michael Pacheco, a grocery store manager. Even though they are all investigating the paranormal for very different reasons, they are all trying to fill an emptiness in their lives. The deeper they probe paranormal theory, the darker their results. The only way to truly test the ‘Death Theory’, as theorized by Aaron, is to monitor a person’s energy at the moment of death. Horrified by the immoral and unethical application, the group dismisses the theory. A darkness seems to follow their investigations and the police become involved. A former colleague of Jeff’s, a self-proclaimed demonologist, believes a demonic force is attached to the group. The police are not so sure. Evil comes in many forms as the small group is about to discover.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Paranormal
Published by: Draft 2 Digital
Publication Date: January 30th 2018
Number of Pages: 320
ISBN: 9781537849713
Purchase Links: Amazon  | Barnes & Noble  | Google Books  | Goodreads 

Read an excerpt:

Death is the closest thing to omnipotence we will experience in our brief time on this planet. It is an all-encompassing power, binding everything, and providing a cold certainty to an otherwise uncertain existence. The firm grip of this assurance reaches much further than the extinguishment of life; it greedily claims the hope and happiness of those who remain. It is a definite ending, but is it also a provable beginning?

Prologue

Linda Granger did not see death coming.
Sleep shielded her from the unfolding horror. The looming headlights and the panicked screams of her husband were beyond her conscious state. When her head shattered the windshield, the dream about her son ended, sending her into what’s next. Linda was gone before the car rolled seven times and wrapped around a large oak tree. Her husband, Stephen, was not as fortunate. He died two minutes later. Linda had fallen asleep from emotional exhaustion. She died with regrets.

