Category Archives: crime fiction

Is Vengeance ever right? An Interview with Anthony D’Augustine

Interview with Anthony D’Augustine author of Just Vengeance

  • Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about? What appealed to you about it? Why do you think it is different and your approach is unique?

One of the tenets of good writing is to write about what you know. After 37 years of investigative work, I felt my strong suit was the detective mystery genre.  I didn’t want to write a book, though, on police procedurals or true crime. I wanted to create fictional characters and challenge them on ethical and moral grounds. Molding the attitudes and actions of these characters held a great deal of appeal for me. I believe my approach is different from other detective mysteries in that my stories go beyond the plot driven variety. My characters are described not only by their actions, but by their inherent nature (Best Enemies) and their metaphysical viewpoints (Just Vengeance).

  • How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it? Do you have a set of notes or a notebook where you write down topics that appeal before making a decision as to which topic this time?

I spend a great deal of time formulating a sub-text for my books. I don’t take notes during this period of time. In Best Enemies, for example, the underlying theme is “Man in Nature”; in Just Vengeance it is “Man’s view of God”.   After I decide on a sub-text, I begin to work on the plot. I spend a lot of time thinking about the opening chapters, about how to grab attention and set a base line for my plot. I do make notes at this time; however, I never make outlines. Why? Because I never know in which direction my stories and characters will go.  My characters always seem to create the story.

  • How long does it take to research a topic before you write? And for this book?

 I like to work backwards when it come to researching a section of my story. Instead of researching then writing, I write, then research. I do this because as the story develops on its own, I let it take me where it wants to go. After I see what I have written, I go through it section by section. That’s where the research comes in as to accuracy/preciseness, and corroboration/conformation with other sections within the story.

  • What resources do you use? In general and for the last book that you wrote?

My areas of research generally consist of conversations with law enforcement personnel, the use of Internet search engines, news feeds, and maps.

  • How helpful do you find authority figures such as the police when you say you want to write about them? Is there a good way to approach them in your experience?

Being a retired police officer, I have no problem discussing police matters with other officers, active or retired. Were I not associated with police work, I would approach a police officer for information or advice by being straight forward. I would tell the officer I have a high regard for his/her profession and that I would like to learn about their successes as well as the difficulties they face. Then, I would be honest about the reason I would like that information: I’m writing an article, a book, doing a video, establishing an organization, etc.

  • How many times have you been rejected before your first novel was accepted or before this book was accepted?

I believe my first book was rejected five or six times by agents. I try not to remember the negative aspects of the book marketing business. I don’t recall my first book, Best Enemies, being rejected for any specific reason. I can understand not being accepted at the start. I was a first time author with no published track record; I had no history of articles or books; no literary degrees or awards; I didn’t have celebrity status or any other form of name recognition; nor did I have a large following. Agents and traditional publishing companies like a sure thing. I was not that. It was then I looked into self publishing.

  • Did you need to self-publish on e-books before a publisher took you up?

No, I didn’t need to self-publish on e-book before going to a publisher.

  • Would you recommend self-publishing and building an audience before approaching a publisher? If so, what benefits do you see that it might have for the aspiring novelist?

 I would recommend self-publishing for first-time, non-celebrity authors in the fiction genre for the following reasons: -1- total control over you work product, -2- total control over the marketing and distribution of your book, and -3- you have an opportunity to establish an audience from the bottom up. Self-publishing allows the author to set his or her own parameters. The self-published author controls all aspects of the publishing process.

  • Does writing provide sufficient income to live on? And how long did it take before this happened?

 In my opinion, the vast majority of authors do not make a sufficient income—by writing alone— to live on. They generally supplement their love for writing by working a separate part time or full time job, or, as in my case, living on a retirement income. There are exceptions, though. Like the multi-millionaire actors in Hollywood, there are those in the literary world who have achieved great fortunes. Others have made a comfortable living writing for newspapers, magazines, blogs, television, radio, advertisers, or as speech writers.

