WORKS OF DARKNESS by VB Tenery ~ a review

Works of DarknessPolice Chief Matt Foley’s beloved, deceased wife Mary was best friends with Sara Bradford, but Matt doesn’t like Sara or trust her. In fact, deep down, he thinks she’s guilty of having murdered her own husband. He just hasn’t been able to prove it…yet.
Sara is very attractive, smart, capable, and loving.

 

She adopts two orphan children who were involved in her church’s bus program bringing under privileged kids to Sunday school. Yet, she’s by no means invincible. She has fears and makes mistakes. She comes off like a real living, breathing person.
Then a small child’s body is found on the grounds of what used to be a Christian camp grounds. This missing persons cold-case is twenty-five years old. The little girl who is now known to have been murdered was Sara’s childhood neighbor and best friend. In fact Sara was the last person to have seen little Penny Pryor alive. Could Sara have a valuable memory locked away the police can use to solve this heinous crime? That’s what Chief Foley wonders. This heart wrenching cold case opens terrible old wounds for the child’s parents and those who knew the family, including Sara’s aunt.

 

There are no shortage of plot twists and turns and they’re done in a seamless and believable way. Sara is buffeted by brutal corporate maneuvering at her job. Then she becomes a target and her physical safety is in jeopardy. She’s on a roll…a downward roll. Matt Foley begins to have sympathy for her plight but can’t let go of his conviction that she’s a murderess.

 

Local town politic and corporate politics is portrayed in a knowing way. The way upwardly mobile characters jockey for position and advantage is convincing. They definitely make a direct hit below the belt when somebody suggests Matt married his somewhat older wife for her money. Matt is hurt and angered when he hears of this ugly rumor, not for himself, but because he thinks these allegations might mar Mary’s memory and legacy.
The author supplies credible red herrings. In fact, she had me believing a certain character I liked a great deal was viable as the child’s murderer and the one behind Sara’s physical danger. Then the author pulls in the other loose end, Sara’s husband’s murder, in a manner I was not expecting.

 

While Chief Foley has nothing but mistrust for Sara, a lop-sided romantic triangle of sorts is unfolding. The cantankerous female medical examiner has her eyes on Matt (or should we say, her hooks out), but Matt is still grieving his wife’s death from cancer. Meanwhile, Matt’s friend, the county sheriff has a hankering for the lady ME.

 

The author brings the novel to a close with a crescendo. But it appears as if the villain might be victorious. Then in a most unexpected way, he is defeated.

 

PURCHASE LINK: Amazon.  http://amzn.to/1t78bpX

 

Just The Facts Ma’am ~ Life Before Technology and Miranda

Police Car, 1950s 2

Fingerprints were the de rigueur means of positive identification from the 1920s to the 1950s. In 1903 the New York State Prison system began the first systematic use of fingerprints in the United States for criminals. By 1904 Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary in Kansas and the St. Louis Police Department had begun using finger printing. They were assisted by a Scotland Yard sergeant who had been on duty at the St. Louis World’s Fair Exposition guarding the British exhibition. In 1908 the first official finger print card was in devised.

In my Sanctuary Point series, set on the south shore of Long Island after World War II, stalwart detective Ian Daltry brings in suspects, gets out the marble slab, the ink, and the cards to finger print suspects. He then sends them to the lavatory where they endeavor to wash the mess off their hands with Lava soap.

At that time, every state and the FBI maintained voluminous, manually compiled, classified, and sorted finger print files. It would’ve been nigh a miracle to make a cold hit. There was nearly no way a latent print from a crime scene could be searched against all the various data bases country-wide as it can be done today with the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS). The data bases were just too spread out for that type of search. However, once a suspect was developed through investigation, comparison of latent prints from the crime scene to the fingerprints of the suspect cleared lots of cases.

In those days, cases were solved the good old fashion way, going door-to-door looking for witnesses and asking questions. Developing strong investigative skills was a must. And circumstantial cases that would stand up in court were built by detectives, who had no computers to rely upon. Blood typing was available, but not conclusive. Still it would be compelling circumstantial evidence if the suspect had blood of the same type as the victim’s on his clothing.

Driver’s license and automobile license plate information was stored state-by-state in large, hand written ledger books. It took a phone call from local law enforcement to the state police or to the state’s motor vehicle department to get a look up. There was no NCIC computer system until 1967. Prior to that, the only way to find out if a car was stolen was by a telephone check of local police department hot sheets that were published daily in most cities. Police cars were radio equipped but there were no portable walkie-talkies. Most cities had call boxes scattered around town where police officers could periodically check in with headquarters. Every officer carried at least one dime with him in case he had to use a public phone booth. And it was a he. There were no female police officers.

