Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Friday, April 23, 2021

The Deadening by Kerry Peresta (VBT: Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for The Deadening by author Kerry Peresta!






Book Review



The Deadening by Kerry Peresta
Book 1: Olivia Callahan Suspense Series
Publisher: Level Best Books 
Publication Date: February 23, 2021
Format: Paperback - 310 pages
               Kindle - 3893 KB 
               Nook - 7 MB
ISBN: 978-1953789358
ASIN: B08SVKLMZ8
BNID: 978-1953789365
Genre: Psychological Suspense



Buy The Book:



Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher via Net Galley in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours.



Book Description:

Olivia Callahan's quiet, orderly life is shattered when she regains consciousness in a hospital and discovers she is paralyzed and cannot remember a thing. The fragmented voices she hears around her help her piece together that an apparent assault landed her in the hospital, but nobody knows who attacked her, or why.

Now, in spite of a brain injury that has rewired her personality, Olivia is on a mission to reclaim her life. As clarity surfaces, and she starts to understand who she was, she is shocked.

Could she really have been that person?

And if so, does she want her old life back?


Praise:

“A gripping read populated by likable characters. Peresta draws us into a colorful detailed world and makes us care what happens to the people living in it. We root for Olivia as she struggles to regain her memory, her bearings, and the identity she lost long before her injury. Excellent!”
– Susan Crawford, Internationally bestselling author of The Pocket Wife and The Other Widow.

“The Deadening is a captivating psychological suspense novel that will have you holding your breath with each turn of the page. Peresta has created a world chock-full of characters who are dynamic and unforgettable, for better or worse. Hold onto your seat.”
– Clay Stafford, bestselling author and founder of Killer Nashville Writers’ Conference


Book Excerpt:

Prologue

The stiff bristles of the brush grew coppery as he scrubbed back and forth, back and forth. Wrinkling his nose at the smell, he groped for the mask he’d bought, looped it over his head, and snugged it into place.

He dipped the brush in the red-tinged solution in a blue, plastic bowl beside him on the floor, and continued scrubbing. Fifteen minutes later, he emptied the bowl down the toilet and shoved everything he’d used into a trash bag. He fought to staunch the bile creeping up his windpipe, but his throat constricted and he gagged. After retching into the sink, he turned on the faucet and splashed water on his face. Paused to take deep breaths. He could do this. He had to do this. He gripped the edge of the counter and stared out the bathroom window.

She’d not told anyone. Thank God for that. No one could know. No one would ever know. He’d make sure.

He walked to his garage, opened his car trunk, tossed in the latest trash bag. His hands felt icy. He rubbed them together, wiggled his fingers, and slammed the trunk shut.

Admittedly, her terror had excited him. Confusion. Dawning realization in her expression. His lips curved upward into a smile, then disintegrated. Reliving it didn’t change anything. He needed to move forward.

He returned and studied the carpet. In spite of his efforts, the stain still needed work. He cursed, dropped to his knees, and pounded the dampness with a fist.

Through a veil of fatigue, he watched in horror as the kidney-shaped stain stood and pointed an accusatory finger at him. He blinked, hard. Was he hallucinating? How long had he been without sleep? He crabbed backwards, leaned against the wall, pulled his knees to his chest and squeezed his eyes shut. When he opened them some moments later, the blood-apparition had disappeared.

He groaned.

He stared at the ceiling until his brain spit out a solution.

The problem lay in the other room. That’s how he looked at her now.

A problem to solve.

He rose from the floor and walked out.

His eyes slid from her pale face, down her form, to her feet. He no longer thought of her as warm, soft, desirable. She had been so scared…eyes wide and unblinking as she fell. He shook his head and pushed the image away.

Nesting her in towels so her blood wouldn’t pool on the couch, her bronze-sandaled feet with their shiny, pink toenails hung over the edge. He looked away. “Get a grip, man. Just do it.”

The towels fell away when he picked her up. He wound them back around her, careful to tuck in the edges. His heartbeat slammed his ribs.

She was fragile, a little bit of a thing, like a bird. He drew his index finger across her lips. “I’m sorry,” he whispered. “If you had just…if you had only…” His voice trailed away. Jaw clenched, he carried her to his car.

Chapter One

Nathan ambled along sidewalks that wound through the manicured hospital grounds, fishing in his pocket for a lighter. He lit the cigarette dangling from his lips and inhaled deeply, his smile saturated with nicotine’s unholy bliss.

“Thank God,” he mumbled around the cigarette, and withdrew it from his lips, stretching. He glanced over his shoulder at the brightly lit ER entrance to Mercy Hospital, rubbing his neck. He rolled his shoulders, inhaled several deep drags from the cigarette, dropped it, and ground it beneath his shoe. “These night shifts are killing me.” He groaned and gazed at the sky. Clouds hid a full moon. He’d been grateful to get the med tech job, but after two months of bodily fluid testing and storage, he was bored. He needed a challenge.

Nathan followed his typical route through the hedged lawn, almost on auto-pilot, so when he stumbled and sprawled onto the grass face-first, he was stunned. What had tripped him? Cursing softly, he explored his cheeks, nose, forehead. No damage done that he could tell. “Klutz,” he berated himself, pushing up to hands and knees.

Something soft and warm lay beneath his palms. His breathing sped up. He looked down, but it was too dark to see. Trembling, his fingers inched their way to lips, nose, eyes, stiff knots of hair. His mouth dropped in horror. The clouds obligingly slid off the moon and revealed a woman’s body, her hair blood-matted, her face ghostly white. The grass around her head was rusty with blood. He edged his head toward her lips to check her breathing. Shallow, but at least she was alive.

He scrambled to his feet, fighting nausea and staring at his palms, sticky with the woman’s blood. Shrieking for help, he raced into the hospital and skidded to a stop in front of the desk. The ER nurses behind the reception desk squinted at him like he was deranged.

