Archive for the ‘thriller’ Category

Welcome to Teaser Tuesday hosted by Ambrosia  @ The Purple Booker.

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read.
• Open to a random page.
•Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

 

My Teaser for this week is from

Tell On You

by Freda Hansburg

32713318

 

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Genre: Thriller

 My teaser from page 21 in the paperback.

Jerome hadn’t known the real Nikki Jordan then. And didn’t, even now. That discovery lay ahead of him.

~~~~~

Read on if you want to know more.

Synopsis from the back flap of the ARC.

It all starts when you cross the line.

Jeremy Barrett, a 33-year-old teacher, has a demanding wife, insufferable in-laws, an unexpected baby on the way, and no real prospects. But Nikki Jordan, his beautiful 16-year-old student, makes him feel like a hero. She inspires him to write poetry, take chances and dream of new possibilities.

Until he awakens to his worst nightmare.

~~~~~

Tell On You, the story of a married teacher’s fatal infatuation with his beautiful 16-year-old student, best fits into the emerging niche genre of “Grip Lit.” These novels, usually authored by women and inspired by the wildly successful Gone Girl, are thrillers with psychological nuances and frequently unreliable narrators. Readers love the must-turn-the-page suspense, even while they may dislike the characters. The author of Tell On You is a psychologist, well-acquainted with the dark corners of the heart.

Amazon

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How about you? Got a tease? Tell me!

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Thanks so much for visiting fuonlyknew!

For a list of my reviews go HERE.

For a list of free eBooks updated daily go HERE

To see all of my giveaways go HERE

Written In Blood
Alex R. Carver
Publication date: April 4th 2017
Genres: Adult, Thriller

A peaceful village torn apart by murder, mistrust, and a desire for revenge.

When Oakhurst’s daughters begin to turn up, brutally murdered and with accusatory words carved into their skin, the residents of the small, close-knit community are unwilling to believe that one of their own might be a killer. Suspicion falls on the village’s newest resident, Zack Wild, attractive, charming, author of violent crime novels, and possessor of a dark history; he seems like the perfect suspect. As the investigation continues, the evidence against Wild mounts, but is prejudice against the newcomer affecting the judgment of Sergeant Mitchell, Constable Turner thinks so; she is determined to bring the killer to justice, no matter who it is, or what she has to do. Who will be proved right, and will they catch the killer before he can strike again?

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Google Play

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Enjoy the excerpt

The greeting that rose to his lips died there when he caught sight of the person on his doorstep. The first thing he saw was a pair of tanned legs, followed by a red micro mini-skirt that was only a little bigger than a belt, then a red top, cut low to show off the cleavage and so skin-tight he couldn’t help thinking that it must be at least one size too small. From the skirt and top his eyes took in the rest of the figure, which he liked very much – he could not remember the last time he saw someone in such a revealing outfit, at least not in person – before moving up to the face.

He quickly cut off his thoughts when he saw how young his visitor was. She had the body of a woman, but it was clear from her face that she was a teen, no older than sixteen. He couldn’t think why such a provocatively-dressed teen would be on his doorstep at any time, let alone at a quarter past two on a Friday afternoon, when he was sure she should be at school, and for a few moments he just stood there, staring.

“Hello,” he finally managed to say.

“You’re Zack Wild,” Lucy said excitedly, the last of her nerves gone now that she was there and she saw how he looked at her – the same way almost every other male did, regardless of their age.

“That’s right,” Zack agreed. He was still getting used to people reacting to him in that fashion, though he didn’t think he would ever become truly comfortable with the semi-fame that came with being a best-selling author. “And you are?”

“Lucy, Lucy Goulding, I’m a huge fan,” she declared breathlessly. Her nervousness might be gone, chased away by her usual confidence, but she wasn’t yet in complete control of herself – she was as attracted to Zack Wild as she suspected he was to her, and his looks were having an effect on her.

“Hello, Lucy,” Zack shook her hand briefly. “I wouldn’t have thought my books were the sort of thing a girl like you would read,” he said. He was not interested in such things, but his agent had provided him with a breakdown of his reading audience, which told him that it was mostly twenty to forty-five year olds that read his books.

“Oh I absolutely love them,” Lucy enthused. “I love them all. I’ve read everything you’ve written. I borrowed the first one from my dad, and just had to get the rest. Your true crime books are great, but I prefer your Inspector Deakins books. Would you sign them; I’ve brought them all with me.”

