Monday, August 28, 2023

What Am I Reading This Week?

 So my lovely wonderful humans (and non-humans as well) I am planning to have a chill reading week this one. I don't have any books that absolutely have to be read by a certain date for a lil bit so I'm going to focus on the reads that have fallen by the wayside. My son is also still here, so my non-working time will be pretty much all his, so I don't expect to get both books finished this week. I am really trying to get in on Austen book in August, but me and Ms. Austen just don't seem to be gelling well. I'm still going to try with Mansfield Park. 

So for my no-pressure stack this week I've got:

What are you lovelies reading? 

Friday, August 25, 2023

Death Takes a Bath by Sharon Lynn (Blog Tour and Review)

Death Takes a Bath by Sharon Lynn Banner

Death Takes a Bath

by Sharon Lynn

August 14-25, 2023 Virtual Book Tour


Death Takes a Bath by Sharon Lynn

When Maddie McGuire lands an archeology internship at the Roman Baths in England, she assumes everything will go her way. But when this college sophomore discovers a severed human ear on her doorstep, she must solve its meaning before she becomes the next victim, or worse, gets deported. Her tentative friendship with young constable Edward and the beauty of the Bath Abbey are no comfort as her aristocratic coworker Simon sabotages her every move. And the danger only increases when she discovers a dead body, both ears intact.

Praise for Death Takes a Bath:

"A whale of a read! Dip your toe into Death Takes a Bath, and you won’t come out until you’ve reached ‘the end.” A highly recommended page-turner with archaeology, intrigue, an intrepid heroine, a dishy policeman, and . . . a rabbit."
~ Molly MacRae, Author: The Highland Bookshop Mystery Series

"An exciting page-turner! It captured my attention from the first line and kept me riveted until the final twist."
~ Avanti Centrae, international bestselling author of Cleopatra's Vendetta

Book Details:

Genre: Traditional Mystery/Cozy
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date:
Number of Pages:
ISBN: 978-1685122423 (ISBN-10: ‎1685122426)
Series: A Cotswold Crimes Mystery, Book 1
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookBub | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:


The First Discovery

“What’s nine-one-one in England?” I squeaked at my cell.

Black dots dancing before my eyes, I stabbed at the mic icon on the phone and repeated the question.

“I found one number for emergency services in Great Britain,” the soothing electronic voice informed me. “Nine-nine-nine.”

My fingers trembled, and the phone smacked to the ground. As I reached to retrieve it, Roddy, the cottage’s fluffy black-and-white rabbit, hopped to inspect the object.

Jaw clenched in a death grip, my vision getting cloudy, I forced myself to stand still and count slowly to five. The world stopped spinning, allowing me to reach for the phone.

“Don’t eat that,” I warned Roddy in a passing imitation of my mother. I scooped him up for comfort and maneuvered my cell so I could see the screen.

“Okay. Here we go.” I pushed the numbers as I said them. “Nine, nine, nine.”

“What service do you require?” a voice on the other end inquired. “Ambulance, police, fire, or Coast Guard?”

“Um.” Coast Guard? My brain short-circuited on the unfamiliar option. If there was one thing you never needed in the Arizona desert, it was the Coast Guard. My body swayed unsteadily as I contemplated the question.

“Are you able to speak?” the voice prompted.

Emergency. I needed to tell them. “Ear,” I stuttered, unable to form a sentence around the horror of the situation.

“You’re here, yes. If you are unable to speak, tap twice if you are in imminent danger.”

The professional but concerned voice had its intended effect of calming me. Shaking my head, I changed tactics. Instead of discussing the details of what I’d found, I asked for the police.

After a complicated exchange that gave me time to form my response, a male police officer asked my emergency.

Shuddering, I said, “Hi. My name is Madeline McGuire. I’m an exchange student from America, and I found an ear.” The words tumbled from my mouth. “A human ear. A freshly severed human ear.”

Saying it out loud made it real. Bunny in arm, I sunk to the floor, clinging to fluffy comfort. The image of the blood-stained ear spilling out of the salt-packed box loomed in my mind, stirring the acids in my stomach.

The voice of the officer broke through my thoughts. “You did the right thing to call. Do you have the address of your location?”

“Ash Tree cottage on Greenway Lane, Bath, England.”

“I’ll stay on the line until a constable arrives,” he told me.

Teeth chattering, I nodded robotically.


“Yeah. Okay. I’ll be fine. Fine,” I said, not sounding even a little fine. “I’ll make coffee. This seems like a coffee moment.”

“I’ve found that tea is quite soothing in difficult situations,” the officer offered.

Ignoring the suggestion, I treaded into the kitchen, Roddy clutched to my chest, the phone pressed to my ear.

“I could have done without your discovery, Roddy,” I muttered. When I brought the rabbit in from the pouring rain, I let him roam free long enough for him to chew a hole through the cardboard of a newly delivered package.

“What was that, miss?” the policeman on the line asked.

“Oh, sorry. Talking to my rabbit.”


“Nothing. I’m fine.”

I hadn’t blinked in a long time. A tremor rippled through me as I set the rabbit on the kitchen floor. With a weird detachment, I noted that Roddy’s black-and-white fur matched the checkerboard tile. The pattern became mesmerizing, a safe place for my mind until I collapsed against the counter.

Catching myself, I said, “Coffee. Coffee is good.” Filling the electric kettle, I flickered the “On” switch, then retrieved the French press. A mostly empty bag of stale coffee sat behind the press.

Dumping the ground beans into the glass cylinder, I filled the press with hot water.

It was a mundane task that I had done hundreds of times. I wondered, could I make coffee without my ear?

As I pushed the plunger to infuse the water with grounds, I almost shoved the contraption onto the floor. Catching it just in time, I shakily poured myself a cup. Ignoring the scalding heat, I gulped.

Caffeine coursed through my system, making me jumpy as I thought about the consequences of receiving a body part. An ear in the mail would make a little sense back in Chicago, where I was getting my archeology degree. Mobsters still controlled parts of the city, and the paper always mentioned grizzly retribution crimes.

As I took another sip, I imagined finding the package while at college. The dorm would buzz with gossip, wondering what the intended recipient had done. And I would know it wasn’t meant for me.

I had only been in Bath for two days. I didn’t know anyone in England, especially not well enough to offend them.

Did that mean the homeowners where I had a room were being warned? My stomach curdled at the thought. I hadn’t met them yet, but I considered them friends after the year of emails we exchanged. Bad people wouldn’t own a bunny, would they?

Losing control, I hunched over, retching dry heaves.

I leaned my back against the pantry door and slid to the floor. Roddy hopped in my lap, comforting me.


I yelped, causing the rabbit to bound off of me, his powerful legs digging into my jeans. I’d forgotten the phone.


“Constable Bailey is on your street. His collar number is 16941.”

“There’s a pull chain to open the latch on the gate. The box is in the mudroom. Tell him to come in.”

“Mudroom?” For the first time, my dispatcher sounded unsure.


