Tag Archives: thriller

Aussie Romantic Thriller

kangaroo-3d

Kangaroo review 1

Chapter 1

 Blake Malone’s house was right over the road from The Ascot bar. On the corner of James and Pendington, it was a place he frequented almost as often as his house. It was Saturday night, just after eleven, he was leaning on the bar looking over his half full beer glass at three women sitting at a table. The blond one glanced and returned his smile. It wasn’t the first time she had done it. She shook her head, giggling and blushing as her eyes rolled away.

Blake had a permanent smile. At twenty-eight he easily passed for a 35-year-old, due to his laugh lines and a smattering of grey in his short dark hair. But his smile had a boyish quality. It was game in the face of adversity and cheeky on a Saturday night out hunting skirt.

He didn’t know the blond, had never seen her before. He had slept with both of her girlfriends separately, on just one occasion about a year apart. He wondered whether they had conferred with one another on the matter. They each glanced his way a few times and may well have referred to him in their discussion. There was a dance floor and music. He was seated too far away to hear what they were talking about.

Blake’s phone buzzed, a text from his boss. He read it and put the phone back in his pants pocket.

Checking the girls again, he saw Jolene take Elle by the hand and lead her to the dance floor. It was the first time in the half hour the blond had been left alone. He took his beer and strolled over, her gaze flashing past him then returning to meet his. Her smile lit up.

“I’m Blake. How ya going?”

“Fine, thanks.”

Blake cocked an ear questioningly.

The woman’s blush deepened. “Lisa.”

“Hey, Lisa. I’ve been trying not to stare. Sorry.”

“That’s okay. Stare all you want.”

Blake leaned on the back of a chair. “I’ve actually gotta go but didn’t want to leave without saying hi. I noticed you smile a few times. Maybe if I see you here again we could have a drink?”

She frowned. “Oh. You have to go?”

“I do, well, in a minute, anyway. How do you know Jolene and Elle, from work?”

“Yeah. I just started this week. We’re having a get-to-know-each-other night.” Lisa tilted her head, her eyebrows rising. “They called you a shark.”

“Who, me?” Blake chuckled, feigning innocence. “They must have me confused.”

“No, I don’t think so. You look kind of sharky.”

Blake looked down at himself, arms spread. He wasn’t properly dressed for a Saturday night out, cargo pants and a t-shirt. His hair was ruffled and he hadn’t shaved that morning. He looked back up, grinning. “How’s this sharky? I’ve got nothing on all the other guys here, fine cut and slick looking. I just stopped in for a beer before bedtime.”

“Bedtime? Really?”

“Yeah, I’ve gotta work in the morning, a Sunday ‘n’ all, conscientious as I am.”

“Your work isn’t even open on Sundays.”

“How do you know where I work, Lisa?” Blake edged onto a seat. “Do you mind, just for a minute?”

“That’s fine. They told me where you work. We were just talking about you.”

“Aahh, all good, I bet.”

“That’s hard to say. The difference isn’t always clear.”

Blake nodded. “I agree.” He had a sip of beer. “So, you’re in accounts as well? Is Jolene still working on her law course, she going ok with it?”

Lisa smiled a little with a blush. “She just finished.”

“Cool. And Elle, did she ever break away from that dickhead ex? I remember she said he was hassling her online. I hope she had him dealt with.”

“I don’t know. She hasn’t said anything.”

“Well, that was six months ago. Hopefully all sorted,” Blake said.

“Yeah, but you remember. They said you um, well, that you weren’t exactly a good listener.”

“Jolene has a brother, Parker, and sister…” Blake clicked his fingers, thinking. “Mary! And Mary was pregnant and pissed off with her husband about his gambling. Elle is from down south, a small town near Tamworth. She moved here to Brisbane when she was twelve. Her parents divorced not long after, and she hasn’t seen her dad since. As I recall, those were the main things going on a while ago. But what about you, Lisa? Did you grow up here in Brisbane?”

“Yeah, pretty much, the north side.”

“Cool. A local girl. Local boy,” Blake said, tipping his beer in salute. She met his smile. He looked left and right. “It seems local girls are usually the prettiest around here.”