There were also no tazers or pepper spray, so an out-of-control criminal would get a not so gentle tap of a black jack, sometimes called a sap or night stick. In my series the Sanctuary Point Police Department had a black jack hanging on the wall near the holding cells. In my Christmas whodunit, GOODBYE NOEL, it was used to threaten two mobsters who were getting out of hand during the booking process. There was also no Miranda warning during the detainment or arrest process. Detective Daltry simply pointed his revolver into the face of the bigger of the two and then marched them to the station. There was no doubt if they made a physical move on him that he would shoot.

Goodbye Noel, Amazon

 

 

 

The first body is found under a trimmed Christmas tree, the second as they ring in the New Year (1947), the third goes head long out a window. Will a young pediatric nurse determined to make it on her own be able to care for an infant whose mother was murdered and escape the killer who has struck again? Can she trust the stalwart village detective with her life and her heart as he works to catch this killer before somebody else dies?

Pediatric nurse, Katrina Lenart, grew up strong willed and independent minded, while sharing her mother’s flair for high fashion. When the police chief gives her an orphaned baby to care for, her maternal instincts take over and she’s willing to fight anyone who might not have the infant’s best interests at heart, even the man she’s growing to love. After an attempt is made to kidnap the baby, she and the resolute village detective team up and do some sleuthing, undercover at a cult as well as at a fancy ball.

Detective Ian Daltry is a widower with a child and is not interested in a new love. Hunting a killer who stops at nothing has placed him in the position where he must protect a beautiful young woman he’s drawn to. Is there’s something he’s overlooked in analyzing the case? Will he find out what that is before this ruthless murderer kills someone he loves?

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon/Kindle.  http://amzn.to/12nzi3j

Barnes & Noble/Nook. http://bit.ly/11L7quZ

Holding Out For A Significant Crime Fiction Hero ~ Heroine

Detective, In Morgue

One of the best things about crime fiction is getting into the head and heart of an incredible hero/heroine. Does he have to be the nice and honorable guy next door who morphs into a superheo? No, he doesn’t! Not for me!

She could be that stalwart homicide detective, a beleaguered single mom with a defiant kid, and she’s fighting crime against all odds. He could be highly flawed. Perhaps a heavy drinker or former alcoholic fighting his own demons as he labors on to catch a heinous killer. I want the hero or heroine to arouse my emotions. I want to feel their distress, root for them when the odds against them seem astronomical, and fear for them when they encounter danger  as they run their course.

Antisocial is perfectly fine for a crime fiction hero/heroine — as long as the character gets their hooks in me. They “gotta have heart” to get me to recommend the book. No matter how jaded they’ve become (and I love jaded heroes), on some level they have to believe they’re there to protect and serve. They have to seek justice for innocent victims of crime. And when the victim is not so innocent, even if it’s their um-teenth homicide, they can’t be indifferent to murder’s pain and suffering…even if they want to be.

I also go for a heroine/hero who is aware of the inherent injustice within society where there are always haves and have nots. I can appreciate a detective who gives a basically good bloke who’s made a few mistakes a break. The ghettos are populated with mostly ordinary citizens who are trying to provide for their families and have a good life. My type of hero/heroine would be angered by predators who commit atrocious acts, even if they hail from the underclass. My type of heroine/hero would relentless pursue the killer no matter if she/he were from society’s A-list, the boardroom, or the hood.

Above all else, I have to believe the hero/heroine is a cop. If you’ve taken, or know someone who’s taken a criminal justice course in college, then you might be familiar with the proverbial lecture on “the police officer’s psychological profile.” Police officers take psych tests when they apply for their jobs. So, it could be argued that the police force choses a certain personality for the job. Be that as it may, there is a “cop personality.” Police departments tend to be looking for officers who are efficient, pragmatic, conservative, cynical, suspicious, and action oriented. Even sleepy little villages who have never experienced a homicide want this type of police officer. In today’s law enforcement environment the smallest of police forces are incredibly professional. The local yokel who makes it onto the force is, for the most part, a thing of the past. Barney Fife is no more. Of course we write fiction…and if the story is a cozy, a Barney Fife might be just what the author desires.

For those writing detective stories, suspense, and/or thrillers that more realistic “cop personality” might give the main character traits that garner acclaim for him on the job. However, they can wreak havoc in a marriage and as a parent (cynical, suspicious). So our crime fiction hero/heroine might be doing well in the police department carving out a distinguished career while her/his private life is falling apart. This makes for interesting, multi-dimensional reading.

