To any authors/publishers/ tour companies that are looking for the reviews that I signed up for please know this is very hard to do. I will be stopping reviews temporarily. My husband passed away February 1st and my new normal is a bit scary right now and I am unable to concentrate on a book to do justice to the book and authors. I will still do spotlight posts if you wish it is just the reviews at this time. I apologize for this, but it isn't fair to you if I signed up to do a review and haven't been able to because I can't concentrate on any books. Thank you for your understanding during this difficult time. I appreciate all of you. Kathleen Kelly April 2nd 2024

18 November 2023

⁣⁣The 5th book in the Why Choose Romance series by @theskywriteshere is finally here! #Jumper #AliLuciaSky #XpressoTours⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣


Ali Lucia Sky

(Why Choose Romance, #5)
Publication date: November 14th 2023
Genres: Adult, New Adult, Paranormal, Romance

It’s so dark in his life that his Claimed mates may never get out.

Becca Grimm is a Legion demon and has known one thing since she was a young girl: she would have a breeding pact. That her breeding pact partner turned out to be her Tether was a dream come true until he broke her heart, and then she wanted to break his face until he crawled back to kiss her feet.

But Jumper’s world is darker and more secretive than he’s ever let on. Even with her guardian-Tethers, at her side, she can barely navigate it. And finding her way back to the light is impossible in a world where wickedness reigns.

Becca can’t say no to the things Jumper demands of her. She loves the things that Tobin wants from her. And she can’t look away from the things she sees Jumper and Crux do together.

Content warning coming.
It’s recommended that you read the series in order, beginning with RAIDEN–all previous books available on Kindle Unlimited.

Goodreads / Amazon


I dial Jumper’s number for the third time. When it goes to voicemail, I growl. It’s just like the jackass to stand us up. Crux, Tobin, Jumper, and I all had plans to go to Sapp’s Coffee Shop for breakfast, but it was two now, and I’d heard nothing from him all day. I stretch and yawn. If I’d known he was going to flake, I would have slept in.

“Becca, mail for you,” Andy says, grinning and tossing me a handful of college packets. I don’t order them, he does. I flip through them. “Northwestern? You think the four of us are going to Illinois?” I raise a brow.

“I don’t care where you go, as long as you don’t end up a statistic,” my brother grumbles. “Where are dumb and dumber?”

“Making food with Adina,” I nod toward the kitchen.

“I know they are your Tethers, but look at me and Adina… we waited, and we survived. You don’t have to rush things. Go to school first, Becca. Claim one another later. Real love can stand still for five minutes.” Andy stands and leaves me with that.

I grab my phone and call Jumper again. When it goes to voicemail this time, I leave him a quick voice message. “Thanks for canceling, drummerboy. Next time, actually let me know you aren’t showing.”

My phone rings as soon as I hang up. Thinking it’s Jumper finally calling, I answer.

“Hello, shit-for-brains–” I start.

Lilah cuts me off. “Is he with you!?”

“Is who with me?” I ask.

“Jump. Is Jump with you?” she asks, tension high in her voice.

I shake my head, though she can’t see it. “No. He’s not with me. He stood me up this morning.”

“When did you last talk to him?” Lilah asks quickly.

“Two days ago,” I answer with my heart racing. I just know something is wrong.

“He’s missing, Becca. Jump is missing. No one has seen him in two days,” Lilah sobs.

Ali Lucia Sky is the author of The Powers That Be series. She lives in Southern California with her husband and a house full of kitty cats and a yard full of crows.

She loves laughing, drinking good coffee, vegan food, and supporting animal rescues.

When she isn’t writing or dreaming of new stories, she can be found planning her next vacation because traveling is life.

If you encounter her in the wild, don’t be offended if she should run away. She’s timid with strangers, but can be plied with shiny things and pictures of your cat or dog.

She’s a weirdo like that.

Website / Goodreads / Twitter / Instagram / Pinterest / Facebook Group / TikTok

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Kiss in the Dark: The End Zone by @authorljmcalister is a steamy, contemporary, small-town, football romance and it's out NOW! ⁣⁣#KissintheDark #ljmcalister #XpressoTours @XpressoTours⁣

Kiss in the Dark – The End Zone
LJ McAlister

Publication date: October 24th 2023
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

One Moment. One Plan.
A Love that Changes Everything.

