Book Review of “Escaping Infinity”

infinity

Cover art for Richard Paolinelli’s novel “Escaping Infinity”

I’ve wanted to read and review one of Richard Paolinelli’s novels for quite some time now, since I previously reviewed his short story The Last Hunt which was featured in last year’s Superversive Press anthology To Be Men: Stories Celebrating Masculinity. I finally got my opportunity with Escaping Infinity, a 2017 Dragon Award Finalist.

As I got into Paolinelli’s book, I found it had some similarities to Australian SciFi writer Matt Reilly’s 2000 novel Contest. In both books, an innocent couple is thrown into a highly unlikely environment where they must solve a series of challenges in order to survive. In Reilly’s case, it was the location was the main branch of the New York City Public Library, and in Paolinelli’s novel, it’s a seemingly five-star hotel located in the middle of the Arizona desert, miles away from where any such structure has a right to be.

Peter and his friend and co-worker Charlie are driving to Phoenix for a business trip and become lost. Running out of gas and miles from nowhere, they come across an incredibly futuristic and opulent hotel called “Infinity.” Once inside, they realize the hotel and casino can provide a virtually unlimited supply of pleasures and experiences, enough to keep them there for a lifetime, which seems to be the idea.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Book Review of Yage: A Tom Regan Thriller

yage

Cover art for Aidan Reid’s novel “Yage.”

It’s been quite a while since I reviewed Irish indie author Aidan J. Reid’s mystery novel Sigil. The book introduced Father Tom Regan, a Catholic Priest with a nose for mysteries, and particularly the bizarre.

Yage is the second in the “Tom Regan Thriller” series, and this time, Reid takes it up a notch.

Based on his own drug use experiences under somewhat similar circumstances, Reid takes Father Regan to Peru, ostensibly to meet his young niece Louise, who has been hiking throughout the Peruvian region, but also to process his own crisis of faith, particularly in light of the conclusion of the Sigil ordeal.

What Regan finds is a mystery he didn’t ask for and one that puts the life of his niece at risk. Slowly putting the clues together, he finds that Louise is only one of a number of victims of a mysterious shaman, who is somehow tied to the Yage tourist trade, people from western nations who pay local companies to administer and monitor their use of a hallucinogen for a variety of personal purposes. Tom himself must undergo this challenge in his desperate efforts to find his missing niece. Along the way, he finds unlikely allies in the form of a local priest, other tourists, and another young woman he must use, and put at risk, in order to discover what happened to Louise.

Continue reading

Melting

sinking

© Kayla Erin

“Why are you doing this to me?” Charlotte was terrified as she felt herself slowly dissolving. Where was she? How had she gotten here?

“I promise, it’s for the best.” His voice was soothing, melodic, and sensual. His touch…she could feel hands, but not hands, caressing her body, touching her everywhere, probing every part of her.

“Please don’t.”

He didn’t stop. She hated him, hated what he was doing to her, but it was so much more intense than any sex she’d ever had, even with her husband. How could she hate it and it still felt so exciting?

“Stop it! Don’t! Please! She climaxed three times, wailing and writhing, and then what she felt became more intense, but in a completely different way.

Continue reading

The Man at 100 Forrest Avenue

100

Photo by Lauris at Pixabay.com

“Are you sure he lives here?” Emily Long had been a stringer for the AP for the past three years and if this story panned out, it would make her career.

“100 Forrest Avenue, Panama City, Florida. There’s no mistake.” Quentin Street called himself a consulting detective, like how Sherlock Holmes described himself. Emily had checked his credentials after he had first texted her, and he had been licensed as a private investigator in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and New York for the past twenty-five years, ever since she had been alive in fact, so that much was legit.

“But you’re accusing him of…”

“I know the allegations against him, Ms. Long. We are here to see what retired General Watts has to say about them.” The middle-aged detective, dressed in his signature blue jeans and garish Hawaiian shirt, raised his hand to knock on the door when it suddenly sprung open revealing a bald man of extreme age wearing khaki shorts, a “I heart Florida” t-shirt, and a scowl.

“I’m not deaf, you know. Come in Mr. Street. I assume this is Miss Long accompanying you.”

“How did you…” Emily slipped her hand inside her jacket pocket and turned on the audio recording app on her smartphone.”

“You can turn that thing off, Missie.” Watts’s piercing gray eyes seemed to bore a hole in her head. “I’m ready to confess to the murder. I thought the IED would cover up the clues.”

“It is true that they did, General.” Street stepped across the threshold, glancing at both of Watts’s hands, assuring himself that the elderly man wasn’t armed. “But it didn’t eliminate the witness.”

I wrote this for the twittering tales writing challenge hosted at like mercury colliding. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 280 words long. My word count is 277.

Actually, having no “challenges” in my gmail inbox, I “borrowed” this one from Fandango. The image reminded me of something you’d see in a Sherlock Holmes mystery, so I crafted one. I used a random address generator and came up with Panama City, Florida, which is home to the 153rd Cavalry Regiment. The rest was easy.

EDIT: I goofed. I thought it was 280 words but as it turns out, the challenge is 280 characters. My bad. I withdraw from the challenge, but I might as well let the story stay up on my blog.

So That’s What Happened To Grandma

shed and mirror

© Dawn M. Miller

Lionel thought it was a strange place to put a mirror until he saw a piece of paper taped to it saying “Free.” Then the glass was a swirling black as if thousands of iron filings were being moved around by an unseen magnet.

He gaped in awe as another image appeared. “Grandpa’s shed.”

He remembered playing there as a boy. Then a younger Grandpa appeared.

“What’s that he’s dragging? The man slipped and the heavy tarp unfolded for a moment, spilling out part of its burden. Lionel recognized the corpse from old photos. “So that’s what happened to Grandma.”

