New Cover Reveal and More

01/09/2019

Happy New Year! Living the furlough life sucks, thanks DC. But in other news I approved the print proof for the new Brother’s keeper and just approved the E-proof for the new Spoilers, to include an outstanding new cover. I still thank Solstice Publishing for all they’ve done for me but I must say, this creative control thing rocks! The idea of John Stamp, Indie Author is really starting to sound good to me. Check these out:

spoilers cover

perf6.000x9.000.indd

 

 

 

 

 

 

“It Wasn’t My Idea,”

https://www.nola.com/crime/2018/10/man-convicted-in-fatal-attempted-robbery-of-loomis-guard-said-crime-was-co-defendants-idea.html

loom

New Orleans, LA

If you do ever happen to find yourself charged with a crime there are a variety of ways to try and get out of it. A good lawyer is probably the best, maybe a close second to keeping your freaking mouth shut. Blaming somebody else is also a good choice depending on circumstance. I have even had a guy explain to me that the crack-cocaine in his pocket was not his because the pants he happened to be wearing were also not his. In that particular instance, however, when asked if the five hundred dollars, also found in said pants was also not his, the story about the mysterious missing pant owners  seemed to fall apart. He went to jail.

One excuse I have never heard work, and will never work when trying to get out of a charge is to play the, “It wasn’t my idea,” card.

On May 31, 2017 at around 4:30pm two ‘gentleman’ (not going to give their names because they should thrown in a hole and forgotten, not celebratized) drew down on a Loomis armored car after it pulled up to re-supply an ATM machine. During the robbery one of the guards, Jimmy McBride, was shot and killed. The subjects got away with about $5,000 dollars cash and did what most criminals do, they got caught. Turns out that not everybody in the U.S. has figured out that there are cameras everywhere. The robbery, or enough of it was caught on camera to identify the two subjects.

Like always happens one subject turned on the other to gain leniency. On October 24th in federal court got the opportunity to testify against his cohort. What was his guilt mitigating rationale for why an upstanding citizen is dead? It wasn’t my idea. He didn’t deny taking part (cameras make that difficult), didn’t plead that he was forced, under duress into committing the crime. Nope, it just wasn’t his idea.

Saying you were kidnapped and forced into the robbery by a group of armored truck marauding space aliens would get you better traction in court than saying, “It was his idea, but, uh, I was already there…so…”

The article says both men face life in prison, which is probably best for everybody.

Oh, and one other thing. The article says they pulled off the robbery at 4:30pm on a Wednesday in a major city. What kind of getaway do you plan to make in rush hour traffic in the middle of the week? My God, criminal masterminds all over the world are shaking their heads in disbelief. De Niro and Kilmer circa “Heat” they are not. I mean…Damn.

Don’t forget to check out my work on Amazon or any other bookstore. My newest novel Where Angels Sing is on sale now.

Texas man arrested for plan to murder, cannibalize girl

https://www.ktre.com/2018/10/22/affidavit-texas-man-arrested-plan-murder-cannibalize-girl/

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Since it’s Halloween I thought I do my best to make sure you can’t sleep tonight.

In Shelby County, Texas Alexander Barter sits in jail after being charged with Conspiracy to Sexually Assault and Murder a Minor.

If you haven’t heard of the dark web I would suggest not trying to find it. In simple terms it is a collection of networks that run on the internet but require specific software like the Tor browser to access. It’s the kind of place where you find people looking for someone willing to sell their daughter so that they can rape, murder, commit necrophilia, and eat her.

According to the affidavit Barter posted on the dark web that he was looking for anyone interested in allowing him to commit necrophilia and cannibalism. An agent with Texas DPS found the post and responded offering his ‘daughter’ for sale. Barter’s reply, “Nice, I’m in East Texas. How old is your daughter? Can we kill her?”

Over several days the DPS Agent established rapport with Barter and even received instructions from Barter that included the use of ‘burner’ phones, clothing changes after the murder, and an alibi when he returned home without the ‘daughter.’ The affidavit also includes the statement, “I’m not going to change my mind about this. I really want to do this,”

Texas DPS identified Barter through investigative channels I will not detail here and on the day Barter was supposed to meet the undercover ‘dad’ he instead stepped out of his house and found himself surrounded by cops. It should be noted that when he was taken down Barter had in his possession plastic trash bags and a knife, items specifically mention by Barter as tools of the crime in email communications. The official charges brought against Barter were:

Criminal solicitation, a first-degree felony

Criminal Attempt: Capital Murder, a second-degree felony.