Graphic courtesy of Microsoft online images

Is Your Victim Murderlicious?

weapon, knife

 

 

 

 

Well, if not murderlicious, then at least murderable.

 

The reader has to believe somebody wants to off your victim. Preferably there should be a long line of characters ready to send your victim to the great beyond.

 

 

Hnad of Fate

 

An author can have fun with this. Why not? If you’re not enjoying the writing, why do it? Liz Wiehl, in THE HAND OF FATE, created conservative radio talk show host Jim Fate who has ticked off just about everyone. Some say the Fate character was modeled after Mr. Talk Radio himself, Rush Limbaugh. I’m not casting any stones at Mr. Limbaugh. My point is, I’m sure the author had a great time creating her victim. And since the Fate character had a long list of enemies, he was highly murderable.

 

 

Some writers pick people from their past…their ex-mother-in-law, the algebra high school teacher who looked down on them for being math-challenged, In these cases nobody, except the author and perhaps family members and a few close associates, will ever know who the character is modeled after. Of course the author will exaggerate the negative characteristics of said ex-mother-in-law or math teacher. Then again, maybe not. I’ve heard authors say, more than once, they toned reality down because nobody would believe it.

 

Injustice For All

 

 

Another way to make your character’s murder believable is to have the victim know something that gets them killed.  Robin Caroll did this very successfully in her novel INJUSTICE FOR ALL. In this case the murder victim is a federal judge and his FBI profiler god-daughter, Remington Wyatt, is forced to change her identity, go into hiding, and run for her life.

 

 

Perilous Shadows

 

 

The third novel in my historical whodunit series, PERILOUS SHADOWS, starts right off at the beginning with a body, that of a pretty, young coed. There is no immediately discernible reason why this young lady was killed. However, as this mid-1940s psychological mystery unfolds the reader realizes most of the characters have something to hide, including the victim.

 

 

Knife Photo courtesy of stock.xchange image # 1115700

DARKEST HOUR ~ a seaside mystery ~ on the Grace Awards 2013 Launch

Darkest Hour, Lg

Team Launching is a whole lot of fun…and summer is the time to do it. What a whirlwind and now DARKEST HOUR is showcased on the tour.

*****

I thought to myself, self, what can I say about DARKEST HOUR that’s new and different. Everyone knows it’s filled with suspense, intrigue, and treachery….not to mention romance. They know it’s set in the mid-1940s and that I’m crazy about the post World War II era.

Ah, but what they might not know is that I’m also in love with the sea…the ocean, particularly the Atlantic Ocean. I love it’s history and lore and love to visit cities and villages on the America’s eastern seaboard. I’m in love with Cape Cod, Key Largo and St. Augustine, Florida, and Montauk, NY (it’s the end.) Stories from the 1800s before the mast, of whaling, or of sea captains who went down with their ships thrill me.

That’s a big part of why I set the Sanctuary Point series on the south shore of Long Island. I created a tiny village first settled by missionaries. Then during prohibition day, a local shipping family made their fortune bootlegging illegal whiskey. This family employs a good many of the residents and thinks it can call the shots.  DARKEST HOUR is the fourth novel in the series and the ocean is so integral to the story, it’s almost a character.

*****

A petite widow, medical secretary and sole support of her young son and grandparents, is framed for the murder of her boss. Wealthy village residents conspire with the DA to indicte her and stop further investigation. The medical examiner thinks the shooter was a tall individual. When his report is shoved aside, he starts his own side-investigation trying to clear her and in the process he falls in love with her.

Lucinda Byrne lost her husband and parents at sea. When she discovers the body of her boss, his A-List society finacee, backed up by her powerful family and a corrupt DA, acuses Lucinda of murder.  She struggles on shielding her five-year-old son, her feisty grandfather and arthritic grandmother from the ugliness of her situation. She mistrusts the dapper ME, thinking he’s a ladies’ man, but soon realizes he may be the only one in her corner.

Hank Jansen, the county ME who’s had his share of pain and loss, doesn’t know if this little widow was in on the murder, but he knows by the trajectory of the bullet she’s too short to have pulled the trigger. His professional opinion ignored, he begins his own investigation and at least one cop accuses him of an ethics violation. He certainly can’t deny he’s fallen head over heals for the accused, and also is crazy about her son. A huge problem is there’s a leak inside the investigation and the murderer is always one step ahead of them.

Excerpt:

Lucinda leaned forward and took his hands in hers. “The ocean has taken so much from both of us. I used to love the beach, the sand, the waves. Now I hate it.”