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields flash fiction 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.

Given the mirror, I thought I’d add another wee chapter to my Dark Mirror series along with tales such as Reconstructing Gwen and Darfur Misspelled. If I had more than 100 words to play with, I could have expanded this a bit, but hopefully it tells a complete story anyway.

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

Death by Bic

messy desk

© Yvette Prior

“Between the booze and the coffin nails, it’s like a monument to death, right Turner?”

Detective Gerard Harrington waved his hand over the desk of the deceased while nodding at Officer Dawn Turner.

“I guess so, Sir.” She wasn’t a fan of the flamboyant homicide investigator’s style, but everyone in the department knew he was the best in the business. “So this was a murder?”

“Nah. It’ll take an autopsy, but I’m betting these leaky cigarette lighters he collected did him in. Lung disease didn’t help, but it was the butane fumes that killed him.”

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields flash fiction 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 95. Do you know how hard it is to write a murder mystery in less than 100 words?

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

The Pleiades Mystery

summer

© Sue Vincent

Elio Hudson let out a deep breath as he looked at the idylic scene on the small console monitor. It was a photo he had taken of a field of wildflowers last Spring in southeast Texas, a hundred miles from the Houston Space Center and his other life.

“Hey, you might want to save that for later. Where we’re going has a much broader canvas.” Eledoro Salazar tapped Elio on the shoulder while sitting in the co-pilot’s chair. Although the mission leader and Naval Commander had only met the Spanish computer scientist eleven months ago while they were training for this mission, they had become fast friends.

Hudson removed his restraints and lifted his muscular frame from the pilot’s seat. “Routine systems check complete, Eledoro. Let’s go join the others. Our mission update from Houston is scheduled to come in about five minutes from now.”

“Right you are. Let’s go.”

Continue reading

The Tic Tac Toe Clue

tic tac toe

© yarnspinnerr

Private Investigator Margurite Carter and her client, shipping tycoon Jeremiah Burton, were inside one of his waterfront warehouses sometime past midnight.

“You’re sure my partner is using this place to hide opium smuggled in from the Far East?”

“Yeah, but we still have to find proof before going to the cops.”

“Where do you suggest we look?”

“Try someplace besides my chest. My eyes are up here.”

“Sorry.” Burton wasn’t used to not being in charge of every situation and tried to look chagrined.

“Men.” Margurite rolled her eyes.

They stood in front of nine stacks of crates organized three across by three deep. “My source said it should be among these.”

“You trust the cook on the freighter that delivered this cargo?”

“He said he’d leave a clue. Wait. A sheet of paper’s stuck to the far right stack with a butcher knife.”

“Odd, but so what? It’s just a game of tic tac toe.”

Carter snapped her fingers as the proverbial light bulb illuminated over her head. “No it isn’t. It’s a map.

I wrote this for the 175th FFfAW Challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the image above as a prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 175.

Once again, I dusted off my 1940s “hardboiled detective” Margurite Carter who first appeared in The Haunted Detective and was mentioned in The Digital Muse. I couldn’t think of a story about a game of tic tac toe, but as a map or diagram describing which of the stacks of crates contained opium, it worked just fine.

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

Who Murdered the Lady in the Lake?

coniston water

Coniston Water, Lake District, England – © Google – July 2017

Simon sighed as he read of Gordon Park’s suicide in Garth Prison. He’d been convicted of murdering his wife Carol Ann six years ago, but continued to declare his innocence, claiming that she left him for another man.

The last threat to exposing Simon died with Park.

“Poor Carol Ann. You shouldn’t have kept trying to find your birth family.”

He could still see the look on her face as he smashed it with the ice axe. If he’d piloted the boat further out onto the lake, her body would have vanished in the deeps, instead of being discovered by amateur divers on a ledge.

“I became your lover to prevent you from finding out that your mother was a prostitute and your father was a drug smuggler. Daddy’s dead, and as his only son, I’m running the family business. Sorry, dear sister. You simply got in the way.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to use a Google maps street image and/or location as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 149.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Coniston Water, Lake District, England. Naturally, I looked it up on Wikipedia and discovered, among other things, that it was the site of the famous Lady in the Lake murder.

Carol Ann Park went missing in 1976. However, it wasn’t until her body was discovered in 1997 in the lake on a shelf seventy-five feet under the surface by amateur divers that murder was suspected. You can click the link I provided to read all of the details, but among the other facts of the case, Mrs. Park was adopted and had been attempting to locate her birth parents. When she disappeared, her husband Gordon did claim she ran off with another man. She was murdered with an ice axe, and Gordon did hang himself in prison in 2010.

Of course, I made up everything about Simon and am not suggesting that the wrong man was convicted of the crime. In writing this, I am not intending any disrespect to the Park family, and particularly not of the deceased.

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

Prelude to Piracy

golden gate bridge

A black-and-white photograph of the Golden Gate Bridge – circa 1930s

“My grandfather was a wonderful role model. Through him I got to know the gentle side of men.” –Sarah Long

Keisha’s body jerked as she woke up. She remembered falling, but everything was dark and still around her. No, not everything.

“Miss Davis, you’re going to be fine. You just had a frightful dream, is all.”

“Josiah? Where am I?”

“Your cabin, Ma’am.”

“How did I get here? I was on the Bridge.”

“Pa found you passed out at the Helm.”

“Passed out? I thought…” She faintly remembered being chased by someone in a diver’s suit. She must have fallen asleep again.

“You’re not to blame,” the child replied as if he could read her mind. “There was a fault in the air return for the Control Room. You weren’t getting enough air.”

Continue reading