Featured Series – The Dead Game

 💞THE DEAD GAME 💞

by Susanne Leist

Coming this summer!
Book Two of The Dead Game series.
More games to play,
Vampires to slay. 

Check out the YouTube video … and prepare to be hooked.

In the meantime, catch up now on the first book in the series:

Linda Bennett leaves New York for the slower-paced lifestyle of Oasis, Florida. She opens a bookstore and makes new friends. Life is simple that is until the dead body washes up onshore. She is horrified to learn that dead bodies and disappearing tourists are typical for this small town. Rumors abound of secret parties held by the original residents in their secluded mansions. Once night falls, the tourist-friendly community becomes a haven for evil and dark shadows. However, this is only the beginning.
Linda and her group receive an unsigned invitation to a party at End House, the deserted house in the forest behind the town, a mansion with a violent history. They are pursued through revolving rooms and dangerous traps, barely escaping with their lives, leaving two of their friends trapped inside.
It is up to Linda and her friends to search out The Dead and find the evil one controlling their once peaceful community. Can they trust the Sheriff and his best friend, Todd?
THE DEAD GAME has begun.

Buy now from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

If you do choose to read Susanne’s book, please consider leaving a review. Reviews keep writers writing.

Thanks for reading 😉

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Book Blitz: Feel Me Fall

Feel Me Fall

by James Morris

Genre: YA/ Thriller/ Survival

Publication Date: May 2017

Blurb:

Secrets and survival in the Amazon

Emily Duran is the sole survivor of a plane crash that left her and her teenage friends stranded and alone in the jungles of the Amazon. Lost and losing hope, they struggle against the elements, and each other. With their familiar pecking order no longer in place, a new order emerges, filled with power struggles, betrayals, secrets and lies. Emily must explain why she’s the last left alive.

But can she carry the burden of the past?

Discover the gripping new adventure novel that explores who we are when no one is watching, and how far we’ll go in order to survive.

Fancy a snippet?

Of course you do! But, this is so much more than a snippet …

Enjoy! 🙂

Chapter One

I have tried so hard to forget, but memory is a stubborn thing. Memories linger no matter what I do. They’re there all the time—and worse. Even my dreams aren’t safe. I have vicious nightmares, and they’re real—too real—and suddenly I’m back there. I can’t will them away, I can’t squeeze them away, and the more I try, the more they burrow in my head. I want to cut open my skull and dig my fingers into my brain and just pull them out.
I press the Call Nurse button.
This place, this room; it’s no better than a white coffin. Sometimes I feel like the walls are closing in on me and I have to remind myself nothing’s moving. Nothing at all.
Breathe, I tell myself. Just breathe.
A nurse enters. She’s got skin the color of rich walnut. She says, “It’s late, you should be asleep.”
“I can’t.” She tilts her head, knowing it’s a lie. The truth is I don’t want to. “Can I have some coffee?”
“You’ve got to sleep sometime, honey.” She walks over and gently grasps my bandaged hand. “Do you want me to stay with you a while?”
Usually my mom is with me, but she must’ve had to run home. Reduced to a little girl, I nod.
I close my eyes, but my mind runs and runs. Tubes and fluids enter my body, but there’s nothing to stop the anxiety. My heart pounds and sometimes I fear I’m on the cusp of crossing into whatever lies on the other side of sane. Being in the hospital makes it harder. The white walls and sick people only remind me that I am so far from normal. My mom’s apartment in Los Angeles is less than five miles away, but it might as well be a million.
The nurse, staff, doctors, everyone; they all know me for one thing. The thing that will define me for the rest of my life. I am a survivor. The only survivor of Air Brazil, the plane that crashed in the Amazon jungle carrying 134 passengers; 37 of them students, teachers, and chaperones from Riverdale Academy High. I used to hear about plane crashes and wondered how the victims felt in the seconds before impact, wondered what it was like to know you were about to die.
Now I know. And I’d give anything not to.
I knew those people from school. Every. Single. One.
They aren’t faceless names. They are people and they are dead.
The counselor didn’t help, either. She told me not to feel guilty. Survivor’s guilt, she called it. She warned I could expect to be angry and sad. I could expect to be confused. I wanted to tell her I was angry and sad and confused long before I got onto that plane.
My counselor told me to write my story down. By writing I could make sense of all that happened. I keep thinking if I remember everything the way I need to that the memories will fade away. That I can accept what happened. I can accept that I survived and everyone else died.
The laptop on my nightstand is waiting for me. I’m scared to touch it.