.

 

Author Alex Carver

Alex Carver has worked a number of jobs over the years, none of which provided the satisfaction he got from writing, and he has now given up the day jobs to write full-time. Primarily he writes crime fiction, reflecting his interest in the seedy underbelly of life, but science fiction and kids adventure have featured in his writing, with books in those genres on the long list of titles he is preparing for release.

Website / Goodreads / Twitter

 

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Thanks so much for visiting fuonlyknew and Good Luck!

You can find a list of my reviews HERE.

For a list of free eBooks go HERE

To see all of my giveaways go HERE

Welcome to My Monday Minis where I share short reviews about books I’ve read.

It appears the devil is running loose on fuonlyknew. I just read two books that pertain to Satan. They both have similar and then not so similar plots and both scared me but good.

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 Ararat

  by Christopher Golden

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Genre: Horror / Thriller

My Review

So the story goes….An avalanche on Mount Ararat opens a fissure, revealing what could be Noah’s Ark. People go in the fissure. Inside the ancient ship is a sarcophagus. Inside it is something not human. A grotesque withered figure with horns.  People start experiencing hallucinations and nightmares. Could the thing be a demon? Could it’s evil be tainting the cavern and everyone in it? Once people start disappearing and dying, one thing is certain. Whatever it is, it doesn’t want them to leave.

Best thing about this one was how quickly you get thrown into the intrigue. The character’s are well fleshed out and the atmosphere builds. I found myself thinking about this scenario. What if it did happen. What would I do.

I’m also always drawn to frozen settings. It isn’t bad enough that something is trying to kill you. Throw in the frozen tundra and things get much worse.

A quick start and nonstop intrigue and action made this a very fast read. I finished it in one sitting.

  4 Stars

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Synopsis

When a newly engaged couple climbs Mount Ararat in Turkey, an avalanche forces them to seek shelter inside a massive cave uncovered by the snow fall. The cave is actually an ancient, buried ship that many quickly come to believe is really Noah’s Ark. When a team of scholars, archaeologists, and filmmakers make it inside the ark for the first time, they discover an elaborate coffin in its recesses. The artifact tempts their professional curiosity; so they break it open. Inside, they find an ugly, misshapen cadaver—not the holy man that they expected, a hideous creature with horns. A massive blizzard blows in, trapping them in that cave thousands of meters up the side of a remote mountain…but they are not alone.

Amazon

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 Origin

  by J.A. Konrath

6414121

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Genre: Horror / Techno Thriller

 My  Review

So, back in the early 1900s something is discovered. The powers that be decide we shouldn’t know about it and the secret is passed on from President to President.

Finally, after over 100 years of studying their discovery, it recently woke up.  New people are drawn into the big secret and things quickly get out of control.

I found myself very intrigued by the plot. It would be awful to be trapped underground with something ancient and evil through and through. As the characters fall for it’s trickery, they meet some bloody ends.

I’d love to see this as a movie. The action is relentless and the author pulls no punches when throwing horrific things in your path. Watch out for ceiling vents and corners. You never know what’s waiting to jump out at you.

Chilling reading served up just the way I like it.

4 Stars

Synopsis

Thriller writer J.A. Konrath, author of the Lt. Jack Daniels series, digs into the vaults and unearths a technohorror tale from the depths of hell…

1906 – Something is discovered by workers digging the Panama Canal. Something dormant. Sinister. Very much alive.

2009 – Project Samhain. A secret underground government installation begun 103 years ago in New Mexico. The best minds in the world have been recruited to study the most amazing discovery in the history of mankind. But the century of peaceful research is about to end.

Because it just woke up.

Book Description

When linguist Andrew Dennison is yanked from his bed by the Secret Service and taken to a top secret facility in the desert , he has no idea he’s been brought there to translate the words of an ancient demon.

He joins pretty but cold veterinarian Sun Jones, eccentric molecular biologist Dr. Frank Belgium, and a hodge-podge of religious, military, and science personnel to try and figure out if the creature is, indeed, Satan.

But things quickly go bad, and very soon Andy isn’t just fighting for his life, but the lives of everyone on earth…

ORIGIN by J.A. Konrath
All hell is about to break loose. For real.

