This book is a quick and fun read. There's action with some pretty funny quips mixed in (I love it when authors do that). The characters are well developed and likeable. Two of the things I like most about this book is that the dialog is witty and relevant and the characters are smart and effective.
I highly recommend this book.
Other books in this genre:
I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.
A lifetime ago, a young naval aviator took the Oath. Tom McGuire, now a San Francisco PD Homicide Inspector, hadn’t thought about the Oath in years. That was all about to change.
A famous San Francisco newspaper columnist has been murdered. Some would say “executed”. Shot through the head, her arms tied behind her, knotted together from shoulder to wrist.
McGuire feels an eerie chill of recognition. After being shot down over North Vietnam, he suffered seven years as a Prisoner of War in the infamous Hanoi Hilton, enduring rope torture many times – his arms tied in exactly the same way.
A lifetime ago, another young naval aviator took that Oath. He also was shot down over North Vietnam, and joined McGuire as a POW in Hanoi. Almost forty years later, their lives were about to intersect once again.
This time with explosive consequences.
Marissa Romano slowly started waking up, and she was very confused. She didn't know what had happened to her. All she knew was that she was sitting in her car; she was in terrible pain and bleeding all over. She looked up and saw that the front windshield was shattered, and there was glass all over the car seats and floorboard. She realized her head must have hit the front windshield. She looked into the rearview mirror and was horrified by what she saw. Large shards of broken glass were embedded in her face and head! Blood was dripping down from her eyes! She must have covered her face with her hands when she had the wreck because there were huge splinters of glass in her hands too. Her hands were also bleeding from all of the cuts on them. The last thing she remembered was getting into her car after stopping to get gas along a deserted country road in the woods. She had missed her exit on the highway and ended up on a country road in the middle of nowhere. She had looked down and noticed that she was low on fuel. After driving for miles and miles, she had finally stopped when she saw a gas station ahead. She remembered she was on her way to meet some of her friends for the weekend at Lake Sardis in the mountains of southeastern Oklahoma. Everything after that was still a complete blank. She didn't even know her name or who she was!
Sophie continued to ask around town about the previous owners of her house. She then found out that about fifty years ago, a woman that lived in her house vanished without a trace. What is even worse is that she was nine months pregnant! She was still missing, and the mystery was never solved. Sophie wanted to find out even more about the house after she heard that unsettling news.
Sophie was told that they searched and searched for the missing woman years ago. They dragged all the local ponds and questioned everyone in the neighborhood. Her husband had passed a lie detector test, so he was dropped as a suspect. A search party of over one hundred people searched nonstop for the missing woman during a twenty-four hour period. The police were dumbfounded by the lack of evidence. There were no clues and the case eventually became a cold case. Even though the husband passed a lie detector test, many people still believed that the husband was responsible for the disappearance of his wife. For the first year after his wife's disappearance, he was under scrutiny from the whole town every time he left his house and was seen out and about the town.
Many years later, the husband was diagnosed with flesh-eating bacteria in his hands. The doctor believed that he got it from working in his garden. His doctor treated him for the bacteria, but it continued to get worse. The flesh-eating bacteria spread throughout his entire body, and it was literally eating him alive! He had a major stroke and not too long after that, he had a massive heart attack and died.
When billionaire Virginia Ann "Peep" Holler dies, a battle for her estate begins. However, she leaves all of her wealth and Jodi’s Place – a popular Oklahoma ranch dedicated to helping wayward kids – to Abigail Brennan. Abby, a young single mother and favored protege, is elated. But her enthusiasm does not match her experience. After a few bad choices, the ranch becomes embroiled in financial turmoil causing some board members to vie for its ownership. In the meantime, Abby discovers a plot by a local oil baron who wants to seize control of Jodi’s Place, for its rich oil reserves, and end its usefulness to troubled youth. Just when she thinks the inevitable is about to happen, Abby meets an attractive newcomer in town who may hold the key to saving the ranch and helping her out of her dilemma...but not without a price. In spite of the cost, can Abby trust this newcomer to aid her in saving Jodi's Place? Or will Peep's fortune and good name be ruined by forces she cannot control or tame?
John Arnold and Lily Smoot sat on a bench in the Santa Fe Plaza early that evening....
He looked at her in the dim light. “What are you doing running around with guys like Cummings and Damours, Lily?”
“Cummings is a U.S. Marshal, John. And I wasn’t running around with Damours. We were chasing him. What’s your point?”
“Cummings is not much of a Marshal and you know it, Lil. Is it true you worked in the Nevada brothels?”
She looked up at his face. Clearly his feelings had been hurt.
“Yes, John. When I left Utah, I looked into all the political and military and business management jobs open to teenage girls, but they were all filled. I didn’t meet any guys like you who were single and sitting around that I could safely live off, so I got a job where I could save some money.”
