Ten years ago, the disappearance of firearms police officer Jonah Colley’s young son almost destroyed him.
A GRUESOME DISCOVERY
A plea for help from an old friend leads Jonah to Slaughter Quay, and the discovery of four bodies. Brutally attacked and left for dead, he is the only survivor.
A SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH
Under suspicion himself, he uncovers a network of secrets and lies about the people he thought he knew – forcing him to question what really happened all those years ago…
I want to thank Tracy Fenton at Compulsive Readers for inviting me on this blog tour and Orion for my copy of The Lost.
So I’m going to admit this is the first Simon Beckett book I’ve read, but after finishing The Lost, it certainly won’t be my last!
Out of the blue, Jonah Colley gets a call from his old friend Gavin, who needs his help and wants to meet right away. When he gets to the warehouse, he’s attacked and left for dead. When several bodies turn up, he becomes the number one suspect. Unable to leave it alone, he digs into the case. Could Gavin have discovered what happened to Jonah’s son, Theo, who disappeared ten years earlier?
The Lost is one of those books that pulls you into the action from the very beginning, hitting with all sorts of twists and turns along the way.
My heart really went out to Jonah. He’s still tortured by the loss of his four-year-old son Theo, followed by his marriage breaking down. It makes him a little reckless and driven by his emotions, but it makes you root for him even more.
I can’t say too much more in case of spoilers, but I didn’t see the ending coming at all and it was both satisfying and shocking.
If you’re looking for a thrilling, tension packed novel I’d highly recommend you pick up The Lost!
About The Author:
After an MA in English, Simon Beckett spent several years as a property repairer before a stint teaching in Spain. Back in the UK, he played percussion in several bands. He has been a freelance journalist since 1992, writing for The Times, The Independent on Sunday Review, The Daily Telegraph, The Observer and other major British publications. In 2002, as part of an article on the National Forensic Academy, he visited the Body Farm in Tennessee. This last commission was the inspiration behind the internationally bestselling The Chemistry of Death, which was shortlisted for the CWA’s Duncan Lawrie Dagger and has been translated into 21 languages. Simon Beckett is married and lives in Sheffield. The author of six novels, his second David Hunter thriller, Written in Bone, is published as a Bantam paperback in April 2008.
Cameron and Lisa Murdoch are successful New Zealand crime writers, happily married and topping bestseller lists worldwide.
They have been on the promotional circuit for years, joking that no one knows how to get away with crime like they do. After all, they write about it for a living.
So when their challenging seven-year-old son Zach disappears, the police and the public naturally wonder if they have finally decided to prove what they have been saying all this time… Are they trying to show how they can commit the perfect crime?
Multi-award winning bestseller Paul Cleave returns with an electrifying and chilling thriller about family, public outrage and what a person might be capable of under pressure, that will keep you guessing until the final page…
I want to thank Anne Cater for inviting me on this tour and Orenda Books for providing me with a copy of The Quiet People in exchange for an honest review.
This is my first Paul Cleave novel and I can safely say this won’t be my last. I’m still trying to pick my jaw up from the floor after reading The Quiet People!
The story is told from two perspectives. The first is Cameron, a best-selling crime author, who, along with his wife, finds their son Zach missing. Zach is a bit of a problem child, but you see how much Cameron loves him and all the range of emotions that he goes through after he goes missing and he becomes more and more unpredictable.
The second perspective is DI Rebecca Kent, a solid and experienced copper tasked with finding out the truth, no matter the consequences.
Goodness, you’re really thrown through a loop during this novel, both emotionally and with all the shocks and surprises the author chucks at you along the way. Honestly, there’s never a dull moment.
The story is also packed with tension. You’re not sure who to trust or whether it’s going to end badly for the characters or not.
I can’t say too much more in case I give away any spoilers, but I can safely say that The Quiet People is up there as one of my top reads of this year.
The Quiet People is a twisty read that will keep you on your toes throughout, not knowing what will happen next.
About The Author:
Paul is an award-winning author who divides his time between his home city of Christchurch, New Zealand, where most of his novels are set, and Europe.