Amazon

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Thanks so much for visiting fuonlyknew!

For a list of my reviews go HERE.

For a list of free eBooks updated daily go HERE

To see all of my giveaways go HERE

Welcome to The Friday 56 hosted by Freda’s Voice.

 

This is a really fun meme!

The only rules are to grab a book (any book), turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader and find a sentence or a few (no spoilers) that grabs you and post it.

Then go over to Freda’s Voice and leave your link so we can visit your 56!

My 56 for this week is from:

 Origin

  by J.A. Konrath

6414121

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Genre: Horror / Techno Thriller

 My 56 from the eBook.

There could be no worse death, Thrist thought. Or no greater death.

~~~~~

Read on if you want to know more.

Synopsis

Thriller writer J.A. Konrath, author of the Lt. Jack Daniels series, digs into the vaults and unearths a technohorror tale from the depths of hell…

1906 – Something is discovered by workers digging the Panama Canal. Something dormant. Sinister. Very much alive.

2009 – Project Samhain. A secret underground government installation begun 103 years ago in New Mexico. The best minds in the world have been recruited to study the most amazing discovery in the history of mankind. But the century of peaceful research is about to end.

Because it just woke up.

Book Description

When linguist Andrew Dennison is yanked from his bed by the Secret Service and taken to a top secret facility in the desert , he has no idea he’s been brought there to translate the words of an ancient demon.

He joins pretty but cold veterinarian Sun Jones, eccentric molecular biologist Dr. Frank Belgium, and a hodge-podge of religious, military, and science personnel to try and figure out if the creature is, indeed, Satan.

But things quickly go bad, and very soon Andy isn’t just fighting for his life, but the lives of everyone on earth…

ORIGIN by J.A. Konrath
All hell is about to break loose. For real.

Amazon

~~~~~

Leave your link and I’ll drop by your 56.

Thanks so much for visiting fuonlyknew!

You can find a list of my reviews HERE.

For a list of free eBooks go HERE

To see all of my giveaways go HERE

Welcome to The Friday 56 hosted by Freda’s Voice.

 

This is a really fun meme!

The only rules are to grab a book (any book), turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader and find a sentence or a few (no spoilers) that grabs you and post it.

Then go over to Freda’s Voice and leave your link so we can visit your 56!

My 56 for this week is from:

 Ararat

  by Christopher Golden

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Genre: Horror / Thriller

 My 56 from the hardcover.

For so long he had believed himself next to fearless, but this fear bit as deeply into him as the mountain chill.

~~~~~

Read on if you want to know more.

Synopsis

When a newly engaged couple climbs Mount Ararat in Turkey, an avalanche forces them to seek shelter inside a massive cave uncovered by the snow fall. The cave is actually an ancient, buried ship that many quickly come to believe is really Noah’s Ark. When a team of scholars, archaeologists, and filmmakers make it inside the ark for the first time, they discover an elaborate coffin in its recesses. The artifact tempts their professional curiosity; so they break it open. Inside, they find an ugly, misshapen cadaver—not the holy man that they expected, a hideous creature with horns. A massive blizzard blows in, trapping them in that cave thousands of meters up the side of a remote mountain…but they are not alone.

Amazon

~~~~~

Leave your link and I’ll drop by your 56.

Thanks so much for visiting fuonlyknew!

You can find a list of my reviews HERE.

For a list of free eBooks go HERE

To see all of my giveaways go HERE

Ashes banner

Title: THE ASHES
Author: Vincent Zandri
Publisher: Bear Media
Pages: 277
Genre: Thriller/Horror/Romantic Suspense

The Ashes (The Rebecca Underhill Trilogy Book 2) by [Zandri, Vincent]

My Review

I wasn’t prepared for this one. I was expecting a creepy read. What I got was a dark, psychological nightmare. Loved it too.

As I got into this story I suspected there might be a book before this one. The author relates a huge event in the past that comes back to haunt Rebecca, her best friend, and their children. A psycho killer has escaped from the asylum and is coming for them, bent on finishing the job his cellmate started all those years ago.

You’ve seen the movies or read the books with similar scenarios. What will get you is how the author turns it darker, more horrifying. I’m warning you right now, don’t expect happy endings for everyone. This killer is cunning, patient, and doesn’t even seem to be entirely human. He’s like a spider. He spins his web and waits for the prey to get trapped in it.