“Possible head injury!” He flailed an arm at the entrance. “Someone, anyone, come quick!”

A male nurse and two aides followed him outside, shoes pounding the sidewalk at full gallop. The tech stopped, turned, and signaled them to tread carefully as they parted ways with the sidewalk and navigated the shrubbery in the dark. Single file, panting, they tiptoed through the shadows until the tech raised a palm for them to stop.

“Here,” he hissed at the nurse, and held a point like a bird dog.

The nurse dropped to the ground and clicked a flashlight on. “Ohmigosh,” he whispered. He lifted the woman’s thin, pale wrist and glanced at his watch. Satisfied that she had a pulse, he slapped the flashlight into Nathan’s bloodied palm. “Stay with her!” He rushed inside.

Within minutes, looky-loos poured from the ER and clustered around the limp form.

“Move back!” Nathan stretched out his arms like a cop directing traffic. “She’s barely breathing!” His glanced nervously at the ER entrance.

The crowd didn’t yield an inch. The ER doors whooshed open. A stretcher clattered down the sidewalk and onto the dew-damp grass. Chills shivered up the tech’s spine as the ashen pallor of death climbed from the woman’s neck to her face. He dropped to the ground and picked up her hand. The paramedic team drew closer, their flashlights piercing the darkness with slivers of light. The crowd eased apart to let them through.

Nathan bent closer to the woman, and whispered, “Hang in there. Help is on the way.”

The stretcher slid to a stop beside him. The paramedics dropped to their knees, stabilized the woman’s head with a brace, staunched the bleeding, and wrapped the wound. They eased her onto the stretcher and rumbled away. The aides shared nervous smiles of relief. They looked at Nathan, then followed the paramedic team back inside.

Nathan, his heartbeat finally slowing, called, “Thanks for the assist, guys!” as they walked away.

The crowd dispersed with curious glances at Nathan, who watched until the group disappeared behind the ER’s double glass doors. He heaved a sigh of relief and swiped perspiration off his forehead. He patted his scrubs pocket for a cigarette, reconsidered, and trotted toward the ER entrance.

After the automatic doors parted, he jogged past two closed-door exam rooms and paused at a third, wide open. He looked inside.

The paramedics shared their observations with the ER doctor on call as he deftly explored the woman’s wounds. When he finished, he nodded, barked instructions, and pointed at the bed. In seconds, the woman’s transfer from stretcher to bed was complete. One of the nurses whisked a blood pressure cuff around her arm. Another hooked an IV bag to a chrome stand, pierced the skin on the back of the woman’s hand, slid in a needle, and taped it down.

The tech stepped back from the door to allow the paramedics to exit. Holding his breath, he stole into the room and crept past a floor-to-ceiling supply cabinet. He planted both palms onto the smooth, white walls behind him and inched sideways, melting into the corner next to a shelf holding tongue depressors, a box of plastic gloves, and a sanitizer dispenser.

“Pulse one-fifteen.” The nurse studied the blood pressure cuff. “Blood pressure eight-five over fifty.”

“Need a trach,” the doctor barked. “She’s bleeding out. Get some O neg in here.”

A blur of motion, two nurses and the ER doctor huddled around the woman’s body. When they stepped back, a laryngoscope, an endotracheal tube, and four sticky electric nodes leading to a cardiac monitor had been secured.

The medical team stilled, their eyes riveted to the monitors. The nurses wore sage green scrubs. Both had pink stethoscopes around their necks. The ER doctor had on a crisp, white jacket with his name scripted in black on the pocket. Nathan fidgeted and stuck his head out from the corner a little to focus on the screens.

The readings sputtered, stalled, plummeted.

“Code Blue!” The doctor spun around. A nurse jumped to the wall and slapped a flat, white square on the wall.

“Code Blue!” echoed through the ER’s intercom system. Frantic footsteps in the hall. Shouted instructions. Clanging metal. Squealing wheels. Nathan squeezed farther into the corner as the cart bearing life-saving electronic shock equipment exploded through the door.

“Brain must be swelling,” the doctor mumbled. He grabbed two paddles and swiped them together. “Clear!”

The woman’s body jolted. The doctor’s head jerked to the cardiac monitor. Flat.

“Clear!” He placed the paddles on the woman’s chest.

Her frail torso arced. The machine blipped an erratic cadence, then droned a steady hum.

The doctor cursed. “Clear!”

Another jolt. The monitor surged, sagged, then settled into a reassuring metronome blip. Tense faces relaxed. Applause spattered around the room.

The doctor blew out a long breath. “Okay, people, good job.” He smiled.

Within minutes, more lines snaked from the woman’s form. An orogastric tube drooped from the corner of her mouth, behind the intubation tube. A lead to measure brain waves clung to her forehead. The doctor studied each monitor in turn. Nathan let out the breath he’d been holding, slid down the wall into a crouch, and balanced on the balls of his feet.

“Any additional instructions, Doctor Bradford?” Brows raised, the nurse waited.

He rubbed his head thoughtfully. “Think she’s stable for now. CAT scan already ordered?”

She nodded. “Of course.”

“Tell them to expedite.” He cocked his head at the woman. “May be a long night. Watch her closely.” The doctor strode to the door, paused, and turned. He glanced at the tech huddled in the corner. “Good job, son.”

Nathan grinned and rose from his crouch, his chest puffed out a little. He’d never saved a life before. After a sympathetic glance at Mercy Hospital’s latest Jane Doe, he returned to the lab.

***

Excerpt from The Deadening by Kerry Peresta. Copyright 2021 by Kerry Peresta. Reproduced with permission from Kerry Peresta. All rights reserved.



My Book Review:

In The Deadening, the first book in the Olivia Callahan Suspense Series, author Kerry Peresta weaves a suspenseful tale that follows the challenges that Olivia Callahan faces as she puts the pieces of her life back together after a traumatic assault.