###

I was dead to the world and when I came to I was drowning. Water gushed into my mouth and I was tumbling, flailing, not knowing what end was up or down. I heard the sounds of screaming and the roaring of water and then nothingness. Coming up for air, I held something, something rectangular. The seat cushion I was holding kept me afloat. I was in a river and I didn’t know why. I kicked and kicked and it made no difference. I never believed in God, an all-powerful being that allowed so many horrible things to happen, but as I saw the rocks up ahead, I prayed.
The current sped faster, churning like boiling water and I thought I was going to die.
I was 17 and I was going to die.
All the time wasted. All the things I never got to do.
I had one thought over and over: I don’t want to die. Someone else, but not me.
I held onto that seat cushion for dear life and plunged into the rapids. I was a human rag doll. The torrent sucked me into a watery hell and I couldn’t breathe; my eyes shut, mouth shut, face tight against the murk, willing everything to stop. I couldn’t breathe. I started to panic.
Someone else, but not me.
I needed air, my body screamed for it and I opened my mouth about to take in water when I bubbled up to the surface and gasped. As quickly as I was brought above, I was taken under again. I slammed against the rocks and buried my face deeper into the cushion. I saw nothing, heard nothing, and imagined I was in a womb. I could only wait for the terror to pass. There was no outlet; my fear was so deep and tangible I couldn’t scream. It felt like an actual substance that enveloped my body, my brain, my very being. I receded further and further within myself, a dark hole, my entire body a taut muscle.
Suddenly, I took a shot to the head and saw stars. A high-pitched squeal rang in my ears. I fought the growing sensation of darkness that threatened to overcome me, but I knew to give in meant death. I was tempted. So, so tempted. I forced my eyes open and saw the water, the dark water and wondered in that emptiness if I hadn’t died already.
My prayer must’ve been heard.
The water calmed and I was spit out near a bend. I realized I had to give up the cushion, my lifeline—it was holding me back. I let go, cursing myself as it floated away and I swam, giving everything I had. My body had nothing left but I commanded it, willed it, to swim. As I approached the shore, my shoes finally touched bottom and I heaved myself onto land.
I don’t know how long I lay there catching my breath. But there is no greater feeling of security than the sensation of the earth beneath your stomach, hands grabbing dirt. The scent of decay and wet leaves smelled like a bouquet. All this time I’d taken the ground beneath me for granted. Now I was thankful for this place to rest.
I was soaked. My jeans pressed against me, my hair drenched, my socks squished against my feet. I didn’t understand. I had left on a flight from Los Angeles with a layover in Panama City and then on to Asuncion, Paraguay for a year-end class trip. We were traveling as an inter-disciplinary trip for history, international relations, foreign language and biology. We were going to have the trip of a lifetime.
Then it hit me, a delayed reaction: I almost drowned. I almost died. My body seized and I was overwhelmed. I cried; I didn’t even know why or for what, but I sobbed on that little stretch of dirt. I heaved, gasping for breath. Every inhale was a wheeze, and I caught myself hitting the ground, my hands balled into tight fists, pounding and pounding.
Moments passed and I cried myself empty. I told myself: get up. You have to get up.
I placed my hands in the dirt to help me stand and looked around thinking: What is this place? There was green everywhere, too much green, and a river the width of three football fields in front of me. The air was heavy, a physical pressure against my skin. I was in the jungle, a tangled web of trees and totally foreign. Any other time, I might’ve been amazed by its majesty, only now I felt small. Trees towered behind me, the river flowed in front, and I was trapped.
It was then I felt the weight of my cross-body bag. I’d been wearing it the whole time. Not very heavy, I managed to unhook it and was about to open the zipper when I heard screams.
Floating down the river were more people. I wasn’t alone! A ripple of joy overtook me until I saw their faces reflecting what I sensed my own might look like—bruised, bleeding, and utterly thrashed.
Exhausted, I shouted my voice hoarse, “Over here!” I waved my hands over my head. “You can do it,” I encouraged. “Almost there!”
Some didn’t move at all. They floated, faces down, rolling through the current, lost in the rapids, disappearing for far too long. Those were the ones who didn’t thrash. Others were swept in the rapids, their screams barely heard over the rushing water only to be silenced on the other end. I was watching people die. The bodies were like a slow leak, trickling down the river a few at a time, and yet almost none of them emerged alive on the other side of the rocks. I couldn’t save them. They were too far away.
Someone else, but not me.
I didn’t mean like this.
Then I saw Viv and my heart nearly stopped.
She struggled in the water, past the rapids, a bobber about to go under. She was never athletic even though she was stick thin. Water gurgled from her mouth and she barely moved. I couldn’t bear to lose her. I wouldn’t allow it. I was terrified of my own exhaustion, but I jumped into the water and found a strength I never knew. I swam out to her. Her head dipped under the water and I would not let that be the last time I saw my best friend alive. I grasped her flotation cushion and then headed back to shore.
She looked at me, dazed. “Emily, it’s you.”
“Yes, it’s me.” I could barely contain my relief.
The sun shone over my head, reflecting in the ripples. “You look like an angel.”
I knew Vivian was out of it. “Stop talking now. Just swim. We’re going to be okay.”
I reached the shore for a second time and pulled her up with me. Once on land, she pulled me into a hug and nothing had ever felt better. Always shorter than me, her face burrowed into my chest and I felt I was protecting an abandoned baby bird. Her inky dark hair, usually so pretty was now plastered to her head, her make-up had washed away, and she was just this tiny thing. Her whole body shivered. “Tell me it’s a dream, tell me it’s a dream….”
“I wish it was, Viv.” I would’ve stayed hugging her if not for the other people in need of help.
Nico, Viv’s immature boyfriend, splashed ashore, his glasses gone, his nose bloody, red streaks smeared across his face. He was panting and heaved over, and I thought he might throw up. We had a history, but there was no time for irritation. Any familiar face was cause for celebration. He seemed surprised to see me. “You made it.”
He then eased Viv from my arms and into his.
Further down the river there was movement. It was Derek, all limbs and urgency, his face pockmarked with acne and not a hint of stubble. He splashed onto shore, his fingers digging into sand and he kissed the earth.
Twenty yards away, Ryan Wray followed. One of his prosthetic legs was missing—he’d lost his legs below the knee after contracting a rare case of meningitis a few years earlier—and he crab-walked onto land, his one pant leg empty, wet, and flat. He wasn’t alone. He helped guide Mean Molly with him. She was far from mean then, almost drowned, flustered and frantic. Once she got out of the water, she toppled in the mud, curling into a fetal position.
I stayed where I was as Ryan, Molly and Derek staggered along the shore, finally meeting up with us.
There was no time to rest or reflect. The river scattered more survivors along the shore. I pulled in a man and stopped in alarm when I saw that one of his arms had snapped off. I gently laid him down and he didn’t even notice until he turned his head. He said with an eerie calm, “That looks painful.” I recognized him from the plane. He’d sat a few aisles in front of me and slammed back drinks whenever we hit a patch of turbulence. On land, he didn’t even scream. His face was pale and blood spurted in rhythmic pulses from below his shoulder.
“What do we do?” Nico said.
I had no clue. I only knew we needed to do something. “Derek, your belt!”
Derek looked from his perch on the mud and shook his head. I couldn’t believe it.
“Derek, give me your belt! He’s losing too much blood.”
Derek, in shock or otherwise, didn’t move.
I searched for anything that would act as a tourniquet, but my efforts were in vain. The man’s blood had dwindled to a dribble, leaving a red puddle in the mud.
Another woman emerged from the water like a swamp creature, stumbling. We sat her down and she gazed at the water. She had a head injury like mine. Blood ran from her scalp and there was a small spot where her hair had been chafed away. It wasn’t a wound. It was a hole. Looking closer, I could see something I didn’t want to—her skull and what lay within. Her eyelids fluttered and she swayed, falling unconscious. I tried to grab her, but gravity took her to the ground. I nudged her once, twice; she didn’t respond. “Wake up,” I pleaded. “Please wake up.” She never moved again.
I wanted to scream. I wanted to run from this place.
It seemed like a Halloween parade. They had to be in costume or using special effects; the injuries and deaths couldn’t be real.
They were all too real.
One man drifted to shore, his face down in the water, his wispy gray hair splayed out on the water’s surface. We grabbed ahold of him and he was heavy, far too heavy for his slender body. We saw why. The flotation device had kept him afloat, but he’d drowned somewhere along the way.
The last man we helped suffered so many burns his face was charred and etched in pain—I had the horrible thought of grill marks on steak. Once on land he jumped back into the water. Maybe the water had soothed him. I tried to reach out and grab him. “Let me help you!” But he was hysterical, too fast, and we watched as he floated away. I tell myself that he would’ve probably died anyway.
It’s terrible that I only knew them as The Woman, The Old Man, The Man Without an Arm and The Burned Man. Somewhere people knew their names, their histories, secrets and loves. Many of them rested at our feet, their chests still, mouths open. We were among the dead, and I found that we all, consciously or not, distanced ourselves from the horror.