Chapter 1

Jeff’s sheets were drenched in sweat. He strained to hear because he wanted to continue the conversation he had been having. The bass drum of his pulse throbbed in his ears, making hearing impossible. He sat up and glanced about frantically. Where had she gone?
As sleep gave way to the waking world, dread filled him. He remembered the terrible truth. These muddled conversations with his mother had become nightly occurrences since his parents’ accident. The last words he shared with his mother were over the phone, and they were harsh. The next time he picked up the phone, mere hours later, it was the Missouri State Police asking him to come to the hospital. It has been over a year since the terrible night, yet the pain had not gone away. In some ways, it grew worse.
Jeff rolled on his side as tears streamed down his cheeks. In his dream, he told his mother he loved her. He wondered if she could hear him. Somehow, he believed it might be possible. His grieving heart longed for a way to communicate with his late parents.
Jeff rolled over and tried to go back to sleep. It was impossible. He eventually got up and opened the blinds. It rained last night and a steamy mist shielded the street from view. This was the perfect morning to stay in bed and he almost did if not for two things. His sheets were soaked and he was excited about today. Even though he needed extra sleep, since he would be staying up all night, he just couldn’t hold back the excitement of investigating with his fourth paranormal group in as many months. Missouri Spirit Seekers claim to do purely scientific investigations, but the three previous groups he joined did as well. He hoped this time would be different.
They would be investigating Pythian Castle tonight, the most ‘haunted’ location in Springfield, not too far from Jeff’s alma mater, Missouri State. The castle was a very cool historical site, but to Jeff, it was another opportunity to find answers for life’s greatest mystery -death.
Although the investigation was still twelve hours away, nervous anticipation consumed him. He hoped this was not another séance based, sage burning, ghost hunt like most of the others. His previous groups were as far away from science as one could get.
Jeff brewed a pot of coffee and microwaved a bowl of instant oatmeal, before sitting down to watch his recording of the show which started him on the path to paranormal investigation. He viewed it often, but it had become a ritual to watch on the day of an investigation. If Jeff were counting, this would be his eighty-third time to watch.
The show starred two men, who were electricians by trade, investigating haunted places using the scientific method. They gathered measurable scientific evidence in their investigations. In this particular episode, they were investigating the catacombs underneath an old church in Baltimore.
What peaked Jeff’s interest were the Electronic Voice Phenomenon the men captured on their digital recorders. He wondered if EVP’s are actually the voices of the dead. The guys on the show didn’t commit one way or the other, they just presented the recordings.
“You up above,” a disembodied voice said.
“The way through,” another one whispered.
The most eerie utterance of them all said, “Come down here among us.”
Jeff’s reaction was the same every time he watched; chills intermingled with hope and fear ran up his spine.
Jeff reached into a box under the coffee table and retrieved his digital recorder. He held it in his hands as if it were an object of holy veneration. Jeff recorded his own EVP one night several months earlier at the scene of his parent’s accident. Short, incredible, and heart-breaking; his mother seemed to call his name from beyond. The EVP was still on his recorder, even though he had backed it up to a dozen sources. He would never delete it from any device. Never.
A loud thud rattled the blinds on the front door. Jeff jumped, almost dropping the recorder. His alarm lasted only a moment when he recognized the sound of the newspaper carrier’s rattle-trap station wagon puttering up the street. He peeled back the blinds in time to see the tail lights disappear into the mist. Jeff was still in his underwear with a gaping fly, but he figured his rural setting, coupled with the fog, would spare him any indecent exposure charges.
Jeff scooped up the paper, almost losing his balance on the wet concrete, and then backed through the door. He plopped down on the sofa and began to unfold the massive log of news. He was heading straight for the sports section when an article caught his eye. The title read:
Springfield … the Most Haunted City in Missouri?
The Kansas City Royals box scores could wait. Jeff dove right into the article. The ghosts of Phelps Grove Park, Bass Country Inn, Drury University, Landers Theater, Springfield National Cemetery, University Plaza Hotel, and Pythian Castle were all mentioned prominently by the author. Jeff had investigated Phelps Grove Park with one of his previous groups. One of the members claimed he saw the infamous spectral bride near the bridge, but Jeff had no such luck. He never had success when it came to firsthand experiences. Either everyone else is lying or perhaps Jeff is walking ghost repellent. He didn’t think they were lying, at least not everyone who made a paranormal claim. His recording of his mother was enough to keep faith in the paranormal.
He read the claims of Drury University with great interest. There were allegedly several ghosts, in a few buildings, which had taken residence there since the school’s founding in 1873. The saddest one was a little girl who died in a fire. Her phantom laughter could be heard from time to time in one of the women’s dorms.
Jeff enjoyed a good ghost story since he was a kid, but these were more than merely a spectral yarn. Each story offered a small glimmer of hope.
He didn’t read about Pythian Castle; there was no need. He had spent so much time researching it the last couple of weeks, he could recite the history word for word. The shadow spirits who allegedly resided in the basement intrigued him the most. They had been reported so often over the years, there was little doubt that something unusual was occurring in the depths of the castle.
Jeff finally checked the box scores, lamenting another loss by his favorite team. He scanned the comics before tossing the paper on the floor. He trudged to the bathroom and took a long, hot shower. Afterward, he put on a fresh pair of boxers and a T-shirt before stretching out on the couch. He fell asleep watching Netflix. If he dreamed of his parents again, he did not remember.
Jeff arrived at Pythian Castle an hour before dusk. The rainy morning had given way to a perfectly clear early evening. The ghostly apparition of the full moon glowed in the eastern sky as the sun began to dip. The large tower on front of the castle cast a long shadow over his truck as he pulled in and parked. He ascended the stone steps onto an expansive porch where a very large woman with a mystical fashion sense met him at the front door.
“Hello … Jack?” she said.
“Jeff,” he corrected. “You must be Swoosie.”
Swoosie half-nodded and half-bowed. She reminded him of a fortune teller he visited one time, just for kicks.
“Would you like a charm for protection tonight?” Swoosie asked, reaching into a velvet bag and retrieving what appeared to be a tiny silk pillow.
“No, thanks … I’m good,” Jeff said. He couldn’t help smirking a little.
Swoosie noticed.
“Suit yourself,” she huffed. “Spirits can pick up on those less experienced in this field. They tend to prey more on them.”
“Good,” Jeff said. “Maybe I will get some good evidence.”
Swoosie narrowed her pudgy eyelids and motioned for a man who was milling about awkwardly, studying old pictures on the wall. “Preston,” she called with a snap of her fingers.
He was a middle-aged man with a greasy ring of dark hair circling a large bald spot. His clothing was a mish mash of suit pants and a Molly Hatchett T-shirt. The shirt and pin stripe pants were riddled with stains.
“How are you?” Preston asked breathlessly. It seemed his pot belly was a strain for him to carry.
“Fine, Preston,” Jeff said. “Nice to meet you.”
“Oh … I think Mr. Leach is preferable,” Preston said. “I could be your daddy.”
“Not likely,” Jeff thought.
“I’m putting the two of you together tonight since you are both new to this,” Swoosie said. “You know … strength in numbers.”
