Tag Archives: murder mystery

Book Review: Southern Heat by David Burnsworth

Blog content has become limited to mostly book reviews and promos. Sorry about that. I have been performing surgical excision on Alliances and editing. This is meticulous and time consuming. Also, I’m reading…a lot. Some classics and some new stuff. I don’t recall where I was introduced to this author, a blog interview or twitter.

I’ve read a few times that authors should not review books in their genre. I apologize in advance if people might feel I am violating some code of ethics or author etiquette. I haven’t published in this genre…yet, so the rebel in me sees an exemption. Besides, this is a slightly different region, though somewhat similar.

Book Review:

Southern Heat is a perfect example of what makes regional fiction so appealing. A Georgia girl transplanted to Florida, when I was reading this book, I felt right at home. The theme centers on an environmental issue close to my heart. The setting is the low country of the South Carolina coastline in Charleston. Southern Heat has all of the elements of an excellent contemporary southern crime fiction novel.

What sets this book apart is Burnsworth’s unique voice and style. Southern Heat has a gritty, noir feel to it with rough, edgy characters while keeping a traditionally southern charm.

The mystery begins when Brack Pelton’s Uncle Reggie dies in his arms in an alley after uttering the name of the person who shot him. Even though he’s gone from the very beginning, I felt like I knew Uncle Reggie, owner of the Pirate’s Cove bar and grill and Vietnam vet, from my hippie days. Brack, tainted by the loss of his late wife and PTSD from his own service time in Afghanistan, earned my respect early on. I fell in love with his dog, Shelby. The women in this book made me proud.

Burnsworth’s cast of supporting characters are a determined, though somewhat disturbed, motley crew in keeping with that southern tradition. The string of bad guys is just as well drawn as the good. There are even a few you can’t tell are good or bad. That always makes things interesting. The descriptions provided just enough realism to set the place and mood without being overly detailed or distracting. Though the plot is well-focused, there are enough twists and turns to keep you guessing.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and would recommend it to anyone who likes reading books set in the south or along the coastline, a good mystery, noir crime fiction, or a real page turner that will have you rooting for your favorites from the get-go to the end.

5 of 5 Stars

Crime Fiction Beta Readers Apply

We have gotten about half-way through with the first beta reads and second edits on Naked Alliances, my first crime novel. Yay! I’ve been told, “It’s one helluva good story to be proud of.” That really boosted my confidence, and I am feeling just about ready to share it with others.

I have two beta readers and they are more than awesome!  I’m really getting excited now. There is absolutely no way I could thank them enough. You totally rock!

I have four more beta readers lined up and I will accept a couple more if you think it’s really something you’d like to read. Just send me a note: sknicholls1@gmail.com  I will tell you now, it may be a couple of years before this story is released to the public, as I have two or three more stories in my head that I want to get down before I publish Book One in The Naked Eye Series.

This story was written as a challenge by my husband, the Rocket Scientist, to write a crime novel. It developed exactly as I expected it would. We are both avid readers of crime fiction. He reads everything, but I mostly read regional authors. I can’t deny being an amateur.

I also can’t deny that it is cliche. My characters are cliche. The story, while serious and fascinating, is somewhat cliche. Not a comedy caper, but it comes off as nearly satirical it’s so cliché, in my opinion. But it is what it is. And I have worked hard on it.

It’s regional southern crime fiction. There are southern colloquialisms that I most likely won’t alter. It is also spiced with contemporary, regional urban slang. (Hopefully, not too much.) Some may be very clear to you and some more obscure, but it’s not hard to pick up on meanings in context. There are accents and some regional dialect, but nothing you have to slog through for any length of time.

If rape, prostitution, porn, nudity, and/or recreational sex are triggers for you, you probably don’t need to read. If you’re put off by the notion of alternate lifestyles, you’re likely not going to enjoy this story. That’s okay, it wasn’t meant for everybody.

Being as cliché as it is there are stereotypes, and they are supposed to be there. There are no patched eyes or limping characters, steampunks, or people with robotic appendages. There is nothing paranormal, magical, or mystical about it.

The book is both murder mystery and crime thriller, but it’s not a cozy mystery and it was a challenge to write both murder mystery and thriller in one book. The murder is more a subplot, so it doesn’t really unfold the way a typical cozy murder mystery would.