Olivia is found with a serious head injury by a med tech on the grounds of Mercy Hospital in Richmond, Virginia. Comatose, blind, with a traumatic brain injury, and paralyzed, Olivia doesn't have any identification on her, and is classified as a Jane Doe, until her nurse sees a missing person report on the television six days later. Olivia is considered Mercy's Miracle when she regains consciousness and begins the journey of recovering, but she doesn't have any memory of her past. Olivia is determined to reclaim her life, but as her memories return via triggers that prompt flashbacks, Olivia is surprised by the way she had lived in the past, and with the help of Richmond Detective Hunter Faraday, they are determined to find the person behind the assault, and deal with the tangled web of deceit from her past that surfaces along the way. 

Author Kerry Peresta weaves an intriguing and suspenseful tale set in the alternating locales of Richmond, Virginia, and Glyndon, Maryland, that follows Olivia Callahan on her quest to reclaim her life after a vicious assault left her with a traumatic brain injury, and no memory of her past. You can't help but get drawn into Olivia's story as she gives a realistic depiction of the challenges she faced as she puts her life back together. 

Told in the present time and interwoven with flashbacks to her past, the reader gets to know Olivia as her memories return via triggers. Olivia is no longer the person she used to be, and with the help of Detective Faraday, she wants to find the person who caused the assault, and move on with her life. 

The story has a great mixture of drama and suspense that keeps the reader engaged and guessing what will become of Olivia's quest to reclaim her life, and how she resolves the tangled web of deceit from her past. Olivia's journey is filled with grit, emotions, family drama, deceit, heartbreak, and realistic trials and tribulations, you can't help but cheer Olivia on as she discovers what person she wants to be going forward. I look forward to reading the next book in the Olivia Callahan Suspense Series

The Deadening is a riveting and suspenseful story that you won't be able to put down.


RATING: 5 STARS 




About The Author





Kerry Peresta’s publishing credits include a popular newspaper column, “The Lighter Side,” 2009-2011; and magazine articles in Local Life Magazine, The Bluffton Breeze, Lady Lowcountry, and Island Events Magazine. She is the author of two novels, The Hunting, women’s fiction, released by Pen-L Publishing in 2013, and The Deadening, released in February, 2021 by Level Best Books, the first in the Olivia Callahan Suspense series. She spent twenty-five years in advertising as an account manager, creative director, and copywriter. She is past chapter president of the Maryland Writers’ Association and a current member and presenter of Hilton Head Island Writers’ Network, and the Sisters in Crime organization. Recently, she worked as editor and contributor for Island Communications, a local publishing house. Kerry and her husband moved to Hilton Head six years ago. She is the mother of four adult children, and has a bunch of wonderful grandkids who keep life interesting and remind her what life is all about.

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Kerry Peresta. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on April 1, 2021 and runs through May 2, 2021. Void where prohibited. 







Virtual Book Tour 



Tour Participants:

04/01 Review @ Book Reviews From an Avid Reader

04/02 Guest post @ Novels Alive

04/02 Showcase @ The Book Divas Reads

04/04 Interview @ Author Elena Taylors Blog

04/05 Guest post @ Books, Ramblings, and Tea

04/05 Showcase @ The Reading Frenzy

04/06 Review @ Margaret Yelton

04/07 Review @ nanasbookreviews

04/08 Review @ Wall-to-wall Books

04/09 Interview @ CMash Reads

04/12 Review @ Books and Zebras @ jypsylynn

04/14 Review @ Quirky Cats Fat Stacks

04/14 Showcase @ Celticladys Reviews

04/15 Interview/podcast @ Blogtalk radio

04/15 Review @ Just Reviews

04/15 Review @ Novels Alive

04/16 Guest post @ Nesies Place

04/17 Review @ Cheryls Book Nook

04/18 Showcase @ EienCafe

04/19 Interview @ BooksChatter

04/20 Showcase @ Im Into Books

04/21 Review @ Book Reviews by Nikki H. Rose

04/22 Review @ The World As I See It

04/23 Review @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews

04/23 Showcase @ Books to the Ceiling

04/24 Showcase @ Brooke Blogs

04/25 Review @ rozierreadsandwine

04/26 Review @ The Book Review Crew

04/27 Review @ Spookys Maze Of Books

04/29 Review/showcase @ The Bookwyrm








Friday, April 16, 2021

Three Missing Days by Colleen Coble (VBT: Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Three Missing Days by author Colleen Coble!




Three Missing Days by Colleen Coble
Book 3: The Pelican Harbor Series
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: April 6, 2021
Format: Hardcover - 352 pages
               Paperback - 352 pages
               Audiobook - 8 Hours 38 Minutes
               Kindle - 352 pages / 4283 KB
               Nook - 352 pages / 4 MB
ISBN (Hardcover): 978-0785228547
ISBN (Paperback): 978-0785228523
ASIN (Audiobook): B08CS3VYWK
ASIN (Kindle): B08BYZ9BR4
BNID: 978-0785228530
Genre: Romantic Suspense



Buy The Book: 


Buy The Series: The Pelican Harbor Series
Book 1: One Little Lie
Book 2: Two Reasons To Run
Book 3: Three Missing Days 



Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours.



Book Description: 

Book Three in the gripping romantic suspense series from USA TODAY bestselling author Colleen Coble.

A chilling murder.

Chief of Police Jane Hardy plunges into the investigation of a house fire that claimed the life of a local woman as well as one of the firefighters. It’s clear the woman was murdered. But why? The unraveling of Jane’s personal life only makes the answers in the case more difficult to find.

Her son’s arrest.

Then Jane’s fifteen-year-old son is accused of a horrific crime, and she has to decide whether or not she can trust her ex, Reid, in the attempt to prove Will’s innocence—and whether she can trust Reid with her heart.

Her stolen memories.