He has won the New Zealand Ngaio Marsh Award three times, the Saint-Maur book festival’s crime novel of the year award in France, and has been shortlisted for the Edgar and the Barry in the US and the Ned Kelly in Australia.
His books have been translated into over twenty languages. He’s thrown his frisbee in over forty countries, plays tennis badly, golf even worse, and has two cats – which is often two too many.
Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulCleave, and his website: paulcleave.com
From number one bestselling author Caroline Mitchell, comes the first chilling Slayton thriller for fans of C. J. Tudor and Stephen King.
If you open your door to the Midnight Man, hide with a candle wherever you can. Try not to scream as he draws near, because one of you won’t be leaving here…
On Halloween night in Slayton, five girls go to Blackhall Manor to play the Midnight Game. They write their names on a piece of paper and prick their fingers to soak it in blood. At exactly midnight they knock on the door twenty-two times – they have invited the Midnight Man in.
It was supposed to be a game, but only four girls come home.
Detective Sarah Noble has just returned to the force, and no one knows more about Blackhall Manor than her. It’s a case that will take Sarah back to everything she’s been running from, and shake her to the core.
Will she be ready to meet the Midnight Man?
I want to thank Embla books for providing me with a copy of The Midnight Man in exchange for an honest review.
I’m a huge fan of Caroline Mitchell’s Detective Amy Winters series, so when I read the synopsis for Midnight Man, I knew I had to read it.
The Midnight Man is a police procedural with a creepy edge to it. It was a perfect read for this time of year, especially as the nights are drawing in and it’s getting colder.
There are a couple of horror tropes throughout, like the abandoned and possibly haunted mansion and the urban legend of the midnight man. They both added another dimension to the story, and I especially loved the chilling rhyme that warned against invoking the midnight man.
Detective Sarah Noble was a flawed and believable character. After a hellish year, you can’t help but root for her to get her life back on track. Another interesting character was seven-year-old Elliot. I can’t tell you too much about him, but he was a bit of a scene stealer.
I’ll be honest, when I read the blurb I was expecting more of a horror novel than the police procedural that it turned out to be. It didn’t spoil my overall enjoyment, but I was hoping for a little more creepiness/spookiness.
The Midnight Man is a decent start to this series and I’ll be looking forward to seeing more of these characters.
About The Author:
USA Today and Global #1 Bestselling Thriller Author.
Caroline originates from Ireland and now lives with her family in a pretty village on the coast of Essex. A former police detective, Caroline has worked in CID and specialised in roles dealing with vulnerable victims, high-risk victims of domestic abuse, and serious sexual offences. She now writes full time.
Set in Shoreditch, London, her DS Ruby Preston trilogy is described as terrifying, addictive serial killer thrillers.
Caroline also writes psychological thrillers. The most recent, Silent Victim, has been described as ‘brilliantly gripping and deliciously creepy’. Her new DI Amy Winter series is published by Thomas & Mercer.
Sign up to join her Reader’s club for access to news, updates and exclusive competitions and giveaways. http://eepurl.com/IxsTj
Shirley Steadman, a 70 year old living in a small town in the North East of England, loves her volunteer work at the local hospital radio. She likes giving back to the community, and even more so, she likes getting out of the house. Haunted by the presence of her son, a reluctant Royal Navy officer who was lost at sea, and still in the shadow of her long dead abusive husband, she doesn’t like being alone much.
One day, at the radio station, she is playing around with the equipment and finds a frequency that was never there before. It is a pirate radio station, and as she listens as the presenter starts reading the news. But there is one problem – the news being reported is tomorrows. Shirley first thinks it is a mere misunderstanding – a wrong date. But she watches as everything reported comes true. At first, Shirley is in awe of the station, and happily tunes in to hear the news.
But then the presenter starts reporting murders – murders that happen just the way they were reported.
And Shirley is the only one who can stop them.
I want to thank Tracy Fenton for inviting me on this tour and the publisher for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
I’ve not read any books by this author before but when I saw it was about a radio station that reports about murders before they happen I was like, yes, I need to read that!