Conspiracy to Commit Capital Murder, a first-degree felony

Criminal Attempt: Sexual Performance of a Child, a second-degree felony

That’s one guy that Texas DPS happened to find cruising the internet in the hopes of raping, murdering, and eating his victim. Granted that, judging by his photo, Hannibal Lecter he is not. But even a chuckle head like that could do real damage if given the opportunity. Now ask yourself, is he the only one? Is that jerk off unique? As someone who has conducted online investigations let me tell you with no degree of uncertainty: not even close. Barter is a drop in the bucket of sick and twisted that infests the very same cities and towns you and I live in. Try to sleep tonight with that thought rattling around in your head.

In law enforcement you always hope for those days you can say you truly took real evil off the street. Congratulations to that unnamed Texas DPS agent and his team. On October 19th 2018, they did just that.

Happy Halloween

Don’t forget to check out my work on Amazon or any other bookstore. My newest novel Where Angels Sing is on sale now.

 

Choice of Weapon: Lawn Mower

Father attacked his son with chainsaw before son ran him over with lawn mower, police say

https://amp.usatoday.com/amp/1647350002

RELAX IT’S A HALLOWEEN GAG PHOTO

Yup, that about says it all. In Bristol, TN a 76 year old man attacked his own son with a chain saw, and according to the article, his son (the victim) ran him over with a lawn mower. I know what your thinking: “A lawn mower? Even a seventy-six year old man can out run a lawn mower,”

Not if it’s a zero turn, and it was. Think of the agility needed by the old man to get away from that thing. The funniest part is that even though the old man lost his leg, he still got charged. According to the article the authorities had to wait several weeks until the subject (the guy who got run over with a lawn mower) could be arrested for Attempted Murder.

I know this is just the cop in me coming out but imagine what the responding officers thought when they got there. First off, how did the call go out?

Dispatch: Contol-313 (that’s my old call sign)

313: Go ahead Control.

Dispatch: Respond to 123 What the Crap Lane. Reported disturbance, possible assault.

A blanket disturbance call is always one that will make your hair stand up. You don’t know what your heading into. You wading into a riot or will you show up to find a couple dude in wheelchairs throwing dentures at each other.

313: Any further details Control

Dispatch: pause, pause, muffled giggle, 313 be advised it appears one party was armed with a chain saw, one other party was armed with a lawn mower. Injuries reported, EMS is enroute.

313: Control did you say a chain saw and a lawn mower?

Dispatch: Affirmative 313, it was a zero turn

The quotes from the article are the best part:

“He was mowing around some bushes or trees and the father comes out with this chainsaw running at him,” said Lt. Andy Seabolt of the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office.

First thought: Was he wearing a Leatherface mask? It’s almost Halloween and wouldn’t that suck if the whole thing was a giant misunderstanding.

“So he turns to actually try to get away from him, turns around and the father is still coming at him with the chainsaw. So he hits him with the mower. And that’s when everything stopped.”

It wasn’t a misunderstanding.

When they say everything stopped did they mean the engine? Like did the blades get tangled up in a pant leg or something?

This incident left me with so many questions.

Don’t forget to check out my work on Amazon or any other bookstore. My newest novel Where Angels Sing is on sale now.

Savannah’s Pissed

Savannah unamused by googly eyes placed on historic statue: ‘It’s a crime’

http://amp.thestate.com/news/local/crime/article219716780.html

Guess who gets this case? The new guy in the Detective Bureau, that’s right.

In Savannah, GA someone (read drunken SCAD nerds) put googly eye stickers on a monument to Nathaniel Greene. I had a civil war joke to make about this article but then I realized Nathaniel Greene was a hero of the Revolutionary war and it ruined everything.

They have a real whodunit in Savannah. I’m going to call my shot here and guess how this one is going to play out.

In reality I’m betting the two googly eyes were stripped off by a city maintenance worker and tossed in the trash when the incident was first discovered.

But just for a moment lets imagine he left them there. It is pretty funny, the maintenance guy can not help but snap a picture and immediately post to twitter, Instagram, facebook (I guess), and maybe Snap, if they haven’t declared bankruptcy yet. He hash-tagged it #Savannah #crazyeyes or something equally un-inventive and forgot about the whole thing. Seven minutes and forty-nine seconds later a Daughter of the American Revolution (that’s a real thing, look it up) hopped on her phone, set up for her by her granddaughter, and automatically following #savannah, saw the disgrace of this national monument and went apoplectic. She called the mayor, she called the chief, she called the rest of the DAR…Sacrilege!