Three days of Jane’s past are missing from her memory, and that’s not all that has been stolen from her. As she works to find the woman’s murderer and clear her son’s name, finding out what happened in those three days could change everything. It all started with one little lie. But the gripping truth is finally coming out.


Book Excerpt:


“I know what you did.”

The muffled voice on her phone raised the hair on the back of Gail Briscoe’s head, and she swiped the perspiration from her forehead with the back of her hand. “Look, I’ve reported these calls. Don’t call me again.”

She ended the call with a hard finger punch on the screen and stepped onto her front porch. The late-May Alabama air wrapped her in a blanket of heat and humidity, and she couldn’t wait to wash it off. She should have left the light on before she went for her predawn run. The darkness pressing against her isolated home sent a shudder down her back, and she fumbled her way inside. Welcome light flooded the entry, and she locked the door and the dead bolt with a decisive click that lifted her confidence.

She stared at the number on the now-silent phone. The drugstore again. Though there weren’t many pay phones around anymore, the old soda shop and drugstore still boasted a heavy black phone installed back in the sixties. The caller always used it, and so far, no one had seen who was making the calls. The pay phone was located off an alley behind the store by a Dumpster so it was out of sight.

The guy’s accusation was getting old. Counting today, this made seven calls with the same message. Could he possibly know about the investigation? She rejected the thought before it had a chance to grow. It wasn’t public knowledge, and it would be over soon. She clenched her hands and chewed on her bottom lip. She had to be vindicated.

But who could it be, and what did he want?

Leaving a trail of sweaty yoga shorts and a tee behind her, she marched to the bathroom and turned the spray to lukewarm before she stepped into the shower. The temperature shocked her overheated skin in a pleasant way, and within moments she was cooled down. She increased the temperature a bit and let the water sluice over her hair.

As she washed, she watched several long strands of brown hair swirl down the drain as she considered the caller’s accusation. The police had promised to put a wiretap on her phone, but so far the guy hadn’t stayed on the phone long enough for a trace to work. And it was Gail’s own fault. She should have talked with him more to string out the time.

She dried off and wrapped her hair in a turban, then pulled on capris and a top. Her phone vibrated again. She snatched it up and glanced at the screen. Augusta Richards.

“I got another call, Detective. Same phone at the drugstore. Could you set up a camera there?”

“I hope I’m not calling too early, and I don’t think that’s necessary. The owner just told me that old pay phone is being removed later today. Maybe that will deter the guy. It’s the only pay phone in town. He’ll have to use something else if he calls again.”

“He could get a burner phone.”

“He might,” the detective admitted. “What did he say?”

“The same thing—‘I know what you did.’”

“Do you have any idea what it means?”

Gail flicked her gaze away to look out the window, where the first colors of the sunrise limned the trees. “Not a clue.”

“Make sure you lock your doors and windows. You’re all alone out there.”

“Already locked. Thanks, Detective.” Gail ended the call.

Ever since Nicole Pearson’s body had been found a couple of months ago, no one needed to remind Gail she lived down a dirt road with no next-door neighbors. No one wanted to buy the neighboring place after such a lurid death, so the area remained secluded other than a couple of houses about a mile away and out closer to the main road.

She stood back from the window. It was still too dark to see. Was someone out there?

Pull back the reins on your imagination. But once the shudders started, they wouldn’t stop. Her hands shaking, she left her bedroom and went to pour herself a cup of coffee with a generous splash of half-and-half from the fridge. She had a stack of lab orders to process, and she couldn’t let her nerves derail her work.

The cups rattled as she snatched one from the cupboard. The coffee sloshed over the rim when she poured it, then she took a big gulp of coffee. It burned all the way down her throat, and tears stung her eyes as she sputtered. The heat settled her though, and she checked the locks again before she headed to her home office with her coffee.

No one could see in this tiny cubicle with no window, but she rubbed the back of her neck and shivered. She’d work for an hour, then go into the lab. The familiar ranges and numbers comforted her. She sipped her coffee and began to plow through the stack of papers. Her eyes kept getting heavy. Weird. Normally she woke raring to go every morning.

Maybe she needed more coffee. She stretched out her neck and back and picked up the empty coffee cup.

Gail touched the doorknob and cried out. She stuck her first two fingers in her mouth. What on earth?

The door radiated heat. She took a step back as she tried to puzzle out what was happening, but her brain couldn’t process it at first. Then tendrils of smoke oozed from under the door in a deadly fog.

Fire. The house was on fire.

She spun back toward the desk, but there was nothing she could use to protect herself. There was no way of egress except through that door.

If she wanted to escape, she’d have to face the inferno on the other side.

She snatched a throw blanket from the chair and threw it over her head, then ran for the door before she lost her courage. When she yanked it open, a wall of flames greeted her, but she spied a pathway down the hall to her bedroom. Ducking her head, she screamed out a war cry and plowed through the flames.

In moments she was in the hall where the smoke wasn’t so thick. She pulled in a deep breath as she ran for her bedroom. She felt the cool air as soon as she stepped inside and shut the door behind her. Too late she realized the window was open, and a figure stepped from the closet.

Something hard came down on her head, and darkness descended.

***

Excerpt from Three Missing Days by Colleen Coble. Copyright 2021 by Thomas Nelson. Reproduced with permission from Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved.




My Book Review:

In Three Missing Days, book three of The Pelican Harbor Series, author Colleen Coble transports the reader back to the Gulf Shores area of Pelican Harbor, Alabama, to catch up on the story of Police Chief Jane Hardy and Investigative Journalist Reid Dixon.

While Jane, Reid, and their son Will are building their relationship, Reid's ex-wife Lauren comes back into the picture after being missing for eight years and causing a lot of trouble and hearteache. And if that isn't enough, Jane's plate overflows when her office has not one, but two murders to solve ... and it is all intertwined with Jane's memory of three missing days from her past. And to make matters worse, someone is hellbent on seeking revenge on their family, and has setup Will for one of the murders. 