###

The six of us stood on the shore, a hodgepodge of strained relationships, but I hoped the past meant nothing now. Silence fell over us. My voice felt robotic. “What happened?”
They looked at me as if I was stupid and in that moment I knew.
You’ve been in a plane crash.
You’ve been in a plane crash and you survived.
Viv broke down crying. “Where’s everyone else?” I asked.
“Where do you think?” said Ryan.
There had been a whole planeload of people, 37 of them from our school including my English teacher, Mr. DeKoning. We couldn’t be the only ones left. Things like this didn’t happen. At least not to us. To me.
I struggled, trying to remember, and yet there was only me sitting in my cramped seat, my body wracked with discomfort after such a long flight, the recycled air making my skin feel plastic, and then this. “How did we end up in the water?”
Ryan looked at me, stunned. “You don’t remember?”
I shook my head.
“Maybe it’s better that way.”
Derek rose. “The plane crashed in the Amazon. At least that’s what the map on my seat showed. You don’t remember bracing yourself? The flight attendants freaking out?”
“She said no, Derek!” This from Viv.
Derek said, “The plane broke apart. Flooded. We were lucky to get out.”
I didn’t remember any of it. “How did I get out?”
“Same way we did,” Derek said. “We were all sitting near each other. Near the exit rows. Threw on our life jackets or grabbed seat cushions and jumped in the water. A lot of people….” He paused. “A lot of people didn’t.” Derek looked at the dead adults. “They did, though.” He spit near the dead bodies.
“What are you talking about?”
“You should’ve seen ‘em claw over everyone. Trampled over people. They scratched and pushed their way out. There were no heroes on that plane. Not them, at least. They deserved to die.”
Nico shot back, “No one deserved to die. No one.”
“I don’t know,” Derek said. “Bet if you checked under their fingernails, you’d find human skin.”
Ryan interrupted, “Anyone see Conlin?” We shook our heads. Pete Conlin was Ryan’s best friend. “He was sitting right next to me. He was right there.” Ryan peered out over the water, as if he could see Pete in the distance. “He was right next to me.”
I don’t remember what I did next. Maybe I cried. Maybe I fell on the ground. I receded back inside myself where nothing could hurt me. It didn’t make sense. None of it made sense. Beyond the wreckage and bodies, we were in some kind of Garden of Eden, untouched by humans, as pristine as anything I’d ever seen, canopies of trees, and plants and flowers like colorful origami, a perfume of nature, and yet we’d fallen from the sky. I hunched over, shivering, saying to myself I am safe, I am safe, I am safe.
Our layers of clothes were so wet there was no point in wearing them. Derek was missing a shoe. Most of Nico’s pants were ripped from the waist down. Viv’s designer sweatpants clung to her body. Ryan fiddled with his remaining prosthetic leg, knocking sand loose from the joints and making sure it moved properly. Disjointed and detached from his body, it looked out of place, like the rest of this nightmare. With his jeans rolled up, I saw his stump covered in scar tissue.
Derek stood near the jungle’s entrance, a quizzical look on his face, almost scientific. He didn’t seem all that fazed, and even ran his hand over some of the trees, feeling their bark. I wondered what was wrong with him.
Molly sat on the shore, plopped down like a scoop of soft-serve ice cream, her head in her hands. She sat alone, and I felt bad for her, but she had earned the nickname Mean Molly for a reason. I got up anyway and approached her. Even as I asked it, I felt stupid. “Are you okay?”
She ignored me. Then she spoke. “I never wanted to come on this trip.”
Molly didn’t once look at me. She just kept staring ahead. I left her alone.
Viv, Nico and I formed a triangle on the ground. Viv and Nico leaned into each other, and Viv’s crying went from a soft cry into heaves of despair. “I just want to go home. I just want to go home.”
We didn’t know it then, but the jungle was to become our home for far too long.

About the author:

James Morris is a television writer who now works in digital media. He is the author of the young adult thriller What Lies Within, the dystopian love story Melophobia, the young adult suspense Feel Me Fall, and the young adult horror Screams You Hear. When not writing, you can find him scoping out the latest sushi spot, watching ‘House Hunters Renovation’, or trying new recipes in the kitchen. He lives with

 

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Wait! There’s more … the author is giving away a print copy of his book via Rafflecopter. You can take part here.

 

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If you do choose to pìck up a copy of James’s book, please consider leaving a review.

Reviews keep authors writing!