The intern at the Mayors office found the post and showed it to the Deputy Assistant Executive Assistant to the Associate Mayor who seeing an opportunity to be an actual Associate Mayor some day took swift action for the public good. They re-posted the googly eyes with a demand that something be done!

Ten minutes later the Chief of the Savannah PD puts the phone back in the cradle with a sigh, rubs his eyes and calls for his secretary to call the Commander of the Detective Bureau.

Six minutes after that the Commander storms out of his office and finds the Lieutenant, the Lieutenant finds the Sergeant, the Sergeant looks around the bull pen. He studies all the gruff and time worn faces and finds the one in the bunch who won’t give him shit. He strides to the desk of the newest detective in Savannah and drops a note on his desk. He says, “A lot of eyes on this one kid, don’t fuck this up,” he bites his tongue and retreats to his office.

“Shiiiiit,” New guys says once the Sarge is out of ear shot.

From the next desk over an overweight fifty-something detective playing solitaire grins, “Better move on this one F-N-G, those stickers won’t stick for ever, it’s hot outside.”

New guy doesn’t have a take home car so he has to sign a beater that smells like old feet out of the fleet. He rolls to the Nathaniel Greene statue to see a crowd of old women in period dress barking at a swarm of teenagers who have climbed up on the statue to take selfies with the googly eyes. New Guy realizes right there that he made a mistake giving up patrol for this but he has a job to do. He puts on his cop voice,

“Police! Get off the statue!” When you do cop voice right everyone freezes. I still use it on my kids. If you’ve never done it, I can’t explain it to you.

The crowd freezes, and the last teen drops to the ground once his phone goes, Click. They all look at him expectantly.

New Guy has an epiphany. He charges into the crowd, “This is a crime scene, I’m going to have to ask everyone to back up,” for effect he is slipping a pair of latex gloves on as he passes.

One of the teens starts to mouth off and New Guy turns on a dime to stop only an inch from the boys nose, “Do you want to go to jail for obstruction?”

“Ob-wha?”

“Xactly, move,” the kid and his friends make a run for it.

New Guy stops to study the crime scene. He peels off his sunglasses slowly, and steps up on the platform to get a closer look. He lingers for a while, just for effect before leaping down from the statue and returning to his car. In a moment he returns carrying what looks like a tool box. When he opens it everyone leans in to get a look. With a beat up old fiberglass brush in one hand and a jar of black powder in the other he climbs back up the statue and paints Nathaniel Greene’s brass mug in black fingerprint powder. He can see friction ridges on the surface of the googly eyes. He spreads transparent lift tape over each of the eyes and peels the tape back revealing fingerprints. He affixes his lifts to two fingerprint cards. He peels the stickers off the statue with the care that a Revolutionary War hero deserves and packages each one in a paper bag complete with bright red evidence tape. When he looks up all eyes are on him, watching every move. He puts his sunglasses back on,

“I’m going to need every one of you to form a line here to my left. I’m going to take  fingerprints and a statement from each of you,”

Some of the onlooker’s go blank, a couple of the teenagers straight up bail, and the rest form a line to the right not the left. But instead of offering their biometric data they promise they had nothing to do with it.

New guy smiles at them, nods, and leaves them standing there without another word.

Just because the Sergeant decided to screw him over with the bullshit case he takes his lifts to the crime scene unit and has the tech run the prints through the national database. There’s a hit, two of them. Sure enough, SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) nerds.

New Guy leaves the crime scene office, and heads straight for the judge he knows is a re-enactor. The judge doesn’t even ask a question, just signs the pair of arrest warrants.

The nerds aren’t hard to find. New Guy beats on the door of their dingy apartment until one of the half baked fools, he has a man-bun, opens the door. Three minutes later, one is still wearing his vintage Star Wars pajama pants as he perp-walks them both to his car.

A well placed text to a friend of his ensures there is a reporter from the Savannah Morning News waiting at the county jail intake when he arrives.

“I can’t comment on anything ma’am,” he tells the reporter, “this is still an evolving situation,”

When New Guy walks back into the office two hours later there is silence. He walks to his desk casually, bracing himself to return to the backlog of real cases that have been waiting for him all morning. Two minutes later the Lieutenant is standing at his desk,

“You’re shitting me right?”

“No Sir, case closed, got any more?”

That’s all bullshit but I found it entertaining. I mean…really…googly eyes?

Don’t forget to check out my work on Amazon or any other bookstore. My newest novel Where Angels Sing is on sale now.