With a murderer seeking revenge on the loose, their son setup on a manslaughter charge, and trying to remember three missing days of Jane's past and battling personal family demons, Jane and Reid join forces to find the murderer and prove Will's innocence. 

Author Colleen Coble weaves a fast-paced and suspenseful tale written in the third person narrative that follows Jane and Reid's investigative journey in search of the murderer and clearing their son's name, while dealing with the lies, secrets, and deceit from their past, and stopping a person from their past who is hellbent on destroying their family. The reader will be easily drawn into the continuation of this well written story with its richly descriptive plot and setting. 

The author does a wonderful job of transporting the reader back to Pelican Harbor, as Jane and Reid's latest investigation unfolds. The drama and suspense is intense; and the tangled web of family drama, secrets, lies, deceit, and heartache will keep the reader engaged and guessing what will happen next until the surprising conclusion to the story. This is the third and final book in The Pelican Harbor series. This series is one that romantic suspense fans will thoroughly enjoy reading.  

Three Missing Days has enough drama, tension, action, flashbacks and clues from the past, a growing list of suspects, a hint of a romance, and unexpected twists and turns that will take the reader on one heck of a thrilling roller coaster ride.



RATING: 5 STARS  





About The Author




Colleen Coble is a USA TODAY bestselling author and RITA finalist best known for her coastal romantic suspense novels, including The Inn at Ocean’s EdgeTwilight at Blueberry Barrens, and the Lavender TidesSunset CoveHope Beach, and Rock Harbor series.


Author Website
Amazon Author Page
Barnes & Noble Author Page
BookBub
Facebook
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Pinterest
Goodreads




Contest Giveaway

Win A Set Of The Pelican Harbor Series Books

                                               


                                                     
   
This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Colleen Coble and Thomas Nelson. ONE (1) winner will receive ONE (1) physical set of the first three books in the Pelican Harbor series. (U.S. addresses only). The giveaway begins on April 5, 2021 and runs through May 2, 2021. Void where prohibited. 






04/05 Review @ Book Reviews From an Avid Reader

04/05 Showcase @ Silvers Reviews

04/06 Review @ Media From the Heart

04/06 Showcase @ Im Into Books

04/07 Guest post @ Media From the Heart

04/07 Showcase @ Brooke Blogs

04/08 Showcase @ Quiet Fury Books

04/08 Showcase @ The Reading Frenzy

04/09 Showcase @ The Adventures of a Travelers Wife

04/10 Review @ Jane Pettit Reviews

04/11 Interview @ Author Elena Taylors Blog

04/11 Review @ Splashes of Joy

04/12 Showcase @ Books, Ramblings, and Tea

04/13 Showcase @ Reading A Page Turner

04/14 Interview @ A Blue Million Books

04/14 Review @ Avonna Loves Genres

04/15 Guest post @ The Book Divas Reads

04/15 Review @ Wall-to-wall Books

04/16 Review @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews

04/16 Showcase @ Celticladys Reviews

04/19 Guest post @ Novels Alive

04/19 Review @ Kritters Ramblings

04/20 Review @ Read Review Rejoice

04/21 Review @ The Book Review Crew

04/22 Showcase @ CMash Reads

04/24 Review @ One More Book To Read

04/26 Review/showcase @ Geaux Get Lit

04/27 Review @ The Bookwyrm

04/28 Showcase @ Cassidys Bookshelves

04/28 Showcase @ The Book Connection

04/29 Review @ The World As I See It

04/30 Review @ Nesies Place




Friday, March 26, 2021

Unwitting Accomplice by Sid Meltzer (VBT: Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Unwitting Accomplice by author Sid Meltzer!






Book Review




Unwitting Accomplice by Sid Meltzer
Book 1: A Kim Barbieri Thriller Series
Publisher: Rogue Phoenix Press
Publication Date: December 7, 2020
Format: Paperback - 313 pages 
               Kindle - 2277 KB
               Nook - 2 MB
ISBN: 978-1624205804
ASIN: B08PY4RCH2
BNID: 2940162910305
Genre: Thriller 


Buy The Book:



Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours.



Book Description:

How can a homicide be prevented when it’s still only in some stranger’s head?

Kim Barbieri, a tough, street-smart New York City crime reporter unfazed by male egos and mangled bodies, is sent an anonymous note with a sinister message:

I intend to commit a murder

She doesn’t know who the killer is.

She doesn’t know who his victim will be.

She doesn’t know where, when and how he will strike.

But there is one thing she does know: If she doesn’t learn to think like a killer, someone’s going to get away with murder.


Kudos for Unwitting Accomplice:

“The tension builds page after page, chapter after chapter, between the psycho driven to kill and the reporter determined to stop him—ending with a surprise twist I just didn’t see coming. And I’m a thriller writer!” ~ Steven Pressfield, bestselling author of Gates of Fire and A Man at Arms



Book Excerpt:


Chapter One

Friday, March 24
11:15 AM

One envelope stood out from all the others competing for Kim Barbieri’s attention. All it had was her name and address. The rest was blank. Clearly, it was meant for her eyes only, the note inside demanding to be read.

Wondering who would write her a personal letter, she put down her cup of coffee, opened the envelope and took out the single sheet of paper inside. Savvy as she was, she was completely unprepared for its stark, ominous message.

I intend to commit a murder.

There was no Dear Kim above the line, no Sincerely yours below it. Like the envelope itself, there was nothing to tell her the identity of the writer, or why it was sent specifically to her.

“Hell’s this?” she whispered to herself.

After a long, brutal winter, the sun had chosen that morning to come out and give New Yorkers a hint of the warmer weather to come. It was one of those early spring days, a little too chilly in the shade, yet absolutely glorious in the sun. Barbieri welcomed the retreat of winter, lying out on her patio for the first time since before Thanksgiving, enjoying her ritual first cup of morning coffee while listening to Verdi’s Il Trovatore on her ancient record player.