  • What is the funniest thing that happened to you on a book tour?

I don’t have any funny stories to tell about book tours I’ve been on, because I haven’t been on any. I’ve chosen to promote both my books through other venues, most notably through the use of the Internet and its worldwide marketplace.

Outskirts Press Announces the Highly Anticipated Sequel to Best Enemies:

Just Vengeance: A Detective Novel by Anthony D’Augustineperf6.000x9.000.indd

“The only justice I’ve ever seen in my life came at the muzzle of my gun.”

December 1, 2015 – Denver, CO and New York, NY – Retired detective lieutenant Anthony D’Augustine has released Just Vengeance: A Detective Novel, published by Outskirts Press. The new book is the sequel to his well-received debut novel, Best Enemies, in which readers first meet Mac Taylor, a rough-and-tumble ex-Newark cop.

Now married and recently granted a PI license, Mac’s very first case finds him embroiled in a global terrorism investigation. Originally hired to investigate a reported suicide, he soon uncovers a sinister plot that involves murders in Scotland and Italy, and plans to destroy several U.S. landmarks. Shortly after his discovery, Mac and his pregnant wife, Cheryl, become targets of international terrorists; specifically, a psychopathic killer named Dirk Conroy, aka Ahmed Sal Mohammed.

In the world of espionage, where it can be hard to tell the good guys from the bad, Mac deftly maneuvers among agents, operatives, and confidential informants as he sets out to find Conroy. His partner, FBI Agent Sara Dillon, wants Conroy captured alive, but Mac wants him dead at all costs.

His old friend from Vietnam days, Nick Polsani, tries to convince him that seeking justice is the only course of action to be taken, but Mac disagrees. He’s going to settle a score, regardless of the consequences, and in the process he hopes to save thousands of innocent lives and the financial future of America. It’s not justice he’s looking for. It’s Just Vengeance.

Just Vengeance is fast-paced, exciting, and insightful, offering the reader a realistic view of detective work and an understanding of its psychological impact. The book is dedicated to the author’s son, Staff Sergeant Joseph D’Augustine, who was killed in Afghanistan on March 27, 2012.

At 312 pages, Just Vengeance is available online through Outskirts Press at www.outskirtspress.com/bookstore. The book is sold through Amazon and Barnes and Noble for a maximum trade discount in quantities of 10 or more, and is being aggressively promoted to appropriate markets with a focus on the mystery & detective category.

ISBN: 978-1-4787-6307-9

ISBN: 978-1-4787-6361-1

Genre: FICTION / Mystery & Detective / Hardboiled

For more information, visit the author’s website at http://outskirtspress.com/bookstore/justvengeance.

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About the Author: Anthony D’Augustine is a former detective lieutenant and firearms training supervisor with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office in New Jersey. In addition to working with the county, Anthony served ten years as a Dumont, New Jersey, police officer. He and his wife, Patricia, have three daughters and five grandchildren. Retired from law enforcement, he now donates much of his time running a charitable memorial fund in his son’s name. The fund provides scholarships to local students and support to military families in need. For details, go to SSJDMF.com.

 

 

Winter is icumen in

Winter is icumen in,
Lhude sing Goddamm,
Raineth drop and staineth slop,
And how the wind doth ram

And Winter is the Winter Sisters, Victory, Payton and Willow. Each with their own special gift and ability and each falling in love with a different soldier in the elite squad of Army, Navy and Airforce. Author Joanne Jaytanie.

The series I am reviewing contains 3 novels, the latest published being Willow’s Discovery, published this October, which I read first through NetGalley.

This series is far from finished as far as I am concerned, as although each sister now has a mate – there is so much more that can happen to other characters and in the story-line.

So yes, I started with Willow’s Discovery and was only a quarter of the way through when I realised I wanted to read the first 2 books as well. I could read the 3rd book first but it would have been better to read them in the correct order.