I questioned some of the actions, especially Rebecca’s and her boyfriend Sam’s. They knew the killer was out there somewhere. Knew there was a threat, especially to the children. And hesitating at some crucial times wasn’t something I imagined I’d do. I’d be screaming for the police at the top of my lungs. I know, that’s easy for me to say. I’m not the one being hunted. But, then the story wouldn’t be so intense, wouldn’t get those gut reactions I suspect the author was going for. Sure got them out of me.

This is a hair ripping, wild look into the mind of a monster, and the struggles his victims go through to escape his killing web. I mentioned earlier that I suspected their was a book before this one. There is. The Remains. While I read this book first and got information about the earlier story, I plan to read it and expect to get just as much enjoyment out of it even though I have an idea how it ends.

If you love psychological thrillers with a large dose of horror, you’ll want to read this book.

5 Stars

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Synopsis

HORROR IN THE DARK WOODS

It’s been eight years since artist and single mom, Rebecca Underhill, was abducted and left to die in an old broken down house located in the middle of the dark woods. But even if her abductor, Joseph William Whalen, has since been killed, another, more insidious evil is once more out to get her in the form of the Skinner. The son of an abusive butcher, Skinner intends on finishing the job Whalen started but failed at.

How is he going to get to Rebecca?

He’s going to do it through her children, by luring them into the cornfield behind the old farmhouse they live in.

HORROR IN THE DEPTHS

Now, armed with the knowledge that the Skinner has escaped incarceration at a downstate facility for the criminally insane, Rebecca must face the most horrifying challenge of her adult life: Rescuing the children not from a house in the woods, but from the abandoned tunnels that run underneath her property.

But the Skinner is watching Rebecca’s every move.

Horrifying question is, will she live long enough to save the children?

For More Information: Amazon / Goodreads

Amazon

 

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Check out the Excerpt:

Albany Police Department

South Pearl Street Precinct

 

The old homicide detective sits behind his metal desk surrounded by the cold quiet of the early morning, staring forlornly into the radiant screen on his department-issued laptop. He’s been using the laptop, which is integrated with the department’s web server, for years and years now, but he still fondly recalls the days when his desktop supported only a telephone connected to an old fashioned landline and beside that, an IMB Selectric typewriter. And how could he ever forget the old two tiered Inbox/Outbox?

He glances at his inbox and the two dozen or so new emails that have come his way since he last checked it the previous evening. He scans the emails for their importance, relegating most of them to routine, until he comes to one marked, “URGENT: Serial Murderer Hanover Escapes Custody.”

The detective, whose name is Nick Miller, is a tall, wiry, white-haired man. He has been on the force for more years than a man should be. Or so he’s been told countless times by his peers inside the department. But he’s a widower who can’t seem to get over the fact that his wife is gone, even years after her untimely death on an operating table after suffering a burst aneurism. It also explains why he’s sitting behind his desk, suffering from the pangs of a whiskey hangover, on a quiet Sunday morning.

He opens the email.

“To Whom It May Concern,” reads the department wide message. “The former cellmate of New York State registered sex offender and convicted murderer, Joseph William Whalen, has escaped from the Mid-Hudson Psychiatric Center in New Hampton, New York while en route to a routine medical review at an upstate facility. Lawrence Frederick Hanover, 69, Caucasian, was convicted on several counts of murder in the first degree and is considered extremely dangerous. Both guards who were assisting with the transfer were killed during an apparent violent exchange with Hanover, aka Skinner, or The Skinner. His present whereabouts is unknown.”

 Miller exhales, sits back in his swivel chair.

The email originates not from the FBI but from the state police, most notably, the Rensselaer County Division. He recalls Whalen as the maximum security inmate who, not long after his release, attempted to abduct and kill the same woman, Rebecca Underhill, whom he’d abducted back when she was a little girl in 1977. Her twin sister, Molly, was also the target of his attacks. Although Molly has since died, Rebecca, still lives in the area with her son.

The email comes with several pictures of Hanover, including his most recent mugshots and psychiatric facility photo records. The small, bald, scraggily faced little man doesn’t seem like he could hurt a fly much less another human being. But Miller wasn’t born yesterday and he knows that even a little man can kill as efficiently and quickly as a big, monster of a man. Perhaps even more quickly and efficiently.