Review: The Cobra Event by Richard Preston


Richard Preston’s The Cobra Event was one of those books I had my eye on for a long time but never pulled the trigger on. I would look at it lingering on my book list and wonder if a medical thriller could catch my attention and keep it. From the outside looking in I equated it with like an Outbreak or ER type of story, I thought all the medical stuff would bore me. Man was I wrong.

I didn’t know what was missing from my literary life until I finally dove into The Cobra Event. Richard Preston created a masterpiece with this book. From the opening pages I had one of those books in my hand that make you want to go to bed early so that you had more time to read. It’s been a long time since I read a book like that.

Though it’s a novel the story reads like it could be a case file. The characters depth and scientific backgrounds are believable which shows Preston did his fair share of research in creating them. The details of the labs and equipment needed to effect a bio-terrorism event were expertly explained while not sounding like a technical manual. He even made decontamination process, and small mistakes in the decontamination process sound interesting. And when the intensity ramped up and we drew in on the bad guy the tactics, and tactical mistakes that kept the chase alive were written so real you could feel the danger.

I know the book is a little dated, The Cobra Event was released in 1998 but the old reads are still some of the best. I’m glad I finally took the leap and gave The Cobra Event another chance. It was awesome.

I attached the synopsis below. It’s worth a look.

“The Cobra Event is a petrifying, fictional account of a very real threat: biological terrorism.

Seventeen-year-old Kate Moran wakes one morning to the beginnings of a head cold but shrugs it off and goes to school anyway. By her midmorning art class, Kate’s runny nose gives way to violent seizures and a hideous scene of self-cannibalization. She dies soon after. When a homeless man meets a similarly gruesome — and mystifying — fate, the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta sends pathologist Alice Austen to investigate. What she uncovers is the work of a killer, a man who calls himself Archimedes and is intent on spreading his deadly Cobra virus throughout New York City. A silent crisis erupts, with Austen and a secret FBI forensic team rushing to expose the terrorist.

Even more frightening than Preston’s story about the fictitious Cobra virus, however, is the truth that lies beneath it. As the author writes in his introduction, “The nonfiction roots of this book run deep…. My sources include eyewitnesses who have seen a variety of biological-weapons installations in different countries, and people who have developed and tested strategic bioweapons.” In fact, the only reason The Cobra Event was not written as nonfiction is that none of Preston’s sources would go on record.

Woven throughout the novel are sections of straight nonfiction reporting that reveal the terrifying truth about the development of biological weapons and the clandestine operations of Russia and Iraq. Three years of research and more than 100 interviews with high-level sources in the FBI, the U.S. military, and the scientific community went into The Cobra Event. The result is sure to shock you.”

Hope you like it and don’t forget to check out my novels available here and wherever books are sold. Also I will be at Literary Love Savannah, GA the 26-28th signing and sitting on a couple of panels. I look forward to seeing you there.

Out.

Author Spotlight: Ellison Cooper

cgHey everybody I have been out of pocket for a minute but I do have an excuse. I have been editing the monster that is my new fantasy novel (Title Pending). Had no idea what I was getting into. The cultural research alone could have earned me a second master’s degree. BTW, now I know what to call medieval stuff…extremely useful knowledge in 2018.

Anyway, I have a book recommendation for you. “Caged” is Ellison Cooper’s debut thriller.

Here is some info about the book:

“FBI neuroscientist Sayer Altair hunts for evil in the deepest recesses of the human mind. Still reeling from the death of her fiance, she wants nothing more than to focus on her research into the brains of serial killers. But when the Washington D.C. police stumble upon a gruesome murder scene involving a girl who’d been slowly starved to death while held captive in a cage, Sayer is called in to lead the investigation. When the victim is identified as the daughter of a high profile senator, Sayer is thrust into the spotlight.

As public pressure mounts, she discovers that another girl has been taken and is teetering on the brink of death. With evidence unraveling around her, Sayer races to save the second victim but soon realizes that they are hunting a killer with a dangerous obsession…a killer who is closer than she thought.”

Praise for Caged:

“Dark and mesmerizing…channels equal parts KATHY REICHS and THOMAS HARRIS…You will read till the bitter end…then sleep with the lights on!”
Lisa Gardner, New York Times bestselling author

“I started and couldn’t stop.”
—F. Paul Wilson, New York Times bestselling author

CAGED is a gripping thriller debut for fans of Kathy Reichs, Thomas Harris, and Patricia Cornwell.

Ellison’s Bio:

Ellison Cooper has a Ph.D. in anthropology from UCLA, with a background in archaeology, cultural neuroscience, ancient religion, colonialism, and human rights. She has conducted fieldwork in Central , West Africa, Micronesia, and Western Europe. She has worked as a murder investigator in Washington DC, and is a certified K9 Search and Rescue Federal Disaster Worker. She now lives in the Bay Area with her husband and son.

