Book Review of Iain Kelly’s “A Justified State”

justified

Cover art for Iain Kelly’s novel “A Justified State”

I’ve been following Iain Kelly‘s writing online for a few years now. He and I (along with a bunch of other folks) met while participating in a series of internet writing challenges such as this one. That’s where I found out that he’s the undisputed master of murder mysteries, only in his case, he actually created a series of novels in that genre to prove it.

Finally (given my meager budget), I was able to download a free promotional copy of A Justified State, the first novel in his “The State Trilogy”.

It was amazing.

The story is set slightly in the future in the UK, known as the nameless “state.” The nation is in a conflict with unrevealed adversaries in “The First Strike War,” which is the backdrop for everything that follows.

Police Detective Danny Samson, who lost his twin newborns soon after birth, and his wife a year later by suicide, is mysteriously assigned to investigate the murder of a local politician, who was the victim of a professional assassination.

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Book Review of “Plastic Nightmare”

plastic

Cover image for Aditya Deshmukh’s short story “Plastic Nightmare”

Aditya Deshmukh’s short story Plastic Nightmare reads more like a prelude to a novel than anything else. It certainly ended on a cliffhanger, and Deshmukh even states that there will be a sequel.

I really felt like the author didn’t give himself enough room to develop the situation or the characters.

Five years ago, police officer Razia lost her brother. To the rest of the world, it was a tragic accident, but accidents don’t happen in their future utopia. The result is that she has increasingly become obsessed with his disappearance, letting her career begin a long, downward spiral.

Her main foil seems to be her lover and her boss on the police force (not a good combination), and when what appears to be a serial murder impossibly occurs in a world with practically no crime, Razia starts making connections between the so-called “Scarlet Killer” and her brother’s vanishing.

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“Dark Valentine Holiday Horror Collection” Available for Pre-Order Now!

valentine

Promotional image for the forthcoming anthology “Dark Valentine”.

As you know if you’re a regular reader, three of my stories were accepted in the Dark Valentine Holiday Horror Collection: A Flash Fiction Anthology. What you don’t know is that it’s available for pre-order right now, with auto-delivery to your kindle device on February 1, 2020.

The link above is universal to Amazon, but here’s more:

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Two of My Tales to be Published in “Dark X-Mas Drabbles Anthology”

dark xmas

Promotional image for the soon-to-be published anthology of drabbles “Dark X-Mas.”

Not one but two of my drabbles have been accepted in the Eleanor Merry Presents Christmas Horror anthology “Dark X-Mas”.

According to the blurb for Dark X-Mas Drabbles Anthology:

I’m dreaming of a Dark Christmas
With every little tale that I read
When the knife blades glisten
And scared children listen
To hear slayers in the night
Where sugarplums can be gory
In the frightening elf story
And trees eat favorite household pets
There are gifts on all the pages
Of terror through the ages
Told of gift giving regrets
I’m dreaming of a Dark Christmas
With every little tale I read
While the bright lights shine
And the family dines In the soft fireplace glow
So hold loved ones tight
It’s not Santa visiting tonight
Death lies buried in the snow.

I actually don’t know a whole lot about co-publishers Eleanor Merry and Cassandra Angler, but some other authors I’ve been published with before, including David Bowmore and Shawn Klimek, are participating, so I figured “what the heck?”

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Stories to Chill Your Halloween Night!

Just in time for Halloween!

Fall into Fantasy 2019 Anthology

I’m thrilled to announce that this fantasy love and horror story is available on Amazon now!

fantasy

Cover art for the Cloaked Press anthology “Fall Into Fantasy 2019”

Here’s what you can expect from my short story “The Demon in the Mask:”

Andre Paul LeClair was an orphan, an infant found on the steps of a monastery. Raised in the midst of Priests and Nuns, he grew to be an intelligent, charming boy, and then a handsome, bewitching man. Coming to the attention of a sinister Cardinal, LeClair was whisked away to remote mountain Chateau. Trained for a decade by soldiers, spies, and courtesans, he was honed to be the perfect instrument of assassination. His target, the secret ruler of the Kingdom, the Princess and witch Katia Asa Vajda. But when the moment came to liberate a nation, would he kill the princess, or fall in love with her?

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“1929: A Zimbell House Anthology” is Now Available for Pre-Order!

1929

From cover image for “1929: A Zimbell House Anthology”

I’ve been checking periodically, and the Zimbell House Publishing anthology 1929, which features my short story “The Devil’s Dilemma,” is now available for pre-order at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble for delivery March 26, 2019 (that’s for digital books, the paperbacks will take a little longer).

I’m really excited about this story since it’s one of my more ambitious projects.

Sixteen-year-old Timothy Quinn grew up in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen, working as a “printer’s devil,” an apprentice in a newspaper print shop since age twelve. One day, the teen and would-be boxer starts hearing strange news announcements on the radio that seem to come from the future. Then he learns that in the next seven weeks, a ten-year-old girl will be kidnapped and murdered by a notorious serial killer. No one believes his wild tale, so he sets out to confront the killer himself, but will he succeed in saving the life of an innocent child only to sacrifice his own?