Abigail Stevens

There was a time when Hunter Collins dominated my every dream.

Now, he is an all-star Quarterback and the bad boy of the NFL.

He may have been my first kiss, but that’s in the past.
I’m no longer the small-town invisible girl I once was.

I’m a successful journalist,
and Hunter Collins is the next name on my list, nothing more.

He’s cocky, indifferent, arrogant, and utterly irresistible.
I can’t seem to get him off my mind, or out of my panties!

Am I really in danger of falling for Hunter all over again?

Or will I learn the hard way that memories are always better than the real thing?

Hunter Collins

I thought I was invisible. Indestructible.

I was the man everyone wanted to be.

Star NFL Quarterback.

Every Woman’s Fantasy.

A Billionaire with the world at my feet.

Until an injury knocked me down.

I may be struggling, but I’m Hunter Collin.

I make my own destiny.
And a short escape to my small hometown is just what I need.

What I hadn’t planned for was Abigail Stevens.

She may be a reporter, but she’s hot, whip-smart,
and now that she’s burst into my life, I can’t get her off my mind.

Meanwhile, my injury has left me with more questions than answers
And I can’t shake the feeling that there is something important I need to remember.

As painful as it is, maybe I should let her go – for both our sakes.

Kiss in the Dark: The End Zone is a steamy, contemporary, small-town, football romance. It should be read following the prequel Kiss in the Dark: The Kickoff.

Goodreads / Amazon

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“What the hell was that?” I demand, my blood boiling. “Making a big scene over that guy in front of everyone?”

“I wanted to protect you,” he says, but my adrenaline is too high for me to accept it.

“I can handle myself, thank you!” My voice reverberates down the hallway, booming enough to make Hunter wince and look around.

“Abby, calm down.”

Ah, the magic words. Just what every woman wants to hear when she’s upset—a man’s reminder not to let her emotions show.

“Don’t tell me to calm down!” I shout, hoping to hell somebody hears.

Hunter scans the hallway again, then grabs me by the arm and pulls me to a door beside the entrance to the hall. It’s a coatroom, and a pimple-faced attendant looks up from his seat, shocked at the two of us barging in.

“Beat it,” Hunter tells the kid, who complies without a word.

The door shuts, and I wrench myself free of Hunter’s grasp yet again. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” I growl, squaring off against him.

“We can’t fight like this in public,” he counters, his voice every bit as hard as mine. “I’m not going to let you ruin this event for those kids.”

“Me?” I clamp my teeth together to keep from calling him every name in the book. “Last time I checked, you were the one who went all alpha male in there and threw a guy out.”

“His hands were all over you,” Hunter shoots back, the color in his face rising.

“Maybe, but what does that have to do with you?”

“Everything!” He looms very close, and the musky scent of sandalwood that always clings to his skin floods over me. “Abby,” he says in a tight whisper. “You have no idea what it does to me to see someone else touching you like that.”

“You’re jealous,” I spit. “So what if I am?” Suddenly his hands are on me, crushing me against his massive body. “Jesus God,look at you,” he says, feasting his eyes on me. “How could I not be?”

His mouth dips down for mine, ready to crush our lips together, and I turn my head just in time. Partly to avoid igniting whatever memories a kiss might spark but also to keep from giving him the satisfaction of winning the prize of my mouth through sheer dominance.

But all my turning away does is offer him my neck, and he finds it readily, ravaging the crook above my collarbone with greedy kisses. The stubborn fire in my chest flares. No matter how determined I am to resist him, the primal effect he has on my body is undeniable.

Cary, North Carolina is where my journey began, and it's been quite the adventure so far. I've carved out a niche for myself as an Indie Author, specializing in the world of Contemporary Romance. These days, you'll find me nestled in a cozy town just outside the bustling streets of NYC, where I've turned my dream of being a full-time author into a beautiful reality.

When I'm not immersed in the world of writing, you'll often catch me embracing the great outdoors. Ultra trail running has become my favorite pastime allowing me to clear my mind and recharge my creative energy. And speaking of passion, I'm an unapologetic New York Giants Fan – Sundays are sacred in our household, dedicated to the thrilling spectacle of NFL football.