Social Media

web: http://ellisoncooper.com/

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EllisonCooperAuthor 

twitter: https://twitter.com/ECooperAuthor

instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ecooperauthor/

goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17392133.Ellison_Cooper

It’s always important to support new authors. Wishing the best of luck to Ellison Cooper! Here’s where to find Caged:

Amazon: http://hyperurl.co/CagedAmazon

IndieBound: http://hyperurl.co/CagedIndieBound

Book-A-Million: http://hyperurl.co/CagedBAM

iBooks: http://hyperurl.co/CagedApple

Don’t forget to check out my work on Amazon or any other bookstore. My newest novel Where Angels Sing is on sale now.

Author Spotlight: Michael Niemann

Nieman.jpgMichael Niemann is an author I like to follow. His popular Valentin Vermeulen series follows a UN investigator to exotic places around the world. His thrillers are well-plotted and crisp stories. His new book Illegal Holdings is the third in his Vermeulen series. Here is a synopsis of Illegal Holdings:

UN fraud investigator Valentin Vermeulen is on assignment in Maputo, Mozambique. His ho-hum task is to see if Global Alternatives is spending UN money the way they promised. The nonprofit was set up by hedge fund mogul Vincent Portallis to revolutionize development aid. The only upside for Vermeulen is the prospect of seeing his lover Tessa Bishonga, who is reporting on foreign land acquisitions in Africa.

When Vermeulen notices that a five-million-dollar transfer has gone missing, he is given the run-around. First he is told the files have been mislaid, then stolen, then he is assured that the money was never transferred to begin with. But the money was transferred, so where is it now? Vermeulen’s dogged pursuit of the missing transfer makes him the target of some ruthless operators. And once he meets up with Tessa, she is inevitably sucked in to the story as well, which turns out to be far more nefarious than either of them imagined.

Illegal Holdings is available in all formats. Here is an excerpt:

“An Uncanny Sense

It was just another Tuesday morning in late January, the warmest and rainiest month in Maputo. Acacia pods littered the streets of Mozambique’s capital, and its million-and-a-half residents were looking forward to winter.
The email, which arrived at the Nossa Terra office at eight thirty, hit Aisa Simango like a fist in the stomach.
She was looking out the window. That much she remembered afterwards. Looking at the Avenida Vladimir Lenine, thinking that the street seemed forlorn in the watery morning light. Why she was looking out of the window, she didn’t remember. She should have been printing the agenda for the nine o’clock staff meeting, steeling herself for the chaos that erupted when her staff barged into the office.
Instead, she was standing by the window, pensive. Maybe she’d stopped to straighten the picture of her children, Alima and João, on the windowsill. Sometimes the vibrations of a heavy truck driving by nudged it closer to the edge. Or perhaps she was thinking about the Sofala Project, wondering if it stood any chance of being completed on time.
In any case, her computer dinged, she sat down and opened the message.
It came from the Maputo office of Global Alternatives, the Swiss foundation set up by hedge-fund billionaire Vincent Portallis. The foundation was a newcomer to the development-aid field. It undertook big, flashy projects, lured famous actors to its causes, and dispensed a trickle of the millions of dollars it leveraged to local subcontractors like Nossa Terra.
The message itself started with the usual noncommittal niceties—Greetings, Aisa. How are things? It’s been a while—but got to the point quickly. We’ve emailed Helton  Paito repeatedly regarding a discrepancy in the disbursements. We’ve received no reply. Would you kindly review the numbers in the attached spreadsheet and supply the proper documentation, or alternatively, remit the specified amount to Global Alternatives?
She wasn’t worried yet. Not then. The message sounded more pro forma than anything. Just dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s. Making sure all the numbers added up, accountability and efficacy being big buzzwords in the donor community. Most likely, Helton was already dealing with it. Her first glance at the spreadsheet also didn’t raise any suspicions. Yes, they had proposed to spend those sums for those purposes. She knew, because she had personally reviewed the project proposal before submitting it five months ago.
It was the last column that sent her reeling. She rubbed her eyes, focused on the street outside, then back on the screen. The numbers were still there, including the last one, bold and in bright red. Like dabs of blood left on the screen. The number was too large, too ghastly to imagine. Five million dollars. Unaccounted for, missing, not properly documented. No matter what phrase she came up with, it still meant trouble, serious trouble.
Of course, it was all wrong. Five months ago, when they’d been notified that the project in Sofala had been accepted, everybody had clapped. But so far, they’d only received a small disbursement. Enough to set up the infrastructure and hire personnel. Certainly not five million dollars.
She got up. Went to the window. And back to her desk. She grabbed her mobile. Call Global Alternatives, ask if there has been a mistake, if this is someone’s idea of a joke. She didn’t. Obviously, Global Alternatives wouldn’t make a mistake or a joke.
There were documents, receipts, invoices for the hundred thousand they’d received. They could account for all expenditures. She dialed Helton’s number. He would know where the mistake lay, which numbers had ended up in the wrong column, projected expenses instead of disbursements, or vice versa. He was her second in command and usually the second one through the door in the morning. He answered after four rings.
Bom dia, Helton,” she said. “Where are you?”
“Just got off the chapa at Julius Nyerere. Be there in fifteen.”
“I need you here now.”
The chapa stop, where the minibus taxis dropped and picked up passengers, was close enough, one of the reasons they had chosen an office so far from central Maputo. But Helton liked to check out the wares of the hawkers along the roundabout connecting Avenida Vladimir Lenine and Avenida Julius Nyerere.
“I still need breakfast. Why the hurry? Tudo bem?”
“No, everything isn’t okay. Where are we with the Sofala Project.”
“We completed the first phase. We rented a space, hired a local manager, did the registration and all that. Next phase is community meetings. Then comes the big stuff—land acquisition.”
“And we’ve spent what, a hundred thousand?” She hated the guessing game. A sheet of paper, better yet, an old-fashioned ledger with dated entries for every last centavo would have calmed her.
“Yes, about that much.”
“And you have documentation for every expenditure?” She held her breath without meaning to. Helton had been good for Nossa Terra, even if she didn’t always get along with him. He was the accountant who’d made it possible to land projects like the one with Global Alternatives.
“Of course. I’ll be there soon. Até já.”
He sounded both upset and defensive when he ended the call.
She went back to the window. The melancholy she felt when looking at the Avenida Vladimir Lenine in the rain was more bearable than the dejection evoked by the stark office. When Nossa Terra first moved here after their big expansion four years earlier, the soulless space had weighed on her. But the rent was cheap and Nossa Terra had no money. Since then, new employees had tried to spruce it up. They affixed posters to the walls and brought in all sorts of plants. In the end, they all surrendered to the futility of the makeover, giving in to the cement walls, impervious to any improvement.
Before the move, Nossa Terra had been a scrappy community organization fighting for land so its members could farm. It had taken Aisa in thirteen years earlier. She had just given birth to João sixteen months after having Alima. Their father up and left, unwilling to face raising children. She was desperate for food, shelter, companions. She wasn’t much of a farmer, but she had an uncanny sense of the limit beyond which the authorities would abandon any pretense of accommodation and just call the police. That skill helped her get concessions, then leases, and eventually, land titles.
By that time, the global aid complex had fully embraced Mozambique. Nossa Terra was noticed. Graduate students from Scandinavian universities came to study it. A documentary filmmaker from Brazil shot enough footage to put together an hour-long feature.
When the foundations came knocking, Aisa, the single mom, was ready. She hired three staff not knowing how she’d pay them at the end of the month and drew up a proposal to expand the work Nossa Terra had done near Maputo to the next province. After submitting the proposal, she landed her first project, worth a hundred thousand dollars, three days before payroll came due.
Helton barged into the office. He seemed to compress the air in any room he entered. The others called him “Hilton,” not because he was as refined as a luxury hotel, but as big as they imagined a Hilton to be. It wasn’t just his size. With his shiny face, wooly hair, spotty beard, and big smile, he exuded maleness, not in a primordial sense, more in a here’s-a-guy’s-guy sense. Men liked him automatically. Many women did, too. Even some who worked at Nossa Terra. Aisa wasn’t one of them.
“What’s the matter with the Sofala Project?” he said, stopping in the open door.
“Have they contacted you?”
“Yes. Routine stuff. Why?”
Closing the door, he walked to his desk, took off the blue suit coat, and hung it over the back of the chair. Helton always wore a suit, shirt, and tie. Since he only had the one suit, time had taken its toll on the garment. Aisa thought a simple shirt with tie would look far better, but the suit was part of Helton’s guyness.
“So far they’ve disbursed a hundred thousand?” she said.
“Yes, yes. I told you.”
“I received an email from Global Alternatives. They mentioned discrepancies. They say they have repeatedly sent you messages.”
“Oh, yes. I’ve gotten requests for documentation,” he said. “I sent them.”
“Well, the discrepancies are still there.”
“What discrepancies?”
“Five million dollars worth of discrepancies,” she said.
“Impossible.”
She turned to the computer, thinking that Helton’s protestation made him look like he knew more.
“Look at the spreadsheet.”
He plopped into Aisa’s chair, which squeaked under his weight. He jiggled the mouse. The picture of Maputo’s beachfront disappeared and the columns and numbers reappeared, the last one still a blood-red punctuation mark. Helton followed the numbers, his right index finger moving down the screen. He mouthed each number silently. As the finger approached the red number, he started shaking his head.
“No,” he said so quietly she barely heard it. “No, no, no.” His voice became louder with each “No.” Whatever defensiveness Aisa thought she’d noticed was gone. The Helton before her was a man utterly shocked.
“This can’t be,” he said. “They’re basically saying we’ve accepted five million and submitted no expenditure reports, no receipts, nothing. As if we took the money and socked it away in a secret account in Jo’burg.”
“But we didn’t, right?”
He gave her a withering look. “Do you have to ask?”
“I’m sorry, but I do. For the record.”