Hopefully, in a couple of weeks, when I am ready for more beta readers to take a look, I’ll have most of the editing done. I’m mainly looking for opinions and feedback on the overall flow, the pace, the story-lines, and how you feel about how they unfold. I would also like to know if there are characters that you would like to see come back in future books. The series books will stand alone, but may share common characters.

I am looking for folk who like crime fiction in particular.

 If you think you would be interested, drop me a line.

One of the fictional settings in the book, Leisure Lagoon, was modeled after this place, my family’s nudist resort here in Central Florida, Cypress Cove.

Got Shining Approval From Alpha Reader on First Chapter: Naked Alliances

draft cover 001

I’m so excited I have to share. *giggles*

The rocket scientist read my rewrite of chapter one and he said, “This is great!” He went on to say that it really changed his perspective on the interrelation of the two plot lines. He really likes it!

I tightened it up and was able to work the first chapter in a way that it not only starts off with intense action, but introduces both the murder mystery and crime thriller at the very beginning. This way, you are not reading through to chapter three before ever getting into the crime thriller part. Originally, I had started off with info about the cold case. It was interesting, but did not have the necessary punch to grab a reader and pull them into the story.

A bonus is that four main characters are introduced in the first chapter, so you get to know them all from the very beginning.

This will make for a much better “Look Inside”.

I started off planning a prologue, and wrote what ended up being a complete character profile of Cara Kieu and her history. It did NOT work at all, but gave me some really good ideas for a chase scene.

I scrapped it and started reworking the first chapter. It has guns, villains, the P.I., a high speed car chase, Brandi, Cara, the murder victim’s surviving husband, and introduces both cases in 2793 action packed and informative words. There’s also a small amount of revision to be done in subsequent chapters, so it does NOT necessitate a major rewrite.

AND, most significantly, the alpha reader loves it!  🙂 

Okay, I’m done. *breathes*

Now for this entertaining commercial break:

An important message about gun safety!

Sunday Synopsis: First Draft Accomplished

Hi folks! You may have been wondering if I dropped off the edge of the earth as I haven’t been floating around as much as I used to. That’s because I have been very busy writing for the past month and four days. I started this project in November at 2340 words and parked it until May 4th, when I felt a strong need to get back to it.

Today I wrote my final words in the first draft on my first crime novel.

It is sitting at 57, 678. Yay me!

Now the real work begins. I haven’t done my first read through, but I thought I would jot down some notes about what I’m feeling about where we are.

I have few things I am eager to hear from my beta readers about. Mainly having to do with POV, the number of suspects, and running two major interrelated plotlines.

There is murder mystery and there is organized crime, each aspect offering flavors of crime fiction that can be very different. I know some people like solving puzzles, putting the pieces together, and others want high thriller action and suspense. My hope is that I provided both without disappointing one reader or another.

There are a number of people involved. There is a family law firm, and there is a nudist resort where the ancillary characters come from. That’s a lot of players, and I am hoping it isn’t too confusing.

I basically went in alternating POV between my two main characters, the detective, Richard, and his sidekick, Brandi. At about the mid-point, it is primarily Richard’s POV. I do have one chapter dedicated to my villain. There were things you, the reader, needed to know about the villain that neither Brandi nor Richard could tell you. Things only the villain could know. I also wanted to show the wickedness in a way that was indisputable.

Now, I am wondering if that might come across as too jarring, and I am thinking that to balance this, maybe I should give my murder suspects their own POV chapters. I dunno.

At any rate, it is what it is. Honestly, I didn’t set out to write the next great masterpiece. It’s genre fiction and I hoped to be entertaining.

My Alpha Reader is my husband, who reads two or three crime novels a week. He loves it all. I have told him to expect a cross between Charlotte Bronte and Tim Dorsey; Sort of a Charlotte Dorsey or a Tim Bronte. I don’t know if my writing style works with crime fiction, but the project is fun.

If you are not having fun, you need to be doing something else. Life is too short.

Crime Novel/Murder Mystery Setting

My work in progress is a crime novel/murder mystery. It is set in both Orlando and at a fictional resort I created that was inspired by my family’s resort near Kissimmee, Florida. I posted this link on my Facebook page (there’s a little thingy you can click on to the right over here if you have not joined that club yet, JSYK), I am posting it here also. My apologies if you feel you are being spammed, but we’re a proud bunch.