She blushed. “Thanks, Sharky.”

Blake chuckled. Elle returned and sat beside him. “Hey, Blake.”

“Hey, Elle, how’s it going?”

“Fine. What are you doing, trying to chat up Lisa, are you?”

“I was but wasn’t getting anywhere, unfortunately. Someone tipped her off.”

“What’s he want?” Jolene asked. “That’s my chair!”

Blake leaned back, smiling up. “Sorry. I just saw you left poor Lisa sitting here all alone and thought I should offer to keep her company until you got back.”

Jolene scoffed. “Yeah, right. That’s okay, don’t get up.” She slipped onto Blake’s lap.

“He doesn’t seem so bad,” Lisa said.

“Huh! Of course he doesn’t seem bad.” Jolene squeezed his cheeks. “He seems like a nice guy. Don’t you, Mr Slick?”

“But I’m not—” Blake started.

He was cut off by Elle. “Yes, he seems all sweet and innocent, but he has a lair.”

“A lair?” Blake looked from one smiling face to another. “Sharks don’t have lairs, do they?”

They all laughed at him.

“Alright, that’s it, I’m not gonna sit around here being insulted.”

“Aaw, poor Blakey,” Jolene cooed, squeezing his cheeks again as he slipped from beneath her.

“You ladies have a nice night, Good to see you again, Jolene, Elle, looking fine. Hope you got rid of your stalker. Lisa, lovely to meet you.” Blake offered his hand. When she accepted it he lifted hers and kissed it. “Truly lovely,” he added, holding her eyes as she blushed.

“Oh my god!” Jolene cried.

Elle was mouth agape, shaking her head.

Blake bowed to them and departed, resisting a glance back as he left the bar.

He crossed the street and entered his building. He was on the fifteenth floor. The elevator was waiting. Aside from the message from his boss to show up at work in the morning, he was quite tired and not up for a lady visitor, anyway.

He stripped off and had a quick shower. It was a balmy late spring evening. He poured a dash of Cognac and took it out onto his balcony overlooking the city. He rocked back in his favourite chair and spread his toes on the cool chrome rail, the sounds of traffic and voices of people filling the air with a familiar buzz that was relaxing to Blake.

He turned on his phone and scrolled back through his texts. He didn’t have a number for either Jolene or Elle but eventually found an old text from Elle. He smiled to himself and typed: u girls r hot… He pressed send and turned off his phone, rocking back again with his Cognac.

*

The next morning, a little after ten, Blake strolled into his work building three blocks away. The executive offices of The Brisbane Mail were all but empty. He found his boss at her desk talking on a headset. She waved for him to sit.

Blake took out his phone and checked for emails. He wondered how Sandy was going. Sandy was a brunette he had seen a few times lately, nothing serious, but he was feeling rested now and up for some fun on his day off.

His boss put her headset aside. “Morning, Blake. Thanks for coming in.”

“That’s alright, Amanda. What’s up?”

Amanda Stone was a career news magazine editor. She had a narrow face and hard features. She ruffled her long red hair, it was sweaty. She wore a white tennis uniform. After fixing her curls in a band, she leaned down to a bag on the floor and pulled out an envelope. She tossed it across the desk to Blake.

He used his smile. “What, am I fired?”

“You wish, or you will shortly.”

Blake extracted a folded page from the envelope. It was faintly ruled notebook paper. The writing was by hand: Who is buried on Warburton Station?

He looked to his boss. “I give up, who?”

She rested back in her chair and folded her arms. “About twenty years ago, I did a story about the murder of a woman from Warburton Station. Have you heard of Clive Petrov?”

Blake thought for a moment. “I remember reading something about him, something recent.”

“Yes, there has been a body found down the south coast somewhere, linked to him. There’s a task force looking into the guy right now.”

“Okay…” Blake held up the note. “So, where did you get this?”

“I found it in my post box yesterday. There’s no post mark. Looks like it was hand delivered.”

Blake checked the envelope. “So, twenty years ago you did a story, now you get a note. What’s it mean?”