Excerpt from Death Takes a Bath by Sharon Lynn. Copyright 2023 by Sharon Lynn. Reproduced with permission from Sharon Lynn. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:

Sharon Lynn

Sharon Lynn was raised in Arizona, but it was living in England as a teenager and every return trip since that inspired the setting of her Cotswold Crimes Mystery series. As a professor of theater, film, and writing she coaches and mentors aspiring artists. Her short stories can be found in anthologies from Malice Domestic and Desert Sleuths. She is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. Please sign up for her newsletter at and

Catch Up With Sharon Lynn:
BookBub - @sharonlwrites
Instagram - @sharonlwrites
Twitter - @sharonlwrites
Facebook - @SharonLWrites


My Review:

This was a delightful surprise and a very fun read. I liked Maddie straight away. She was smart, funny, a bit of a mess and just downright relatable. The side characters were very well written and fun. Loved the setting and the history aspect of the book very much and was delighted at the way that the author described them. The mystery aspect was nicely done, very much a cozy type of story but I do like those! I enjoyed this book tremendously and am very interested in what the future holds for Maddie. 

All in all this was a fun, quick read with great characters and a very nicely done plot/mystery! 


Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews and opportunities to WIN in the giveaway!




This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for Sharon Lynn. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.



Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Tours


Thursday, August 24, 2023

Bout of Books Update

Here be the fun part of the child is coming over to stay for a while. So obviously he's going to be the highlight and super star of the rest of the week and weekend. Soooo probably won't do much of the reading while he's here. 

I have finished 2 books so far. Both review books. Both mysteries. 

  • 25 to Life
  • Death Takes a Bath (review posting tomorrow)
Books I might read while he's sleeping or otherwise occupied:

  • Destiny
  • The House of the Spirits
  • The Hobbit
  • Mansfield Park
So you see there's not a chance in h-eee-double hockeysticks I'll be finishing up all those. 
I think this will be the last update for this readathon. If I do get more pages read I'll update here. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

25 To Life by John Lansing (Blog Tour and Review)

25 to Life by John Lansing Banner

25 to Life

by John Lansing

August 21 - September 15, 2023 Virtual Book Tour


25 to Life by John Lansing

25 to Life is the fifth and latest installment in the Jack Bertolino series, written by John Lansing in the propulsive, cinematic, page-turning style he has become known for.

Gloria Millhouse, a beautiful African American law student, is working with the Project for the Innocent. She has done extensive research on inmate Carl Forbes, who she believes was wrongfully arrested, convicted and incarcerated for a crime he didn't commit, the sexual assault and brutal murder of a teenage girl in Los Angeles twenty-three years ago. Gloria dies in a car crash on Malibu Canyon Road after questioning powerful, politically-connected men who were witnesses at Carl's trial and knew the victim personally. Private investigator Jack Bertolino is brought on to discover the truth behind Gloria's death. Was her crash simply a random accident or a conspiracy to prevent the courts from reopening the case and granting Carl Forbes a new trial? Jack believes that Gloria was murdered, and as the body count rises, it becomes clear that if Jack can find Gloria's killer, he will also find the man responsible for the teenager's assault and murder. And Carl Forbes can walk out of prison a free man.

Praise for 25 to Life:

“Los Angeles–based private investigator delves into a murder with ties to a wrongfully convicted man in Lansing’s detective novel.”
“The author packs this latest installment in the Jack Bertolino series with new and returning characters. Gloria’s mysterious death is the catalyst, but it’s this vibrant cast that truly propels the tense narrative. The author’s incisive writing sets Jack on the investigation right away, and succinct chapters breeze by as he compiles a suspect list and looks into a host of crimes. Even as the culprits become more apparent, Jack must still prove they’re guilty. It all leads to a superb ending and the unmistakable sense that this series is nowhere close to slowing down.”
“Razor-sharp characters propel a taut, suspenseful thriller.”
~ Kirkus Reviews

Book Details:

Genre: Crime/Thriller
Published by: White Street Press
Publication Date: September 5th, 2023
Number of Pages: 276
ISBN: 979-8-9885 166-1-3
Series: The Jack Bertolino Series, 5
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | More

Read an excerpt:


Gloria was embarrassingly beautiful first thing in the morning. Her lively intelligent eyes, were the color of cocoa. Her perfect skin was a shade darker. She blew steam over the rim of her coffee cup, steeling herself for the day. Gloria mentally repeated the bullet points she wanted to make with her next group of interviewees.

Mug shots of Carl Forbes, a teenage African American boy, were taped to her mirror. A daily reminder of her life’s work. She quickly gathered her overflowing briefcase and iPad, and locked the apartment door behind her.

Gloria slid behind the wheel of her Fiat, the color of a pistachio, and headed for her first appointment with Councilman Mark Corcoran.

Gloria’s interview with the councilman wasn’t going well. Saying she worked with Project for the Innocent did her no good. Corcoran had agreed to give her ten minutes of his time, but the officious man had already checked his watch twice.

“I’m a big fan of your program,” Corcoran said. His unblinking eyes used to intimidate had no effect on Gloria. “But I believe your client is a guilty man. I followed the case—hell, we all knew the kid. Quiet type, lived a few blocks over, didn’t run with our set. Hard to believe him capable of such brutality, but he confessed to the crime.”

Gloria was prepared for this. “Carl says the arresting officers tortured the confession out of him. He was seventeen years old. Thirty-six hours without food or bathroom facilities. And look at the photograph, it’s clear he’d been beaten.”

The councilman glanced at the photo and handed it back. “He was picked out of a lineup.”

“Eyewitnesses are notoriously undependable. If the cops coerced the confession, it’s not a stretch to think they might have manipulated the lineup. And none of his DNA was found on, or in the victim’s body. Shelley Goldstein had been sexually assaulted before she was murdered. I believe Carl was set up. He’s already served twenty-three years for a murder he didn’t commit.”

Corcoran wasn’t moved. “Shelley was a lovely rich girl. None of the boys in our neighborhood stood a chance in hell with her. Sorry, but there’s nothing more I can add.”

“I was told you had a big crush on her.”

“We all had crushes on her. Who were you talking to?” All attitude now.

“I don’t reveal sources.”

Corcoran rose from his power desk, “Good luck with the case. I respect what you’re doing.”

Gloria understood an exit line when she heard one. She nodded, and walked out.

Gloria was early for her next interview. She grabbed a latte from her favorite coffee house, and took a window seat. She called Professor Ted Andrews who ran Project for the Innocent and filled him in on her less than stellar performance. Her mentor wasn’t pleased.

“It’s a little early in the game to be burning bridges” Ted said.

“I know, you’re right. I get it. But he was so arrogant.”

“Don’t beat yourself up. You’re doing a good job.” Ted counseled her to take a few days, consolidate her notes, and then they’d revisit the case. Not what Gloria wanted to hear. And then as an afterthought, “I think I’m being followed.”

That caught the professor’s attention. Gloria explained it was an SUV with tinted windows. She’d picked up a strange vibe. She made a few off-the-wall turns, and he was gone. She started questioning herself, said it was probably nothing. The professor reminded her when they exonerate one of their clients, someone else’s career and reputation sustains damage. It’s a dangerous business. He tells her to trust her instincts. Gloria took that to heart and signed off.