Now the story line of all 3 concerns DNA being manipulated to give us extra fierce soldiers –this isn’t a new idea. The concept of the formidable soldier is common in fantasy but for me what was new was that the characters were splicing wolf genes into the soldiers to make them bigger, stronger, and fiercer.

And two of the alpha males – yes they are all alpha males in this story as they are members of the elite squad mentioned above – have been experimented on with these wolf genes with very different results. But many of the males and females in this series have extra abilities and they haven’t had wolf genes added, and the question never answered (but it was raised) in the books is – was there some gene manipulation going on in utero?

Interestingly, I am now reading another series of books where again canine DNA is inserted into soldiers to make them fiercer – the fantasy series of Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Winter and Fairest.

Having come across this idea by two authors I thought I would look into what was happening with canine DNA and why this idea had come to these authors. And to my surprise found that canine DNA was being used for disease studies in humans [see the articles from the dmm.biologists organisation; National Geographic; Genome Research].

It appears that dogs get similar diseases to humans with the same genetic and environmental factors involved. These genes relate to diet and digestion, and neurological processes and disease which have evolved parallel in both species due to living in the same shared environment. These shared diseases include obesity, OCD, epilepsy, and cancers especially breast cancer (cancer is twice as common in dogs as in humans), and retinal diseases including cataracts.

Dogs only share 84% of our DNA  as compared to chimpanzees – 98.8%, monkeys – 93% and mice 90%, but we share some 360 genetic disorders with them, even though some of these only occur in 40% of dog breeds such as the Doberman Pinchers with inherited narcolepsy which has enable scientists to understand the molecular mechanisms of regulating sleep. And the last item explains something about why these stories include Dobermans as they were clearly being used in the genetic research of the organisation.

And I also looked into Tollers as they were a new breed of dog to me. Not that that’s saying a lot as there are so many new breeds appearing at the moment…nova-scotia-duck-tolling-retriever

So the basic stories were about criminal behaviour, kidnapping, torture and unusual experiments and general mayhem and brave deeds by the alpha males with feisty females assisting using their special powers. A good mix of fantasy and war stories, with some organised fraud and crime thrown in for good measure.

I really enjoyed all 3 of these books and am inclined to give them all 5 stars.

Enter the nosy artist and lots of guns!

The Body in the Landscape

By

Larissa Reinhart

A Netgalley Review

Just who is this all so nosy artist who just keeps encountering crimes including murder? And why is her brother in jail? And who is Tod? Luke? Max? And what are her relationships with them? How did Max hurt his knee?

For me, whilst this was a light-hearted romp through crime and murder, it was clearly not at all aimed at people who had not read the previous books in the series. There were a lot of complicated relationships. Family rivalries and past incidents that affected how people behaved that remained sketchily explained and then not as one first encountered them. Whilst I don’t mind this in a series, it does make it more difficult to give a critical review of a book when many of the links and much of the background is not explained.

That said, by 30% of the way through, enough was explained about some of the characters to encourage me to read on. I had considered giving up because I had been only peripherally drawn into the scenes and storyline.

But by 50% in I was irritated by the gun and hunting culture that permeated the story. And was not sufficiently concerned about the outcome to continue.

I agree with the reviewers of the author’s previous books that the style of writing  has amusing elements, but I was never inclined to smile let alone laugh – mainly I think due to the hunting and guns!

Simulate and activate your alternate

Simulation (Bk 2 in series): see PoP Travel

by

Tara Tyler

 

Would you really want life eternal? Just as when asked would I want to go to heaven, I think, hmm –might it not get boring after a while? Once you have done everything and been everywhere, what is there left to do? ‘Course if you are a megalomaniac you can always find some mischief – or can you?