END.

Here is Niemann’s bio:

Nieman Author pic.jpg

Michael Niemann grew up in a small town in Germany, ten kilometers from the Dutch border. Crossing that border often at a young age sparked in him a curiosity about the larger world. He studied political science at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms Universität in Bonn and international studies at the University of Denver. During his academic career he focused his work on southern Africa and frequently spent time in the region. After taking a fiction writing course from his friend, the late Fred Pfeil, he switched to mysteries as a different way to write about the world.”

Find Michael online here:

http://michael-niemann.com

Twitter: @m_e_niemann

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MichaelNiemannAuthor/

Amazon: (https://www.amazon.com/Illegal-Holdings-Valentin-Vemeulen-Thriller/dp/1603815910/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8)

Barnes and Noble: (https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/illegal-holdings-michael-niemann/1127477738?ean=9781603815918)

Kobo: (https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/illegal-holdings-1)

 

Cynthia Kuhn -The Art of Vanishing

I wanted to take a minute to post about the newest release from one of the authors I follow. Cynthia Kuhn’s “The Art of Vanishing,” came out in February 2017, if you are building your summer reading list this might not be a bad place to start. See below.

Cynthia Kuhn writes the Lila Maclean Academic Mystery Series, which includes The Semester of Our Discontent, an Agatha Award recipient (Best First Novel), and The Art of Vanishing, a Lefty Award nominee (Best Humorous Mystery). The third in the series, The Spirit in Question, will be out in fall 2018. She is professor of English at Metropolitan State University of Denver and current president of Sisters in Crime-Colorado. For more information, please visit cynthiakuhn.net.

Synopsis:

When Professor Lila Maclean is sent to interview celebrated author and notorious cad Damon Von Tussel, he disappears before her very eyes. The English department is thrown into chaos by the news, as Damon is supposed to headline Stonedale University’s upcoming Arts Week.

The chancellor makes it clear that he expects Lila to locate the writer and set events back on track immediately. But someone appears to have a different plan: strange warnings are received, valuable items go missing, and a series of dangerous incidents threaten the lives of Stonedale’s guests. After her beloved mother, who happens to be Damon’s ex, rushes onto campus and into harm’s way, Lila has even more reason to bring the culprit to light before anything—or anyone—else vanishes.

Excerpt from The Art of Vanishing (Henery Press, 2017):

“Damon strode through the crowd, cutting a clean swath right down the middle as people moved out of his way, and entered a room at the end of the corridor. He slammed the door. A handful of people followed, as if pulled along in his wake, and someone banged on the door until a roar emerged, telling them to leave him alone. Tally Bendel squeezed her way to the front and turned around to face the people standing there.

“Let’s give Mr. Von Tussel a break, shall we? I’ll see if he can talk to you later, but for now, please give him some space. Help yourself to a coffee on your way out.” She gestured toward the area on the right.  “It’s by the far wall.”

Slowly, the others did as she asked. She knocked on the door again, identifying herself. The door cracked open slightly. She spoke through the opening in a low voice. I couldn’t hear what she was saying, but after a minute, the door slammed again, and Tally left.

This was my chance. I moved quickly down the corridor until I was in front of the door. I cupped my hand and listened for a second, but I couldn’t hear anything. I knocked gently. There was no answer. I twisted the door handle, but it was locked. There was nothing else to do but return to the niche and try again later.

One by one, Damon’s agent spoke to some lingerers in the main area, and they left. When it was down to Tally and Mr. Bow Tie, they returned to the room where the author had sequestered himself. She called out to him. There was no answer.