Hanna Cook was standing on the postage-sized porch of a tired California bungalow in Del Rey. She was pushing fifty but giving sixty a run for its money.

“So, what can I tell you about the bastard?” Hanna asked, droll.

Gloria shared a conspiratorial grin. Put the subject at ease, she’d been taught, and they might share their secrets.

“Do you remember the case? It was back in 2000. The sexual assault and brutal murder of a young co-ed.” Gloria reached into her briefcase, “This is a picture of Carl when he was seventeen.” She handed Hanna the photo.

“What did Kevin have to do with it?”

“I was hoping you could tell me. He’s on record as being part of the team who arrested the young man.”

“No,” she said wistfully, handing the photo back. “The less I knew, the better off I was. Kevin was an angry man who never should’ve been a cop. Went to his head. That, and the rye whiskey. Only thing that made him feel good … then it made him mean. When he wasn’t getting his kicks arresting dirt-bags, he’d start in on me.”

“Was he ever cited for physical violence?”

“Once or twice. It wasn’t like it is now. People with their cell phones, and cameras. And just try to arrest a cop back then for slapping around his wife…”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Gloria said, and decided to drop the hammer. “Carl claims your ex, and his partner, beat him into giving a false confession.”

Hanna considered that. “I almost shot Kevin one night. Had his gun. He woke up staring down the barrel. I started to cry and he slapped the thing out of my hands and gave me something to cry about. First call I made after they unwired my jaw was to a lawyer.”

The conversation was going nowhere. Nothing but conjecture to corroborate her inmate’s story.

It was dusk as Gloria made her way toward Twin Dragon Restaurant. She glanced in the rearview mirror and saw a gray Ford Expedition several lengths behind her. Was it the same SUV she saw before? There were lots of SUVs in LA. When she checked again, it was gone.

Gloria pulled her car onto the side street next to the restaurant. All was quiet. She draped a sweater over her briefcase in the rear compartment, locked up, and hoofed it around to the front entrance to pick up her order.

Five minutes in and out. When Gloria emerged, her hands were full and the smell was incredible. She rounded the corner—and had to look twice to make sense out of what she was seeing. Broken shards of glass fanned out around the back of her car. She took another tentative step forward and could clearly see the shattered rear window of her Fiat.

Her heart pounded, and her breath came in fits and starts. She prayed she was wrong. Yet as she neared her car, her worst fears were realized.

Her briefcase was gone.

Her throat went dry, and she stifled tears. She set the bag of food on top of her car and took in the scene. She looked around her car, checked the traffic on Pico, and the quiet side street for anything out of the ordinary.

Nothing. No one who could have witnessed the break-in. No one who cared that she was caught in a nightmare.

Gloria did a quick mental inventory of everything in her briefcase and came to the sickening realization her iPad and four months of hard work had been stolen. In some instances, information and notes of interviews that took hours to create, and hadn’t been copied. The flood gates opened and tears streamed down her cheeks. Light-headed, she had to lean against the car to keep her balance.

Was it an opportunistic crime? The thief saw an object, did a smash and grab. Could it have been that simple?

What else could it have been? The SUV? Gloria knew she was paranoid now. Scared silly. She grabbed a few napkins out of her takeout order and whisked the shards of glass that had landed on her front seats onto the curb. She turned on her headlights and pulled out, driving toward home.

Her head was still swimming. Gloria pulled to a stop, grabbed her cell phone and called her father.

After she told him what had happened, he quickly replied:

“Look, darling, don’t go home to an empty apartment,” he said with a tenderness that belied his courtroom reputation. “I don’t want you to be alone. Drive over the hill and spend the night. We can file a police report in the morning and set you up with a rental car.”

“I’ve got Chinese.”

“Shrimp with black bean sauce?”

“And Kung Pao.”

“I’ll chill the chardonnay. I don’t want you to worry. Drive safely, honey.”

“Okay, Dad. Thank you.”

Gloria clicked off, feeling loved, and headed for the Las Virgenes exit off the 101.

Malibu Canyon Road was two lanes of driving pleasure. Winding blacktop cutting through deep canyons and steep cliffs with sandstone outcroppings. It came to a dramatic end, revealing the Pacific Ocean and Malibu.

She took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. The missing rear window of her Fiat created a strange whistle as she powered the small car around the curves at forty-five miles an hour. Her rumbling stomach got the better of her, and Gloria rummaged around the bag with one hand and plucked out a dumpling. She smiled, took a bite, and glanced at the rearview mirror.

A large SUV appeared around one rocky turn, moving fast, and she hoped the driver wasn’t going to be a pain, and force her to pick up the pace.

Gloria made short work of the dumpling and used two hands to maneuver around a tight curve. Her discomfort swelled as she realized the SUV was closing the distance. Headlights on high beam. Her body tensed as she realized the vehicle bearing down on her was a gray Ford Expedition.

Gloria wondered if she was going mad. It looked like the same car she’d seen before. No, it was impossible, she thought, but picked up her pace. Fifty miles an hour was pushing it around the tight curves, and as fast as she was willing to go. Screw the driver.

The SUV was tracking her now. Tight on her fender. Headlights blinding. She grabbed her cell phone and hit her father’s number with one hand. Gloria slid around the next turn, and the phone dropped out of her hand.

“Back off!” she shouted over the whine of air thundering through the broken rear window as her speedometer hit sixty miles an hour. The SUV loomed in her rearview and she instinctively pushed the car to sixty-five, white-knuckling the steering wheel.

Gloria drifted over the broken white line as a car blasted by from the opposite direction, horn blaring, scaring the crap out of her. She came dangerously close to skidding onto the narrow gravel shoulder and colliding with the sheer cliff face.

And then, oh Christ, she felt the SUV nudge the back of her car.

Gloria stomped pedal-to-metal. Her small sedan rocketed to seventy miles an hour.

The SUV tapped her rear bumper again.

Gloria’s eyes teared. She was losing it but fought to keep the car on the road.

The SUV slammed into her harder. “Stop it!” she cried.

And then the power punch. Five thousand pounds of steel rammed her compact car.

Gloria couldn’t hear her squealing tires over the sound of her own screams as she went into a death spin.

Gloria knew she was going to die a moment before her car came out of the 360 on the opposite side of the road, barreling toward the cliff at seventy miles an hour.

Her Fiat smashed into the rocky berm and went airborne.

Time stood still.

The only sound: the whistling wind and Gloria’s beating heart.

The rock-strewn riverbed grew in size, filling her field of vision as she dropped out of the sky and bore witness to her impending death.

The pistachio Fiat that had brought Gloria so much joy in life burst into flames on impact and enveloped her broken body.


Excerpt from 25 to Life by John Lansing. Copyright 2023 by John Lansing. Reproduced with permission from John Lansing. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:

John Lansing

John Lansing is the author of four thrillers featuring Jack Bertolino—The Devil’s Necktie, Blond Cargo, Dead Is Dead, and The Fourth Gunman—as well as the true-crime non-fiction book Good Cop Bad Money, written with former NYPD Inspector Glen Morisano. He has been a writer and supervising producer on Walker, Texas Ranger, the co-executive producer of the ABC series Scoundrels, and co-wrote two MOWs for CBS. The Devil’s Necktie is in development at Andria Litto’s Amuse Entertainment, with Barbara DeFina attached as a producer.

