Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Literary Romantic, Historical Adventure Set in Vietnam, The Reach of the Banyan Tree, by Mark W. Sasse

July 16, 1945
Tonight I sat under the grand expanse of a
banyan tree. I have never seen anything so majestic--
a window to the past. My translator, Mai, told me
that a banyan tree sees all, knows all, and keeps
many secrets. It knew a time before the French
came to Indochina. It knew a time of peace and a
time of freedom. Its reach never stops; it just
keeps growing and expanding regardless of
circumstances, regardless of difficulties. That
is, perhaps, what I admire most about the Viet
Minh. They have a feeling of destiny. That time
is on their side. That in the end, everything will
work out in their favor, and the grant banyan
tree, with its thirty-foot expanse, will once again
sense order restored to the universe.

"This banyan tree is many centuries old. It stands a sacred test of time to all who live in Tan Trao, not just because of its beauty and majesty. It is a symbol of life coming from death. You will see that there are many root structures that come out of the ground to form this grand tree. But what you cannot see is the original tree, buried in the middle, long covered over by the other branches which have come later. In fact, the middle of this tree is dead. It died long ago, but it is never forgotten. The newer roots have covered it over, taking their place in the order of nature, so the tree itself can grow out stronger and reach further than the original roots ever could have imagined. These branches have witnessed much. They were half as long when Quang Trung squashed the Chinese invaders in the eighteenth century. But the branches never forget where they came from. This is the land of Vietnam. The land of our ancestors. And now we are each part of this tree, part of our history, and we are here to fulfill our destiny. Like Tran Hung Dao and Ngo Quyen before us, we will stand firm with out roots, firm with our ancestors, and we will defeat the foreign invaders. We will bring freedom to our country."
A roar let out amongst the soldiers sitting around, listening to the rousing speech, one that Vinh had long rehearsed after hearing such philosophical rhetoric his whole life from his anti-French father. The Deer Team marveled at his speech and passion, and Charles stood up and shook Vinh's hand in admiration. It was easy for the Americans to see that the Allies had a powerful friend in the passionate troops who fought for their country against the Japanese.

OSS Deer Team members pose with Viet Minh leaders Ho Chi Minh and Vo Nguyen Giap during training at Tan Trao in August 1945. Deer Team members standing, l to r, are Rene Defourneaux, (Ho), Allison Thomas, (Giap), Henry Prunier and Paul Hoagland, far right. Kneeling, left, are Lawrence Vogt and Aaron Squires. (Rene Defourneaux)

The Reach 

of the Banyan Tree

By Mark W. Sasse

Based on actual events in 1945, Mark Sasse has created one of the most lovely love stories I've ever read. While there is no connection to the group of men who traveled to Tan Trao, a family drama has emerged that began with the grandfather who went to train soldiers in 1945, through the son who fought in the Vietnam war, and on to the grandson... It could have been fate that could create such a story. Instead we thank an author who has given the world another look at a country we have most associated with the last war there... It gives us another glimpse at the people and the beauty of the land and the search for freedom for people who had none for so many, many years... I am thankful I had the chance to read it and totally recommend it to all...

I love this beautiful cover. For quite some time, I used my oriental collection as the decor in my bedroom. Somehow that didn't seem to fit when I came to live in a log cabin, but there are still selected pieces on display to celebrate such beauty as comes from these countries...

While this story centers on three American men, the setting reflects the orient. Long before 1945, there has been struggle after struggle to gain freedom from one country or another. In 1945, the French and Japanese were fighting to gain control.

The resistance had already begun and it is there that we begin the story when a young man had volunteered to travel on dangerous mountain roads during a heavy storm to bring back a shipment of guns that will be used for the training that is about to begin when the Americans arrive.

But the young man never returned...

The story then shifts to the year 2000 when we meet the grandson. He is in prison. He has accidentally killed a young boy who had run in front of his motorbike. This was bad enough...but the boy was the brother of Thuy, with whom he has finally gained acceptance from her family to marry...

While he is there, a man comes into his cell and gives him a journal that belonged to his grandfather...Then readers go back to the beginning... as Chip learns about his grandfather's time there in Tan Trao...