She looked closely and caught his scowl. “John, you're married, and unless you’re offering to adopt me or to start taking care of me, I have to look out for myself. And for my ranch.”
He looked down at her. For the first time ever, he hugged her. “I’m sorry, Lil. You’re right. It might not be appropriate, but I care about you and want to see you succeed.”
She stood up. Bent down to him and kissed him gently.
“Appropriate,” she said, “Is overrated.”
HAUNTING AT THE COTTAGE
My daughter, Barbara, and I have enjoyed going to Eureka Springs, Arkansas, for several years. One of our favorite trips was in 1993. We were staying at a cottage inn on this particular trip. The house had three floors, and the only other guests in the house were in the basement. The owners of the house live in a small house at the back of the property. Barbara and I had adjoining rooms upstairs. Each bedroom had a bath just outside the bedroom door.
When we arrived, we just wandered around the house looking at the wonderful antiques and furnishings. At one point, Barbara was upstairs taking photographs and I was downstairs. Each time she took a picture, I could see the flash. I don't know how.
There is a very large porch, which runs the whole length of the house on the back. We went out to sit on the porch swing. There were two ceiling fans on the porch, which were going full blast, but there was no air coming from them. At the time, we thought nothing of it. Before we went to bed that night, we looked through the rest of the house. The other bedrooms upstairs were all beautifully furnished and all the bedroom doors were open and all the windows were closed.
When we finally went to bed, we each locked our bedroom doors from the inside. Sometime during the night, Barbara was awakened by her bed shaking. She remembers thinking there must be a train going by. Then she realized she was in the middle of Eureka Springs, and there couldn't be a train. Having no other explanation, however, she went back to sleep.
When I went to bed, I put all my rings and bracelets in a small glass dish that was on the nightstand next to the bed, underneath the lamp. The first time I was awakened, there was a “figure,” either a child or a very small woman, looking at my jewelry! It was only there for a second, and thinking I was dreaming, I went back to sleep. The second time I awoke to the sound of rustling material and I thought Barbara was going through my room to get to the bathroom. I couldn't understand why she would be going that way, because she had a bathroom just outside her bedroom. The next thing I knew, this “figure” was again looking at my jewelry and turned to look at me. When “it” realized I was looking back, “it” went back around the end of my bed and went through the door to Barbara's room.
When I awoke the next morning, I immediately looked to see if my jewelry was still there. It was. I called out to Barbara and asked her if she had gone through my bedroom to the bathroom. She hadn't. I then told her the story and she told me about the shaking bed.
Barbara then related to me that she had been told stories about ghosts at this cottage, but she had not told me because she didn't want me to be afraid. We decided to get up and get ready to go downstairs for breakfast. When we walked out onto the landing, all the other bedroom doors were shut and the windows were all open. Also, when we had gone to bed the night before, all the lamps in the upstairs hallways were on. Now they were off.
When we finally made it downstairs, the man who owned the house was fixing breakfast. We asked him if he had been upstairs and closed the doors and turned off the lights. He had not been in the house at all since the previous evening. I asked him if strange things happened there sometimes. He asked us to tell him our experience. When I told him about the “figure,” he took me to one of the photograph albums he kept in the living room. He showed me a picture of the smallest young woman sitting in a large chair, looking very childlike. She was the wife of the first Governor of Arkansas who had built this cottage. She did not die in the house, but lived there for some time. The woman in the picture looked very much like the “figure” I had seen in the bedroom.
According to the owner, this little woman was not the only visitor they had from time to time. His wife had seen a tall, thin man many times when she was cleaning or rearranging furniture. Also, he told us that doors would close for no reason. He also said that the drawers and cabinets in the kitchen would open and close all the time. He told us that he doesn't publicize these things because some people might be afraid to come. But when he is asked, he will tell you whatever you want to know.
He told us a story about a couple that had stayed in the same room I had. They complained the next morning that the air conditioner had stopped working during the night. When he went upstairs to investigate, he pulled a very large chest away from the wall and discovered that the air conditioner had been unplugged. After we finished breakfast, Barbara and I did a thorough search of the house to see if we could find hidden doors or some way for someone to project an image into the rooms. We found nothing.
When Barbara went back to work, she told this story to a friend. The friend told her about a Tulsa dentist who had a similar experience at the same cottage. His wife was taking a bath, and he had pulled a chair out from the wall and was reading the newspaper. His wife called to him to bring her a towel, so he laid his newspaper on the bed and took the towel to her. When he returned to the bedroom, the chair was back against the wall and his newspaper was folded neatly on the bed.
Barbara and I have stayed at the cottage since then, and absolutely nothing out of the ordinary happened. We plan to stay there again in the fall. In my 70 years, I have never seen anything I could not explain, except this. I don't have weird dreams, don't hear things that go bump in the night, and have never before or since experienced anything like this. These things did occur, and I no longer give funny looks to people when they relate they have had strange things happen to them.