“I don’t know. I’ve not had reason to think about the case since the story was published. It was left open, a strangled nurse and an unknown perpetrator. It’s only this recent information that has linked Petrov. I suspected him at the time but there was no proof. I never actually mentioned him in the story, just in my notes, which I can’t find now. I searched half the night. You’ll have to start from scratch, Blake.”

“I will? Me?”

“Yes, you. Consider yourself assigned. Here are the keys to the new Jeep.” Amanda slid them across the desk.

Blake caught them. He chuckled. “Cool. I like the Jeep.” He twirled the keys. “Where am I going, boss? What’s this, a railway station somewhere? Warburton. Where’s that?”

Amanda Stone smiled, her lined face smoothing somewhat as her eyes sparkled with mirth. “No, playboy, Warburton is no railway station. It’s an outback cattle station. Waaaay outback,” she said with a sweep of her arms. “Better pack your big suitcase and a sandwich.”

“Oh, shit!”

READ ON

Flawed characters – great drama…

sojh

 

BOOK REVIEW: Julia’s life is not extraordinary, but it is fascinating. She steps off a plane, returning from an unplanned trip away, and is faced with a whole bunch of problems that have sprung up in her absence. It’s a scene easily related to – everything falling apart at the same time. Everyone who has lived a bit of a life has experienced this… What are the decisions and incidents that shaped your life and brought you to that point? Well, in this story, Julia is a flawed character. Reading through the chapters of her life, there were times I didn’t particularly like her. But she is human – brilliantly depicted as such. And I found myself cheering for her in the end. The real heroine in this story, to me, is her best friend. Raz is mysterious… strong. We don’t spend much time inside her head, but that adds to the story, lending a depth of dimension that exist in all of our lives… This is a captivating read. Authentic.

Preview The Secrets of Julia Hawke on Amazon

tbh

 

BOOK REVIEW: Actually, I’ve been to the beach house, metaphorically. Any place with important personal history is the beach house. It’s horrible when you drive past somewhere you remember fondly from some life event years ago and find it’s been re-developed. It’s gone… This is a wonderfully uplifting read. The many stories, brilliantly intertwined, are so real and inspiring… If you’re an Aussie you will probably like this book. If you’re not an Aussie you will probably like this book.

Preview The Beach House on Amazon

icws

 

BOOK REVIEW: True to life characters and an outback Aussie road trip… this is a touching and shocking human drama, the telling of which begins in turmoil and takes us on two journeys. One is the road trip – onward into discovery and hurt. The other is a series of flashbacks that lead us to our starting point and an expertly crafted reveal. Wonderfully written – mesmerizing… this is a terrific novel.

Preview In Conversation With Strangers on Amazon

Little bit creepy, seriously freaky…

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BOOK REVIEW: This is the kind of story that sort of lulls you into a bit of a comfort zone with a normal enough opening few chapters, then suddenly things get freaky. I thoroughly enjoyed the setting of this scene – getting to know Tony Logan so well as a regular guy going through some midlife s*** that isn’t hard to relate to. And the off-handed way the ‘photograph’ was thought of and mentioned several times before we got a look at it. Well, I liked that too. It was a good build up to the normality of the story suddenly being blown apart…. What then follows is a gripping supernatural thriller with a kick-arse twist at the end. The upshot being that Tony Logan might have been far better off to have never seen that photograph.

Preview The Photograph on Amazon

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BOOK REVIEW: These are gritty tales with a touch of irreverence – a dash of humour. Awesome detail in constructing both the setting and characters. This is what gives it the classic feel for me. It’s like one of those old late night scary movies that has you so involved that you’re clawing the armrest of your lounge. I think the pacing adds to that too. There’s some real suspense here – the creepy kind. And a great cast of characters! Everything works from the seriously gruesome to the mildly quirky…. Did I read something in the intro about screenplays as the original idea? Definite late night movie fodder – good follow-on viewing after The Twilight Zone has set the mood.