The story centres around Shirley who, while volunteering at the local hospital radio station, comes across Mallet AM, a pirate radio station that reports tomorrow’s news. At first, the incidents that are reported were simple accidents, but it slowly becomes more sinister and reports a murder. Shirley can’t leave it alone and sets out to stop the murder from happening.
I love an older main character, especially in a mystery, and I thought Shirley was wonderfully done. She’s headstrong, determined, and won’t let even her frail health stop her from getting to the bottom of the mystery. She also carries pain and guilt around from her past, making her you root for her even more.
I also loved the hospital radio setting, as it gave me a bit of nostalgia for the days when I used to listen to the radio myself.
There were some good shocks and surprises along the way, but for me, the story was a little slow burn. That’s not a bad thing, but I was just expecting some more chills and thrills.
Half Past Tomorrow is a solid thriller with memorable characters and an original and intriguing storyline.
About The Author:
Chris McGeorge studied MA Creative Writing (Crime/Thriller) at City University London where he wrote his first novel as his thesis. His interests are broad – spanning film, books, theatre and video games. He is a member of the Northern Crime Syndicate, a supergroup of writers from Northern England. He lives in County Durham with his partner and many, many animals.
Just outside the city – any city, every city – is a grand, spacious but affordable apartment building called The Beresford.
There’s a routine at The Beresford.
For Mrs May, every day’s the same: a cup of cold, black coffee in the morning, pruning roses, checking on her tenants, wine, prayer and an afternoon nap. She never leaves the building.
Abe Schwartz also lives at The Beresford. His housemate, Sythe, no longer does. Because Abe just killed him.
In exactly sixty seconds, Blair Conroy will ring the doorbell to her new home and Abe will answer the door. They will become friends. Perhaps lovers.
And, when the time comes for one of them to die, as is always the case at The Beresford, there will be sixty seconds to move the body before the next unknowing soul arrives at the door.
Because nothing changes at The Beresford, until the doorbell rings…
Eerie, dark, superbly twisted and majestically plotted, The Beresford is the stunning standalone thriller from one of crime fiction’s most exciting names.
I want to thank Orenda books and THE Book Club Reviewer Group for providing me with a copy of The Beresford in exchange for an honest review.
I’ve read a couple of books by Will Carver now and I’ve always come to expect the unexpected while reading his novels and The Beresford is no different.
The Beresford is written in Will Carver’s signature style, dark, a little gruesome, underlined by a cynical tone and sharp wit.
I love the fact that the characters seem so ordinary and lifelike, like you’d know someone who’s similar or you could imagine passing one of them in the street but each one is compelling in their own way.
The Beresford is almost like a character in itself even though it’s only a building. It’s owned and run by the elderly Mrs May. It’s an old and imposing building but the rent is cheap so there’s always a line of willing people to rent a flat there, even though the turnover rate of renters there is incredibly high.
While there is an air of mystery, (I mean why do the residents keep murdering each other???), I’d say this is more out-and-out horror than Will Carver’s usual horror/mystery novels. I’d still recommend it if you loved his previous books.
The Beresford is Gothic, creepy and more than a little unsettling yet still keeps you glued to those pages.
About The Author:
Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series. He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age eleven, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, and lives in Reading with his two children. Will’s latest title published by Orenda Books, The Beresford is out in July 2021. His previous title Hinton Hollow Death Trip was longlisted for the Not the Booker Prize, while Nothing Important Happened Today was longlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. Good Samaritans was book of the year in Guardian, Telegraph and Daily Express, and hit number one on the ebook charts.
Title: Cry For Help (Detective Madison Harper 2) by Wendy Dranfield
Date Published: 22nd February 2021
Shivering in the early morning chill, the caretaker flips the switch on the Ferris wheel and stumbles back in shock. The teenage girl’s body is slumped in a halo of pretty colored lights, long red hair spilling over her tear-stained cheeks, her eyes fixed forever on her dangling feet.
