Shadows of the Past by Patricia Bradley ~ tackling my ‘to read list’

Shadows of the Past

Intense feelings of failure pervaded profiler Taylor Martin’s life. She couldn’t prevent a young man from murdering his stepfather. Her former fiance left her a ‘dear Jane’ letter. In her present case, she failed professionally, and the local sheriff was badly injured.

The author constructed strong main characters in Taylor Martin and best selling mystery writer Nick Sinclair. The development of these characters’ inner vulnerabilities as well as the tension between them was deftly done. There is tremendous suspense as the plot thickens and it becomes obvious the stalker/killer in the case she’s come to Memphis to solve is someone Taylor knew…and the reader knows him too…but who?

However, there’s another case to solve. Taylor’s father has been missing for over twenty years. Her family strongly prefers she not dredge up old wounds, but Taylor has nightmares involving his disappearance and she wants answers.

The novel delves into faith in God and questions people have, such as does God care? However, it’s never preachy. Some of the characters are Christian, some are seekers, many are neither. Just like in real life. I recommend this novel for ages 17 to 117.

LOOKS THAT DECEIVE by Braxton DeGarmo ~ a review

Looks That Deceive

Steven James ~ Move over!

LOOKS THAT DECEIVE by Braxton DeGarmo is both edgy and gritty crime fiction and a seat of the pants medical thriller. ‘Edgy’ because it pushes the edge of the envelope. It could be categorized as noir.

Lync Cully, a workaholic, dedicated detective has been loaned to the Major Case Squad. He’s investigating a series of gruesome and bizarre assaults on women in the legal profession, an explosion killing a lawyer, and the torture and murder of another man. The “wonder boy” of the detective squad, he knows these crimes are related.

Amy Gibbs, Cully’s former  girlfriend, is a medivac nurse and part of the team transporting the torture victim by chopper to the emergency room. The horrifically injured man is able to mumble a few words about the killer to her and her partner before expiring. Cully wants to hold back this information from the public, but it gets out to the press, putting Amy squarely in the sights of this heinous killer.

The author uses plot construction often typical of thrillers. The reader is introduced to the highly intelligent and technologically advanced killer as “Lady Law,” a pseudonym the male predator uses online to lure females in the legal profession into his trap. He is adept in the use of aliases and ruse. The reader also becomes aware the killer has relationships with other characters in the story and they are none-the-wiser about his violent and depraved other life.

As it turns out in this deadly tale, looks can be deceiving. If you like unabashed, nail biting thrillers with an inspirational twist, this novel is for you.

A CAROL FOR KENT by Hallee Bridgeman ~ a review

A Carol For Kent



I almost don’t want to call this novel a romantic suspense. I think of it as a thrilling and suspenseful love story.

Carol Mabry, Virginia’s Assistant Commonwealth Attorney, has put herself through college, built a stellar career, and raised her college sweetheart’s daughter for the past seven years. She has been led to believe country music superstar Bobby Kent could care less about the daughter he fathered. Meanwhile, Bobby doesn’t have a clue. On a surprise visit home, he arrives just in time for his daughter’s birthday party and for the first time learns he’s a father. His parents have kept the child a secret from him all these years, while accepting his extremely generous checks. They also lied to Carol, making her think he knew and had turned his back. I love country western music and thought this story scoped out and captured that environment well.

While Carol and Bobby cling to their Christian faith, work through their emotions, and embark on a path to mutual forgiveness a serial killer stalks women in Richmond. The case falls into Carol’s lap and she soon becomes the target of serial killer Richmond Red, a cunningly illusive and ritualistic killer. Suspense well written. The identity of the killer comes as a total surprise.

Part of a series, this remains a stand alone suspense novel. The main characters are fleshed out in depth and become living human beings on the page. Carol is strong, yet caring and compassionate. Just the type one would love to have as a friend. Bobby is a dreamboat, yet real.  Less so for Bobby’s parents. I didn’t quite think their greed and need for control of their granddaughter’s life was adequately explained. About one fifth of the pages contain recipes, a suggested luncheon menu, excerpts and blurbs from the author’s previous novels. It was kind of overkill. I took a look at the recipes and skimmed some of the blurbs. That said, this suspense story is a very good read.

Interview with M.K. Gilroy, Author of Cuts Like A Knife

It’s a real treat to have Mark Gilroy, author of  CUTS LIKE A KNIFE, here. Just love that title. Can’t wait for him to share a bit of his writing journey.

Nike: Mark, you’re probably asked this all the time, but what prompted you to write a series about a female detective? And what makes Kristen Conner unique?

Mark: I think you will fall in love with my lead character, Detective Kristen Conner. She’s tough and in your face. And she’s a fragile mess. She loves God, her family, the Chicago Police Department – her dad was a cop – and anything you put on her plate. Doesn’t mean she gets along with all parties mentioned – except the food.