Preview The Clayton Chronicles on Amazon

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BOOK REVIEW: The slow reveal of what the heroine, Laura, actually is was fascinating. The story provided an interesting take on age and maturity – the history of the centuries old characters. The play on Laura’s vulnerability amongst the vampires and the relationships between feeding couples was good reading. Things escalate into a steamy romance and big action climax. This book has a smart ending. I liked it.

Preview Blood Gifted on Amazon

High octane suspense…

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BOOK REVIEW: This book has deep down grunt that gives the storyline a rich and meaningful foundation. Corporate greed. The making of a psychopathic killer. Corruption. Murder. Cruelty. Love and loyalty. An epic idea in the suicide seed technology…. Everything builds inch by inch. Slowly and relentlessly. Like multiple angles to the same force that explodes in the final chapters…. An intriguing setting in 3rd world Africa. Great characters, both the good guys and the bad. And a wonderful dog hero that is worth the read on his own…. But above all, there’s a latent power here that I also noticed in a previous read of this author. Fry writes real, gritty stuff.

Preview Suicide Seeds on Amazon

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BOOK REVIEW: It’s the contrast between the unrelenting, high octane suspense and the excruciatingly slow burn of romance. That’s what it is about this author’s writing. Of course you get that a lot in these kinds of books, but Sandra S. Kerns does it so well. The crime here is complicated and deeply woven through the cast of characters. This is a damned fine police story. The action starts with the witness to a murder unconscious in an ER, our hero by his side, our heroine nursing them both. Unravelling what happened is a great read… The romance is between a strong, positive, yet damaged, woman and a tough, gritty man who is all heart and impatience. Expertly drawn, these two have you feeling that slow burn and living it with them. I was particularly pleased with how things came together at the end – the way the hero took charge… Excellent romantic mystery/thriller.

Preview Her Master Protector on Amazon

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BOOK REVIEW: The feel of this book takes me back to the musty halls of the Hermitage Museum and the iron curtain mentality of the real Russia that still smoulders today. We are expertly pulled into this mood chapter one and never really get to crawl up out of it. The characters and plot – the mystery of Brodsky – kind of tumble in on top of us, abstract and disjointed at first, building and tightening as we crawl through the maze (walk the endless corridors of The Hermitage, the towering portraits of lives past eyeballing us)…. Yes, I found the setting here to be tremendously powerful. The mystery itself is classy and intelligent, and develops into a killer of a finale…. Try this one if you like your art-heist thrillers to be gritty, real, and steeped in history.

Preview The Brodsky Affair on Amazon

“Bittersweet” alright!

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BOOK REVIEW: What a thrill ride! This picks up at the height of tension we were left with in the first part of the story. It picks up there and never backs off. Right to the final confrontation we are on the edge of the seat – heart in mouth. The style of storytelling here is sharp, gripping, take-no-prisoners. The action, including the love making, is graphic and powerful, but in that it is just keeping up with the mood of the story. The characters portrayed here are gritty and real. The bad guys are total scum and not easily defeated – more tension! The hero and heroine earn every bit of the ending…. Awesome, powerhouse read!

Available on Amazon

Going on about love after 5 minutes…

Beauty Skin Deep

Kate was pleased to be accompanied by others struggling to learn the steps. The lesson began with men lined up together and women lined up opposite. There was no touching. It was just a matter of following the steps to learn the pattern of movement. One two three, one two three. It was quite simple really, and Kate was soon walking through the eighteen step routine that zigzagged along the wall.

When it was time to take partners, that silly tingle in her belly returned. Her eye level was in line with that damned dimply chin, and Ben’s hand closed over hers as another big, warm paw pressed against her back. And she forgot the steps immediately.

“Are you ready?” he asked as the music started.

“Uh huh,” was all Kate could offer in reply, and the hand upon her back firmed, and she was drawn close to that powerful frame. She then completely surrendered as control of her body was taken from her. And she was rising and falling to the music and being swept along in a dizzy haze that took her breath away.

“Are you okay?” Ben asked softly. He seemed to be there in the cloud with her.

“Uh huh…” Kate uttered again.

“You’re doing very well.”