Concern flashed across his eyes. “Maybe it was a mistake coming to Long Beach. Would you like to go?”

“No, I live in a waterside village. Sanctuary Point is on the bay. Long Beach is on the ocean. There’s not much difference. I’m used to having my enemy near.” She hadn’t meant to get so maudlin. Her mind raced for something uplifting to say, but failed. “Boy, I’m hungry now.” It was the best she could do.

The waitress brought two glasses of ice water and took their order. They both took huge gulps.

“Say, you didn’t tell me how your appointment went with your attorney.”

Lucinda placed her half empty glass on the table. “It went well. He’s going to use your report as the basis for my defense. I told him about your new lead, and he said that sounds promising indeed.” She giggled. “Those were his words, ‘promising indeed’.”

“I’m glad my report is useful to somebody. The angle of trajectory points to a much taller shooter. But do they take that into consideration? No.”

“Maybe when it’s presented to the jury…”

Purchase Links:

Amazon/Kindle.  amzn.to/154FCnq

Barnes and Noble/Nook.  bit.ly/17Kh6mg

*****

Nike. Pix

Like so many writers, Nike Chillemi started writing at a very young age. She still has the Crayola, fully illustrated book she penned (penciled might be more accurate) as a little girl about her then off-the-chart love of horses. Today, you might call her a crime fictionista. Her passion is crime fiction. She likes her bad guys really bad and her good guys smarter and better.

She is the founding board member of the Grace Awards and is its Chairman, a reader’s choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. She writes book reviews for The Christian Pulse online magazine. She was an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category and a judge in the 2011 and 2012 Carol Awards in the suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense categories. BURNING HEARTS, the first book in the crime wave that is sweeping the south shore of Long Island in The Sanctuary Point series, finaled in the Grace Awards 2011 in the Romance/Historical Romance category. GOODBYE NOEL, the second book in the series released in December, 2011 won the Grace Award 2011 in the Mystery/Romantic Suspense/Thriller category. PERILOUS SHADOWS, third in the series released July, 2012, and DARKEST HOUR, the fourth in the series released in February, 2013.  She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers (Ning). https://nikechillemi.wordpress.com/

ENTANGLED by Barbara Ellen Brink ~ a review

Entangled

 

Author Barbara Ellen Brink has been connected to the Grace Awards for a couple of years. Her supernatural thriller SPLIT SENSE won the Grace Award 2011 in the Speculative Fiction category. She was also a judge in the Young Adult category in 2011. So, it’s an honor and a pleasure to let everyone know how much I enjoyed the first book in her California winery mystery series.

 

*****

Sometimes long past memories are like ghosts coming back to haunt us.

Minneapolis divorce attorney, Wilhelmina “Billie” Fredrickson, inherits her adventurer uncle’s Californian winery. She’s determined not to leave her present life by moving to the left coast. She’s merely going to attend to all the legal details and then put the winery on the market. She soon begins having the reoccurring nightmares she used to have as a girl after a boy in her high school attempted to rape her at a drunken party. He didn’t get too far, as she broke his nose with a wine bottle, giving him a concussion. This is no helpless heroine, yet she is plagued by buried and conflicting emotions from her past she’s rather duck than deal with.

Arriving in California, Billie is immediately attracted to attorney Handle Parker, who was her Uncle Jack’s legal eagle. However, she can’t shake the feeling that he seems to resent her inheriting the Fredrickson Winery. One of the lines I most enjoyed in the novel is…I knew he questioned the validity of my receiving my uncle’s holdings, as though I’d conspired to put a voodoo curse on Jack before he died, which was preposterous since I was raised Lutheran.

Author Barbara Ellen Brink has crafted complex characters. Billie has many secrets, most of them hidden from herself. She’s got a complex relationship with Sabrina, her protective mother. And Billie has a tendency to run away from her problems. She’s definitely pushing down disturbing memories of a long lost summer at the winery twenty-years ago when as a girl she first met Handle as well as the many not so subtle hints that her mother has quite a few secrets of her own.

A break-in at the winery and the discovery of troubling photographs forces Billie to face her past. Then there’s vandalism which is a serious setback to her plan for putting the winery on a local winery tour. And let’s not forget the attempt upon her life. All these add up to one enticing mystery read. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself yearning for an aromatic glass of California wine and perhaps a slice or two of good cheddar.

wine grapes

Amazon/Kindle: http://amzn.to/14iCFIC

Barnes and Noble/Nook. http://bit.ly/14y0NuT