I share this incredible journey with my high school sweetheart, my anchor in life's unpredictable seas. Together, we've built a loving family, blessed with two wonderful sons and a beautiful daughter. This is my story, one that continues to unfold with every word I write and every page I turn. Thank you for being a part of it.

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Mint Condition: A Me Too Mystery by M.L. Ortega Virtual Tour!


About In Mint Condition


In Mint Condition: A Me Too Mystery 

Cozy Mystery 3rd in Series 

Setting: Orange County California 

Independently Published (June 3, 2023) 

Paperback ‏ : ‎ 146 pages 

ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 979-8396902985 

Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0C6WDQCJG

Single mom Maggie Chessman finds what might be a valuable Chinese porcelain bowl. When she takes it to be appraised at the local antique store, In Mint Condition, she finds a dead vendor. To her cop boyfriend’s dismay, this isn’t the first body she’s discovered, including a naked corpse in a model home and her dead sister-in-law at a local salon. But, unknown to him, this one is the corpse of a man who abused her as a child.

If the truth comes out, she might be the prime suspect in his murder. Her best friend and her therapist rally around her, discussing other suspects – the victim had a hand in a variety of crimes and sins.

As Maggie discovers, no adult is in mint condition, life takes its toll on everyone.

 Excerpt from In Mint Condition

“This is one of the reasons I don’t go to these antique stores,” Maggie said as she spun around the traffic circle for the third time. “No parking.”

The inner circle of the round-about had a small park with a fountain in the dead center and four concrete benches at the four compass points around the fountain. Small plots of grass framed the whole thing. No one was sitting there. Dodging traffic to reach the park was only for the pedestrian with a death wish. The outer circle of the street held restaurants, while the spokes of the street held antique stores and a miscellany of book stores, flower shops and tattoo parlors. She swung around the circle again when Jane yelped. 

 “Parking spot! Two o’clock,” she said, using the air force designation for the direction at the northeast of the compass.

Maggie slammed on her brakes and maneuvered into the slot where a SUV was emerging.

“Ha! And we’re right in front of In Mint Condition,” Jane announced triumphantly. Her friend was rubbing her neck and taking deep breaths.



“I don’t think the store is open.”

Maggie craned her neck to see the sign on the door of the antique store. 

 “It should be. For Pete’s sake, it’s mid-day on a Saturday. The sign says they’re open from nine to six.” She stared into the store’s window. “I think you’re right. There’s no lights on inside.”

She opened the van door and exited carefully, shrinking up against the side of the van to avoid traffic in the lane next to the parking space. Jane popped out of the passenger door.

Maggie joined Jane on the sidewalk and, side by side, they peered into the glass-paned door.

“There’s a light on in the back of the store,” she said. “Maybe the clerk is taking a lunch break.”

“What do you want to do?” Jane said.

“After all the trouble of finding a parking space? Are you kidding me?” She checked the time on her cell phone. “It’s two o’clock. He’s probably finishing up his lunch about now. I bet 

there’s a back door to this place. Let’s check it out.” 

Sure enough, when the two women ferreted out the alley behind the shop, a pebbly-asphalt strip running the length of the block, they found the back door to the shop. Each store had only one small parking spot in the alleyway. Light shined out through a small transom window over the back door. An older model Honda with faded silver paint was in the one stall. Maggie stalked past the car and knocked on the door. There was no movement from inside but the door creaked open a few inches.

“Hello?” No answer.

Maggie pushed the door open and stepped inside. Jane stood hesitantly at the entrance.

“Maggie!” she whispered.

“Well, the lights in the front still aren’t on. The clerk may not know anyone’s here. Let’s let him know he has a customer. Come on.”

They passed through the large back room which apparently served as a warehouse and repair shop. “Hello?” Maggie called every few feet as she crept through the furniture placed in circular arrangements throughout the store. 

The perimeter of the store was lined with bureaus and dressers, desks, and bookcases. The bookcases held the requisite amount of old leather-bound volumes and knickknacks. At one hutch with porcelain vases and jars on display, Maggie halted and stared past the glass into the collection.  