When teenager Nikki Jackson’s body is found at an amusement park, just hours after Fourth of July fireworks lit up the night sky, the Lost Creek police rule her death as suicide––a devastating final act from a girl who had lost all hope. But the absence of the knife used to make the wounds on her delicate wrists makes Detective Madison Harper think otherwise. And the partial fingerprint found on the girl’s face proves her right. Someone else was with Nikki in her final moments…
Back home in Colorado for the first time in seven years to investigate the murder of a woman with ties to the son she lost to the care system, the pressure is on for Madison to work both cases at once. Fearing the team has missed a vital clue, Madison searches the crime scene alone and finds the last thing she ever expected: a note proving the victims knew each other, and that the cases are linked. Is this a coincidence, proof a dangerous murderer is on the loose, or a trap set to lead Madison off the trail?
It’s only when Madison finally finds the knife used to harm Nikki, tucked in an almost impossible to find hiding place, that she knows she is closing in on a twisted killer. But the last person she expects to see dragged into the department in handcuffs is her own missing son…
An absolutely unputdownable crime thriller that will have you sleeping with the lights on. Addictive reading for anyone who loves Lisa Regan, Robert Dugoni and Melinda Leigh.
I enjoyed the first in this series earlier this year and as I know the third is coming out soon; I thought I’d better catch up with this one.
Madison is heading home to clear her name and find her son, but things get complicated when the body of a teenage girl is found. She and Nate can’t leave it unsolved, but the case quickly gets personal for Madison.
Cry For Help is one of those books that grabs you from the very beginning, getting more and more taut with tension building to a satisfying and action packed ending.
This book had so many little shocks and surprises along the way, which I didn’t see coming and absolutely loved!
I really enjoyed getting the full story of Madison’s arrest and more bits and pieces from her past, something I felt was missing from the first book. Of course that meant Nate sort of took a back seat for most of the book but I think it worked out well and I wonder what Wendy Dranfield will do next with these characters.
I absolutely flew through the first half of this book but for some reason I found the second half a little more slow going, maybe it’s just I didn’t want it to end!
Cry For Help is a fast-paced and addictive read and I can’t wait to read more from this series!
About The Author:
Wendy is a former coroner’s assistant turned crime writer who lives in the UK with her husband and 3 cats.
Her first novel (The Girl Who Died) was longlisted for the Mslexia Novel Competition. Since then she has written two crime series – one follows Officer Dean Matheson on his quest to make detective, and the other is her current series which follows Detective Madison Harper as she tries to reclaim her life after spending six years in prison for a murder she didn’t commit.
As well as crime novels Wendy also has short stories published in various anthologies in the UK and the US, and she has been shortlisted and longlisted for various writing competitions.
Hello lovelies! Today I have a book spotlight for Dark Water Sacrifice by Zach Lamb as part of the blog tour organised by Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources.
Title: Dark Water Sacrifice by Zach Lamb
Date Published: 17th May 2021
Publisher: Darkstroke Books
A parent’s guilt. Desperate choices. The ultimate cost.
The dark water has always called to the Blackwell family.
Devastated by the loss of his daughter, Adam Blackwell flees his hometown of Scarsville, Georgia.
Something lurks beneath the churning black waters, and its patience is running out.
Two years later, his father is dead and has left him everything, including the lake where Adam’s daughter drowned. Now, Adam must return to the last place he ever wanted to go and settle the affairs of the man he blames for everything.
The time has come for the next sacrifice, and it will stop at nothing.
Adam believes it will be a short trip to get the house ready for sale. But the closer he gets to the lake, the more memories return from the worst day of his life.
Living in the past is dangerous, but there is nowhere to hide when the past comes back for you.
Staying in the family home, Adam hears small footsteps in the dark. Soon after, he hears the voice of his daughter. She wants him to join her in the depths of the black lake.
When the waters rise, Adam must decide whether he will begin the slow process of healing and somehow find peace between the world of the living and the dead—or become the next Dark Water Sacrifice…
Zach Lamb is a fictionist who creates thriller, horror and dark fiction stories. He is the author of The Suicide Killer and Dark Water Sacrifice. Zach has an MFA in creative writing from Southern New Hampshire University. He lives with his wife and kids in the non-fictional town of Ellerslie, Georgia, named after the fictional character Captain Ellerslie from the Waverley Novels.