Thanks for reading 🙂

Army of Authors Blog Tour: David Tindell

Quest for Vengence

By David Tindell

Honeymoons are new beginnings, and a year after helping save America from a major terrorist attack, brothers Mark and Jim Hayes are ready to enjoy theirs with their new brides. But while the couples tour Italy,a ghost from Mark’s past resurfaces, ready to rip apart his new-found happiness.

In Serbia, former Yugoslav Army officer Darko Novak receives word of Mark’s location. For thirteen years, he has been seeking vengeance against Mark for his role in the death of Novak’s younger brother, killed in a firefight with NATO troops during the Balkan Wars. A team is dispatched to kidnap Mark’s wife, making her the perfect bait to force Mark into a new battle, on ground of Novak’s choosing.
To save Mark’s wife, the Hayes brothers will have to go deep into Serbia, with no support from their government, relying on their experience and training. Failure will not be an option.

I’m going to leave this to the author to tell you more about his latest book, but don’t forget to check out Quest for Honor too. 

Take it away, David!

On our honeymoon, my wife and I visited an exotic island. We had a great time as we celebrated the beginning of our new life together. Everything went well.

But suppose it hadn’t? Suppose something had gone wrong? And not just lost-a-suitcase, bad-sunburn wrong? What if my bride suddenly turned up…gone?

In Quest for Vengeance, it’s a year after the events of Quest for Honor, and brothers Mark and Jim Hayes are with their new brides on a honeymoon tour of Italy, the native country of Jim’s wife, Gina. The violence and danger of their recent past is behind them. In the city of Capua, a chance encounter with an old Army buddy of Mark’s leads to a festive reunion. While the guys swap stories at a trattoria, the gals make one last visit to the city’s boutiques. But there’s been one more chance encounter on this trip, and now that’s about to turn into the greatest challenge the brothers have ever faced.

Like the Hayes brothers, I grew up in Wisconsin, and like them, my two brothers and I wound up living considerable distances apart. Although we were never estranged, as Mark and Jim were, not being able to see them often created a distance between us that no amount of phone calls or emails could close. It’s only been in recent years that we have made efforts to get together more often. Our reunions have not been as dramatic as those of the Hayes brothers; we go to ballgames and museums, while Mark and Jim go to war.

Still, I don’t think what happens to Mark and Jim in the Quest novels is too much of a stretch. Mark’s military experiences are certainly not outside the realm of those for many of our soldiers, and while Jim’s encounters are somewhat out of the ordinary for the average American abroad, I myself have once or twice had situations overseas that could’ve developed into something a little too adventurous for my taste. Last summer, for example, Sue and I hiked the Salkantay Trail of Peru, and we never saw the armed guerillas our guide told us he faced on the same trek a few years earlier. But I had the feeling they weren’t too far away.

If something like that does happen to us, though, we can only hope we will face the situation with courage and honor. These are traits that are not inborn; they are learned, through dedication and self-discipline. Both the Quest series and my White Vixen novels feature protagonists who exemplify those traits. Yes, my fictional creations are highly-trained individuals, but they are not superheroes by any means. They are ordinary people who have chosen to train themselves to face whatever extraordinary challenges may come their way; indeed, to seek them out. Most of all, they have chosen to serve a higher calling. I don’t believe we were put here to simply meander through life. We were put here to strive, to achieve, to overcome our inevitable stumbles. When we choose this life, we are taking on challenges that will make our communities, our country, our world, a better place.

So come along with Mark and Jim, as they embark on their latest Quest.

You can find the book here: http://amzn.to/2HnlFfN

***

If you pìck up any – or all – of David’s books, please consider leaving a review. Reviews keep authors writing!

Thank you for reading 🙂

Blog Tour: The Stone Arch Secret

THE STONE ARCH SECRET

BY K.D. DOWDALL

Genre:  Mystery/ Thriller/ Romance

Publication Date: January 2018

Twenty-eight-year-old cultural anthropologist, Lilly Allaire, receives a phone call telling her that Dax is dead.  The cause of death is unknown.

At the age of fourteen, best friends, Lilly and Dax, experience a traumatic incident. After the incident, Dax is institutionalized in a psychiatric hospital with total memory loss.  For Dax, his memory loss is an act of self-preservation.  Lilly still suffers a blocked memory of that day and has frequent nightmares.

Lilly decides to go back to Salmon Brook, her hometown, to find out the truth about the mysterious incident that left Dax in a catatonic state. Lilly has a chance meeting with a former high school classmate, Noah Hawthorne.  

Noah remembers Lilly as his high school secret crush and offers to help her. Together, they try to unravel the mysterious incident that plagues Lilly’s dreams and turns them into nightmares.  

However, Noah has a secret of his own, a dangerous secret, that will put Lilly in harm’s way.   

 

The Stone Arch Secret is available to purchase on Amazon. 

About the Author

D. Dowdall, PhD, MSN, RN was born in New England and spent her elementary-grade school years in Granby, Connecticut. She graduated from FAU with a master’s degree in Clinical Research Nursing and has a PhD in clinical nutrition. K. D. is also a lover of ballet, jazz, ballroom dance, contemporary dance, and has had her own dance studio.  She has written songs, poetry, short stories, and now several fiction novels; a children’s fantasy adventure story, a historical mystery/murder with a dash romance and a third fiction novel almost complete;  a mystery thriller with romance. All are standalone novels.  Her next book is a series.

Along the way, it was her good fortune to live in the Republic of China, Saudi Arabia, and England. Each culture she experienced reinforced her belief that all cultures are rich in storytelling to explain their human hopes, dreams, struggles, and life experiences, often in magical fantasy presentations. K. D. still dances, loves swimming, scuba diving, and theatre.

Catch up with the author on her website here.

Oh, and there’s a giveaway too. Follow this link to win one of two print copies.

***

Please, if you buy and read this book, leave a review on Amazon. Reviews keep authors writing.

As always, thanks for reading 🙂

 

Blog Tour & Book Review

White Water, Black Death

by Shaun Ebelthite


 

“A cruise ship is the perfect target for a biological attack”. These are the chilling words emailed to the Seaborne Symphony in the mid-Atlantic.