Chip Carson, the grandson, had always been close to his grandfather, while having a troubled relationship with his father. His father is very wealthy, but Chip refused to join his company and instead moved to Tonkin where he'd been working...

 July 2000 - Thai Nguyen, northern Vietnam

This part of the Vietnamese country side has witnessed little change through the centuries. The crooked-backed peasants face another daunting day every time the sun slips over the eastern ridge, greeting them with stoic reminders of the paddies which need rending. The giddy, shirtless, barefoot boys still ride the water buffaloes out through the paddy ridges to find slivers of green grazing that will keep the beasts contented until the next time they are needed to plow-under the sun-bakes soil, readying the field for another planting. The dawn illuminates a village, which awakens like a colony of ants, miles to go to feed themselves for another day. The crows overhead witness the ants, scurrying out from underneath the palms which shield the single-story cement dwellings from the relentless afternoon sun. The busy-bodies hunker down in the fields, women side by side with sisters and aunts, neighbors and cousins, donning the cone-like, pointed straw hats, which protect their faces from darkening in the heat of the day. The dainty hands, each with a single stock of rice seedling no more than six inches tall, skillfully push the heroic staple into the mud until it settls in the place where it will thrive and grow, giving the planters their rewarded survival. They owe their lives to the blessed crop which gives them sustenance, they owe their age to the cursed crop, which robs them of years and sentences them to curved backs and ridged, hard skin. This is the land of their ancestors, a canvas of paint so vivid, so real, so far removed from the toil of the modern masses. These people have become one with the land, one with time, one with each other as they etch out a noble existence for which two thousands years of Vietnamese history owes them much.

 In the midst of a region which had witnessed little of time's changes, perhaps it seemed odd to the few boys and peasants close enough to the only paved road in miles to see a white faced rider on a motorbike, whipping through the open plains, a Vietnamese girl at his back with wind-tied hair waving furiously, creating an arrow which pointed back towards their direction of origin. They laughed and smiled, waving at the boys, whose grins lit up as they stood at attention and yelled the familiar, "Alo, Alo!"

The motorbike passed the occasional truck coming from the Chinese border two hours ahead. They had been on the road for about an hour when Thuy gently tapped Chip on the shoulder and told him to pull down the next small dirt road, which led to a long, one story cement dwelling with a faded sign over the open, barred window which read "Di Tich Lich Su Hang Phuong Hoang." Chip stopped the bike beside the house and turned off the key in the ignition. It had been the only sound around except for the gentle breeze, which tingled the trees with its morning freshness. Thuy jumped off the back and went over to an elderly man sitting on a stool outside the house directly under the sign. She chatted quickly to him in Vietnamese, and he pointed back over his head towards the large mountain which lay directly in the background...


 "Where is the cave?"
"It's way up there, out of sight," Thuy said as she pointed towards the unspecified destination.
"Are you sure this is a good idea?"
"Yes. You won't regret it," Thuy replied, looking up at Chip with a playful smile.
"It looks painful."
"All worthwhile things are."

"Chip, you don't--"
"No, wait. Let me do this right."
He slid down the front to the rock and stood right in front of her so her legs went under each of his arms. She reached out and put her arms around his neck, clasping her hands in the back...
"Thuy... "You have changed me. When I came to Vietnam, I didn't know what I was doing. I guess I was trying to figure out who I really was. I have never met anyone like you, and I know it sounds cliched and all of that. But it's true. I have been thinking a lot lately about my life and what I want out of my life, and I realized that there is only one thing I want. You. What I'm trying to say to you is...
He hesitated again. Thuy's eyes overflowed with tears, but she didn't care to wipe them away.
"Will you marry me?"

So it was on a fateful day in July that Chip both proposed to Thuy, but also learned, in visiting a special location within the cave, that his grandfather had also visited there! Thuy had not answered Chip that day because of her family commitments. She loved Chip, but her father was an alcoholic and she wasn't sure that he would be willing for her to marry. And he wasn't. Until Chip, growing desperate, admitted that he was very rich and immediately was accepted as a future son-in-law...