By: M. J. B.
Early morning fog shrouds the Brooklands race track as Jack takes a new pair of goggles from his track bag. He breaks a cigarette in half and shreds the tobacco. He spits in the goggles and rubs the tobacco around the inside of the lenses.
The fog lifts a little, and Jack signals Carl to crank over the car. He pulls on his cloth helmet and grins at Carl. The engine temperature comes up and he pulls out.
The whole track is still not visible. Some of the men Jack sees on his way to the banking are making the slashing sign across their necks.
They mean cut the run, do not go out. Jack waves back to them.
Out on the track, Jack pulls around the cars that are running to keep the line dry. He motions them to pull in. Two more laps to check and make sure everyone else is off the track. Then comes the boom from the exhaust, Jack is hard on it down the straights. For two more laps, he takes a long lift off the throttle going into the turns.
The men watching are looking at each other as if to say I told you. Then Jack flashes by, a rolling fog envelops the racetrack, and just as suddenly lifts. The throttle lifts are getting shorter each lap. Then the exhaust note does not change. The same men look at each other and solemnly shake their heads. To themselves they think, the Yank just does not learn.
The next lap the car is like a ghost in the mist. Another lap with the engine screaming, the car flashes by like an apparition. Out of the mist, and then swallowed up by it. The engine’s scream does not die this time.
The loudspeaker system barks to life. “Ladies and gentlemen, a new Brooklands outright record,” the announcer says. “The speed is One hundred and forty two point five miles an hour. Brooklands presents another amazing performance. The Yank has done it!”
Jack brings the car down the finishing straight. The people that have braved the weather are clapping their hands above their heads for him to see. Others are cheering and waving, their thumbs raised.
The car stops in front of Carl who makes a wiping motion across his brow. Jack bounds from the car, he is clearly jubilant. He returns the waves, grabs Carl’s hand, and pumps it vigorously.
“I heard the loud speaker system when I shut the engine off. One forty two and change eh, not bad. The engine was turning 83 hundred, she was haulin’ freight.”
“Jack, you’re one crazy bastard, I don’t know how you did it. Hell, I don’t know why you did it.”
They say once a junkie, always a junkie, but this is ridiculous. I haven’t been dead more than a few hours and I already need a fix. It doesn’t make sense; my blood isn’t even circulating, but it’s the process I crave—copping, cooking, tying off, finding a vein, the slow, steady pressure of thumb on plunger, and now it’s my first order of business.
One of the advantages of being dead is that people don’t expect you to get up and walk away. I don’t imagine it happens often at the morgue, anyway, or they would take precautions against it. Not that I think I’m the first to remain awake through the entire process of dying, or even of one’s own murder, perfectly aware of the bullet smacking into my skull, tunneling through my brain, bouncing off bone, and ricocheting around like a bee in a bottle.
I must have blacked out for a bit after it happened. There was a roaring sound, like a hurricane, that drowned out anything from the outside and made thinking impossible.
When the roaring subsided, I woke up disoriented before I realized where I was: disembodied and looking down at the mess that was once me, lying naked on a gurney. I roamed around the room, light as a whisper, fast as a thought, and then returned to the body. When I got close enough, it pulled me in like an inhalation, and suddenly I felt the heaviness of physical being again. It took me a while to figure out that I could move my fingers, stretch, sit up, and even see through my own eyes. Running the body was cumbersome, like wearing a gorilla suit.
The clock on the wall says it’s four. I assume it’s at night since the joint is so dead.
As an experiment, I disengage from the body again. This time, I roam the entire place to check for anyone working the late shift, but no one is around except for a technician in a bathroom stall. I re-enter the body, get off the gurney, and shuffle over to a stainless steel tub with a hose hanging above it. I climb in and turn the water on. Some real shampoo would be nice, but at least there’s a dispenser with disinfectant soap. Eventually, I get all the blood out of my hair. The hole in my head is weird and I want to poke around in it, but I have stuff to do so I climb out, dry off with a lab apron, and go looking for a stiff my size that has some clothes I can put on.
So here I am in Doc Martens boots, black Levis, and a white tee shirt. The only six-foot-two male body I could find was a goddamned skinhead with a big Aryan Nations tattoo and huge muscles. I hope he doesn’t get up and start walking around.
There’s a clipboard at the end of my gurney. It has a report on it that says “Unidentified male, COD gunshot wound to head.”
I need a plan. I’m jonesing pretty bad, so, bail out of the morgue, score some dope to tide me over, and then on to the next order of business: finding out who killed me. The easiest way to do that, I figure, is to visit everyone I know and see who looks surprised.
It’s time to split.