Magazine editor Geneva Jones has been sent on the trans-Atlantic cruise to help secure a major advertising agreement from the CEO of the cruise line Rachel Atkinson, but her efforts to win her over are curtailed by a mysterious crew death. Geneva suspects foul play. Rachel insists its suicide. A former investigative journalist, Geneva can’t resist digging deeper, but what she finds is far more devastating. There’s an Ebola outbreak on the ship, everyone is trapped aboard and Rachel is trying to keep it secret.

Geneva knows enough about Ebola to be terrified, but she’s also onto the biggest story of her career. As panic surges through the ship, she becomes fixated on a single question. How was the virus brought aboard? The answer is worse than she could have imagined, and the greatest exposé she’ll ever get, if she can only prove it.

***

Fascinating or what? Here’s my review:

This story draws you in from the very first page. A virus has been purposely spread throughout the decks of the cruise ship Symphony. Immediately, the reader is intrigued – Who has done this? Why? What will happen to the crew and passengers?

On board, Geneva Jones, a magazine editor invited to give a write-up for CruiseCritique, hopes for a good story. She already has ‘history’ with the Cruise CEO, Rachel Atkinson, and theirs is not a harmonious relationship. If there is a scoop to be had, Geneva will find it.

However, Rachel plays a similar game to discredit Geneva and pours scorn on the headlines that reflect badly on her management. But, it’s clear, Rachel’s handling of the outbreak has been flawed, putting lives at risk even while she purports to be ‘doing her best’ and, towards the end, offering to help the doctor when passengers and crew members are dying at an alarming rate.

A series of spectacularly dramatic events unfold. A member of the ship’s crew ‘falls’ overboard, and searching for her is halted due to a MayDay call from another vessel. Knowing they cannot possibly save the crew member, the Captain forges ahead to rescue the occupants of the smaller boat, only for them to then die within days of being brought to the Symphony.

Panic rises as rumours of the virus spread throughout, and many jump overboard while the ship is waiting instructions to dock in Bermuda. Permission is denied them and those who tried to flee are returned to the ship, which has been instructed to head for Miami: a journey of three more days.

Geneva grows more suspicious with each passing hour, and as passengers succumb to the virus she knows there is more to the story than everybody is being told.

The story explodes further with even more intriguing sub-plots: a crew member suffers persistent sexual attack by one of her superiors; the Captain falls ill and is secretly shipped ashore; the adopted son of the CEO is on board for the first time and Geneva questions Rachel’s reasons for bringing him aboard… These are all tied up by the end and come together to enrich the overall plot.

This book has the potential to be a best-seller. The author clearly knows about the cruising world, yet it is the fear and panic that this Ebola outbreak causes, upon a ship with a captive audience, that drives the story forward at such a pace. Being completely believable as a potential source for terrorism, the threat posed makes for one humdinger of a thriller. It’s so feasible that it’s enough to put people off cruise ships for life.

My reasons for not giving it the full five stars lie not in the story itself – for that is a cracking read – but in aspects of the writing. There are times when it’s not easy to follow the dialogue and I had to flip back to track the conversations, and even then still wasn’t clear who was speaking. This put a dampener on my enjoyment of the book, slowing me down when I really wanted to race ahead.  There were other issues (the child’s name changing from Zack to Riley at one point, and different spellings of the cruise company’s name – Seaborne/Seabourn) Maybe I’m too demanding as a reader, but I want it all – a great story and clear writing.

However, on story alone, this is a five-star read with one heck of a twist at the end. Read it, enjoy it, but be prepared:

***

But if you still need a little more convincing, check out this excerpt:

Ebola. It sounded better suited to a field clinic than a cruise ship. If this was Ebola, she was utterly fucked. Emma knew without any doubt that she was right though. She’d been right before the WHO and CDC contacted them, before Bermuda closed its border, before the FBI launched its investigation.
She’d realised before anyone else what this was, but had been too afraid to accept it.
Little good acceptance would have done anyway. The virus was deadly in more than half of all infections, even with expert supportive care. A person could go from perfectly healthy to dead in a few days. Most of her patients were exposed to the virus more than a week ago, and began showing symptoms three to four days later. They had forty-eight hours left, if that.
According to Rachel, Miami was more than seventy four hours sailing at full speed.
Even if Bermuda had taken them ashore, they’d still die. Once the bleeding started there was very little any hospital could do.
And her patients were bleeding.
It started in the stools and urine, then the nose, ears and eventually the eyes. The young girl she’d examined just two days ago was bleeding from every orifice.
Emma could see the vague shape of her body on a mattress between a white sheet and the windows. She was trying to give the worst-off patients what privacy she could. They had to be stripped down to their underwear and constantly sponged in a futile attempt to control the fever.
Some sort of privacy was all she could give them.
The girl’s mother was with her, sponging her and periodically being sick in a wastepaper basket. There were no more buckets available, even the disposable vomit bags had run out. Emma had just a few boxes of paracetamol left and only one of Imodium, her last remaining Ovartin would be used to save as many as she could when they were within airlift range of the US.
All other medication of any use had run out during the night.
She was using 19th century means to treat the most deadly virus of the 20th century.
“You’re all right my baby,” the woman was telling her daughter, the girl was trembling violently. Emma didn’t need to see her face to know she would be looking at her mother with wide, terrified eyes. Dozens of her patients had given her the same stricken look in the last twenty-four hours.
Emma couldn’t remember their names, but their faces were there like skulls in Ntarama church.
“Fight it Megan, we’ll be home soon,” the woman said.
She hadn’t let her daughter see her cry. Her husband’s body was one of those wrapped in a sheet in a line with four others that had died during the night. They’d been placed next to the doors on the left of the lounge, nearest the bar. Crew in protective gear would come to collect them soon and take them to the hold.
“You’re going to be okay, Megan.”
The girl would be dead within the next two hours.
“Doctor?” Emma felt a hand on her arm, the fingers clutching nervously, almost politely. “Her temperature is getting worse.” The young woman, her sandy blond hair hanging in clumps in her face, was looking at her with a wild optimism that made Emma feel like a fraud. “Could you come and see her?”
And do what?
“Of course,” Emma smiled, following the girl to her friend. She’d been brought in during the night when the ‘clinic’ was being set up. She lay shivering on a bare mattress, dark stains all around her. Emma lifted her chart, little more than a sheet of paper from one of the cruise line’s notepads and pretended to examine it. ‘Lucy’ scrawled just below Seaborne’s elaborate goldleaf logo.
The vitals noted by Ryan showed a clear trajectory. She wasn’t bleeding from any orifices yet, but her temperature was dangerously high, her blood pressure dangerously low and her blood urea nitrogen and creatinine were elevated. Her kidneys were failing and she was haemorrhaging internally.
Emma couldn’t waste resources on her.
“I’ll get her something right away,” she told Lucy’s friend. The girl flashed a relieved smile, slipping her hands into two plastic bags. She put a damp cloth on Lucy’s pink forehead.
All Emma could give her were electrolytes.
“We thought she was just seasick, she’d been feeling iffy since before yesterday, but we thought maybe it was from the sunburn. We made her come to the pool deck party last night.”
Lucy’s friend wasn’t showing symptoms yet, but Emma had let her stay because she didn’t have enough healthy people to look after the sick. The girl was using plastic bags to protect herself.
It was shameful.
Emma made her way across the lounge, trying to muster a smile and a kind, reassuring word as she went. A teenage boy with acute diarrhoea and vomiting would be prioritised for antiemetics and loperamide. It would make his death more comfortable, but his mother thought it was treatment. A wife was told her husband would get diazepam within the hour. The woman was just a wrinkled face to Emma, they were all blurring into one swarming mass of people she couldn’t help. The woman’s husband had a rash over his chest and stomach that looked like a war-torn archipelago. A diffuse erythematous maculopapular rash that was also desquamate.
He wouldn’t survive the next three days. A sedative would ease his suffering.
It was inhuman.
Disaster triage, ‘resource allocation based on potential medical benefit’ was what medical textbooks called it.
She’d have to sedate most of her patients soon, she couldn’t keep this act up indefinitely.
Emma had crossed a line during the night, entering unexplored, ethically gray territory. She would have her medical license revoked for it. She was lying to her patients to keep them calm, giving them placebos because there wasn’t enough of the real thing.
She had to lie. Ebola was terrifying enough. Ebola without anyway for the ship’s doctor to treat it would cause total hysteria, endangering everyone on-board.
“Five more incoming,” Ryan sighed, a walkie-talkie held in a gloved hand that hung loosely by his side. They were probably both infected.
A patient could present with symptoms anywhere between two days and three weeks after exposure to it. A week was the average.
It was only a matter of time before he started experiencing nausea and an elevated temperature. Emma wasn’t throwing up yet, but she knew it would come. Fatigue was the first symptom. Extreme fatigue. The long hours she was working in the clinic masked it for the first day or so, now she could feel the tell-tale achiness in her joints, the oversensitivity of her skin. She wouldn’t be able to control the shivering soon.
“Ryan,” she thudded heavily across what had been the marble dancefloor a few days ago to where her nurse was checking someone’s temperature. “How many have we lost?” she asked in a whisper, tiptoeing around the truth, afraid to wake it.
“Forty-five.”
Emma had forgotten. He’d told her at sunrise. Emma never forgot details like this, but now she couldn’t hold onto to basic information. Couldn’t concentrate.
“Are the opiates still in the clinic?” Emma wasn’t sure why she was asking, she had the key to the medical stores and if she did need the morphine and acetaminophen and other painkillers she would get them herself.
“Yes,” said Ryan, but there was a question in his eyes.
Emma was looking for permission. She wanted to ease the suffering, but Morphine could be lethal to someone already presenting with low blood pressure.
“Doctor, you need to sit down. You need to rest.”
“I’m going to do another round.”
“Miss Atkinson is already…”
Emma tried to turn, but her feet wouldn’t follow her body’s lead. She stumbled awkwardly, almost falling into a row of patients lying on haphazardly arranged mattresses. They’d been in orderly rows last night.
A hand caught her arm, holding her up.
“One hand for the ship, doctor.” Rachel smiled at her like they were waiting for the dinner announcement. “I’ve asked some of the crew to clean things up a bit, I hope you don’t mind? I think the smell is what gets to people most. I know it does me.”
That smile again.
Emma’s opinion of the CEO had been low even before the emergency meeting in the captain’s office two nights ago. Now she was convinced she must be crazy. Worrying about the cleanliness of her lounge with death all around them, closing in like a creeping tide. She’d been going from one passenger to the next, making chit-chat and cracking jokes for the last hour.
“Of course.”
Emma hadn’t given sanitation a thought for hours. Early this morning some of the crew already quarantined in the lounge had volunteered to help, but she needed an army to empty buckets, clean up feces and vomit, hand out water and fresh towels, let alone actually try to treat any of the more than two hundred people now crammed into the room.
Even if she did have the medicine and equipment she needed, she didn’t have enough hands.
“You are going to sit here behind the bar and rest for half an hour,” Emma hadn’t realised Rachel was leading her to the other side of the lounge, through a maze of makeshift screens and mattresses. “We’re going to clean up, then I’m going to have a chat with you about what you need.”
“Medicine,” said Emma. “Need more. We’ve run out of…”
“We can get it airlifted from Bermuda,” said Rachel, handing Emma a bottle of water. “Have something to drink and close your eyes for a few minutes.”
Emma was sitting now. Perched on a footstool, her head below the bar’s countertop so that all she could see were bottles of water on shelves all around her. There were more than two hundred bottles of water stoked behind the bar, she’d noted it down somewhere. Rachel said there were another eleven thousand available in the hold.
“I’m going to have to start sedating patients soon,” said Emma. “As more die, those left are going to get increasingly agitated.”
“That’s not necessary yet.” Rachel was kneeling in front of her. “Doctor,” she waited for Emma to lift her eyes. “Promise me you won’t do that yet.”
Emma nodded, looking down at her gloved hands. The gloves were unnecessary now, serving as part of a costume rather than a purpose.
“Tristan?” Rachel was looking for a member of the cruise staff, her voice carrying over the moaning of a man nearby. “Is there any way for us to discreetly put out a call for volunteers to help here? The doctor’s overwhelmed, we need as many of our first aid people as we can get.”
“I’ll ask security to pass the word.”
“I’ll call Richard,” Rachel lifted the phone behind the bar. “We need to get supplies airlifted from Hamilton.”
Rachel was taking over her clinic, but Emma could only feel relief.
She hadn’t been alone like this since the day before yesterday. Was that the last time she slept? Emma couldn’t remember, but she could remember how many bottles of water there were. How many patients were there in the lounge now? She needed to ask Ryan. Should be keeping a runny tally. Why wasn’t she able to remember these details? Emma flicked through her notebook and found the page.
124
142
156
179
192
203?
Why had she put a question mark next to it? She must have intended to double check with Ryan. She’d do a headcount herself, he was as overworked as her. She made a note to find out the total number of Ebola cases throughout the ship.
Shouldn’t be sitting here doing nothing.
“…almost heaven, West Virginia, blue ridge mountain, Shenandoah river…”
Emma stood up, incredulous. Singing. Her patients were singing. It was just a few people at first, the Philipino staff mainly, who, despite being sick, had also volunteered to help in trying to keep the lounge clean.
“life is old there, older than the trees…”
They were being led by Rachel, standing in front of a group of children all singing along, clapping out of time. There were thirty-five children in the lounge. Emma could remember that. Almost all the children on-board.
“younger than the mountains, growing like a breeze…”
Most of them had been brought in by parents who weren’t sick yet. Emma had intended to enforce a strict quarantine, but couldn’t separate children from their parents.
Everyone was infected anyway. Quarantine was a plan that failed as soon as it started.
The voices grew, spreading through the lounge until everyone who had the energy was singing, joining in on the chorus, some filming on their phones.
“country road, take me home, to a place I belong…”
Rachel had lifted a small boy up, his hands in the air in glee, beaming at his dad like he’d won a prize. Jack, though his mother called him Jackie. She was feverish behind one of the curtains; she would likely die during the night. His father wasn’t showing symptoms yet. He might survive until they reached Miami. His son wouldn’t.
“West Virginia, mountain mamma…”
The doors closest to the bar opened, two security guards with tasers at the ready and ten crewmen in masks and gloves, come to remove the bodies.
“take me home, country road.”
Rachel caught Emma’s eye and launched into the chorus once more.
With most patients in the lounge distracted by Rachel and the children, Emma stumbled forward to help them lift the dead. She’d been focusing so much on what medication and treatments her patients needed, and dwelling on her inability to provide it, that she’d forgotten one of the worst parts about being ill.
Boredom.
She watched the first three bodies carried to one of the elevators on the other side of the lobby and tried to remember how many had died. What had Ryan said? She needed to see what was being done with the bodies, she had to make sure they were being treated respectfully.
She gestured to Rachel and then stumbled over to the lift, catching the alarmed glance of a passenger on a mattress closest to the door. By tomorrow, even Rachel wouldn’t be able to keep the flood gates closed. Panic was going to set in tonight. Several dozen people were unlikely to make it through to the morning and with death on every other mattress in the lounge, Emma and Rachel’s deception would be laid bare.
She wasn’t escaping, she would come back. She wasn’t abandoning them.
By tomorrow, she would be incapacitated anyway, and would be unable to control the diarrhea. She’d end up soiling herself like so many of her patients, whose shame she’d had to ignore as she or one of the crew helped them clean themselves.
It was absurd, but this was what scared her most. Not death.