Both men’s puzzled expressions testified their bewilderment of Swoosie’s logic as if to point out that it would make more sense to put them with an experienced investigator.
“I’m a fairly experienced investigator,” Jeff said. “Tonight, makes my twentieth investigation.”
Swoosie’s condescending smile let him know she still considered him a novice. She turned and then waddled over to a sofa in the foyer where her daughter and a couple of other men waited. Their familiar banter showed them to be a clique.
“Okay, Mr. Leach,” Jeff said. “Where should we start?”
This group didn’t set up night vision cameras or environmental equipment as he hoped. Each member was only armed with a flashlight, digital recorder, and maybe a camera. Jeff was sure most of them carried a silk charm pillow in their pocket.
“I think they want us to go the basement,” Mr. Leach said impatiently. “Didn’t you hear what Swoosie said?”
Swoosie was much larger than Mr. Leach, yet she seemed a bit more agile as he watched his partner shuffle down the corridor.
“Okay,” Jeff mumbled before following him down the stone stairs to the basement.
They picked a far corner in the dark, dingy basement, and then set their digital recorders on a wooden table. The musty smell of old buildings had become synonymous with ghosts in Jeff’s mind. Even though he knew better, he sometimes entertained the idea of it being a ‘ghost odor’.
The sun was beginning to set through one of the basement windows, so they agreed to wait until full dark before beginning their session.
“Hey … you know this used to hold POWs during World War Two?” Jeff said, nodding at the old cells across the room. The iron doors had been removed many years ago on all but one.
“It was an orphanage at one time, built by the Knights of Pythias,” Mr. Leach countered.
“Really?” Jeff said, a little confused at why an orphanage would be more interesting than a POW prison.
“Yeah, can you imagine how many kids died here?” Mr. Leach mused.
Jeff’s stomach twisted. His partner seemed a little too gleeful about dead children.
“Yeah,” Jeff said distantly. He watched the last rays of the sun disappear behind the shrubbery outside. When it was completely dark, he said, “Well, shall we get started?”
Jeff jumped when a flashlight beam flared in his eyes.
“Can I ask you something, Jeff?” Mr. Leach asked, lowering his flashlight.
“Sure.”
“How did you get into paranormal stuff?” Mr. Leach asked.
“Curiosity,” Jeff began and then anger began to simmer. He didn’t know why the question upset him so, it was benign and practical. Perhaps it was his partner’s tone. “It’s really nobody’s business,” Jeff snapped.
“Fair enough,” Mr. Leach said. “What did your fiancée say about it?”
Jeff glared at Mr. Leach in the darkness. How did he know he had a fiancée?
“What makes you think I had a fiancée?” Jeff asked, pointedly.
“I know things,” Mr. Leach replied. His coy response echoing from the darkness sounded like the prelude to a horror movie.
Jeff was angry. Mr. Leach seemed to have no boundaries. Jeff’s fiancée was a sore spot. She had been a former fiancée for almost a year.
“Why don’t you tell me her name?” Jeff said, a little too loud. Shushes hissed from deep in the darkness as his voice echoed off the stone walls. It seemed the whole building heard his question.
There was a very long pause. Jeff almost thought he was alone until the answer startled him.
“I can’t see that,” Mr. Leach answered. “Only events and feelings.”
“What are you … some kinda Jedi Master?” Jeff asked.
“I’m psychic,” Mr. Leach wheezed. His last word echoed about the basement, bringing more shushes from around the building.
“Oh,” Jeff whispered. He had encountered these people before; every paranormal group seemed to have them. Out of the dozen or so self-proclaimed psychics Jeff had known in his life, there was only one he believed legitimate. An old shut-in, who he delivered prescriptions to while in college, told him some interesting things about his life that came to pass a short time later.
“So, where is my fiancée?” Jeff asked.
There was a long silence before Mr. Leach replied flatly. “With another man, I’m afraid.”
Jeff didn’t say anything. He knew she was with another man now. Lurid images filled his head as to what they may be doing right now. Acid boiled in his guts and his heart began to pound. He didn’t expect this answer; he was looking for more of a geographical location. She had been with this schmuck for six months, two weeks, and three days, but he wasn’t counting.
“Does that shock you?” Mr. Leach whispered.
“You’re the psychic … you tell me,” Jeff barked. “Look, I just want to focus on the investigation, can we do that now?”
More shushes ensued followed by a booming female voice asking them to be quiet. Swoosie had some lungs.
They were so engrossed in their argument, neither man noticed the single cell door slowly swing open and a black shadow dart down the passageway. The air grew thick and uncomfortable, but both men thought it was from their awkward conversation.
Mr. Leach didn’t answer. A moment later, Jeff heard the beep of a digital recorder turning on. The small red recording light resembled a one-eyed demon in the complete darkness. Jeff knew he hurt the guy’s feelings, but he didn’t care. Mr. Leach had trodden on areas of Jeff’s life where he wasn’t welcome. In fact, no one was welcome. His fiancée had been the last living member of anything resembling family for Jeff. She had tried to get him to see a shrink to cope with his parent’s death, but he refused. Thus, the wedge between them was forged.
On the surface, Jeff seemed to recover. He tried to move on with his life. His preacher once told him that time is a river, washing away all pains and transgressions. Yet, for those who grieve, time is often an ocean. It ebbs and flows, sometimes exposing the pain lurking beneath the surface of our consciousness with each experience.
“Truth,” Jeff thought.
He finally turned on his digital recorder and began to alternate questions with Mr. Leach.
Is anyone with us?”
“Are you angry?”
“What is your name?”
“How old are you?”
“Why are you here?”
“When did you die?”
They repeated this process several times in different areas of the building. They never heard anything. Hopefully, there would be some evidence on the recording.
Jeff found it difficult to focus. Of course, he was tired, yet it was much more than fatigue. Mr. Leach had upset him, there was no denying it. The thing bothering him the most was the image running through his head; His fiancée and some faceless man with a Chippendale’s body were in bed together. He tried to push it aside and focus on the reason he was here. When he turned his thoughts to his parents, it did not help. He kept seeing the make-shift white cross memorial at the site of his parents’ crash. The same cross where he had recorded his mother’s voice. It wasn’t only the mental image distracting him. His mother’s one-word response echoed in his head after every EVP question – “Jeff”. A few times he thought he heard her voice coming from the darkness – “Jeff”.
Jeff knew it was fatigue, it had to be. If not, Mr. Leach would have heard something.
Jeff left Sunday morning frustrated. He sat in his truck and watched the last act unfold in what had been an all-night circus. Swoosie, her daughter, Mr. Leach, and a few other men sat in folding chairs arranged in a circle on the front lawn. They had asked Jeff to join them, but he respectfully declined. They burned sage while performing a cleansing ritual.
“We can’t have any spirits following us home,” Swoosie’s daughter proclaimed. “This’ll keep ‘em put.”
The obese Swoosie sat with her back to him. Her butt dangled on either side of the stressed chair as the legs sank into the soft and dewy sod. She swung a burning leaf around her head, making her resemble an elephant trying to douse the flames of a burning tree.
Jeff realized the only way he would get anywhere is starting his own team. He turned the ignition, causing his lights to fall on the group. They turned and glowered as if he farted and belched in church. He smiled and waved as he shifted the truck into gear.
Missouri Spirit Seekers,” Jeff muttered as he left the gate, “seems more like shit seekers.”
***
Excerpt from Death Theory by John D. Mimms. Copyright © 2017 by John D. Mimms. Reproduced with permission from John D. Mimms. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