Kate wasn’t game to look at Ben’s face. She clung to one rippling shoulder and stared at the other one. The force of his body was against her hip, and his powerful thigh was driving between her legs and lifting her. The heat of his groin against her sex was something completely unexpected, and it was wonderful.

An hour passed in an instant, and Kate swayed against Ben’s chair while he changed his dance shoes for the boots he had worn earlier. His hand returned to her back as he guided her from the hall to his car. He opened the door for her, and she turned to him and placed her arms around his shoulders. He met her lips softly at first, but his passion was soon crushing her to his body, and she moaned into his mouth. He drew back and touched her cheek, caressing her face, and his hand moved to the back of her neck as he bent to her again.

Kate was on her toes, or perhaps her feet had left the ground. She wasn’t sure. The hand upon her back had slipped beneath her top, and she could feel its coarseness against her skin. The heat from his kiss was swirling in her head, and she clung to his hair as he mauled her neck. She was pinned against the car, his manhood rigid against her belly as he again lifted and kissed her open mouth.

“Is there a motel?” Kate asked, with her words ending as Ben’s lips again met hers, only that time he seemed a little restrained.

He smoothed hair from her face and delved into her eyes. He kissed her again, softly. “I’m a little out of practice.”

“Oh? I hadn’t noticed.” Kate held the man’s eyes. They wavered but quickly regained their intensity.

He kissed her again, deeply and with more tenderness and control that time. Kate responded, though she suddenly felt unsure, and her confusion was leading her beyond the heat of the moment. She wanted to know what he was thinking. He lifted and took to fiddling with her hair at her shoulder. He seemed to be struggling with something, and she waited.

After a long moment of silence, in which passion almost audibly faded, Ben looked up with a light, disarming smile. “I haven’t made love to a woman since Sylvia.”

Kate understood the significance of that statement immediately. She recoiled inwardly. “Love? Who said anything about making love, cowboy?”

His smile broadened with a hint of resignation. “Yeah, I know. Lame, huh?”

She had begun fiddling with the front of his shirt. The thought of the housewives of Goran Vale flashed to mind. “No, it’s actually quite sweet, but it’s not very realistic.”

He lifted her chin and smoothed hair from her face. He kissed her again, softly yet confidently. “Oh, it’s realistic. It’s just too soon for a word like that.”

He wasn’t reading her at all.

“We should go. It’s getting late, and I have jobs tomorrow before I leave.” Kate got in the car and closed the door. Ben stood for a moment then walked around and got in the other side. “Can we skip the restaurant and stop at that roadhouse again?” she asked.

He nodded and drove off. It was a good fifteen minutes before he spoke. “I’m sorry, Kate. I didn’t mean to spook you.”

“Well, you did spook me, cowboy—going on about love after five minutes.”

Ben smiled. “I know. I can usually go a good ten minutes before bringing that up too. It’s a form of premature ejaculation.”

Kate laughed. “Speaking of—that! You know what we could have been doing right now if you weren’t such a sap, don’t you?”

“I know. Damn it. I think there’s a motel just up ahead, though.”

“Nope. Too late. Moment’s passed, and all I want is a steak sandwich now……”

Read all about Ben and Kate: Kindle Countdown 99c sale this week.

 

Lives up to the promise…

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BOOK REVIEW: She is going to die and she knows it. Genre aside, that right there is a powerful and intriguing story idea. No one has threatened her or anything. She has simply seen her own funeral. Brilliant. The big question to be answered here is laid out plainly in the title, and within a page or two of reading, we’re in. We’re going to need to know how and why she dies at the end…. So now we have a clear and simple yet powerfully intriguing question, but do we have a story journey to back it up? Definitely! The setting is a tangible paranormal world with interesting relationships between the different species and plenty of historic complexity. Certainly 3 dimensional. And the tale of who our heroine is and how and why she dies is rich and captivating storytelling…. For mine, this book is every bit as good as the title.