The man called out as well, with the same result.

“Can’t you just unlock it?” Tally asked him, placing her hand on his forearm.

He removed a large set of keys from his pocket and sorted through them. “Are you sure?” he asked, looking nervous. Maybe his jitteriness wasn’t natural but had been born from earlier encounters with Damon.

She nodded firmly. “He needs me.”

He slid a key into the lock and turned the handle. Tally flew into the room, emerging a moment later with a confused expression. She said something I couldn’t hear, then they both hurried inside.

I moved to the doorway and peered around the two of them. The room was empty.

Damon Von Tussel had vanished.”

SOCIAL MEDIA Links: 

Website: cynthiakuhn.net 
Twitter: @cynthiakuhn
Facebook: www.facebook.com/cynthiakuhnwriter

 

 

BUY LINKS

Amazon: amzn.to/2gsGddK
Barnes: bit.ly/2hs80ez
iTunes: apple.co/2hgfe4j
Kobo: bit.ly/2hqToJy
Intl: http://authl.it/B01NBHR7Y6

It’s the Little Things

 

Has anyone ever told you that it’s the little things that get you? Maybe you didn’t get in as much trouble as I did growing up but I have been told (usually by Mom) and have told (bad guys during my Cop life) that it is the little details, those fine points that even the most careful of us overlook that end up bringing all our nefarious plans crashing down on our heads. When I think of this I think of wearing gloves to hide your fingerprints. Or if you are a teenager in upstate New York in January, maybe watching out where you leave footprints in the snow when sneaking out at night. Oh I also got caught once when my folks asked me if I was power sliding my little VW down the street during an ice storm. When I denied that I would ever do something like that they gently showed me to the tire tracks that lead directly from the sideways prints on the street to my rear tires parked in the driveway: the little things.

I saw this little gem of an article and had to share. The next time you step onto a subway train, board an airplane, or take someone else’s phone to watch the newest annoyingly cute animal video think about this. “How your micro-biome can put you at the scene of the crime,” by Kai Kupferschmidt from Science Magazine.

Turns out that by the time we are 3 or 4 years we have gathered a unique set of bacteria from the environment we grow up in, and that mix remains fairly stable throughout our lives.

In 2010 a paper from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers showed that bacterial DNA recovered from computer keyboards matched the micro-biomes found on their owners’ fingertips. The authors also sampled bacteria from nine computer mice and used the results to pick the owners out of a database of 270 micro-biomes.

Did anyone else just squirm a little when they read that?

A paper from 2015 identified that individuals have a theoretically unique microbial cloud that we carry with us, and deposit wherever we happen to go. We shed bacteria constantly spitting it from our mouths, breathing them out. Bacteria are so small that our clothes have no effect at containing them. Whenever we sit down or pick something up bacteria is deposited on that surface and it persists until the next person comes along. In the paper, researchers measured the bacterial cloud surrounding volunteers by placing them in a sanitized chamber and sampling the area around them. What they found was that they were able to identify individuals by this micro-biome we carry with us.

To apply this to the criminal world researchers swabbed places suspects are believed to have touched at crime scenes then sequence captured DNA in the laboratory. Once sequenced the profiles can be compared to a database and individual strains of bacteria can be identified. The mix, or unique ecosystem of different species of bacteria that are identified in the sample from the crime scene can then be compared to a known suspect sample to see if the two micro-biomes match.

In a practical evaluation, researchers in Illinois staged a fake break in then took samples from where the “burglars” handled things in the house. When the signatures from the suspects were reviewed the scientists not only could identify individual micro-biomes, but from residues in the samples determine the amount of alcohol one of the ‘suspects’ consumed each week and that one of them was on migraine medication. Even if the bacterial cloud could not be determined to be individual enough to identify a suspect to the exclusion of all others, (to date a sample size and technique has not been complete enough to try and take an identification based on bacteria to court), how great would it be if traits such as drug use, medication, or drinking habits could be used as leads in narrowing down the suspect pool?

Recently the J. Craig Venter Institute received a $900,000 grand from the National Institute of Justice to build a micro-biome database. That is a first step in evaluating whether or not bacteria can be used to identify someone. Practical application is a long way off.

Regardless I thought it interesting that when we now warn someone that it’s the little things that get you. We really mean it is the little things that get you, like your own bacteria, little.

Reference:

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/03/how-your-microbiome-can-put-you-scene-crime

Don’t forget to check out my work on Amazon or any other bookstore. My newest novel Where Angels Sing is on sale now.

Where Angels Sing Cover