Welcome to the tour for Games We Played, a gripping novel by Shawne Steiger! Read on for details and don’t forget to enter the giveaway!
Title: Games We Played by Shawne Steiger
Date Published: October 17th, 2020
Genre:Literary Fiction/ Women’s Fiction/ Thriller
When actress Rachel Goldberg shares her personal views on a local radio show, she becomes a target for online harassment. Things go too far when someone paints a swastika on her front door, not only terrifying her but also dredging up some painful childhood memories. Rachel escapes to her hometown of Carlsbad. To avoid upsetting her parents, she tells them she’s there to visit her Orthodox Jewish grandmother, even though that’s the last thing she wants to do. But trouble may have followed her.Stephen Drescher is home from Iraq, but his dishonorable discharge contaminates his transition back to civilian life. His old skinhead friends, the ones who urged him to enlist so he could learn to make better bombs, have disappeared, and he can’t even afford to adopt a dog. Thinking to reconnect with his childhood friend, he googles Rachel’s name and is stunned to see the comments on her Facebook page. He summons the courage to contact her, Rachel and Stephen, who have vastly different feelings about the games they played and what might come of their reunion, must come to terms with their pasts before they can work toward their futures.
Stevie and his mother were evicted from their apartment after his mother’s big fight with the landlord at two in the morning. They left with only his mother’s purse and went to his grandpa’s house to sleep. Stevie had seen his grandpa just once before, and he barely remembered the visit. For the whole taxi ride, his mother kept saying, “Just until I get a job. We won’t stay long. Don’t worry, Stevie.”
He dozed, lulled by a spicy cigar smell and the erratic crackle of the radio from the front of the car. The driver let them out at a two-story stucco house that loomed like a yellow castle in the shadows of streetlight and moon. Stephen followed his mother through a wrought-iron gate that opened to a sidewalk made of pink stone
slabs. He lurked behind her when she knocked, looking around at the rock garden, a few lemon trees, and a big white wall that surrounded the front yard, blocking any view except for bits of road.
Nobody answered, so his mother dropped her purse and slammed the heel of her hand into the doorbell over and over. Then she turned away from the door, picked up her purse, grabbed Stephen’s arm, and dragged him toward the gate and the street, and the door finally opened. His grandpa stood on the threshold, silhouetted by a glow from the living room. Stephen would always remember that glimpse of his grandpa, the faded gray robe held closed at the chest, the gnarled toenails and bushy white hair, how big he was. He wasn’t fat, just big and as shaggy as the mountains he could see from Carlsbad, even though it took eight hours to reach them.
His grandpa stared at Stephen’s mother with bloodshot eyes. Then he looked down at Stephen and twisted his mouth into a closed-lipped grimace. Later, Stephen learned that his grandpa didn’t like to show his mouth when he wasn’t wearing his dentures, but at the time, the vampire smile frightened Stevie.
“Well, you might as well come in, then.”
His grandpa’s voice was harsh and phlegmy. After he finished talking, he coughed until his face turned red, and he lit up a cigarette. Stevie’s mother propelled him through the front door and into the house, where they stayed much longer than she had promised.
Two weeks later, they were still there. Stevie’s mother stayed in her room nearly all the time, leaving Stevie to eat Hungry-Man frozen dinners and watch The Price is Right with his grandpa. When she did come downstairs, she pulled a kitchen chair into the living room and sat on that, far away from Stevie and Grandpa on the sofa.
When Stevie had his sixth birthday, his mother didn’t come down to sing “Happy Birthday,” buy him a cake at the grocery store, or tell him she was sorry she couldn’t afford a present but that she loved him. But his grandpa made sure he had a special day.
He took Stevie up to the attic and showed him the guns gleaming on their racks inside a tall wooden case with a glass front. His grandpa opened a cardboard box next to the gun case and dug beneath a bunch of magazines until he produced a silver key. He inserted the key into the lock very precisely, as if opening that case was a more delicate task than shaving the whiskers around his throat. Then he removed the guns one by one and showed them to Stevie.