But that was when his son, who was the important member of the family, was still alive. When he died, his father swore vengeance... Thuy knew she would have to forget Chip, especially with the whole community up in arms about his loss.

It was then that a close friend of his grandfather had delivered his journal to the jail and Chip was able to learn about his time while living there. The important thing he learned though was that his grandfather had also fallen in love with a girl named Mai. But the journal ended... All Chip knew was that his grandfather had returned and married his grandmother... Would the same fate await him--that he'd never marry Thuy? And, of course, he could also be killed because of his crime!

Readers will be first caught up in the relationship between Mai and Chip's grandfather. Another individual plays a very important part--he is a young boy, just 14, who was there to help the soldiers as they prepared for battle. When the men dropped by parachute, Long was there to help Charles Carson and quickly looked upon him as a hero... In fact, Long was there as he watched Mai and Charles fall in love and when they went to look for Long's brother and the guns that were needed. Nobody knew what dangers they would face during that trip!

Sooo, Charles Carson had fallen in love with Mai, but had left and gone home to marry his former girlfriend. His son, Chip's father, was the owner and CEO of Carson Oil Subsidiary... who had now heard his son was in jail!

Have you ever heard that money talks? Well, in this case, while Chip was in jail, his father and staff were on their way in a private jet to get him out... His leverage? His company was in the process of a $4billion project in the area... And if he didn't get what he wanted, he wouldn't go through with the project... I admit I don't like the power of money, but, in this case, it was a very necessary part of getting Chip out of prison and the country...well, almost...

Because Chip wasn't going to leave without seeing Thuy once again...

Got to tell you that this is the first romance that has ever put me on the edge of my seat! Chip's insistence on going back...Wow! The climax of the story is quite worthy of all that had happened before. The culmination of an epic story that once again brings the three generations of men into the intimacy of a close family! Don't miss this one!

"Comparison is the thief of joy." --Theodore Roosevelt

Mark W Sasse's third novel, "The Reach of the Banyan Tree", is an epic look at the familial and cultural ties of modern day Vietnam through the eyes of three generations of American men who fought and loved there. Part contemporary love story, part historical fiction, "The Reach of the Banyan Tree spans two eras of time to give the reader a unique adventure of love and loss.
Mark W Sasse was born in Western Pennsylvania, but has spent nearly two decades living, teaching, and writing overseas in Vietnam and Malaysia. He has advanced degrees in Humanities and English. His first novel, "Beauty Rising", released in December 2012 which was followed by "The Recluse Storyteller" in October 2013.
Sasse has produced a variety of dramatic works such as "Grandparents' War", "Life with Stewart", "Spy Blue", "Take Two" & "Romans on the Couch." His works are known for unique and unpredictable plot-lines, strong characters, and thought-provoking dialogue. He also writes and directs for the drama troupe The RLT Players. He won the award for "Best Script" in 2013 Penang Short & Sweet Festival for his script "No In Spite of Itself." His short play "Drive All Nigiht" won the Audience Choice award at the 2012 Penang Short & Sweet Festival.
Sasse is an avid blogger, writing about life, drama, history, cultural, and writing. (

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Have you Met Benjamin Tucker in Vengeance is Mine... By Harry James Krebb...

Three days later, I missed the big
Friday night game. It was the day
Christine's raped and savagely
mutilated body was found by hikers
in a remote wooded area....

Prologue - It was the disappearance and murder of my then girlfriend, Christina Morgan, that changed everything for me. She disappeared seventeen years ago on my eighteenth birthday. We had made plans to meet at the Dairy Queen at six o'clock, but my high school baseball practice went later than expected because I'd invested extra time in the batting than expected because I'd invested extra time in the batting cage. Collegiate scouts were expected at that Friday evening's game, and winning a sports scholarship was the most important thing in the world to me.
By the time I borrowed my father's station wagon and drove to the DQ, it was six thirty, and it had begun raining like hell. Christine, who had arrived on time, was no longer there. No one had seen her leave. I called her house, but her mother said she'd gone to meet me. Her father called me twice that evening looking for her. Finally, at midnight, her parents called the police.
The initial police responders showed up at my house shortly after one in the morning. They interviewed me for twenty minutes, but I'd been unable to offer any insight as to where Christine could be...