It was an opera she knew by heart, and as it came to an end, she forced herself to get up off the lounge chair, take the LP off the turntable, and pour a second cup of coffee. Her too-brief escape was over, and it was time to attack the backlog of mail that piled up whenever she was too worn out from chasing cops and robbers all over the city to wade through it. It’s not going to go away by itself.

She first tossed the 90 percent of it that was junk, then put aside the bills she had to pay. She saved for last the once-in-a-blue moon personal correspondence, like the mystery letter.

What am I supposed to do with this? What does it mean? Why did I win this particular lottery?

She put the disturbing note back in the envelope to examine it again with a critical eye, as if opening it for the first time. While she had not been called into work that morning—a slow news day, evidently—she never stopped looking at things from a journalist’s point of view. Sweat the details. Always. They tell a story all by themselves.

It was a standard, plain vanilla business envelope, white or close to it, with no embossing, watermark, or logo that could have given her the thinnest of threads to pull. Probably from Staples or Walmart. No help at all.

Printed on the front were her name, street address, apartment number, and zip code—all correct. The writer knew of her by seeing her byline, she assumed, which meant he also knew what she did for a living. Her stories appeared just about every day in the Daily News, the tabloid whose circulation pretty much ended at the city line. She gave her fellow New Yorker a small nod for accuracy. Whoever sent it had chosen a standard business typeface, and the envelope looked like it came out of a cheap home office printer you could get anywhere. Canon perhaps, or HP. They’re all pretty much the same anyway.
In the upper right corner was a common Forever stamp—Elvis before he became a lounge act—precisely aligned with the envelope’s top and side edges. Its postmark revealed it was mailed two days before, on Wednesday, and meant it was placed in her mailbox by a mail carrier rather than the sender. Had the postmark been completely legible, it could have helped her track down the post office where it originated. Unfortunately, only the last two numbers—0 and 9—were clear. The rest was an unreadable blur. I can’t even tell which city it came from. All in all, the envelope itself is giving me next to nothing to go on.

She took the letter out again as if she had not done so only a minute before, putting the now empty envelope aside. It was standard letter size and appeared to be the same stock as the envelope. It was folded in thirds, business style, by someone who took care to line up the edges perfectly.

One neat and orderly fellow. Or should I say lady? Lord knows men have no monopoly on weirdness. The opportunity to judge people was both an occupational hazard and a perk of the job. After so many years of interviewing cops, witnesses, victims, and assorted dirtbags, she could not help herself.

The sinister warning, I intend to commit a murder, was printed on the top inside third of the letter, flush left, in the same typeface as on the envelope. She noted again how the middle and bottom thirds of the paper were left blank.

As unsettling as the message was, there was something else creeping her out. This is an unwelcome invasion of my privacy. Somebody out there knows my name, what I do, and where I live. What else does he know about me? My account numbers? My passwords? My family?

She put the letter back in the envelope, careful not to leave any more of her own fingerprints or ruin any the writer had left. Tempted as she was to toss it out as a waste of time, she chose instead to hold on to it for now. As a reporter, she knew better than to dismiss a promising lead. Besides, she did enjoy a good mystery, and the killer-in-waiting might decide to give her clues actually meaning something later on.

The mail all taken care of, Barbieri poured herself a fresh cup of coffee, grabbed her copy of the Times, and reclaimed her prime sunbathing location on the lounge chair. She had finished reading the paper earlier in the morning, but was never really done with it until she filled in every last square of the crossword. A few more minutes of warmth provided by Mother Nature herself, rather than the down coat she had worn all winter, sure beat rushing to yet another savage crime scene

Chapter Two

Barbieri grabbed her cell off the kitchen counter. She had put the mystery letter aside the day before, but could not put it out of her mind. For twenty-four hours, she had thought about little else except her new anonymous pen pal. Her best course of action was to hash the message out with the one person she could trust to keep his mouth shut.

“What?” Pete Delaney was not known for idle banter or witty repartee. Social skills were not one of his strengths. Speaking in monosyllables was. With those two, small talk was kept to a minimum by mutual agreement, if not dispensed with altogether.

“Come over.”

“Now?”

“Now.”

“Twenty.”

Kim Barbieri was as good as any male with man-talk. She spoke it fluently and was comfortable distilling conversation into its purest form with her partner. When she and Delaney communicated with each other, they competed in waxing ineloquent, and the duels always induced a small smile she found hard to suppress. Reminds me of the stupid secret codes I used to dream up with my girlfriends after school.

Delaney was a photographer for the same newspaper, a stringer like Barbieri. Stringers were usually assigned to work together at random, based on who was up at the time. Except for homicides. To the metro desk editor, these two were the go-to team where dead bodies were involved. Working stories together sometimes ended with them hanging out together afterwards, which over time morphed into a sort of friendship. Not romance, certainly. There was no chemistry between them, only a high level of mutual comfort, respect, and trust, which was why Barbieri decided to loop him in on the anonymous letter.

Delaney was strictly a news photographer, and he looked the part. On the short side with long brown hair, a scruffy beard that defied grooming, and what seemed like a permanent cameraman’s squint, he went about his work with a brusque, no-nonsense demeanor he had cultivated on the job. Rain or shine, night or day, his camera vest, bulging with lenses and filters, was his security blanket. No shot was impossible as long as he wore it.

Growing up in the suburbs, he had imagined himself leading camera safaris in darkest Kenya, where he could apply his photographic skills and critical eye to capture the brutal symbiosis of big cats and their prey. Life had other plans. Until he made it to the Serengeti, the dark urban streets of New York City would have to do.

While she waited for Delaney, Barbieri checked her mailbox. No second mystery note. Her mind went back to the troubling message. How did the sender, whoever he or she is, know how to pique my interest? Why would the writer send it to me and not some other journalist? New York has plenty to choose from. Hundreds, I bet. She wanted no part of a planned murder. That much she knew. Yet she was not a fan of loose ends. She liked closure. The sinister message left a lingering bad taste she could not get rid of.