John D. Mimms
John D. Mimms is a business owner, paranormal researcher and author. John served as the Technical Director for a TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society) family paranormal research group in Central Arkansas. During his four-year tenure with the organization, he helped supervise over 100 investigations and wrote more than sixteen technical articles. Paul Bradford, of Ghost Hunters International fame, read one of John's articles titled A Christmas Carol Debunked live on the air of the Parazona Radio program on Christmas Day 2009. John also wrote a definitive technical/training manual, which is a comprehensive guide on equipment usage, investigation protocol and scientific theory for paranormal research.

In 2009 John decided to couple his knowledge of paranormal phenomena with his lifelong love of literary fiction. John's first published work, The Tesla Gate, is the first installment of a three-part, heart-wrenching, sci-fi/paranormal drama.

Book 1 of this unique, ground-breaking story released July 2014 through Open Road Media. In January 2016, Open Road Media released The Tesla Gate Book 2: The Myriad Resistance. Book 3: The Eye of Madness is slated for release September 27, 2016. Though fictional, the trilogy is based on scientific, paranormal theory.

Publishers Weekly declared about The Tesla Gate in the March 3, 2014 issue "…touching sci-fi story that takes the reader on an unlikely road-trip adventure…a fast read with some entertaining ideas and a real emotional core in the relationship between father and son."

The Examiner proclaimed in June 2014: "Entertaining as well as poignant, this book is extremely imaginative in its basic premise as well as the many colorful and emotionally compelling events that take place."

John resides and writes on a mountaintop in central Arkansas with his wife and two sons.

Catch Up With Our Author On: Website , Goodreads , Twitter , & Facebook !


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