It wasn't hard to think of Castle as the closest character to Benjamin Tucker.
Castle doesn't have the deep and dark background of the trauma Ben went through, but he did become a writer and wanted to help the police when there was a murder case... And I think the star who plays Castle would make a great Ben Tucker...

Ben blamed himself for his girlfriend's murder... Although he was never charged--and they also never discovered who had murdered her. Let's stop right there, because I'm hoping this is the beginning of a series and that sooner, or later, readers will be able to discover who killed Christina!

In the meantime, Ben is up to his neck in a murder case and, when they discover his background, he's immediately tossed out of participating...sorta...
Vengeance is Mine:
A Benjamin Tucker Mystery
By Harry James Krebbs

We'd only been married for five
months, and adjustment was painful...
She was high-society money,
 but I was a mutt. I came
 from a much lower class background,
and I have little use for money.
 But I believe it was my disdain
for wealth that attracted her to me.
When we married, she knew
 beyond all doubt it was because
I loved her and not her money.
If there's one thing I took away from the previous night's screaming match with my wife, Maggie, it was: don't ever do anything that brings publicity to the family without consulting her first "especially when it involves the police!"
I spent the night in the guesthouse after she'd locked me out of our bedroom. Our relationship was extremely volatile. We'd fight like cats and dogs one night and then relive the passion of our honeymoon the next...
It had been my recent offer to the police to help search for a serial killer that had Maggie livid. She found it "morbid and disgusting," and we argued about it for hours before calling a truce and going our separate ways for the rest of the night. She didn't understand that I had no choice. Even after seventeen years, Christine's murder still affected my life. Her killer had never been identified, and the feeling of utter helplessness that instilled in me had left me with an irrational drive to seek justice for victims of extreme violence. It was always right there under the surface, ready to take control, and with the recent murders, it had resurfaced once more.

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather
give place unto wrath: for it it written, Vengeance is
mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. --Romans 12:19

Netter displayed a photograph of a woman on the screen in the front of the room. "This is Renee Jean Clancy...She was thirty-two years old... He then displayed a crime scene photo showing Clancy's nude, decapitated corpse. She was staged sitting up on the bed in the master bedroom with her hands holding an open Bible--her head was missing from the scene..."

The circumstances surrounding the second death were presented by Detective Arnold Erikson of the Apex Police Department. The victim was thirty-five-year old Carla Diane Knudsen...Erikson displayed a photo of Knudsen, who had the same physical characteristics as Clancy, including height, weight, hair color and approximate age. He displayed a photo of the crime scene taken in the victim's bedroom. Like Clancy, the remains were nude with the head missing from the scene. She was also staged sitting up on the bed with her hands holding an open Bible...

Whew! This is an amazing mystery that keeps you on the edge of your seat. The crimes are horrible; we know the guilty has to be insane...but the psychological suspense could not possibly cover all that happened and was discovered during the investigation! This is undoubtedly the first in a series--it must be! Krebbs has created a new character that cannot be constrained in just one book!

Readers discover in the prologue that Ben's girlfriend is also horribly murdered when he was just a senior in high school. He went into severe depression and was finally able to come out of it. He chose to write a True Crime novel that gained him the beginning of a credible career and was commissioned to write a fiction novel... Ben found that a much more difficult task since fiction required creativity and imagination well beyond that of the mostly research and writing skills used in his first book. He was "blocked" for ideas and was late on getting a manuscript ready...

The sun glistened off Netter's gray
hair as he admired my ride and
exhaled a large cloud of blue smoke.
"Christ, Tucker, nice set of wheels."
"Yeah, it was a wedding gift from
"You're shittin' me. She gave you a
Jag for a wedding gift?" Netter
shook his head. "When I got married,
my old lady gave me a TV. Six months
later she left me and took the fuckin'
Oscar is routinely dressed by
Maggie's daughter...
Oscar made a pit stop along the
way and kicked up mulch and
grass all over my shoes. "Thank
you very much," I said.
He wagged.
Ben had met Lt. Netter when he was working on his first book and had enjoyed their relationship. So it wasn't hard to get accepted as a member of a "multi-organizational task force" that would be working the case. He was happy but his wife certainly wasn't. She's a respected CEO of a family business and, to illustrate their wealth, bought Ben a Jag for their wedding present...and also the one gift he had always wanted...