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

Find out more on:
BookBub - @JohnLansing
Instagram - @johnlansingauthor
Twitter - @jelansing
Facebook - @devilsnecktie



Oh my! This was a wild ride! It was a taut and well written thriller that felt like a fast moving ride! Great writing, good action sequences and great dialogue! This one is the 5th in the series, and I was at first a bit nervous about jumping in at this point but I didn't feel lost. Everything was told in a very natural way and there was no annoying info dump. It's neither assumed that you have read the previous books but also not assumed you haven't. Character's back stories and personalities just unfold naturally in an organic way (I hope that makes sense?) 

Anyways, this was a great read. Very fast paced and very well done. 


Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and opportunities to WIN in the giveaway!





This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for John Lansing. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.



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Bout of Books Day 2 & 3

Bout of Books

It's Day 2 & 3 (because I suck)  of #Boutofbooks and I am so very ready for another awesome reading day! I want the momentum of yesterday roll over today! I'm hoping that Death Takes a Bath will be as fast (and good) of a read as 25 to Life. 

I do have work today but plenty of down time to get some good reading in! 

So here we go:

Death Takes a Bath by Sharon Lynn

Starting page: 1

Notes: I have had a slight case of book A.D.D and have switched to Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. NOT a planned read, but alrighty. 

 Wednesday 23rd: Update. I have decided to combine these days. I have a full day of work ahead of me so I don't expect much reading to be done until much much later (if I'm not brain dead by then) so this might be a sad little update! 

Pages read: 



I love the horror genre! Anything from slightly spooky to downright terrifying! My favorite book of all time is The Stand by Stephen King! 

Monday, August 21, 2023

Here We Go! Bout of Books 38 Day 1 Update and Sign Up Post

I cannot say no to a Read-a-thon so here I am! I actually learned about BoB happening this week, last night. My son is possibly coming over for a while later this week so I might not be able to do the whole shebang but here I am! 

I'm going to try to do some of the Instagram challenges: (@Coraelle) *If you follow me let me know and I'll follow you back!*

Day 1 Prompt:


My TBR Stack:

As you can see I have a couple of Mystery/Crime thrillers in the mix and then two of the books that I've been trying to read for a while. I've had a reading slump. I'm also still trying to get The House of the Spirits read for a read-a-long so you may see that in the updates. 

So I will probably do daily updates and try my very bestest when I'm not working and sleeping to pack in as much reading as possible! 

I'll do my updates less stress-y like maybe with one update in the mid-afternoon and once before I crash for the night. 

So starting off I'll be reading : 

25 To Life by John Lansing this is a review book for the blog and I have already started in it. 

Starting Page: 11 
Ending Page: 276
Finished Book: 25 to Life by John Lansing

Notes: 25 to Life was a very quick read. I managed to finish it up a bit earlier. Was very surprised how fast I got through with it and that should tell ya'll something. 

Moving on to Death Takes a Bath by Sharon Lynn

Starting  Page: 1

Updates will come tomorrow. 

Let's get crackalacking! 

Smash, Smash, Smash: The True Story of Kai the Hitchhiker (Blog Tour and Review)

Smash, Smash, Smash: The True Story of Kai the Hitchhiker by Philip Fairbanks Banner

Smash, Smash, Smash:

The True Story of Kai the Hitchhiker

by Philip Fairbanks

August 7 - September 1, 2023 Virtual Book Tour


Smash, Smash, Smash: The True Story of Kai the Hitchhiker by Philip Fairbanks

"That woman was in danger, so I ran up behind him with a hatchet... Smash, smash, SUH-MASH!!!"

Millions of people heard these words and shared the viral video with their friends. This mysterious surfing hitchhiker then vanished as quickly as he appeared, only to reappear on many late night talk shows and fan videos. But 3 months later, he was arrested and charged with killing a prominent New Jersey lawyer... in self defense against a sex assault.

Who is this mysterious hitchhiker? What was with that lawyer who drugged and assaulted him? Why would the investigators destroy evidence, tamper with witnesses, and shut the public out of the trial?

For almost a decade, the public was kept in the dark: until investigative journalist Philip Fairbanks searched for the truth in mountains of government records, witness statements, and hard evidence. At long last, he found the answers to these burning, aching questions...

And they will surprise you.

Praise for Smash, Smash, Smash: The True Story of Kai the Hitchhiker:

"Phil is not the kind of journalist who files a story and gets on with his life. That passion and integrity shine through in this book, and generally in the way Phil makes you care about the people he’s covering….

When I read this book, as with so many things Phil has written, I feel that I am in good hands, being carefully guided to the truth."
~ Alissa Fleck
(Newsweek, SF Gate, Houston Chronicle)

"In his latest book, Philip Fairbanks wields a wealth of laboriously earned evidence and detail, the product of five years of research, to tell a harrowing and heartbreaking tale nobody (until him) deemed worthy of telling, and some would rather remain untold….

In his characteristically engaging style and with a dexterous balance of compassion, curiosity, and analysis, the author walks the reader through a hellish nightmare; one that Kai was born into and in which he continues to exist."
~ Wendy Painting, PhD
(Author, Aberration in the Heartland of the Real: The Secret Lives of Timothy McVeigh)

Book Details:

Genre: True Crime
Published by: Is It Wet Yet Press
Publication Date: February 2023
Number of Pages: 456
ISBN: 9781959947998 (ISBN10: 1959947990)
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:


It’s been about five years since my first article about Caleb McGillivary was published in The Inquisitr. Not long after that, I conducted a series of telephone interviews. I was taken aback by how implausible the inherent corruption was: evident in multiple conflicts of interest; and an apparent cover-up during the investigation, that was allowed to go practically unchallenged from the prosecutor’s mouth to the media. All that ugliness nakedly on display surely should have attracted a frenzy of media interest.

Over the years, a sickening realization came to mind. As far as reporters covering the case, I seem to be one of the “experts” if not “an authority.” Certainly, one of the few, if not only, journalists who took the time to check Kai’s claims and allegations against the evidence at hand. It might be kind of nice being a leading authority on some benign subject. Rare arthropods, maybe? I could dig being a foremost authority on some obscure Flemish Renaissance-era painter’s oeuvre, for sure. The gravity of the situation can be almost overwhelming, though, when your expertise is on a subject about which a human life hangs in the balance.

So, you can imagine my mixed feelings when a production company known for prestige projects approached me with the idea of using some of my work in a film for one of the “Big 3” streaming companies.

I was flattered, of course. Probably the first in a wave of emotions to come up. The thought that Kai’s words, from calls I’d recorded, might achieve a bit of immortality. Even better, the prospect that the film could make a difference. Something like The Thin Blue Line, one of the most important and influential works in the entirety of the corpus of “True Crime.” Like Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, it is a work that somehow manages to both define and transcend the boundaries of “True Crime.”