In her decade or so of covering crimes, she had seen only a handful of homicides go unsolved. The open cases still kept her up some nights, long after the white shirts in the NYPD decided to stop working on them. Cold cases seemed like a waste of manpower when there was never a shortage of new homicides needing to be solved. No matter how much she tried to block them out of her memory, Barbieri could never stop thinking about what the investigators might have missed. Was it the follow-up call they didn’t make? Maybe the witness who decided he didn’t recognize the perp after all? The DNA sample disappearing off the face of the Earth?

Blue lives mattered a great deal to her. When cops and reporters meet day after day, night after night, over stiffs from the seemingly endless supply the city offers up, a bond forms. Maybe a morbid bond, yet a bond nonetheless. When she was with them, she spoke their language, the slang they used only among themselves, not her own. Where else would I get to slip “badge bunny” or “Duracell shampoo” into a conversation? Her empathy for the stiffs and the cops came with the territory.

“Got something,” Barbieri greeted Delaney at the door. So much for pleasantries. They went right into their shorthand.

“What?”

“Patience, young man.”

Delaney followed his partner to her desk in the study, a literate woman’s version of a tormented writer’s man cave. Books were piled on every shelf not covered by yellow writing pads, each virgin territory after the first few pages, and atop the center of the desk was an old bargain-basement Dell laptop good for word processing and email, and not much else. She and the Dell went way back. Even after she finally succumbed to peer pressure and treated herself to a Macbook, she could not bring herself to toss it. One day I’ll get around to discarding the old apps and files. Then it’ll run faster, won’t it?

She took out the envelope from the drawer, opened it, gingerly removed and unfolded the one-page letter, and placed both next to each other on top of the desk. Delaney’s eyes went from one to the other until he focused on the message. “I intend to commit a murder. ” He waited a nanosecond before asking her, “Fuck does it mean?”

“What it says.”

“When?”

“When did I get it?”

“When will he kill?”

“Could be a she. Not anytime soon. My guess.”

“Nothing to ID the sender.”

“Could be anybody.”

“From anywhere. Professional, maybe.”

“Educated.”

“Grammar counts for something.”

“One perp, acting alone.”

“One victim, not more. Singular.”

“Mental case?”

“Worker going postal?”

“Computer literate.”

“Uses Word. Sends file to the printer.”

“Home office. Not safe for work.”

“Definitely. Probably online. Maybe leaving a trail.”

“Leading back to him. Her.”

“What now? Police?”

“Not yet.”

“Nothing they can do.”

Barbieri folded the letter, put it back in the envelope, and left it on her desk. As she followed Delaney out to his car, she fought the urge to remind him to keep the anonymous threat just between them. There was no need to; she knew he would not say a word to anyone.

The reporter was not impressed with the brilliant deductions they had made based on some generic stationery and a single sentence. It was simple logic at work, and it did not really bring her any closer to identifying the sender. Regardless, by bringing in her loyal sidekick, she now had a better picture of the person threatening to commit a capital crime. The would-be perpetrator morphed from an abstraction, a cipher, into a human being with a name, a family, an address, and perhaps an online history, waiting to be exposed. She felt they had inched the cryptic note closer to becoming a critical piece of evidence in an out-and-out criminal case.

On the other hand, their brilliant deductions could all be bullshit, and she knew it. The whole thing could be a hoax some sicko was playing on her. They had been wrong one or two times before, on matters a lot more trivial than murder. They could have been just reinforcing each other’s sloppy thinking. If not, it could turn out to be Barbieri’s first opportunity to cover the premeditated part of premeditated murder. How many reporters get the chance to put a story like this in their scrapbook?

She was not sure how exactly, but she felt herself being drawn into a game with an element of danger to someone else, not herself or Delaney. This game might or might not have a lethal ending, and she wanted to know how it would turn out if it was just the three of them playing.

Bringing my playmate into this arena is complicating my own involvement. Her mystery guest was now communicating with two outsiders, not just one, and Barbieri was not sure if he would appreciate Delaney becoming her full partner just yet. While she trusted Delaney more than anyone to keep quiet, the writer himself would have no reason to trust him. Her photographer could go to the cops if he ever got spooked.

Telling them about her new pen pal was something her inner control freak would not allow just yet.

Chapter Three

When did I start thinking it would be a good idea to murder a complete stranger in cold blood?

Can’t say for certain, but I do know things really started to get ugly for me when I put in my papers, posed for pictures with my new Rolex, and realized I’d made myself useless. If my plan to stick a knife in someone’s chest had a start date, this was it.

That’s why you drove all the way up here to Almost Canada, isn’t it? To hear my side of the story? Trust me, I’ve wanted to tell it as much as you want to hear it.

I used to be a real big shot, you know? It took a few years to escape the grunt work, but eventually I turned into a pretty important guy in the office. I was a big swinging dick, and I rather enjoyed it.

Me, I was old-school. I started at the bottom, sharing a tiny cube with another peon. I watched how my bosses made money, and eventually their bosses let me into their world. I worked alongside them, shadowing them. Then one day, I found myself making money like them. King of the world, I felt like. I became my own little profit center for the firm and took off from there.

See, as far as the higher-ups were concerned, my job description was very simple—make money. Make sure the company had more in the bank when I clocked out at night than it did when I’d clocked in in the morning. Simple.

I was what the corporate world called a rainmaker. It's a horseshit word for someone who knows how to drum up business and rake in the bucks. I don’t want to brag, but I made a ton of money for the company. A ton. They let me keep a big chunk of it to make sure I didn’t jump ship; between salary and bonuses, pretty soon I was taking home more than I knew what to do with, frankly.