Sitting back up, he scans the rest of the email.

“While state police have issued state-wide APBs and launched a task force to hunt for Hanover’s whereabouts, we are asking that police cooperate in every way possible to ensure the quick, efficient, and otherwise discreet apprehension of the serial murderer. All communications should be delivered directly to this office via the email/phone number listed.”

Once more Miller sits back.

“The quick, efficient, and otherwise discreet apprehension of the serial murderer,” he whispers. “Somebody fucked up and that somebody doesn’t want the press to get ahold of this story.”

Sitting there, alone in the quiet office, Miller feels a distinct and very unpleasant chill run up and down his backbone.

“What would a schooled Statie or FBI pathologist have to say about this rather delicate situation?” he whispers quietly to himself. “That a killer as skilled and hungry as Hanover is gonna slip up and be found sleeping in some crappy hotel somewhere? That they can then slip him back inside his rubber room at Mid-Hudson Psychiatric, like he’s some two-bit bank robber?” The detective laughs aloud. “I’ll tell you something right now. If the Skinner doesn’t want to be found, then no way in hell he’s gonna be found. Simple as that. He didn’t escape to be free. He escaped to kill, to butcher, and that’s all.”

His bloodshot eyes once more focused on the laptop screen, the old detective shifts the curser so that it clicks on the Action Taken box beside the open email. He clicks on Saved Mail.

Closing the laptop lid, he finds that his hands are shaking. He opens the bottom desk drawer, pulls out the bottle of Jack Daniels stored inside it. Pouring a generous shot into his empty ceramic coffee cup, he drinks it down.