After a few rounds of emails, a call was set up. Everyone I had dealt with was pleasant and nice, but I couldn’t shake the feeling I was being purposefully put at ease. For what reasons I couldn’t tell. Hell, I couldn’t even tell if I was just being paranoid because of my close connection to the story. Admittedly compounded by the investment of time, work, and emotional energy I’d put into it for some years. They understood that I might be quite attached to the story (specifically to the “materials” they wished me to license for their use). And of course, the more I thought about it, the more worried I was about the misrepresentation of my work or Kai himself and the case.

And to be honest, attached is not the right word for this case, or for another case I’ve been working on for the past few years. The second involved a decades- long running fraud ring connected to multiple murders. I finally managed to get some interest from journalist Alissa Fleck (Newsweek, SF Gate, Houston Chronicle, Huffington Post, Adweek, and others). Apart from her, I’d struggled to get any other reporters or outlets to even take a look. That or being ghosted after some initial interest is shown. The situation is similar to the work of Justine Barron, another noteworthy journalist who pursues cases wherever they lead. Whether or not the major papers are interested in doing due diligence themselves. For whatever reason, there are incredibly important stories that are suppressed, sometimes for years. Just look at how Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein, Peter Nygard, and others managed to float along all those years.

With Kai’s case and that of the Texas-based Ponzi ring, I’ve spent years researching and tracking down the truth. In the hopes of holding it to the light. I also got to know the living, breathing humans that exist at the other end of the story. Many of my biggest stories are the smallest ones. For me, success is exposing some injustice or imbalance. Some wrong to be righted. For instance, the honor student nearly expelled over doctor-recommended CBD oil being mistaken for THC oil by an ignorant school administration. The case of a young man selling the herbal plant medicine kratom in Tennessee. A story I covered that would be a turning point in the war for kratom legality in the state. Shortly after the case, the attorney general expressed a formal opinion that the plant was not included in a blanket synthetic drug ban. The couple arrested with kratom in their car. Initially charged with distributing heroin. Their life and small business thrown into disarray as a result. These are stories no one else was telling, or at least not in totality.

In each of those above cases, an eventual positive outcome would be achieved. Even if the only thing I was able to do was to provide some hope to victims of outrageous fortune. To make sure their stories were heard. The result was something I could—and do— take seriously. Something I take pride in. It’s rewarding to have achieved success (by Emerson’s standards anyway) by having made someone breathe a little easier, having made their life a little less hard for the day.

In Kai’s case, the stakes are too high. Not to mention the evidence of corruption is so ample and readily available to just leave it be.

So yes, I suppose that at the very least you could say I was a little “attached” to the story. In my first email back to the production company, I pointed out that I was the sole, or nearly only, source of several salient points of information about the case. That these claims were backed up by evidence released in discovery: crime scene photos, investigative notes, and interviews. They too had read the entirety of the available transcripts, they told me. However, they warned me, that they wouldn’t be “focusing” on the trial or the investigation.

That would be a totally different documentary, they said. My dream of an Errol Morris-style hit film freeing an innocent man were, if not dashed at this point, precariously hanging by a thread like a loose tooth spinning, barely affixed to the gum. So here it was. My Catch-22. My very own Faustian bargain. And though it has been quite a while since I’ve read Goethe, I almost certainly recall there being no section on freeing one’s soul from the grips of Mephistopheles come in the guise of a documentary materials release form. I knew I had no place to tell them what should or should not be in the documentary. That would be, not only in bad taste but a violation of journalistic ethics on my part. That said, I made it clear I would gladly sign over usage rights if they could make sure to include at least a handful of those major facts that point to the cover-up and, dare I say it, yes, a conspiracy that had taken place. It was then made plain and simple to me. The best possible way to get that information, Kai’s side of the story, on the books for them would be to let him speak. Kai had declined involvement with the documentary before they spoke to me, however, and they only used people “directly related” to stories in their documentaries which counted me out.

As it turns out, my fears of potentially making a deal with the devil were unfounded. A producer at the company informed me just as they were going into post-production that they were using other material “to lay out Kai’s defense.” Despite my precautions and concerns, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed after hoping that a tangential connection to a major documentary and my name in the credits might help me get this story the attention it deserves.

No worries, though. The interviews that were licensed for and would have appeared in the documentary were transcribed and will be available online. Links to the recordings on YouTube will be there as well as links to all relevant files, court documents, crime scene photos, and more both in cloud storage and at and

Kai is at the center of the book, but at the same time the book is about how his case is just one of many examples. That’s the scary part. If his case was some crazy exception that’d be awful still; but what’s so chilling is we know about this case only because he was mistaken for someone who wasn’t well known. Galfy wanted a vagrant, somebody who could be used and discarded, someone with no ties; he chose wrong but even so, they were able to do this.

Now imagine if you don’t have worldwide press coverage of your story.


It was a chilly but humid day in Fresno, February 1st, 2013.1 Between the time the frigid, overcast skies broke with sunlight until the day would turn to cold, foggy night several lives would be forever changed. It was the day that Jett Simmons McBride picked up a young “home free” hitchhiker. It was the day that Rayshawn Neely would be nearly crippled. And it was the day that Caleb McGillivary, better known as “Kai the Hatchet-Wielding Hitchhiker” would become a folk hero to millions across the world. Kai earned his “hatchet-wielding hitchhiker” moniker during that first ride that brought him to the attention of the internet at large. Kai had been picked up by Jett Simmons McBride, a 6-foot-4, nearly 300-pound, 54-yearold man who boasted to Kai about raping a 14-year-old girl in the Virgin Islands just before the chaos he would unleash on that fateful Fresno day. McBride also loudly bragged that he was, in fact, Jesus Christ reincarnated.

* Kai’s legal name is Caleb McGillivary, but some court documents and newspaper stories have his name improperly listed as “McGillvary.”

As a result, he reasoned, he could do anything he wanted. As if to prove his point, he took a sharp turn towards some Pacific Gas & Electric employees doing roadwork outside.

“He’s like, well I’ve come to realize I’m Jesus Christ and I can get away with anything I want to. Watch this, and there’s a whole crew of construction people in front of me and most of them jumped aside and one pinned underneath,” Kai explained in the interview that initially made him a star. “He said ‘I am God. I am Jesus. I was sent here to take all the [racial slurs] to heaven,’” Nick Starkey, one of the PG&E workers on the scene claimed. Neely said he never heard the racial slurs, but something about being the victim of attempted vehicular homicide tends to do a number on one’s memory and focus.

McBride pinned Rayshawn Neely against a vehicle at which point, Kai jumped out to help. McBride also attacked a woman on the scene. Kai shared in his memorable interview how he feared McBride might seriously harm her if he didn’t spring into action. The woman on the scene confirmed that Kai had indeed saved her. As Kai put it, without his fortunate appearance at the scene there would have been “hella lot more bodies.” With Rayshawn dangerously pinned by McBride’s vehicle, Tanya Baker, who was at the scene attempted to help him. At this point, McBride turned on her as well.8

“Like a guy that big can snap a woman’s neck like a pencil stick,” Kai explained why he sprung into action. “So I fucking ran up behind him with a hatchet—smash, smash, suh-mash!”