He had six guns in six different shapes and sizes—three thick-handled guns with narrow noses that his grandpa said were Lugers, a smaller-nosed pistol called a Walther, a rifle called a Mauser, and one MG 34 machine gun. Stevie liked the rifle best because its long brown nose seemed sleek and dangerous.
His grandpa cradled it. “With this Mauser, I killed a Jew resistance fighter who thought he could get away.
Shawne Steiger wrote her first story when she was seven. Over the years, she has been a pizza maker, dressage teacher, house cleaner, and therapist. The one constant in her life has been her writing, which is why, after years working as a trauma therapist, she applied to Vermont College of Fine Arts and completed an MFA in Fiction writing. After learning that she’s happiest when writing, Shawne published short stories and essays in several literary journals. Supporting her writing habit with her social work degree, Shawne frequently incorporates her understanding of how trauma affects people into her fiction. When not writing or working, she enjoys going to the theater, reading and travel. Luckily her love of travel stops her from fully realizing her aspirations to enter the realm of mad cat woman, since she’s yet to find the perfect suitcase that will fit both her cats and still be light enough to carry.
Hello lovelies! Today I have a Book Spotlight for the debut novel Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone as part of the Write Reads Ultimate blog tour.
Title: Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone
Date Published: 20th April 2021
Publisher: Scribner Books
Twelve years ago my life began again.
But it was a lie.
With the startling twists of Gone Girl and the haunting emotional power of Room, Mirrorland is the story of twin sisters, the man they both love, and the dark childhood they can’t leave behind.
Cat lives in Los Angeles, about as far away as she can get from her estranged twin sister El and No. 36 Westeryk Road, the imposing gothic house in Edinburgh where they grew up. As girls, they invented Mirrorland, a dark, imaginary place under the pantry stairs full of pirates, witches, and clowns. These days Cat rarely thinks about their childhood home, or the fact that El now lives there with her husband Ross.
But when El mysteriously disappears after going out on her sailboat, Cat is forced to return to the grand old house, which has scarcely changed in twenty years. No. 36 Westeryk Road is still full of shadowy, hidden corners, and at every turn Cat finds herself stumbling on long-held secrets and terrifying ghosts from the past. Because someone—El?—has left Cat clues all over the house: a treasure hunt that leads right back to Mirrorland, where she knows the truth lies crouched and waiting…
A sharply crafted mystery about love and betrayal, redemption and revenge, Mirrorland is a propulsive, page-turning debut about the power of imagination and the price of freedom. Perfect for fans of Gillian Flynn, Ruth Ware, and Daphne du Maurier.
We’re celebrating the release of the Deep State Down series this week with the release of Hard Way Home and Dark Road Back, by Dana Fraser! Read on to find out more about the books and an excerpt too:
Title: Hard Way Home (Deep Down State #1) by Dana Fraser
Date Published: June 1st, 2021
Genre: Post- Apocalyptic/ Survivor Thriller
Two strangers. Almost no chance of survival. Even less hope. When a massive cyber breach hits every U.S. hydroelectric station just as the Gulf Coast refineries are decimated by a volatile storm, the attack knocks out the nation’s entire power supply, instantly throwing America into a deadly new dark age.
For Army veteran Cash Bishop, getting back to his family before it’s too late becomes a fight to survive in a race against time. His only ally? A brilliant energy scientist who may be the only person still alive with more things to be afraid of than the impending apocalypse.
Dr. Hannah Carter doesn’t know who’s after her or when she became a target. But getting captured is not an option. Seems the stranger she meets on her dangerous cross-country trek is the only person she can trust now to help get her home. And keep her alive.
With chaos escalating and the country on the brink of collapse, Cash and Hannah need to figure out who executed the attacks on the U.S. power grid, and why these people are so willing to kill him to get to her.