“Skinner,” he whispers. “Who will you flay next? Whose flesh will you feast on?”

~~~~~

Author Vincent Zandri

Ashes author

Winner of the 2015 PWA Shamus Award and the 2015 ITW Thriller Award for Best Original Paperback Novel, Vincent Zandri is the NEW YORK TIMES, USA TODAY, and AMAZON KINDLE No.1 bestselling author of more than 25 novels including THE REMAINS, MOONLIGHT WEEPS, EVERYTHING BURNS, and ORCHARD GROVE. He is also the author of numerous Amazon bestselling digital shorts, PATHOLOGICAL, TRUE STORIES and MOONLIGHT MAFIA among them. Harlan Coben has described THE INNOCENT (formerly As Catch Can) as “…gritty, fast-paced, lyrical and haunting,” while the New York Post called it “Sensational…Masterful…Brilliant!” Zandri’s list of domestic publishers include Delacorte, Dell, Down & Out Books, Thomas & Mercer and Polis Books, while his foreign publisher is Meme Publishers of Milan and Paris. An MFA in Writing graduate of Vermont College, Zandri’s work is translated in the Dutch, Russian, French, Italian, and Japanese. Recently, Zandri was the subject of a major feature by the New York Times. He has also made appearances on Bloomberg TV and FOX news. In December 2014, Suspense Magazine named Zandri’s, THE SHROUD KEY, as one of the “Best Books of 2014.” Recently, Suspense Magazine selected WHEN SHADOWS COME as one of the “Best Books of 2016”. A freelance photo-journalist and the author of the popular “lit blog,” The Vincent Zandri Vox, Zandri has written for Living Ready Magazine, RT, New York Newsday, Hudson Valley Magazine, The Times Union (Albany), Game & Fish Magazine, and many more. He lives in New York and Florence, Italy.

Website & Social Links:

Website / Twitter / Facebook

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Ashes giveaway

Vincent is giving away ten Kindle e-copies of The Ashes!

By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.

Ten winners will be chosen viz Rafflecopter.

This giveaway ends midnight May 31st.

Good luck everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Thanks so much for visiting fuonlyknew!

For a list of my reviews go HERE.

For a list of free eBooks updated daily go HERE

To see all of my giveaways go HERE

Partners In Crime Tours

Bone White

Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Published by: William Morrow Mass Market
Publication Date: March 28, 2017
Number of Pages: 384
ISBN: 0062349775 (ISBN13: 9780062349774)
Series: Mundy’s Landing #3 (Stand Alone)

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My Review

It starts with a note, “We Shall Never Tell.” Emerson, a Mundy family descendant, travels to Mundy’s Landing to discover what terrible secret from the families past has come back to haunt her and her relatives.

It’s been a year since the Sleeping Beauty murders were solved and Sully has changed places, now working as a detective on Mundy’s Landing’s police force. She’s looking forward to quieter times, but it isn’t long before she’s smack dab in the middle of another murder investigation. Someone’s determined to killed the Mundy family, one by one.

On top of that, Sully’s old partner, Stockton Barnes, shows up on her doorstep looking for a place to crash. He’s evasive about why he’s there and Sully can tell he’s in trouble.

And something weird is happening with Ora Abrams, curator of the Mundy’s Landing Historical Society. It gave me some eerie vibes.

As much as I enjoyed the other books in the series, this one is my favorite. From the 1600’s to the present, and from the West coast to the East, it’s a convoluted series of events and crimes. There are some new characters to contend with along with some favorites. The author fleshes them out and tangles their lives together. It’s up to you to sort out who did what, and she doesn’t make it easy.

Numerous plots abound in this mystery and it’s a race to the finish line, with no easy answers and plenty of intrigue. And you won’t see the end coming. I couldn’t read this fast enough and wished it were longer.

5 Stars

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Synopsis

In Mundy’s Landing, bygone bloodshed has become a big business. During the rigorous winter of 1666, all but five colonists in the small Hudson Valley settlement died of starvation. Accused of unimaginable crimes, James and Elizabeth Mundy and their three children survived, but the couple were later accused of murder and executed. Left to fend for themselves in a hostile community, their offspring lived out exemplary lives in a town that would bear the family name. They never reveal the secret that died with their parents on the gallows… or did they?

“We Shall Never Tell.” Spurred by the cryptic phrase in a centuries-old letter, Emerson Mundy has flown cross-country to her ancestral hometown in hopes of tracing her ancestral past—and perhaps building a future. In Mundy’s Landing, she discovers long lost relatives, a welcoming ancestral home… and a closet full of skeletons.

A year has passed since former NYPD Detective Sullivan Leary solved the historic Sleeping Beauty Murders, apprehended a copycat killer, and made a fresh start in the Hudson Valley. Banking on an uneventful future in a village that’s seen more than its share of bloodshed, Sully is in for an unpleasant surprise when a historic skull reveals a notorious truth. Now she’s on the trail of a murky predator determined to destroy the Mundy family tree, branch by branch.

Amazon / B&N / Goodreads

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Enjoy this glimpse inside

Chapter 1

 

July 20, 2016

Los Angeles, CA

 

We shall never tell.

Strange, the thoughts that go through your head when you’re standing at an open grave.

Not that Emerson Mundy knew anything about open graves before today. Her father’s funeral is the first she’s ever attended, and she’s the sole mourner.

Ah, at last, a perk to living a life without many—any—loved ones; you don’t spend much time grieving, unless you count the pervasive ache for the things you never had.

The minister, who came with the cemetery package and never even met Jerry Mundy, is rambling on about souls and salvation. Emerson hears only We shall never tell—the closing line in an old letter she found yesterday in the crawl space of her childhood home. It had been written in 1676 by a young woman named Priscilla Mundy, addressed to her brother, Jeremiah.