Prologue The Little Louisiana Pageant, Whitfield Centre, Baton Rouge Timmy Donald waited to be introduced; he wasn’t nervous. Timmy was a round-faced cherub, kiss-curled and confident. A tiny robot programmed to perform, and at five, already a veteran. The MC gave him a big build-up. ‘From East Baton Rouge, a homeboy paying his tribute to one of the greatest entertainers of all time … Timmy Donald!’ The red velvet curtain parted, leaving Charlie Chaplin in the spotlight – lost, unsure and vulnerable. Timmy played it to a T, cocking his head to one side, leaning both hands on his stick. The face of a comic genius gazed out of the golden light. A single note gave him his key, and the spot followed the diminutive performer through a show of stagecraft beyond his years. A piano track, played without finesse, tinkled in the background. Timmy brought the walking stick into action in vintage Chaplinesque. He scrunched his shoulders and tipped his bowler, letting it run down his arm, a weak smile revealing the courage of the little tramp beset by cruel misfortune. He sang “Smile,” and the audience loved him. At the end of the song, he twirled, walked his “Charlie” walk and shuffled towards the back of the stage. The spotlight died, the curtains closed, the lights came up. Timmy’s father was pleased. All the hard work, the day after day rehearsals, had paid off. That trick with the hat had taken months to get right. Worth it, though. ‘You can’t put it out if you don’t put it in,’ Tom Donald reminded his son every chance he got. The old jazz musicians’ maxim about the value of practice appealed to him. Timmy’s performance shouted its truth. He was the winner for sure. Everybody said so.
‘We can’t find him.’ Claudine Charlton couldn’t believe it. It had been going so well. A good crowd. No hiccups. No tantrums. Even one or two who might have something. Not as good as the Chaplin kid but not bad. She watched Alec Adams giving out instructions. He’d been with her for years, from the very first contest, and she would be first to admit that when it came to stage-management, there was nobody better. They had been married once, a very long time ago. Claudine never let herself forget that he was a snake. Alec shook his head. ‘No sign.’ ‘Did you ask his parents?’ ‘His father thought we had him.’ In a room off to the side, the judges sat round a beat-up table, drinking coffee. Claudine didn’t knock. The interruption took them by surprise. ‘We have the final result, Claudine.’ ‘Who won?’ ‘The little boy.’ ‘Forget it. He’s out of the running. We need another decision and fast. Bump everybody on a place; that’ll give us a new winner. Stick any of them in third, it doesn’t matter. The cowgirl, the crowd liked her, she’ll do. OK? Two minutes.’ ‘But she was awful.’ ‘No.’ Claudine stared the objector down. ‘She was third.’ Alec met her behind the stage. ‘Cops are here. And the father. Somebody needs to speak to him.’ ‘What? Oh, yeah.’ She ran a hand through her hair in quiet desperation. ‘What do I tell him? What can I say?’ ‘Reassure him.’ ‘You do it. You speak to him.’ ‘It’s your show, and I’m busy. You’re the boss, remember?’ She hurried towards a guy in an ill-fitting suit – had to be a cop – talking to Timmy’s father. Uniforms covered the stage door; the front was already closed. ‘Mr Donald, Claudine Charlton.’ Timmy’s father was too upset to reply. She placed a comforting hand on his arm and spoke to the policeman. ‘I’m in charge. What do you need to know?’ ‘When did you notice the kid was missing?’ The policeman glanced at Tom Donald and walked-back his tactless question. ‘I mean, when did you notice Timmy was missing?’ ‘Twenty minutes ago. He was one of the last to go on. Once they’ve done their thing, the contestants stay in the dressing rooms. No wandering around until we announce the winners.’ ‘Sounds fine. So how come he’s gone?’ ‘Wish I knew.’ The detective gave an order to a sergeant. ‘Start interviewing. We needID, names and addresses. It’s going to be a long night.’ Claudine said, ‘Is there anything I can do?’ ‘Start looking.’ ‘What about the show?’ He didn’t answer her. ‘Shouldn’t we go with the final ceremony? Keep it normal’ ‘Good idea. Finish the thing. Nobody’s going home for a while.’ One hour later, a locked store cupboard in a back room was the only place that hadn’t been searched. The detective wasn’t prepared to wait for a key; he barked his instructions. ‘Break it open.’ Two uniforms forced the door. The wood frame cracked and splintered and gave under the pressure. In his career, the cop had come across plenty of bad stuff; that didn’t make it easier. The colour drained from his face, and he knew he’d been doing this shit for too many years: time to take the pension, kick back and go fishing. But for now, he was the officer in charge, so he made himself look at the horror guaranteed to keep him awake at night long after he’d turned in his gun and badge. Stuffed in at the back, on top of paint pots and dustsheets, was a broken Charlie Chaplin doll that used to be Timmy Donald. And so, it began.
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When Glints Collide takes a group of unknown to lesser-known writers (myself included) and combines their talents into an eclectic anthology of Sci-Fi, Horror, Paranormal