“Maggie,” Jane sidled up to her. “Even if someone’s here –and I don’t see how that could be, since we’ve been halloo’ing all this time – it may not be the appraiser. Which is who you wanted to see, right?”

“On a Saturday, the day they get the most business? I don’t think that’s likely. He’s here.”

She turned to Jane and over her friend’s shoulder caught sight of a counter on the opposite wall with a long box behind it.

“Well, would you look at that? Do you think it’s authentic?”

Jane turned to see what looked like a heavy box made of stone with an ornate design etched into it. It was the length of a coffin and rested on a couple of saw horses. 

“It looks like a sarcophagus,” Jane said. “They can’t export those kind of antiquities out of the Middle East anymore. And even when they could, only museums got them. It’s probably like a cigar store Indian. Just something to lure customers in.”

“You’re right,” Maggie agreed, running her hand over the top. “The material is modern and light weight. Probably resin or plastic.”

“Nice workmanship, though,” Jane said. A reclining human figure was painted full-length on the lid of the casket-like box. A male figure garbed in Egyptian loincloth and painted in garish red and gold. He had the head dress of a pharaoh. The hands were crossed and one held a scepter, the other an ankh.

Maggie slid past the curios on the shelf behind the ‘sarcophagus’ and, with both hands, lifted its lid until the hinges locked. 

“Oh, my god!” She said, her hands flying up to her heart.

Jane scurried around the box and came to a dead stop next to Maggie, who had leaned closer, her face stopping inches from the face of the dead man inside the sarcophagus.

“It’s him. It’s him,” Maggie whispered. “Oh, my god. Oh, my god. Oh, my god.” Her body jerked away from the sarcophagus and she sank to the floor and, rocking back and forth, kept repeating the three words like a mantra.


Jane automatically clicked into emergency mode. She closed the lid with a finality to block the sight of the body from her friend. Pulling Maggie up from the floor, she frog-marched her past the counter, down the hallway and into the workroom. She plopped her down into a wooden swivel chair which had been placed against a wall. Jane squatted down in front of her. 

Maggie had covered her eyes with both hands and continued to chant.

Jane had never seen the sangfroid Maggie in such a condition. 

Two years ago, they had discovered a naked dead man at one of Jane’s cleaning jobs. Maggie had known the man and, yet, was calm enough to comfort Jane and then straddle the corpse to take a picture of him with her cell phone.

No, something more than the shock of discovering a corpse was going on here.

Jane looked across the workroom. There was a blanket draped over an armchair. She stood up and moved toward the chair. A makeshift coffee bar rested against the wall at the rear of the room with an electric teakettle and tea and coffee tins lined up on the table. She checked the kettle for water and, satisfied it was full, turned it on. Pulling a mug from a shelf above, she opened a tin and plucked out a tea bag. She unwrapped it and plopped it into the mug. 

She watched her friend as the kettle heated up. Maggie was still sitting in the chair and had started rocking back and forth. Her hands were in her lap, but trembling badly. Jane finished pouring hot water over the tea bag and swished it around for a few seconds. That done, she hoisted the bag out, dropped it on the table, scooped two spoons of sugar into the mug and stirred 

vigorously. Sweeping the blanket up with her free hand, she brought both blanket and mug over to Maggie.

“Maggie?” She said in a low, calm voice. “Maggie. Here. Drink some of this.” 

Maggie held the mug and sipped the hot liquid while Jane wrapped the blanket around her shoulders.

Jane pulled another chair over and sat down. Eyes closed, head bowed, she began silently praying. She didn’t think Maggie had strong religious feelings. That wasn’t the foundation of their friendship. But she needed help in dealing with her friend and this was where she got help.

She could hear Maggie sipping. Jane’s thoughts were falling into place as she calmed down. Then she couldn’t hear any more sipping and brought her head up, opening her eyes.

Maggie was staring at her. She got out of the chair but just stood there, frozen, hands still shaking. Jane stood up too.

“I know him, Jane. I know this guy. He’s the one who . . . you, know. When I was a kid.”

Jane hugged Maggie hard.

About M.L. Ortega

M.L. Ortega, a member of Sisters In Crime, is the author of The Conditions Series. Publisher Weekly said of the first book in the series, Turn Key Condition, "the entire production is . . an appealing mystery comedy."