The interview with Jessob Reisbeck made an instant star out of Kai. Something about the heroic encounter, Kai’s character, and his message of redemption resonated within the public consciousness. “Before I say anything else, I want to say no matter what you’ve done, you deserve respect, even if you make mistakes. You’re lovable and it doesn’t matter your looks, skills, or age, or size or anything. You’re worthwhile... no one can take that away from you.”

February 7, 2013, Jessob Reisbeck caught back up with who he described as a “world-class hero.” Reisbeck, who continues to keep in touch with Kai “found him after 5 or 6 days” to conduct a follow-up interview. Kai’s cheeky humor shined through with portions sounding like an Abbott and Costello bit: “What have you been up to since?” “About 6 foot,” Kai replied. He also admitted he didn’t like the idea of a “stereotypical normal life.” That meant, in part, no 9 to 5 job or smartphone to weigh him down. “Are you aware what you’ve become?” Reisbeck asked. “I’ve seen it.” As for his thoughts on the outpouring of support from all over the country even worldwide, Kai’s response was simply: “Shock and awe.” Asked if he was happy about the exciting new world he’d accidentally entered, his reply was simply, “I’d prefer if I was American, but yeah.”

Jessob asked if there was anything else Kai would like to say to “all of your fans right now, because you do have them around the world.” Kai spurned the hero worship. Instead, he offered another simple, heartfelt message to the many who idolized him since the selfless act. “I do not own you, I do not have you, please do not be obsessed. Thank you, love, respect, I value you.” Within 48 hours of the KMPH interview being released and subsequently going viral, Kai was a household name earning accolades and mentions in media worldwide. Philadelphia magazine called Kai “the hero millennials need” in a February 8th article from 2013.

In the next few days, his star would continue to rise as he was featured in Autotune the News. Kai also released a cover of the song “Wagon Wheel.” An IndieGogo page was also set up to get him a new surfboard. The Philly magazine piece marks Kai as emblematic of the millennial generation, especially following the economic upheaval of the 2008 housing bubble which resulted in severe inflation, higher cost of living, and a recession we still haven’t truly escaped.

Just under three weeks out, Kai had his first day in court, perhaps foreshadowing what was to come in just about three months. He had just appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and would now be stealing the show during the preliminary hearing against Jett McBride. Despite some of the urban myths surrounding this story, Kai did not kill McBride. McBride had told his wife that Kai was the “coolest son-of-a-bitch” he had ever met. Even expressing a desire to “adopt” the home free hitchhiker. And spurious claims that Kai may have made up the story of underage rape in the Virgin Islands were refuted by McBride himself admitting the act to police on the scene. Kai’s court appearance inspired laughter and spawned headlines further cementing his place as a beloved character to so many. But by the time Jett Simmons McBride was tried in California, Kai was unable to appear. The lack of one of the primary witnesses in attendance likely altered the disposition of the case according to Scott Baly, McBride’s defense attorney. By January 2014, McBride was found guilty on some, but not all charges. The most serious charges, that of attempted murder, would not go through and even the charges he was found guilty of only resulted in psychiatric confinement for a maximum of 9 years. He was sent up to the famous Atascadero State Hospital rather than prison. Atascadero had been home for a time to the likes of serial killers like Tex Watson, Ed Kemper, and Roy Norris among others.

“I won’t say whether it hurt or helped, it affected everything,” Baly told the press. Admitting that he had hoped for acquittal on all charges. “I think there’s mixed emotions for all of us. I mean certainly, I think the moment not guilty on count one was read there was relief; it was followed shortly by a guilty reading on count two and count three so there’s a different feeling on those charges.”

What we can tell for certain, however, is that if not stopped McBride would have almost certainly wreaked far more havoc. According to the case text of the McBride court proceedings, Jett Simmons McBride was laboring under the delusion that he had uncovered a secret terrorist plot that would target the Super Bowl.

At this point, Jett McBride packed his bags to head down to New Orleans for the Super Bowl where he was convinced a bombing would occur. McBride destroyed his phone and tossed the broken remnants of it in a parking lot and some bushes to evade being tracked by the CIA, FBI, and Department of Defense who he was convinced were following his every step.

Before reaching his destination, McBride started noticing that he was being passed by white utility trucks. These were no ordinary trucks, McBride was convinced. They were, to his mind, evidence of the Illuminati following him, on his trail. Intent on killing him. Quite disturbed mentally at this point, McBride stopped in Bakersfield staying the night at the illustrious Vagabond Inn, a motel where he watched television and had some Scotch to wind down. The next day he got back on the road, then picked up a soon-to-be-famous hitchhiker he saw near the on-ramp to northbound State Route 99 not far from the Vagabond.

The hitchhiker introduced himself as Kai and asked McBride if he was heading as far as Fresno. McBride told him that he would be heading through the area on his way to Tacoma. While staying in Bakersfield, he had received messages from his nephew and Donna, his wife, who he was supposed to pick up at the airport. This unexpected intrusion from reality slightly changed his unhinged “attempt at heroism” at the Super Bowl in New Orleans.

It was once they made it into Fresno’s Tower District that Kai offered to pick up some cannabis. Jett McBride handed him $40 after which Kai disappeared into a convenience store, shortly after emerging with a bag of weed and some rolling papers. Kai rolled the joint as McBride, who was unfamiliar with Fresno, began to drive. McBride describes having a “deep” conversation with Kai and eventually extended his hand to the young hitchhiker, leaning over to hug him. “Depressed and distraught” is how he’s described in the court transcript.

The grown man also began crying over his wife. From this point on, it becomes obvious that the story has been doctored somewhat to make McBride look better. Even though it was admitted that McBride began believing that white utility trucks were agents of the Illuminati, it was McGillivary who supposedly said the electrical workers were planting bombs. Of course, it’s quite likely that this was a narrative cooked up by McBride’s attorney, Scott Baly. Considering Kai wouldn’t be able to defend himself or offer his eye-witness testimony, it was possible to try and pin more blame on him to alleviate the well-earned scorn directed at the alleged rapist with his racist slurs and dangerously unhinged conspiracy theories. Despite the reported flurry of racial slurs aimed toward Neely and other minorities at the scene, McBride’s defense claimed that he was “trying to heal Neely.” The defense claims, contrary to what witnesses on the scene have claimed, that McBride “at no time” made any racial statements or used “racial epithets.”

Neely’s reported response to McBride attempting to “heal” the serious and potentially life-threatening injury he was responsible for was something to the tune of, “Get this fucker off of me.” This, once again, ripped straight from McBride’s trial transcript.

The big bear of a man described the flurry of activity, the desperate attempt to put his rampage to a halt. He “thought he was dying” as he felt a knee on his back, someone grabbing his neck, someone pushing him to the ground, a boot in his face. All he claims to recall is saying, “Get off of me.” Around this time, for whatever reason, McBride began to disrobe. He was now convinced he was not only “filled with the Holy Spirit” and an incarnation of Jesus Christ. He was also playing the role of “witness to the end times” (as per Revelations, the two witnesses who would be killed, stripped, and left in the streets for three and a half days).