Now you’re hooked, right? How about you add it to your reading pile in Goodreads? Click here to do so.  Or, maybe you’re ready to buy right now – here’s the Amazon link.

***

Shaun Ebelthite was born in Namibia, raised in South Africa and educated in Dubai in the Middle East where he is a maritime and cruise journalist. He has been covering all aspects of ocean transport for more than five years and runs the Middle East’s foremost online cruise magazine. He has had two children’s books published, and is now branching out into a new genre with his first thriller.

Cruise Arabia (https://cruisearabiaonline.com)

There you have it. A wonderful thriller awaits you. If you do choose to read White Water, Black Death, please leave a review afterwards. Reviews keep authors writing 🙂

Thanks for reading!

 

Army of Authors Blog Tour – Stephen Bentley

I’ve got something extra special today. No kidding around. This post features an author with absolute authority on the genre in which he writes. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Crime Fiction About An Undercover Cop By a Former Undercover Cop

Yep! Pretty cool, or what? Here’s how the author puts it:

Crime Fiction About An Undercover Cop By a Former Undercover Cop’ is roughly how the blurb goes on the Amazon listing for my latest book ‘Who The F*ck Am I?’

The title may be a tad controversial to some, but it is part of the very fabric of an infiltrator. Identity confusion among undercover agents is a medically recognised condition.

It is Book One in a trilogy featuring Steve Regan, a fictional British undercover cop. The action takes place mainly in the United Kingdom but also takes the reader to Miami and Boston in the United States.

The book is available from October 31, 2017 in both Kindle and paperback through Amazon. It will also be available in other eBook formats through Smashwords and at most other online book stores.

The blurb also makes the claim, “This surely has to be a first! Crime fiction about an undercover cop written by a former undercover cop!

From Amazon UK bestselling author, Stephen Bentley, comes a fictional undercover cop, Steve Regan, following on the success of his true crime undercover cop memoir ‘Undercover: Operation Julie – The Inside Story.’

Steve Regan, undercover detective, is tempted by the riches of drug smuggling so he can be free of debt, police bureaucracy, and help a loved one. He wonders whether he can go ‘rogue’ and cross the line.

Regan gets involved in one deal with a Miami-based drug lord. But is everyone who they say they are?