She lives in Southern California and enjoys gardening and spending time with her husband, children, grandchildren, and two cats.

Author Links 
  FaceBook: M.L. Ortega 
  Twitter: @OrtMarlin 
  Instagram: mlowriter 
  Bookbub: M.L. Ortega 

Purchase Link - Amazon 


November 13 – Mystery, Thrillers, and Suspense – SPOTLIGHT

November 13 – Lady Hawkeye – SPOTLIGHT

November 14 – Literary Gold – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

November 14 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee – SPOTLIGHT

November 15 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – AUTHOR GUEST POST

November 15 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

November 16 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

November 16 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

November 17 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT

November 17 – Baroness Book Trove – SPOTLIGHT


November 18 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

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November 19 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

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The Doomsday Code by @sarayagerauthor Book Blitz! ⁣⁣#sarayager #TheDoomsdayCode #XpressoTours⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣


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The Doomsday Code
Sara Yager

Publication date: November 14th 2023
Genres: Adult, Thriller

In an artificial intelligence lab in Shanghai, something has gone terribly wrong. Days after a major breakthrough in machine learning, CyberGen Industries’ lead AI scientist is dead—and their precious prototype has vanished into the ether. An investigation reveals that, against all odds, the lab’s “unhackable” system has been breached.

The discovery, an algorithm mimicking human intelligence, is growing quickly—becoming more cunning and unpredictable with each passing hour. Soon its capabilities will eclipse its creators entirely.

Who stole it? And more troubling, what do they plan to do with it?

Ex-NSA hacker Adrian Pryor may be the only person on the planet capable of reining it in. He spent his career keeping the world safe, a vigilance for which he paid an enormous, personal price. Adrian knows there are people who will stop at nothing to control the powerful technology. He must find a way to do the impossible: to stop them, and to outmaneuver a rival more clever, more powerful, and more alien than anything he has ever seen.

Grounded in real-world science, Sara Yager’s wildly inventive debut brings advanced AI to life, illuminating a frightening, all-too-real truth about the future: we are one breakthrough away from inventing ourselves out of existence.

Goodreads / Amazon

Only 99c for a limited time!

Adrian expected to see the other agents descend at any moment. Instead, a flash of movement from the top of the stairwell caught his eye. He looked up just in time to see a small metal object clattering down the stairs. A cold rush of panic coursed through him. “Run!”

He took two large strides and then shoved Olivia as hard as he could. They flew sidelong down the hallway, landing hard on stone, his body crushing hers in a protective shield. A second later, his night vision goggles flared painfully, and the entire room erupted in flames.

The grenade was as loud as a sonic boom in the silent chamber. The blast threw everyone to the ground. Shattered stone exploded from the walls and ceiling, followed by the thick pall of smoke and rock dust.

Adrian’s heart hammered in his chest.

Someone is still here.

His gaze shot to Wu. The agent was clearing rubble from around his legs and then proceeded to army-crawl back towards the stairwell, retrieving his CF-05 submachine gun. He pointed at the door. “You two—out, now!”

Before Adrian could react, a crack from overhead stopped him in his tracks. All eyes shot to the stairwell. A dark figure appeared, silhouetted by a hellish inferno behind him. Another gunshot blasted, followed by the whine of the man’s semi-automatic weapon as it unleashed a round past them. The attacker wheeled back from the force of the weapon’s discharge. Bullets rained from the ceiling, sparking, and ricocheting off stone. Adrian’s whole body tensed, pressing down tighter on top of Olivia.

When the bullets finally subsided, Agent Wu burst to his feet, streaking low across the chamber. He ducked into a cross-corridor and skidded to a stop, leaving only the barrel of his weapon visible around the corner.

Taking advantage of the momentary chaos, the assailant leapt from the stairs, charging headlong into the chamber and towards the solitary exit. He passed in a blur, leapfrogging over bodies as he went. He was almost to the door when another round cut the air, this time coming from Wu’s weapon. The fire caught the man on the back of his torso. Within seconds, his bullet-riddled form crumpled to the floor and the temple fell silent again.