But why Kristen? I am the father of three sons and three daughters. My daughters always supplied the lion’s share of drama in the home, so it was actually a lot of fun to write in female voice. It really took a lot of people by surprise, including my publisher, that I was able to let Kristen and her sisters provide a humorous and occasionally poignant backdrop within a manhunt of a serial killer.

Kristen is a unique among literary characters as a good Baptist girl who is very committed to her faith and family—though the book is not written as a religious novel. Her commitment to faith and family doesn’t mean she doesn’t fight with everybody as noted above. But she has a good heart and does the right thing.

She can’t shoot a handgun straight (something else that makes her mad), but she is a great athlete and workout warrior and has turned her attention on mixed martial arts – from Israeli krav maga to Brazilian jujitsu. She’s lightweight but packs a punch.

Nike: What is your favorite scene in CUTS LIKE A KNIFE?

Mark: The book mixes action and character driven dialog throughout. I like a lot of the humorous scenes, but CUTS LIKE A KNIFE begins and ends with hand-to-hand combat scenes. I really enjoyed writing them and had many readers say they are technically spot-on. Women love the relational aspect of the book, but the fight scenes became a hook that helped male readers relate to a female lead character.

I did research the psychopathic mindset, and I really liked interspersing short chapters from the serial killers voice, including the opening scene when he is at a Cubs game. He is calm, focused and organized—and a lot of readers have told me he was scarier than if I had played him as raving lunatic.

Nike: Tell us something about your writing journey we wouldn’t discover in your author bio

Mark: Having been in the publishing industry for 30 years –and being an avid reader of the suspense-action-thriller genre, I wonder why I waited so long to write a first novel! I guess I’m just slow!

What really taught me to write (and get paid to do it) was an internship I landed during my junior year of college. I worked for a newspaper, The Kankakee Journal, as a sports writer. My first gig was to write short stories on 15 to 20 games and make it sound like the newspaper was covering all these games live. That was fun and taught me to use imagination—and meet a deadline.

Nike: Have you always been drawn to suspense novels?

Mark: I have always loved character driven mystery and suspense. From the Hardy Boys in grade school; to James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, and Nero Wolfe in my teen years; then on to spy thrillers by Deighton and LeCarre in college; and then discovering a plethora of great writers from Hillerman, Block, Grimes, Child, Leonard, Mosely, Crais, Silva and a host of others throughout my adult life. I even went through a crime noir faze where I had to reread everything from Chandler, Cain, Marsh and Hammet. I can’t forget Graham Greene. The common denominator? Great character development. Heroes and anti-heroes.

I’ve spent 30 years in publishing and have a couple graduate degrees, but the best training I’ve received to pen my debut mystery thriller comes from the sheer volume of great books I’ve read. I’ve had a tremendous amount of fun writing CUTS LIKE A KNIFE – and count it as a tribute to the writers who have brought me so much enjoyment as a reader.

Let’s Take A Sneak Peek At CUTS LIKE A KNIFE…

“An intense, eerie, funny and suspenseful thriller … M.K. Gilroy’s debut is a sure-fire winner.” – USA TODAY

Detective Kristen Conner goes undercover to find a serial killer who selects his victims – all successful young professional women – in the most unlikely of places – only to find herself as his next favorite target.

When Leslie Reed is found dead in her fashionable townhome, a red flag goes up in Washington, D.C. The FBI knows an elusive “organized killer” on a decade-long crime spree is at work again.  The problem is the Feds have only one tenuous lead to assist local police in the manhunt … where the killer likes to find his victims.

Conner is light one her feet and packs a powerful punch – growing up in a cop’s home, intense hand-to-hand combat training, and not being able to shoot a handgun straight – all encourage that. Her life is built on faith and family: she coaches her 7-year-old niece’s soccer team, the Snowflakes, always shows up hungry for family dinner, and only misses church when she is fighting with her mom and glamorous TV news reporter sister – or relentlessly tracking down a ruthless killer.

Kristen is a good cop but she’s never faced an adversary like the man the alternative press has dubbed the Cutter Shark.  From the opening chase scene that leads her to a back alley where a punk with a knife awaits her, to the climactic scene where she goes one-on-one with the hauntingly familiar man who is killing innocent women in her town, Cuts Like a Knife, is loaded with action, humor, a dash of romance, and wry introspection through the voice of its irrepressible lead character.

Cuts Like a Knife is the debut book in the Kristen Conner Mystery Series. Every Breath You Take is slated for October 23, 2012 release.

Mark “M.K.” Gilroy is a 30-year publishing veteran, having worked in just about every area of the industry, from his first job as a sports writer – to proof reader and occasional box packer – to executive vice president and publisher and just about everything in between.

Gilroy’s debut novel, CUTS LIKE A KNIFE, is a tribute to his love for character-driven mysteries and thrillers. His second novel will once again feature Detective Kristen Conner and unique cast of characters. EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE, hits the market October 23, 2012.

Gilroy’s education includes the BA in Biblical Literature and Speech Communications, the M.Div, and the MBA.

Gilroy is the father of six children. He resides with his wife Amy in Brentwood, Tennessee.




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