This is really a story about cloning brains and robots and as I have been watching ‘Humans’ on TV, I can see the appeal of all the nice bodies you could have – imagine if you could sculpt away all your bad parts and improve all your good parts. I would be six foot tall, red-haired, slim and very athletic. I would have long slim legs with a nice thigh gap and my breasts would support themselves, I would definitely have a bikini ready body… oh well. I can but imagine what I would look like. But would I want to live that long? No, actually I wouldn’t. If you believe that every day could be your last, then you act as your best person. You do good rather than bad/evil. You assume that you may well die today/tomorrow and thus there will be no time to address your bad bits, no time to right those wrongs. Life eternal could definitely lead to selfish, self-absorbed, moralistically challenged people. You could use your clone (if you were still alive) to do your work, and to do all the things you don’t want to/ couldn’t/ wouldn’t normally, do. And this has got to be bad.

I sort of see why people might want to clone a beloved pet and this is actually now done – there is Britain’s first cloned dog – would normally cost £60,000 (!) but she won a competition for her.Britain_s_first_clone_dog

I found this book amusingly written but not as exciting or innovative as Pop Travel. I am giving this 3.5 stars – .5 for the humour.

 

 

Enter the Queendom of the Red Academy

The Rise of the Red Queen

By

Bourne Morris

An interesting title for this novel, as reading  it you might assume the book was fantasy or YA in genre. But no such thing. It is a crime novel set in a university.

The Red Queen of the title is an academic whose rise is chronicled through the faculty management structure to being Assistant Dean in this university set high above Lake Tahoe in the Nevada Hills, and who has red hair.

She is thus commonly known as ‘Red’ and many of her colleagues see her as their born leader and that they are members of the court of her faculty.

However, not all members of the university appreciate her qualities and there is still a significant misogynistic element  amongst them. Especially in the higher management echelons.

Prejudices and academic rivalry abound and are very intense and even lead here to murder and criminal behaviour.

And then there is the warped mind of one of the community who abducts a young girl. So within this story, other stories intertwine here there are mysteries and suspicious behaviours and suspicions that leave you guessing.

A note here on academic tenure in American universities (generalised).

Tenure in American universities is extremely hard to achieve.

It requires not only a PhD but a significant body of publications, grants, and conference appearances achieved; and then you have to be liked by all the members of the faculty committee that will review your record and award you tenure – or not.

Tenure, is effectively for the rest of your life. It is almost impossible to be fired, and it is very much your choice as to when you retire. Only about 2% of tenured Professors are fired each year – and then it has to be for ‘due cause’.

And: “As a tenured Professor, you are free to do your own work, your own way” (quoted in the book).

The probationary period averages three years for community colleges and seven years at four-year colleges. This is a period of employment insecurity almost unique among U.S. professions. People denied tenure at the end of this time lose their jobs; tenure is an “up-or-out” process.

During the probationary period, almost all colleges can choose not to renew faculty contracts and terminate faculty without any reason or cause. Throughout this time, senior professors and administrators evaluate the work of new faculty-teaching, research and service before deciding whether or not to recommend tenure. The most recent survey of American faculty shows that, in a typical year, about one in five probationary faculty members was denied tenure and lost his or her job.

No more than one-third of all college and university faculty members are tenured. The reason? More and more colleges are relying on part-time or temporary nontenure-track faculty to teach undergraduates — part-timers constituted about 38 percent of the professoriate in 1987 and grew to 43 percent in 1992.

http://www.nea.org/home/33067.htm

Blood and Knives = Red

Red Hourglass

by

Scarlett Risque

Red is the blood that drops from her fingers – as red as her name is Scarlet.

Sharp are the knives she uses to cut the flesh – snip and swish and slide and slink, but always in. Knives are a motive, a tool, an obsession.HourGlass_Shapes

Yet for a time she can overcome her programming, a programming that began when a ‘mother’ appeared for a lost, hungry and despairing homeless teenager. A mother who provided a home; sisters; love; and a  reason to live. A mother who sheltered, taught and programmed obedience into all her girls (daughters). To disobey a request / order was to be killed by a sister, and even the thought of disobedience was anathema.

So what ‘tasks’ did Mother want her daughters to do? Well each tasks was given a rationale that it would  , the economy, the local businesses, or the local residents. To defeat the large and powerful on behalf of the small and lowly and weak. A compelling reason to kill? To murder? She argued it well and they believed. They had to believe for this is what she trained them, educated them, for.