Chapter 7: Moonlight Massacre
Navigating a wide berth around the Effingham Memorial Airport without winding up in the crosshairs of a farmer or other local resident was tricky. The land around the airport was mostly open fields, which would leave Cash in plain view of anyone at the airport with a scope or set of binoculars.
Coming to the railroad tracks, he followed them south, hoping the trees that lined the east side and the tracks’ embankment would shield him from the view of any soldiers. At the same time, no one could get an itchy trigger finger because he was trespassing.
The rough gravel combined with the weight of his pack made the walk treacherous. Worry over being spotted by a soldier, cops or some FEMA lackey made it exhausting.
Damn! He couldn’t believe the government was already confiscating items—and in a little nothing place like Effingham.
The thought made his gut tight as he mulled over the proximity of Fort Campbell to the Dover homestead.
Best not go there, his mind cautioned.
His gut didn’t listen.
There were a lot of things about the Dover location that were great. Most importantly, the land had been in his price range with all the needed features. To live independently, they needed an existing structure to house them, a fresh water source, a means of heating their buildings, and enough land to grow food on. The old farmhouse on a little over fifty acres had its own well, a pond already stocked with bass and channel catfish, and a stream that cut the property neatly in half. Mostly covered in timber with only a few existing pastures, the trees he and Marie had cleared for planting had seen them through two winters with more than a lifetime of wood for their modest needs remaining to be harvested.
But there were flaws, too. No matter how much Cash might indulge in reading articles or novels about some kind of global, or at least American collapse, he hadn’t assigned the scenario an imminent probability. His primary concern had been getting Marie and the kids out of larger cities overrun with the kind of criminals that had killed her husband Greg. He would have preferred several hundred miles between the homestead and any large concentration of males, like the prisons in both Nashville and just over the border in Kentucky or the Army base that straddled the line of both states.
It is what it is. Stop thinking. Stay focused on the now.
Cash nodded at the self-imposed order. He’d seen too many guys catch a bullet on patrol because they were thinking about problems back home. Most of them had been lucky and survived. The insurgents who had shot at them had, to a man, looked like Swiss cheese at the end, if there was anything left of them to see.
Easing into a sitting position, Cash pulled out a protein bar and uncapped one of his waters. He was halfway through the bottles he had refilled at the truck stop in Effingham. When they were gone, he still had two water bladders, but each was only a day’s worth of hydration.
He would need to find more water before the end of the next day.
Finished eating, he stood and dusted off the small grains too little to capture and eat. With a cluster of three trees nearby, he walked over and urinated against one of them, the widest of the three sheltering his back while he had his hands full.
Canceling out the noise of his own stream, he listened for other sounds. He had heard gunfire twice in the four hours he’d been walking. Real gunfire, not the memory of such. No aircraft had passed overhead, which was both a relief and worrying. Something small and flying low could have been the government performing reconnaissance, not only on the people causing problems but those trying to stay on their own property and protect their family.
Or people like him, just trying to get home.
But the absence of jets in the sky criss-crossing the country was unnerving.
How the hell could everything just stop like that?
Shaking the thought away, he zipped up, climbed on all fours up the embankment that had shielded him from view on the east side of the tracks and pulled out his pair of field binoculars.
He wasn’t sure how far he had traveled already, but he kept a rough estimate running by counting the evenly spaced wooden rail ties jutting past the tracks. With the void between the ties and the front-to-back distance of each tie on its own, he figured about two feet traveled tie-to-tie. Every twenty-six hundred or so ties was another mile covered. He had counted over ten times a thousand, but he knew the tracks didn’t run parallel with U.S. 45.
Trying not to think about how much the two lines diverged, he slid down his side of the embankment and resumed walking.
He kept following the tracks as they angled west, even when he knew the road he wanted was shifting east at the same time. With the rifle and pistol, he needed to get at least a few miles south of the grade school in case the federal or local government had secured that area, too. Only then would he cut east and locate U.S. 45.
By dusk, he was comfortably past the school and the airport. Dog tired, he found another cluster of trees, one that formed a dense circle. Taking his pack off, he pushed it inside the circle then wiggled his way between two trunks.