My story is one of only six appearing in “1929.” Be the first to buy, read, and review this unique anthology.

Mona Lisa Smile

monalisa

Found at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie and taken from Reddit.com – No other photo credit listed

Today was the day that Stefan Günther determined he would finally speak to his own personal Mona Lisa. Everyday for weeks, she sat across from him on the S-train as he made his evening commute home to his one-bedroom apartment outside of Wiesbaden and she went to who knew where.

“Hi. My name’s Stefan.” The twenty-seven-year-old accountant leaned into the aisle hoping she could hear him over the train noise and all the other conversations around them. “Since you smile at me every time I see you, I thought I should introduce myself.”

“Ludovica. Pleased to meet you, Stefan.” Her accent was unmistakably Italian and the same, subtle smile she had been wearing throughout all of their silent encounters never left her lips.

“Pleased to meet you.” He took her hand and remembered not to apply too much pressure. Her skin was warm and smooth, and her scent was slightly earthy speaking, he hoped, of seduction.

“I don’t mean to be too forward, Ludovica, but why do you always smile at me?”

“I like to smile. Besides, you remind me of someone.”

He chuckled nervously. “Anyone in particular.”

“If I like you, I might tell you someday.”

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The Chiromancer

palm

A diagram of the palm of the hand from Magnus Hundt’s Antropologium de hominis dignitate (1501) – Found at Wiktionary

For the first time in her career, petite, forty-five year old Sheryl Valdez regretted being a chiromancer. Like the Prophet Joseph from the Bible, she had correctly interpreted a person’s future, but instead of being made a dominant ruler, she was on the run, at the moment, trying to blend in with the other evening commuters on the BART train approaching San Francisco International. Her only hope would be to grab the first available flight out of the country and then try to disappear.

“I want to know how my trial is going to go next week.”

His name was Rico Nguyen and he had been accused of being the financial manager behind the Hình Su gang, which was notorious for the flood of home invasions and mass transit robberies the Bay Area had suffered for the past two years.

“I’ve been wrestling with whether I should try to fight this in court or just get out of the country. No one else has been able to give me any input that helps me figure it out.”

He was effusive and thanked her repeatedly for the uninterrupted hour-long session, which was far more time than she needed.

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The Man Who Would Be God

railroad tunnel

© Dawn M. Miller

Fanatic time traveler Michael Robert Obe knew only murder could change the future. “Sorry, kid. This is the only way.” The eccentric (or insane) physicist held the bound five-year-old boy by the collar of his shirt while standing on the railway trestle.

“I loved this view when I was a kid. That’s why I brought you here. Too much at stake in my future world to let you live.”

The child looked up at his captor in terror.

“Good-bye, Freddie.”

Obe rolled Fredrick Christ Trump into the Colombia River to drown.

“Now to see what sort of world I’ve created.”

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields photo challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 100.

As you may have guessed, Fredrick Christ Trump was the father of our current President Donald Trump. I know this harkens back to the old time travel paradox of whether  or not you would kill Adolf Hitler as an infant in order to prevent the Holocaust. I’ve written stories like that before, but given that (at least in social media) any action that would inhibit, stop, impeach, erase, Donald Trump (or anyone conservative, or anyone suspected of being a Trump voter or at least not a Democrat) seems justified, I decided to take it one illogical step further. Would you murder Trump’s Dad when he was five years old to prevent a Trump presidency? In other words, would you kill an innocent little boy in cold blood because you think it’s the greater moral good?

Interesting question.

To read other (kinder, gentler) stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

A Slight Miscalculation

grand canyon

© Google 2018

Eccentric billionaire Randolph Houston was making the adjustments on the temporal transfer device at the bottom of Arizona’s Grand Canyon as his fourth wife, 26-year-old Paulette watched.

“Why not wait for that expert, what’s his name?”

“Carlos Bradley, and he’s late.” The aging scientist continued his adjustments.

“What is he? A geologist, paleontologist, archaeologist?”

“All, which was why I hired him. By attaching the TTD to strata here in the canyon, I can travel back to the formation’s origins 2.5 billion years ago.

“How do you know what you’ll find?”

“Bradley, if he had been on time, was to tell me.”

“You’re going now?”

“The battery will only last fifteen minutes. Tempus fugit.” The 75-year-old flipped a switch and vanished.

Carlos arrived and passionately embraced Paulette.

“You’re sure he’s never coming back.”

“My dear, 2.5 billion years ago, there was almost no oxygen in the atmosphere. He would have died in seconds.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw challenge. The idea is to use a Google Maps image/location as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Grand Canyon, Arizona, which I’ve visited many times. I looked up the history of the Grand Canyon and found that “nearly two billion years of Earth’s geological history have been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut their channels through layer after layer of rock.”

I looked up what was going on about 2.5 billion years ago, and found out, among other things, that there was hardly any oxygen in the atmosphere. Too bad Randolph didn’t do his homework.

To read other tales based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.