Available on Amazon

Meanwhile, in another corner of the universe…

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BOOK REVIEW: This sci-fi setting is like real. It’s actually quite brilliantly understated. When imagining the universe being depicted here, it’s as if there’s nothing to prove – as if it’s just a matter of fact that this place exists and we all know it. This is a powerful human drama and romance set elsewhere, not on Earth…. The depth in the story itself is also impressive. We can easily imagine the prequel, which would be potentially even more intense and dramatic. I quite enjoyed joining in at the tail end of a story, with lives already blown apart, and seeing everything come together…. An intelligent and nicely constructed read.

Available on Amazon

Ben scores his first date with Kate…

Beauty Skin Deep

Ben finished his beer and strolled back out onto the street. He thought for a moment about his washing but decided to walk down and pay Bobby a visit after all. He wouldn’t try to press for information about the missing girl. He would just call in to see how the home gym was going, and it occurred to him he might be fortunate enough to spend a few minutes with the lovely Kate again.

He could see Bobby was still in the garage as he approached the house. There was a silver Range Rover with the number plate ‘RISSMAN’, in addition to the car he had seen the day before. The front door was open, and he heard Kate squeal and laugh. There was a man’s voice too. Ben knocked and stepped back.

Kate approached the door giggling and looking back over her shoulder. She turned, and Ben greeted her with a smile.

“Afternoon, ma’am.”

“Oh… Officer?”

“Ben… Ben will be fine, ma’am. I was out and about and thought I’d call by and say hello to Bobby. Am I intruding?”

“No… God, no! Um… Ben this is, um, a friend of mine, Paul… Paul, Ben’s the local cop.”

A tall, weak-chinned man had appeared behind Kate. His hands were upon her shoulders. Ben nodded.

“May I go around the side? I can see Bobby’s there in the garage.”

Kate squirmed from between her friend and the screen door. She opened it and shuffled Paul back a bit. “Can you check on dinner for me, please? I’ll just be a few minutes.”

“What do I do?” Paul asked.

“Oh, it doesn’t matter. Just… I’ll be there in a minute.” Kate slipped through the door and closed it. She was blushing and avoiding Ben’s eyes.

“Is everything okay? I really didn’t mean to intrude.”

“No, it doesn’t matter. He’s just… I don’t know… It’s fine. And I wanted to ask you a favour.”

Kate had stepped close. Her blush had faded, and her warm, brown eyes were enticing.

Ben wondered in that instant if any man had ever denied her anything.

“I was wondering if I could help with your investigation.”

“Help in what way?” Ben sat back on the porch rail. It gave him a little more room to breathe.

She smiled coyly and shrugged. “I don’t know. In any way I can. I might be able to check the newspapers from when the girl went missing. I saw there’s a library near your house. Maybe they have something there. Or you could let me see the police report.”

Ben met her smile and wondered how she knew where his house was. “Ma’am—”

“Kate! Not ma’am… Kate. You were saying?”

“Kate, I really don’t have the authority to invite civilians into the station to look into missing persons.”

“So, take that one little file home and invite me to dinner. I’ll sneak a look while you’re busy cooking.”

“I can’t cook.”

“Frozen pizza?”

Ben hadn’t stopped smiling. “You’re pushy!”

“Tomorrow night?”

“What about?” Ben motioned to the door.

“He’s nothing. He’s just my boss. I’m sending him home after dinner.”

“Okay. Around six, and it’ll be fresh pizza, not frozen. And white wine?”

Kate stepped to the door and smiled back over her shoulder. “Or beer.”

She stayed at the door while Ben walked back to the front gate. “What about Bobby?” she called after him.

“Next time… I got what I wanted,” he called back.

“Me too!”

………………….

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I was shocked by how far this went…

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BOOK REVIEW: This is an intense, shadowy thriller, paced for a quick read. There’s plenty of angst in the awkward, fledgling, arranged romance between our main characters before the real challenge even begins…. The 1980s setting is authentic and well suited to stories about this kind of crime – it’s kind of what makes it so shadowy. It works well. The descent into the murky depths of perversion as the thriller aspect of the story builds is another highlight. The climax is grim and hard-hitting. The romance finds a way…. This stands alone as a terrific read, but there’s definite potential for a follow-up and study of some of the secondary characters.

Available on Amazon