Each daughter specialising in differing skills but for Red it was the knife and she always obeyed until she met someone she didn’t want to kill.

This book highlights the problems of homelessness and the abuse of young girls that leads them to want to join a ‘family’ aka a gang, that will love and support them. The same psychology that keeps gangs together and enables an end justifies the means attitude.

A gang leader influences and controls the members, sometimes through intimidation and always through manipulation of the emotions that enables to continue their control.

Each leader will have a special ‘second’ in command who ensures that the will of the leader is carried out (Mother’s biological daughter). They will also dominate the lower ranks. Pack instinct and the desire to conform and be accepted and love by the pack keeps each member motivated to remain within the gang.

It is clever in this book to use the girls as assassins and gang members as it is often, erroneously, thought that female gangs are less violent than male. In the right circumstances they can be just as dangerous and violent or more so.

I enjoyed this book more as a story of female gangs and how girls can be programmed into violence, than the romantic relationship aspects. I quite understand why the relationship had a sado-masochistic element as a result of Red’s programming but I did not see it as a relationship that would last once lust had been fulfilled. I was not convinced by the ending or the exploration of Red’s emotions.

The author says that The Hourglass series is a sociopolitical discourse about capitalism and how top down decisions affects the lives of ordinary people. I am fascinated with financial centers and major property acquisition players. My approach is unique as I do not state the obvious but let the reader decide what is obvious to them.

I saw this element in the rationale behind the assassinations but felt that it could have been brought out more – the ending did not emphasise this enough.

Thinking back over the writing style and general story-telling, I would not read another in this series.

3 stars.

Can you Fix a Psychopath?

Fixed in Fear

By T.E. Woods

Review for

NetGalley and Alibi

Now this book set me wondering – psychopaths – are they born or are they made? Can PTSD cause a person to become a psychopath?

And then there is the whole issue of revenge killing. Do we really believe in an eye for an eye? And you kill one of mine and I’ll kill one of yours? If so, then we can expect far more of the scenes such as recently in Paris and the US and even in the London where the cry comes – ‘This is for what you have done in Syria’. With France declaring that they were at war with so-called ISIS as a result of the Paris bombings and shootings.

So I read with great relief and empathy the article by Caitlin Moran in The Times Magazine. She muses on what you tell your children about the terrorist attacks. How you explain what is happening and why. And why we should, here in London at any rate, and in most if not all of the Western World, not be afraid. And why? Because we have lived through worse.

She lived through the IRA bombings as did I in the UK. Where they bombed busy shopping centres, where they bombed Regent’s Street and where there were no waste bins in case they hid a bomb, and where your briefcase or sports bag or even shopping carrier, if left unattended in a train station, was blown up by a nifty robot. As was your car if left in a route of importance –  I remember watching out of our office window as the police did just that when we were expecting the Queen to pass by our block. Even now, we get plenty of warnings about not leaving our baggage unattended or telling staff of a ‘suspicious package’, and even when they regularly stopped trains as someone had done just that – usually a shopping bag someone had forgotten. I remember this on one train when the American tourists in our carriage were having kittens and we were very blasé as it happened so often to us.

This doesn’t change anything. You are far more likely to die on the loo than being killed by a bomb or a bullet even in a country where there are 88.8 guns per 100 people such as in the US. See the table on the most common cause of death.

causes of death

As Caitlin Moran says, there are certain things that cause psychopaths (back t that word) who want to kill: an unhappy combination of humiliation, bereavement, and fear. She believes that terrorists are psychopaths who simply want to kill and their purpose in life is to find a reason that they can use to justify that want.

Fear can be weaponised, she said, some people want us to be afraid and scared and angry and that can turn us into terrorists too.  And so the war continues.