Short, fast-paced, high-impact entertainment, from a bestselling author who knows how to suck you into a story.”

This novella was inspired by two gangsters I met in real life while undercover. I harboured thoughts about them for many years and felt obliged to deal with those thoughts in this fictional work. I believe I can safely say that is a first!

As the author and a former undercover cop, I do not profess to know with certainty if my claim about it being a “first” is fact. I mean the claim: This surely has to be a first! Crime fiction about an undercover cop written by a former undercover cop! I could argue, in line with another former profession of mine (lawyer), that it isn’t a claim at all – merely a hypothesis. Pedants may argue there ought to be a question mark following “has to be first.” Possibly, they are correct.

But in any event, whether claim or hypothesis, it intrigues me. So, a challenge to all readers of this blog post – tell me if I am right or wrong about it being the first fictional work about an undercover cop written by a former undercover cop. At least I ask you to leave a comment letting us know your thoughts.

There is a reward for the best comment left – one free copy of the book featured here and a free copy of my bestselling memoir ‘Undercover: Operation Julie – The Inside Story.’

Please note there can only be one winner and the prizes will be provided in any eBook format of the winner’s choice.

The winner will be judged by the author on the basis of the insight provided by the commentator, the originality of the comment, and any tendency to humour gains extra marks

And to prove Stephen has the credentials – and to help you make your decision as to whether this novel is a ground-breaking, first of a kind – here’s the info you need:

Stephen Bentley: 

Former UK Detective Sergeant, undercover cop, barrister (trial counsel). Now a writer, author, and blogs at HuffPost UK.

Author of ‘Undercover: Operation Julie – The Inside Story’ – an Amazon UK bestselling book about his undercover days on one of the world’s largest drug busts.

Are you convinced yet? Okay, why not check out the book in the meantime.

Lives in the Philippines, enjoys the beaches and a cold beer and follows “his team”, Liverpool Football Club from afar.

So, maybe the last bit doesn’t help in proving Stephen’s ‘claim’, but knowing he lives in the Philippines and follows Liverpool FC has to count for something. I mean, you wouldn’t make that up, would you?

Don’t forget to leave a review if you choose to this book. Reviews keep authors writing!

Thanks for reading.

Featured Author – George M. Nagle

In the September spotlight from Mystery Authors International is George M. Nagle and his debut novel – The Life We Lead:Ascending – which is available to purchase now. There’s a trailer on YouTube that will give you an instant feel for the story. You can see it here.

What’s not to love about spies, romance, drug cartels and the like. The young protagonist, James, has been heralded as a mix between Bond & Holmes. It has to be good to receive that kind of accolade.

This is just the first in a series of what should be three books. At 425 pages, it is the shortest of the series and really the introduction to James, the group, Carissa and a whole cast of others.  The Life We Lead follows the life of James, the main character as he battles criminal syndicates while trying to have a normal life.  It is inspired by real life events, however, names, places, timelines and such have all been altered.  This story has been 25 years in the making and certainly won’t disappoint with an incredible ending to the series.  This series is based in reality of spying so the far-fetched gadgets and such like those found in James Bond won’t be appearing. It is a spy novel has lots of twists in turns that can make you laugh, cry, feel the characters outrage and even love.  The subtitle to the book is a clue to why it ends where it does too.

***

It’s a great cover, don’t you agree? Fancy a snippet? Of course you do.

Chapter 03 – [context:  James and Daen capture Nikolias after Petior has been abducted.]

“You are our prisoner, but you are a captive of whatever group you…” Daen began, but Nikolias cut him off.

“What makes you think I want to leave?” growled Nikolias.

“When you help us, your bosses will not be too happy with you. You and your cousin will need to leave to survive,” replied Daen.

“So he says,” Nikolias said curtly, with a head gesture towards James.

“What did he say? Why did he just do that?” asked James.

“Sounds like he doesn’t feel the need for our help. It seems he doesn’t want to, or have a reason to leave,” Daen replied, a puzzled look on his face.

“I am no traitor, and I will die to help our fraternity and country. I am loyal and believe in things, unlike you American dogs,” Nikolias stated in English.

James bowed his head, closed his eyes, and rubbed his left temple for a moment with his left hand. He dragged it down his face before speaking again.

“Okay, tell us what the fraternity’s cause is. What’s so special about it that you’re willing to risk your life, your cousin’s life, because someone felt I disrespected them near a train?” asked James.

Nikolias laughed. “We know you’re looking for drugs. You feel drugs are not disrespectful and destroying. You think we do not know that is why you are here? We see you peoples, and how you treat us. You all deserve death for your exploits on us, and our children.”

Check out the full blurb – I’m sure this will have you one-clicking in no time:

The DEA, FBI, and CIA have failed for years to bring down the Spara family, who control the world’s largest drug cartel. A secret society of spies whose members are under the age of 25 will try to succeed where the government has failed.

At only 21 years old, James is the most skillful member of this society. His new target is the Spara family. Through their relationship with Russia, the Sparas are the largest distributor of heroin in the world.  While beginning his investigation in Russia, James inadvertently saves the life of a former KBG officer who has a connection to the Tan family. This connection leads James farther into the heart of the criminal cartel.  However, the Tans have a dark secret of their own, which could jeopardize James’s perfect record and his tenure as a spy as he struggles to do what is right while protecting his family, friends and the love of his life.

***

George is the 3rd of 6 children and grew up in western Pennsylvania. He earned his BS in Biology from the University of Pittsburgh, his MSc in Biology and his MBA in Marketing and Management from Duquesne University. He is also a Master 5th degree black belt in the art of Taekwondo with Young Brothers in Pittsburgh. He currently in a global marketing and strategy professional in science industries. He also has one son, Matthew.

Follow him and his series at any or all of these sites:

WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER  

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

GOODREADS AUTHOR PAGE

SMASHWORDS AUTHOR PAGE

Don’t forget to leave a review afterwards – reviews keep authors writing – and you’ll want to read the rest of this series, I’m sure.

Good luck with sales, George, and your push for those bestseller lists.