If the people attacking him, or rather, attempting to slow or stop his assault, in the real world, were to kill him then “they were going to have to drag his body through the street, naked.” Now McBride has decided he’s not just a witness to the end times, Jesus, and filled with the Holy Spirit. He’s also the prophet Enoch. A direct ancestor of Jesus Christ.

McBride, once he had conferred with defense to set the stories straight for the trial, would have little positive to say about Kai. This despite the fact he had earlier referred to him as the “coolest son-of-a-bitch” he had ever met. He had gone from telling his wife Donna that he wanted to adopt Kai to changing his story to Kai being the one jerking the wheel so the vehicle would crush Neely after Donna reported to him how Kai had explained McBride’s stated aim was to “clean all the n****rs out.”

McBride would eventually admit that it was not Kai who had twisted the wheel to pin Neely but did deny that his attack had anything to do with his race. Neely was, McBride claimed, Illuminati. The disorganized thinking of a schizophrenic or person in the throes of a psychotic break is hard to follow.

Perhaps the racial element and the delusion regarding white utility vehicles being secret Illuminati spies were conflated in McBride’s muddled head. Chicago’s ABC7 Action News spoke with some of the victims of McBride’s rampage. Most expressed a hope to fully recover from their injuries and put the whole nightmare behind them, though at least one expressed concern, hoping that McBride wouldn’t find himself released without consequences for his brutal actions.

One popular misconception that has entered Kai the Hitchhiker lore is that Kai killed the deranged, attempted murderer rather than subduing him with the flat end of his hatchet. It probably didn’t help that during the Jimmy Kimmel appearance, the host jokingly thanked Kai for not killing him. Stephen Colbert, currently the host of The Tonight Show, was starring in The Colbert Report on Comedy Central at the time. On the show, Colbert covers the Kai the Hitchhiker story, joking that he has “highway prejudice of my own: against axe-wielding hitchhikers.”

The story played into an already existing urban myth regarding the mythical ax or hatchet or knife-wielding serial killer hitchhiker. The Union County prosecutor and associate of the alleged rapist Joseph Galfy promoted severely damaging disinformation. That, perhaps, Kai was some nefarious serial killer utilizing the highways as his hunting ground. That same prosecutor, by the way, incidentally or coincidentally stepped down, after 11 years, the same day Kai was arrested. Perfect timing if you’d rather not have your recusal on the record.


Excerpt from Smash, Smash, Smash: The True Story of Kai the Hitchhiker by Philip Fairbanks. Copyright 2023 by Philip Fairbanks. Reproduced with permission from Philip Fairbanks. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:

Philip Fairbanks

Philip Fairbanks has been a published writer for over 20 years. Most of his writing has been in the field of entertainment reporting and investigative journalism as well as certain academic subjects. He has appeared multiple times in the CUNY graduate paper The Advocate (who published an article by Fairbanks last June), SUNY art journal Afterimage, Ghettoblaster features, interviews and reviews, UK newspaper The Morning Star, UK lit journal White Chimney, Impose, Delusions of Adequacy, and many more print and online publications have published him.

His first book covered issues such as the Epstein scandal, the Finders cult, online grooming and exploitation of children, and the UK grooming epidemic. He felt it was important to write a book on institutional pedophilia that dispels some of the wild disinfo related to Qanon and Pizzagate. Philip is also a voice actor and narrated the audiobook for the first book and is in the process of recording the audiobook for Smash, Smash, Smash.

Catch Up With Philip Fairbanks:
BookBub - @kafkaguy
Twitter - @kafkaguy
Facebook - @truestoryofkai


My Review: 

I remembered this case and always wanted to know more about it. So when this book was available for review I immediately jumped on it! It was well written, detailed and researched. It gives much more back story and history for Kai and how his past shaped his personality. His seemingly free-spirited nature was what caused him to be an instant sorta celebrity. He kind of went from a nobody to "that guy" overnight. 

I'm a true crime buff, and really do dislike when writers try to jump into the subject's mind without backing things up (I hope that make sense?) but this book did not fall into the trap. I felt like they genuinely got to know Kai and his personality and didn't try to paint him one way or the other. He is present as he is and how he was at the time of the crimes. It was interesting and kept me reading. They did their homework and did it well! I really liked this one! 


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Friday, August 18, 2023

Psycho Therapy by TG Wolff (Spotlight)

Psycho Therapy

by TG Wolff

July 31 - August 25, 2023 Virtual Book Tour


Psycho Therapy by TG Wolff

Diamond. One name for a woman who is faking it until she makes it. And she will make it. At least that’s what she’s telling herself.

Dr. Robin Ransom is a therapist to first responders, cops, and spies. She has a problem. She is being blackmailed via email by a nameless, faceless crook. Things go from bad to worse when the neighbor who helped deal with the threat is found dead and her newest patient tries water boarding her for information on the enigmatic Blue Devil. With no good options, she makes a desperate attempt at escape.

Diamond is a former CIA agent turned widow turned somebody whose services are most definitely not for hire. As she is struggling to figure out what is next for her, an intriguing case falls practically in her lap. From a video gaming Beastmaster in Michigan, to a suicide bomber in Virginia, to a psychiatric conference in the south of France, Diamond jumps in with her usual flair for destruction and chaos. But Fate isn’t satisfied, pushing Diamond into a position where it is either her or the person she cares for most.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Down & Out Books
Publication Date: July 2023
Number of Pages: 247
Series: Diamond Mystery, 3
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | | Goodreads | Down & Out Books

Read an excerpt:

Irish found me a hot therapist. To show my appreciation, I wouldn’t kill him.

Just maim him a little.

“Odd doesn’t begin to describe it.” I put my hands out to him. “So, what do you say?”

“Why don’t we leave those as is for now.” He leaned against the bathroom doorframe and gestured with a hand toward the couch. “You’re early.”

“I shouldn’t be here at all.” I went to the couch because I couldn’t stay bent over his moving boxes. “Call me Diamond, all the cool kids do. I don’t need to be here.”

“We should be able to wrap this up quickly then. No point in kicking a dead horse, now is there?”

“Exactly, I’m glad we—wait, are you insinuating that I’m a lost cause?”

“No, no, of course not. It’s a metaphor. It’s one of those parts of speech you Americans endlessly bastardize without understanding its linguistic origins. You, for example, have closed your mind to therapy. Ergo, your mind is a dead horse. Any attempt on my part to alter, change, or inform your perceptions is a waste of energy much in the same way of kicking a dead horse to get it to move. In short, no matter how hard I kick you, you are not going anywhere.”

I stood, flashing my charming smile. “There is a difference between being dead and playing dead. The first is confining, the latter liberating. As for kicking me, well, I wouldn’t want you to strain yourself. I understand your limitations. After all, those who can, do. Those who can’t, hang diplomas on the wall.”

He pulled his long body from its reclined position. “Are you suggesting I’m a fraud?”

“Not at all. I’m suggesting you’re a failure. Being a failure is not the same as being a fraud. It’s not your fault. Being ordinary is a handicap that can be overcome with delusions of grandeur and copious amounts of whiskey.”