Another interesting member of the family, housekeeper Roberto, was more than unhappy...she firmly believed Ben was out to get his hands on the family money... and would often question Ben about his life and whether he had talked to Jesus that day... Roberto is a much welcomed character and readers will enjoy watching how her righteous protection for the family slowly begins to melt...

Ben was previously married and has a daughter who gets along fine with Maggie's daughter. But Ben's ex has constantly tried to turn their daughter against Ben and she apparently has heard that Deception is doing well and is demanding a renegotiation of child support!

But the thing that set off Ben's total commitment to the case was when he was asked to be interviewed on Carolinians in the News. And the killer called him afterwards and told him he knew after seeing the show that destiny had brought them together...

Soon the murder of his ex happened... 

Followed by leads in the investigation that Ben had been seen there...

Many of the investigators thought Ben could be guilty, but at a minimum because of the murder of his ex, he was tossed off the task force. He didn't dare tell his agent because Deception was going into multiple printings because of his involvement and the assumption that he would now write about this serial killer...

There were a couple of indiscretions by Ben that set him off worrying... He had kissed his sister-in-law after his ex had been killed... and he was attracted to the FBI agent assigned to the case, and later to him personally as he refused to leave town with the rest of his family who relocated because of the killer's fixation on Ben... What was up with that? Even Ben didn't know but worried he was having some of his earlier symptoms from his teens... To me, this was another hanging item that convinced me another book was coming... Right, Krebb??? I hope!

The title is a significant clue about this particular serial killer. But it still was just a part of the complex story that unrolls in the drama that is Ben's life! I found him a very sympathetic character but also an intelligent researcher and investigator who was gutsy enough to choose a career that would put him directly in line for flashbacks to his past. Sure wish the next book was already available! But the capture of the "Headless Corpse Killer" is waiting to force you, as I did, to read this book in one sitting! You've just got to check out this tremendous thriller!

"It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are." -- E. E. Cummings

About the Author
Harry James Krebs was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. After receiving his BA in applied physics from Aurora University in Illinois, Harry spent thirty-seven years with United States Department of Energy Contractors as a senior mechanical engineer. He designed, built, maintained, and operated large experimental detectors for high-energy physics experiments at national laboratories such as the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, the Superconducting Super Collider, and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford University.
Krebs always wanted to write mystery novels, but his engineering career left him little time to write until now. His first novel, Fractured Persona, is based on a recurring dream where he would wake up in someone else’s body and life.
The author and his wife currently live in Raleigh, North Carolina with their Chihuahua, Lucille.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Meet Henry Swann, Main Character in Swann's Lake of Despair by Charles Salzberg During His Blog Tour for Latest in Series Just Out!

"How would you feel about a little
"My nipples are hard."
"Here," I said, tossing him my coat.
"Try this on. Put the collar up and wear
this." I tossed him my watch cap.
"before you step outside, have the doorman
hail you a cab. As you see it pulling up to
the curb, step outside and make sure you're
seen. Then hop in the cab. Quick. Like you're
trying to get away from someone."
"And while I doing this you'll be?"
"Waiting by the side of the building to make
sure he takes the bait...
"You're a master, Swann."
"I do my best..."
"You look a little disconcerted, Swann," Klavan cannily observed as I tossed my coat on one chair and plunked myself down in another. His office is so clean, with everything in its place, that I always feel like I should be wearing white gloves.
"I hate it when I'm inadequate, that I'm not as good as I hope I am."
"That happen often?"
"Too often, way too often."
"What is it this time?"
"I was being tailed. I thought I'd lost him, but she shows up waiting for me outside your building."
"He's no magician. He probably knows where your, or should I say my, office is. It's on your cards, isn't it?"
"I didn't hand him my business card, Ross."
"Easy, big boy."
"Sorry. I'm just a little unnerved. Obviously, I thought I was better than I am."
"You're probably not as hard to find as you think you are. He probably knows where you live, too."
"I doubt that," I said, my mind whirling, trying to figure out how I was going to lose this guy before I got home. "Sometimes I even have trouble finding my way home."
"You're listed, aren't you?"
"Are you kidding? So everyone and his mother can find me? There've been times when I'm only one step ahead of all those guys I used to find for skipping on their bills. And in my business you don't have a lot of satisfied customers. You think I'm going to list my address so just anyone can find me?"