Swearing, one of the agents next to Adrian rose to his feet. “You okay?”

“I’ll live.” Adrian’s eyes were on Olivia.

“How about you, ma’am?” the agent said.

“I’ve been better,” Olivia said, rubbing her arm.

“You’re lucky he got you out of the way before the grenade detonated,” the agent said. “If you had been at the bottom of that stairwell . . .”

Agent Wu joined them. “You’re safe now.”

Sara Yager built a successful ten-year career in the semiconductor industry before leaving to care for her children full time. With a unique perspective as a mother and former tech professional, she brings a fresh and insightful voice to the world of speculative fiction.

A mom of two young boys, Yager came up with some of her best concepts for The Doomsday Code while waiting in the elementary school pickup line. She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. This is her first novel.

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Newsletter


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17 November 2023

Death in Dutch Harbor by D. Macneill Parker Book Tour!


When two murders strain the police force of a remote Alaskan fishing port, veterinarian Maureen McMurtry is tapped by Dutch Harbor’s police chief for forensic assistance. The doctor’s got a past she’d rather not discuss, a gun in her closet, and a retired police dog that hasn’t lost her chops. All come in handy as she deciphers the cause and time of death of a local drug addict washed ashore with dead sea lions and an environmentalist found in a crab pot hauled from the sea in the net of a fishing vessel.

When her romantic relationship with a boat captain is swamped by mounting evidence that he’s the prime suspect in one of the murders, McMurtry struggles with her own doubts to prove his innocence. But can she? McMurtry’s pals, a manager of the Bering Sea crab fishery and another who tends Alaska’s most dangerous bar assist in unraveling the sinister truth.

D. MacNeill Parker and her family are long time participants in the Alaska fishing industry. In addition to fishing for halibut, salmon, crab, and cod, she’s been a journalist, a fisheries specialist for the State of Alaska, and a seafood company executive. 

She’s travelled to most ports in Alaska, trekked mountains in the Chugach range, rafted the Chulitna River, worked in hunting camps, and survived a boat that went down off the coast of Kodiak. 

Parker’s been to Dutch Harbor many times experiencing her share of white knuckler airplane landings and beer at the Elbow Room, famed as Alaska’s most dangerous bar. 

While the characters in this book leapt from her imagination, they thrive in this authentic setting. She loves Alaska, the sea, a good yarn and her amazing family.


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“From the first scene, she evokes the real Dutch Harbor and the dynamic people who call it home. It’s a roaring mystery that braids together oil rigs, fishing, sea lions and the kind of Russians we love to hate. Death in Dutch Harbor is a must read for anyone who wants to vicariously experience a rugged world on the edge of an unforgiving sea”

— Lori Swanson, Former Director Marine Conservation Alliance, Federal Fishery Observer

“Any fan of the Deadliest Catch television show should reach for this book!”

—Captain Sig Hansen, FV Northwestern and a star of the Deadliest Catch TV series

Death in Dutch Harbor grabbed me at the outset and did not let go. Right away you can tell Ms. Parker knows the issues facing the fishing industry in the Bering Sea. She weaves them into the tale and uses her characters to draw the reader deeper into the murder mystery.”

— Frank Kelty, Former Mayor of Dutch Harbor/Unalaska

“What a banging beginning for this author. Parker successfully tied together the multiple themes with strong characters, especially the women, with a believable and exciting plot. I recommend this book and look forward to Parker’s next novel.”

— Men Reading Books

DEATH IN DUTCH HARBOR D. MacNeill Parker Excerpt

By the time Police Chief St. George and his two deputies, Chet and Michele, drove out the gravel road and located them on the beach, the two women had thoroughly examined both sea lions.

Maureen held up the lead slug she’d extracted and offered it to the chief. “I found bullet wounds in both the animals. Looks like it might be a .30-06.”

The chief wore a bulky police parka over jeans. He held out a gloved hand.

She dropped the bullet in his palm and watched him roll it around there.

“Yeah, looks like a .30-06 or maybe a .308. Bag it,” he said, passing it to Chet “And get the GPS readings on the carcass locations before we move them.”

“So, you know something about ballistics?” he said, turning again to Maureen.

“Brothers,” she said. “Dad took us deer hunting.”