The Mundys were among the seventeenth-century English colonists who settled on the eastern bank of the Hudson River, about a hundred miles north of New York City. Their first winter was so harsh the river froze, stranding their supply ship and additional colonists in the New York harbor. When the ship arrived after the thaw, all but five settlers had starved to death.

Jeremiah; Priscilla; their sister, Charity; and their parents had eaten human flesh to stay alive. James and Elizabeth Mundy swore they’d only cannibalized those who’d already died, but the God-fearing, well-fed newcomers couldn’t fathom such wretched butchery. A Puritan justice committee tortured the couple until they confessed to murder, then swiftly tried, convicted, and hanged them.

“Do you think we’re related?” Emerson asked her father after learning about the Mundys back in elementary school.

“Nope.” Curt answers were typical when she brought up anything Jerry Mundy didn’t want to discuss. The past was high on the list.

“That’s it? Just nope?”

“What else do you want me to say?”

“How about yes?”

“That wouldn’t be the truth,” he said with a shrug.

“Sometimes the truth isn’t very interesting.”

She had no one else to ask about her family history. Dad was an only child, and his parents, Donald and Inez Mundy, had passed away before she was born. Their headstone is adjacent to the gaping rectangle about to swallow her father’s casket. Staring that the inscription, she notices her grandfather’s unusual middle initial.

 

Donald X. Mundy, Born 1900, Died 1972.

X marks the spot.

 

Thanks to her passion for history and Robert Louis Stevenson, Emerson’s bookworm childhood included a phase when she searched obsessively for buried treasure. Money was short in their household after two heart attacks left Jerry Mundy on permanent disability.

X marks the spot…

    No gold doubloon treasure chest buried here. Just dusty old bones of people she never knew.

And now, her father.

The service concludes with a prayer as the coffin is lowered into the ground. The minister clasps her hand and tells her how sorry he is for her loss, then leaves her to sit on a bench and stare at the hillside as the undertakers finish the job.

The sun is beginning to burn through the thick marine layer that swaddles most June and July mornings. Having grown up in Southern California, she knows the sky will be bright blue by mid-afternoon. Tomorrow will be more of the same. By then, she’ll be on her way back up the coast, back to her life in Oakland, where the fog rolls in and stays for days, weeks at a time. Funny, but there she welcomes the gray, a soothing shield from real world glare and sharp edges.

Here the seasonal gloom has felt oppressive and depressing.

Emerson watches the undertakers finish the job and load their equipment into a van. After they drive off, she makes her way between neat rows of tombstones to inspect the raked dirt rectangle.

When something is over, you move on, her father told her when she left home nearly two decades ago. She attended Cal State Fullerton with scholarships and maximum financial aid, got her master’s at Berkeley, and landed a teaching job in the Bay Area.

But she didn’t necessarily move on.

Every holiday, many weekends, and for two whole months every summer, she makes the six-hour drive down to stay with her father. She cooks and cleans for him, and at night they sit together and watch Wheel of Fortune reruns.

It used to be because she craved a connection to the only family she had in the world. Lately, though, it was as much because Jerry Mundy needed her.

He pretended that he didn’t, that he was taking care of himself and the house, too proud to admit he was failing. He was a shadow of his former self when he died at seventy-six, leaving Emerson alone in the world.

Throughout her motherless childhood, Emerson was obsessed with novels about orphans. Treasure Island shared coveted space on her bookshelf with Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden, The Witch of Blackbird Pond

She always wondered what would happen to her if her father died. Would she wind up in an orphanage? Would a kindly stranger take her in? Would she live on the streets?

Now that it’s happened he’s down there, in the dirt … moving on?

She’ll never again hear his voice. She’ll never see the face so like her own that she can’t imagine she inherited any physical characteristics from her mother, Didi—though she can’t be certain.

Years ago, she asked her father for a picture—preferably one that showed her mother holding her as a baby, or of her parents together. Maybe she wanted evidence that she and her father had been loved; that the woman who’d abandoned them had once been normal—a proud new mother, a happy bride.

Or was it the opposite? Was she hoping to glimpse a hint that Didi Mundy was never normal? Did she expect to confirm that people—normal people—don’t just wake up one morning and choose to walk out on a husband and child? That there was always something off about her mother: a telltale gleam in the eye, or a faraway expression—some warning sign her father had overlooked. A sign Emerson herself would be able to recognize, should she ever be tempted to marry.

But there were no images of Didi that she could slip into a frame, or deface with angry black ink, or simply commit to memory.

Exhibit A: Untrustworthy.

Sure, there had been plenty of photos, her father admitted unapologetically. He’d gotten rid of everything.

There were plenty of pictures of her and Dad, though.

Exhibit B: Trustworthy.

Dad holding her hand on her first day of kindergarten, Dad leading her in an awkward waltz at a father-daughter middle school dance, Dad posing with her at high school graduation.

“Two peas in a pod,” he liked to say. “If I weren’t me, I’d think you were.”

She has his thick, wavy hair, the same dimple on her right cheek, same angular nose and bristly slashes of brow. Even her wide-set, prominent, upturned eyes are the same as his, with one notable exception.

Jerry Mundy’s eyes were a piercing blue.

Only one of Emerson’s is that shade; the other, a chalky gray.

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Author Wendy Corsi Staub

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New York Times bestseller Wendy Corsi Staub is the award-winning author of more than seventy novels.

Wendy now lives in the New York City suburbs with her husband and their two children.

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