There was just enough space inside the copse for him to stretch out to his full length and have some of the pack behind him.
Taking advantage of the last bit of remaining daylight that penetrated the trees, he opened the pack and worked at quickly re-arranging its contents. Removing the two Mylar blankets weighing less than four ounces combined, he spread them on the ground. He placed the radio next to the rifle and plugged in a set of earbuds, but kept one ear unblocked so he could hear if anyone or anything tried to sneak up on him.
It was all static up and down the AM and FM dials. A few minutes remained if Gallows was still broadcasting.
Fixing the dial to Gallows’ channel, Cash resumed shifting the contents of his pack. Certain things needed to stay at the bottom to keep the weight properly distributed and because they wouldn’t result in imminent death if he couldn’t retrieve them immediately. Those items included a spare set of boots, a small aluminum pan, food he wouldn’t need to consume for a few more days and a guide to North American edible plants that he hoped he wouldn’t have to consult. He also layered in a short pry bar and a flat head screw driver, fishing wire and lures, twenty feet of lightweight nylon rope and one of two rolls of duct tape.
Between the bottom layer and everything that needed to be at the top of the pack or distributed among its exterior pockets, he stuffed two pairs of pants, a half dozen pairs of socks and underwear, and three t-shirts, as well as a slightly heavier flannel jacket than the windbreaker he had on. Next came the first aid kit and the tincture of iodine, which he could use for both disinfecting wounds and decontaminating water. On the same layer, he added the Ziploc bag of Vaseline soaked cotton balls, a tin half full of strike-anywhere matches with a char-cloth filling the gap, and a one-liter tumbler with a built-in water filter. Stuffed inside the tumbler were his toothbrush and toothpaste.
At the very top, he put in his spare ammo, a night vision monocle and one of the two filled water bladders. The second bladder still hung down the center of his back. He placed that one next to the radio then clipped onto the outside of the pack his three knives—a folding multi-tool knife that included a small blade, a KA-BAR Skeleton knife for both combat and gutting and skinning game, and a Kukri blade in case he wanted to make a shelter or needed to get through dense vegetation.
Rolling the pack so that the knives and the entrenchment tool were pressed against the dirt and nothing hard remained between his head and the soft middle layer of clothing, Cash settled into place and pulled the top Mylar blanket over him as Bobby Joe Gallows came on air.
The news wasn’t good. It would be a long time before it was, Cash believed.
The attacks had moved beyond the large cities and turned far stealthier.
In this gripping sequel to the post-apocalypse action thriller HARD WAY HOME, the answers behind an onslaught of not-so-natural disasters only lead to more questions as a global depopulation conspiracy threatens Americans from right in their own back yard.
Retired Army Colonel Thomas Sand returns to the U.S. during its darkest days, only to find the leaders left in government—puppeted by the deep state elite—want him dead. Between the threat assessment algorithm he developed before the apocalypse, and the fact that his wife Becca and stepdaughter Hannah are both brilliant scientists critical to the new world order, his family isn’t short on enemies. And despite all his training to the contrary, his only duty now is to them and their safety. Unbeknownst to him, halfway down the coast, his wife is fighting to drag her fevered and battered body home with no means of communication, and only the help of a nameless stranger…
Meanwhile, Dr. Hannah Carter, still traveling with the Army veteran who saved her life, discovers she may be the linchpin to destroying the dangerous shadow government that now controls what remains of the fast-crumbling U.S. But to do so, she must leave behind everyone she cares about and face off against the hidden puppet master pulling the strings from his bunker. Unbeknownst to her, Cash Bishop, her fearless companion turned ruthless protector, has followed her into the lion’s den,no violence spared. His only light in their new broken world of never ending darkness, finding Hannah is a given. As is taking down the corrupt powers that destroyed his country once and for all…
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Christa Wick (writing as Dana Fraser) has been hybrid publishing since 2012 in various genres. Along with her post-apocalyptic action thrillers as Dana, she’s written over fifty romance and paranormal titles as Christa and C.M. Wick, and also writes high-octane suspense fiction and urban fantasy novels under other pen names.