Maureen could tell the chief was still trying to size her up. “Nothing worth talking about,” she said, knowing it was nothing she wanted to talk about.

Michele was already down the beach taking photographs of the other corpse. They could see the camera’s flash pop in clusters.

The chief turned back to Maureen, his eyes getting a bead on her from beneath a wide-brimmed western hat. . His mouth was pressed shut. Maureen had learned that meant he was thinking and wanted to get it right before he spoke.

“I’d like you to remove all the bullets and give me an estimate on time of death.” He hadn’t asked her to take a scalpel to anything before, so the query was measured. Sure, she was a vet but the question came anyway. “Can you do it, Maureen?”

The city council had hired Ray St. George as its police chief five months earlier. Like most remote Alaskan communities, the town didn’t have a medical examiner. And unless the community was lucky enough to have an appointed coroner to determine cause of death, the state police expected all evidence, including unexamined corpses, to be sent to Anchorage for forensic analysis. Dutch Harbor didn’t have a coroner, and its lone doctor worked at the hectic clinic. Chief St George had learned quickly that once state police took possession of a body, they also took possession of the investigation, often leaving the local police out of the loop. To Ray St. George, a retired Army investigator, this protocol was unacceptable.

“Can you do it?” he asked again, watching her kneeling in the sand to get her medical kit back in order.

Looking up, she stated the obvious. “The cause of death seems pretty clear, Chief.”

The chief waved it off. “I know these are sea lions, but it’s still a crime I won’t tolerate. I want to know how many shooters were involved. To do that, I need to know if the bullets were fired from the same or multiple weapons. And I can’t begin to investigate properly without knowing if it happened this morning or last week.”

“Well, not this morning.” She lifted the flipper again and let it drop. “They’ve already passed through rigor.”

Maureen closed the kit, stood up, and hung it over her shoulder. “They’re gonna want to do their own necropsies,” she said, nodding down the beach where Kate still knelt, taking notes by the other corpse.

The chief had three inches on Maureen, making him about six feet tall. His face was clean shaven and his graying hair clipped short. His posture made you want to stand up straighter. She could tell by his expectant face that he was waiting for the wheels to turn in her head.

“Let me think about it,” she said.

Chet stood over the corpse, entering its GPS location in his notebook. He looked over at the chief. “What now?” he asked.

The sea edged closer, and the surf shot foam their way. The chief pointed toward the tideline. “Look for shell casings,” he said. “And there may be more animals washed up on the beach. I want to collect as much as we can before the tide takes it away.”

Chet, young and with a gait that showed he was eager to please, pulled a yellow tide book from his pocket. “High tide’s in less than two hours. We could lose them.”

“Don’t worry, Chet, we’ll figure it out.”

Michele offered to call the Northward plant and ask that they send out a flatbed truck to pick up the sea lions. An Aleut native, she’d served as the senior deputy for three years. Among her many duties, she penned the police log. Its droll language made it the favorite section of the town’s weekly paper, The Dutch Harbor News. She’d already keyed in the fish plant’s number and looked to the chief..

“Ask them to send one with a crane,” he said.

Maureen joined Kate, who’d begun to walk the tide line again. They were almost to the river when their roving flashlight beams landed on another mound of seaweed. Kicking away clumps of kelp, a hideous odor rose to scorch their nostrils.

Half buried in the sand lay a sneaker attached to a white foot. It lay turned away from a twisted leg, its bruised skin exposed like a warning. Maureen knelt beside it and began to strip away the seaweed until she uncovered a shoulder. Following its sloping angle, she found strings of long hair that clung to a scalp like seaweed to a rock. The turned head revealed the nose ridge of a man.

Kate moved the flashlight beam to where the nose met the sand. The beam faltered, quaking as if the earth moved beneath it. But it was Kate, unable to quell her shaking hand.

Maureen hollered down the beach. “Chief, over here. Hurry!”

Their flashlights bobbing, the chief, Chet, and Michele loped their way to the spot where Maureen and Kate shined their lights. The chief knelt down. He reached for the man’s shoulder and rolled him over.

Looking up was someone they all recognized.



Death in Dutch Harbor (3 ebooks Worldwide


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