As long as I made it rain buckets, the gods were never angry. In my world, money definitely equaled love. You bring in money for the company, and the company shows you how much they love you by giving some of it back to you. They got rich, and I got raises that meant a lot and fancy new titles that meant nothing.

Let you in on a secret. All the client wanted from me was to dig him out of the hole he had somehow dug for himself. Help him get home before his kids went to bed once in a while and help him sleep a little more soundly. This was what he was paying me for. You do this for him, you’re golden.

Guys in the office looked to me to make the big decisions. They had the business degrees and connections, while I had the kind of wisdom you only get from hard times. I had the scars and bruises, they didn’t. I could spot opportunities. I came up with ideas, set goals, planned. I budgeted, motivated, negotiated, and I sold. I assembled teams, assigned tasks, and managed resources. I cut costs, anticipated roadblocks, put out fires, and made gut calls. I made plans, then executed them. To the HR guys who have a box to fill in the org chart, this job description would’ve been all I needed to get me in the door for an interview.

The upstart MBA types I was forced to work with spoke a language the Navajo Code Talkers couldn’t break. Say one of them needed you to pitch in on a project. He didn’t ask if you had the time. He asked if you had extra bandwidth. Seriously, bandwidth? Whoever made this a word, they should bring back the death penalty just for him. My colleagues used ten-dollar words like resource allocation and immunization strategy to describe our job, bullshit terms created to make their work seem harder than it was, and impress outsiders who didn’t speak the language. Gave even our junior guys instant authority, as if they knew what they were talking about.

Personally, I never knew what they were fuckin’ talking about half the time, and I was their boss.

Consulting in retail was never hard as cutthroat businesses go. It was always challenging, sure, and I could always come up with gimmicks to help stores keep customers coming back and keep their doors open. Everybody thought I’d eventually make partner, even me. Especially me.

Then Amazon came along, followed close behind by Josh Kelleher. There wasn’t much I could do to make my clients competitive with Amazon. You want to see what that monster’s done, just walk up Broadway. About the only thing missing is the tumbleweed. There wasn’t much I could do to keep my company from making this douchebag a partner, either. Kelleher was the CEO’s son-in-law, and all my earnings suddenly meant squat in comparison.

I worked. Kelleher coasted. He got my partnership. I got a watch. Life’s unfair. I was more than a little pissed, so I walked.

Of course, I had to remind myself my company didn’t put me out to pasture when I reached mandatory retirement age. I’d stopped working on my own—my decision, not theirs. They didn’t fire me; I fired them. Maybe I was too angry at being passed over to think clearly. Maybe I should’ve eaten crow and stayed. But this didn’t make my new carefree existence any easier. To my mind, it was not so much things weren’t working out the way I’d planned. Like everything else, my retirement was a work in progress. You tried one way of doing things, one new set of routines. If it didn’t work out, you went to plan B. No big deal.

All I could do was hope it would all be OK in time. I’m sorry, bandwidth. Being home all the time, I spent many hours thinking about where I’d found myself and imagining taking a whole new direction no one could’ve predicted—least of all me.

***

Excerpt from Unwitting Accomplice by Sid Meltzer. Copyright 2021 by Sid Meltzer. Reproduced with permission from Sid Meltzer. All rights reserved.




My Book Review:

In Unwitting Accomplice, book one of the Kim Barbieri Thriller Series, author Sid Meltzer transports the reader to New York City, for an intriguing story that will keep the reader guessing and turning the pages.

Daily News freelance crime reporter Kim Barbieri is used to reporting the dark side of crime scenes in New York City. She covers every type of civil and criminal cases as a freelance beat reporter, but she really wants to be an investigative reporter. What looks like a typical day is anything but that when Kim receives an anonymous letter in the mail containing an onimous message: "I intend to commit a murder." Kim doesn't know what to make of the letter, but when the mystery killer starts to send her subsequent letters in the mail, she is determined to investigate the killer's intention, and stop him before he commits murder against an unsuspecting victim. 

In his debut novel, author Sid Meltzer weaves a slow-building and suspenseful thriller that follows a mystery killer's methodical murder plan, and Kim's investigation to stop the killer before he exacts his sinister plan and murders an unsuspecting victim. Told in an alternating first person narrative by the killer and a third person narrative of Kim's investigation, the two engage in a deadly cat-n-mouse game that slowly plays out as the killer draws Kim into his intricate plan of murder as a way to tell his story, confident that he will outsmart the police, and achieve the challenge and thrill of planning and getting away with committing the perfect crime of murder. 

I loved reading this riveting story. The author provides the reader with a fascinating killer profile that allows them to get inside the killer's thought process as he engages in a very detailed murder plan. And if that's not enough to keep the reader engaged, the killer's process of drawing Kim into his plans as an unwitting accomplice letter by letter kept me intrigued as Kim slowly put the pieces of the puzzle together. The reader will be easily drawn into this richly descriptive plot that will keep them guessing as the motive, murder plan, and clues are uncovered, and a surprise ending that brings this gripping story full circle. 

I look forward to reading the next book in the Kim Barbieri Thriller Series.

Unwitting Accomplice has enough drama, tension, action, dark secrets, intrigue, and unexpected twists and turns that will take the reader on one heck of a thrilling roller coaster ride.



RATING: 5 STARS  





About The Author



Sid Meltzer took a couple of worthwhile detours on his way to becoming a crime fiction writer.

He started out as a NYS Supreme Court Probation Officer, a job that helped him see things from a criminal’s point of view— and let him peer into their minds’ many dark alleys.

Working with ethically-challenged rascals prepared him well for the caliber of people he met in his next career— advertising. That is where he learned how to craft stories that draw readers in and keep them engaged.

Unwitting Accomplice is his debut novel.







Contest Giveaway

Win A $10 Amazon Gift Card




This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Sid Meltzer. There will be 2 winners of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card each. The giveaway begins on March 1, 2021 and runs through April 2, 2021. Void where prohibited. 









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