“And you’re extraordinary? Please. I’ve met pigeons more unique than you. Look at yourself. Where do you shop? NYPD Blue wardrobe surplus?”

I rolled my eyes. “Elton John called and asked you return the shirt you stole.”

He crossed his arms over his chest. “Smart. Vicious. Enjoys a good fight. Thinks she’s unique when she is of the buy one, get two free variety. Poor baby. Life didn’t live up to your expectations?”

I mimicked his position. Well, I tried to, zip ties cramped my style. I settled for resting my hands on my hip. “That’s a mirror you’re looking in. Don’t be too hard on yourself. You’re not the only one who ekes out a living getting people to pay you for your attention. At least you get to keep your pants on.”

“Silk pants on. Only the best. When did the nightmares start?”


“Don’t bother denying it. The circles under your eyes and lack of witty repartee are classic signs of sleep deprivation. How long has it been since you slept through the night? A month? Six months? Tell me about the nightmares.”

“I don’t have nightmares,” I snapped. “I don’t dream at all.” Immediately, I knew I had lost. I’d revealed too much. “And if I did, I could handle it.”

He sat down at his desk, pulling a few sheets of paper in front of him. He slashed across the top with a green pen. “Goodbye, Lucy Nutcase. Hello, Diamond.” He scribbled my name, then looked up. “Last name.”

“Tiara,” I said sarcastically, and the bastard wrote it.

He began reading. “Dead husband. Hmm. Hmm. Car chase. Pyrotechnics. Hmm. Baseball?”

“You had to be there.” I left the couch to creep up on his desk. The page was filled with printed text and comments in the same green ink.


Rash.(Doesn’t that mean the same thing?)

No regard for life.

Suicidal tendencies.

He looked up, pinning me with his gaze. “Care to talk about it?”


“Fine. I don’t have time anyway.” He bent to a box behind the desk and began unpacking. “If you don’t have the stomach to deal with your issues, then you might as well kill yourself. Do it quickly and leave the air for the rest of us.”

I…He…Did he really? “You can’t tell people to kill themselves. That’s malpractice.”

He stacked books on the glass desktop. “Sue me. Oh wait, you’re gonna be dead. Haunt me. I’ve always wanted a pet ghost.”

“Maybe I have a good reason to want to die.”

“You’re taking up air.”

“Maybe I—”

“Bloody hell,” he said sharply. He turned, crossed the room in three long strides, and spun me toward the door. “I don’t have time for this. Out with you.”

I sidestepped right. “I thought I had an hour.”

“Had. Past tense.” He grasped my shoulders and steered me left again. “Your time is up.”

I planted a boot on the wall. “Oh no, it isn’t.”

“Yes, it is.” He put his shoulder into it, sweeping my leg, and sending me tumbling into the hallway. “Take two aspirin and don’t call me in the morning.”

Door slam.

“What the fuck?” I sprang to my feet and tried the door. It was locked from the inside. I pounded on the fucking beige panels. “Open. Up.” It’s not that I wanted back in, ’cause I did not want to talk to Dr. Robin Ransom, but nobody turns Diamond out like a cat at night. “I’m not through talking to you!”

“Yes, you are,” Ransom said, his voice muffled by an inch and a half of engineered wood. “Bloody nutter.”

“Bloody nutter? I’ll show him who’s nutters.” I would just circle around to the reception room and kick his ass with my hands tied together. Now, to get back. The hallway was a one-way trip to a staircase, which opened onto the parking lot. Irish was sitting in his SUV with the motor running, windows up. I kicked his door, startling the self-proclaimed super spy.

He shoved the door open and got in my face. “What the hell are you doing here? You still have forty-five minutes.”

“Your therapist is psycho. What did you expect from someone named Robin? Cut me loose. Now. I’m going to kick his ass using number eighteen.”

Irish pulled a knife from his pocket. “Hold still. You cut yourself. How hard were you pulling? And what do you mean ‘he’? Ransom is a she.”

“I shouldn’t have had to pull at all. And Ransom is definitely a he. A hot he, as if you didn’t know.”

“She’s a she.” He cut through the zip tie. “I know a woman when I see one.”

An unnatural noise drew our attention to the second floor. A woman was awkwardly climbing over one of the balconies. Her hands were bound behind her back and tape covered her mouth.

“We can’t get to her in time,” Irish said. Both of us saw the resolve in the woman’s face. She was gonna jump.


Excerpt from Psycho Therapy by TG Wolff. Copyright 2023 by TG Wolff. Reproduced with permission from TG Wolff. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:

TG Wolff

TG Wolff writes mysteries for people who love to solve puzzles. Her books feature characters in situations mirroring the complexities of real life and real people, balanced with a healthy dose of entertainment. TG Wolff co-host Mysteries to Die For podcast with her son, Jack Wolff. She holds a Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering and is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

Catch Up With TG Wolff:
BookBub - @TG_Wolff
Instagram - @tg_wolff
Twitter - @tg_wolff



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Wednesday, August 16, 2023

McMinnville by Derrick McCartney (Book Promo)

Science Fiction

Date Published: March 24, 2022

Publisher: MindStir Media

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Two photographs taken on a spring evening in 1950 that seem to show the impossible-we are not alone. A thirteen-year-old girl disappears the same evening, but returns thirty years later without aging a day. A dying detective on the hunt for the answers to one mystery falls afoul of a more profound mystery that calls into question all of human history and the science on which the universe is based. McMinnville is the story of one man's coming to terms with his mortality and the inconceivable, while falling in love for a second time, something he thought was impossible.

Ray Baker is a retired NYPD detective, dying of cancer and dealing with the crushing loneliness after the death of his wife. He wants to make the last few months of his life count by traveling cross country to the places where he grew up. Along the way, he stumbles upon a cold case that took place on May 11, 1950, a few hundred yards from his childhood farm outside of McMinnville, Oregon. At a little past seven in the evening on that day, Evelyn Forsyth was feeding her rabbits when she looked up to see a craft floating soundlessly toward her. She called for her husband, Glenn, to come with his camera. Over a span of a few seconds, he took two photographs before the craft tipped up on edge and sped away. That was the story that appeared in the Telephone Register, McMinnville's local paper under the heading "At Long Last-Authentic Photographs Of Flying Saucer[?]" A month later, the photographs were featured in the June edition of Life Magazine. Were they real or a clever hoax? Ray takes it upon himself to answer this question, applying his considerable detective skills. But in doing so, he steps through the looking glass into a world that makes him question everything. If that was not enough, he also discovers that there is a clock and it is ticking down.


McMinnville is the first book in a trilogy that follows Ray Baker's pursuit of life, love, and the truth, which is most definitely out there.

About the Author

Derrick McCartney was born in El Paso, Texas and grew up in Tennessee before moving to the Washington, DC area. Despite a degree in Soviet and East European studies, he made a name for himself as an expert on North Korea. After a stint in the US Government, he has spent most of his career in defense think tanks. He has published several books and articles on international security affairs under his real name. This is his first work of fiction.

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