SO I did my research and it seems that there is some conflict as to how you can become psychopath and just what is the difference between a psychopath and a sociopath. psychopathhttp://hubpages.com/education/The-Four-Basic-Pillars-of-A-SociopathPsychopath

diffs psycho

The four Pillars are:

1.People with Anti-social Personality disorder whether psychopath or sociopath have a great deal of pride. They demand respect and they will ensure that they get it, whatever it may take. They believe that they are better than anyone else, and others should treat them as such. Rules of society and norms are not for them to respect. They are above them.

  1. They are spiteful. They have low tolerance and this can lead to outbursts of aggression or violence. They find a little irritation a major nuisance.
  2. These are sex addicts with high levels of testosterone – which also increases aggression. They need the sexual experiences even if they receive little satisfaction from them and cannot have relationships without sexual intimacy.
  3. They are self-centred, self-absorbed, and very selfish. Everything they do has a benefit to them. They lack emotional sensitivity or empathy and always bored and seeking stimulation though risk or excitement. They don’t care about others or what others need.

For a Psychopath all these attributes are very high but pride and lust are the highest with insensitivity to others coming next and anger being the least prevalent in them.

So we come to the book. Is the Fixer either a psychopath or a sociopath?

I noted a number of interesting points in this book and the first the one about body memory. The concept that trauma is retained in muscle memory. The body of an abuse victim will remember to cower or protect itself when triggering circumstances occur. Interesting as I have just started watching Bone and flesh on Amazon and the girl, who is clearly a victim of familial sexual abuse immediately turns and hits a man with a bottle when he touches her without her seeing. An instinctive behaviour or a muscle memory? More likely the latter I should think.  According to http://www.survivormanual.com/ we do indeed have a ‘mind’ in our muscle that retains moves – in my own case I often move into Tai Chi poses because I learnt it for so many hears when undertaking a gym workout. My legs remember this shaping. And n addition we have the idea that instinct tells us to behave in certain ways under certain circumstances. The Police Chief says a running animal always turns right when trying to escape. This is muscle memory. However, it can also be conditioned in by past experience so here I am not sure of the accuracy of this statement. But it is an interesting thought. Turning left requires the instinct to be over-ridden and thus the brain has to come into action was her theory.

I also looked up the village/town that the murders took place – and yes, it is a real place in the States. Enumclaw is a city in King County, Washington, United States. The population was 10,669 at the 2010 census.

The Enumclaw Plateau, on which the city resides, was formed by a volcanic mudflow (lahar) from Mount Rainier approximately 5,700 years ago.

The name Enumclaw is derived from a Salish Native American term that translates as “place of evil spirits”, apparently referring to Enumclaw Mountain, located about 6 miles (9.7 km) to the north, and referring either to some evil incident that occurred there or to the frequent powerful windstorms that affect the region. Native American mythology tells the story of two Pacific Northwest Native American brothers – Enumclaw and Kapoonis – whose father turned them into thunder and lightning respectively. The City of Enumclaw says the name means “thundering noise” [Wikipedia]

I was also interested in the idea of each religion have a ritual for forgiveness and the Professor having drawn up a grid. This is just the sort of thing that I would do… as a Jew I like the idea that you only confess sins that have offended God, and that if you have offended a person you confess that to them. This makes society operate well I think. What is also interesting of course, is that the 3 Abrahamic religions have such similarities in their rituals about forgiveness and other religious practices. Which of course, brings us back to why are we fighting each other? Perhaps it is that very similarity that we fight in order to define ourselves as different?

So these are some of the very interesting points that I picked up from the book regardless of the story. The Fixer has come out of her ‘retirement’ and tries to over-ride her innate instinct to act as a psychopath and give an eye for an eye but her instinct to help in circumstance where something unjust has happened still operate.

Is this book as good as the previous ones in the series? I think by a hair margin not quite. It is getting difficult to find a scenario under which she will operate in her role as a Fixer. And so I needed to find interest in elements that were not perhaps as key to the story-line. I will still give it 4 stars though, as I do intend to read the series as it continues. I am not yet bored by her, and the story-telling is good stylistically and contains a lot of interesting ideas.