If you have not seen this already, you may enjoy. Most of my followers know my family has a nudist resort here in Florida. This article Ted Hadley, my cousin, posted on the website, is a good history of the Cove, although my Aunt Pete gave me a slightly different history. I could add more to the story…like how my hometown reacted when I let the cat out of the bag that Uncle Jim had a nudist resort instead of a Standard Oil Company in Florida. It’s a cool article if you’re into history, comes with photographs. Thanks to my artist friend Dave Winarchik for bringing this to my attention.

Jim Hadley was my mother’s mother’s brother.

Check it out!

http://www.cypresscoveresort.com/HTML/History.htm

 

Need for Objective Eyes: Prologue: Crime Novel

Prologue

Independence day, 2005

Maria touched the diamond pendant on her chest, adjusted the rear view mirror, and drove to the nearest 7-11. Not wanting to wake the children, she pulled the car far around to the left side of the store in the last parking space next to the dumpster. She would only be a few minutes, they would be fine. She rolled down the windows a crack and locked the doors. The store was having a slow night for a holiday, and there was no one at the gas pumps. When she rounded the corner, the clerk was standing at the front door smoking a cigarette. He opened the door for her, tossed his cigarette away, and came inside.

Maria quickly grabbed the items she needed and made her way to the counter. The clerk rang up her purchase and she left the store holding a big bag full of groceries, a gallon of milk, her purse on her shoulder, and her keys in her hand.

A car had pulled up alongside of the BMW. She made her way not noticing if the car was occupied or not. She stepped between the dumpster and the BMW, and began fumbling to get her key in the door. It was an old Beamer without remote access. She managed to get the door open. Then she heard a kind voice, “Here, let me help you with that.”

“Sure,” she said, half muttering some sort of expression of appreciation as she handed over the carton of milk and the bag. She didn’t notice the gloved hands or think of them as odd in Florida in July. She turned to her car, leaned in, and flung her purse onto the car seat. She started to turn back to retrieve the items from the kind stranger.

She heard the bag tear, the crash of the plastic container, and felt the cold milk hit her bare legs. Startled, she looked around to see the silver blade glinting in the dark of the night as it came up to her chest. Shadowed by the figure, she saw no face. First the pressure, then the sharp pain, someone had her by the right shoulder; the pressure again and again. Oh, the pain! She pushed away against the door; was trapped, and too weak to fight. She wanted to scream, but found herself voiceless. There was no time to think. It happened in a flash. There were too many shadows swirling in her mind. Wanting to fight, she felt her grip tighten on her keys, her nails digging into her flesh, but the pain in her chest was sudden, intense, like a fiery hot coal exploding in her heart. It was blinding, this pain. Crippled by it, her hands relaxed. She dropped the keys. The perpetrator held to her. The scent of sensuous cologne and her own blood filled her nostrils; hard and heavy breathing in her ear. There was heat from the breath on her face, warmth, wet and trickling, now gushing down her abdomen, onto her thighs, and then nothing.

********

2008

“It’s been pure hell. We’ve been the prime suspects for three years. It was a vulgar crime. The children lay sleeping in the back seat while the criminals abducted, murdered, then urinated on their prey, leaving her dead body on the front seat of the BMW in a pool of blood. Torn grocery bag, busted gallon of milk, loaf of bread, donuts, cereal boxes scattered between the dumpster and the car. It appeared that she had fought them off furiously. Upon the supposed safety of her vehicle, she had attempted to find refuge there in escape. The perpetrators of this crime were brutal, far more hostile in their display of enmity than I could have been. Though, there were tormenting times when I thought myself to have conjured them, to have called them up from deep sub consciousness. Eerie, it was, to see the photos of her sprawled there on the car seat looking so helplessly frail. She was stabbed seven times in the chest. Dreadlocks lay loosely in a right hand that was once so tightly clinched in fight that her own nails marked her palm. Her wedding ring was missing from the left hand. Her purse and cell phone were gone. The diamond pendant she wore around her neck had been taken. There was some talk among authorities that she had been sexually assaulted, as well, but it was such a difficult scene to imagine in the side parking lot of a 7-11 at near midnight. DNA from hair and urine samples taken at the scene matched, but did not match the semen sample, giving rise to the notion of at least two, or more, abductors. None of them were either one of us.”

Questions:

  1. Does it make you want to read more?
  2. Is it cohesive enough between the actual murder and the suspect’s recollection of the police report information.
  3. Did it leave you with questions?
  4. What do you feel you need to know now?
  5. It is 800 words.  Too long or too short?