WELCOME, HENRY SWANN! Although I haven't had the chance to read all of the books you star in, I've always been curious about you... [Check out my reviews of his earlier books and also his own site where I picked up this voice tape so you can get a feel for his voice.]  I also found a sketch of someone purported to look like him... Still he haunts me for some reason... Swann, there are fans out there who are still trying to nail you down and get to know you better... Moi, included!

It didn't take me long to sink into Charles Salzberg's latest Swann novel... But since I still don't have him clearly in my mind, I started thinking about my other PI favorites, although Swann is not licensed, he's starting to use that title! Some scenes brought the sexy voice for me from the Mike Hammer TV program as he, too narrated his actions during cases...

But then there would be comments about his appearance and his lack of attention to himself and it was then that Columbo came to mind...
although I do know Swann prefers casual, usually jeans...

So then the overall underlying humor and sly remarks came and I immediately turned to Spenser, who also narrates his work--perhaps my favorite (or at least my favorite author who created him, Robert B. Parker)

Spenser had a great partner who I loved, but... Swann added a "possible" partner in this book and a pair of detectives entered the competition... Nero Wolfe and his partner...

But NONE of them would do! Swann and his potential partner, are unique, different. But as included on the front cover, "Henry Swann is in the great tradition of American mystery heroes; world-weary, philosophical, tough, and competent..." And you're gonna love his internal thoughts as a man named Goldblatt forces himself into Swann's life... Will he become a permanent addition? Will Swann partner up? And what about a steady female? There was one in this book that I'd like to see again by the name of Claudia. She just pulled a scam...but...she could change, couldn't she???

Anyway, enough of my character search, let me tell you about the latest in this terrific series...
Here's a plea to the author...get us more on Swann and where he's heading in the future...

Swann's Lake of Despair
By Charles Salzberg

As the title implies, this novel was quite different in sharing the life of Henry Swann. It shows much more of his internal thinking, especially about the individual cases in which he becomes involved. In many ways, he becomes the judge and jury as he decides first one way and then another to "close" the case to his own personal satisfaction. Of course, I felt he made all the right decisions, so I enjoyed watching his thoughts through the activities. And if the individual who was paying the bill for his investigation was not happy? Hey, that was his problem, right?

"Goldblatt, you gonna tell me what the hell you
wanted to see me about?" I said, as I watched
him shovel another forkful of pasta into his
mouth, or at least in the general vicinity thereof.
Believe me, it was not a pretty sight.
"Year. Sure. After we finish the meal."
"I don't know if I can wait that long. Watching
you eat is making me sick."
"You got a problem with the way I eat?" he said,
as a few droplets of red sauce shot through the
air and landed on a glass I'd moved in front of
my plate for protection from just such an assault.
"Exhibit number one," I said, pointing to the
..."Now maybe we can discuss the business you
said you had for me."
"I haven't had desert yet."
"Screw dessert, If I don't hear the reason you
got me here, I'm leaving."
"Okay, okay, I need you to do a solid for me."
"I don't do solids. I learned a long time ago
that solids always turn out to be work and,
like beer spilled on a table, it tends to get
sticky and spreads out. For work, I get paid.
And I doubt that's going to happen with you.
How much have you brought in since you
got disbarred?"
So, in respect to Swann's true character, I was quite pleased to learn where his heart and motives were...

The blurb for the book is quite succinct. After agreeing to work on a temporary basis with his "frenemy," Goldblatt, he was immediately thrust into working three cases... Not an easy thing to do since he had little time to do the thinking required to put the respective puzzles together... 

The first one immediately felt like a scam to Swann. It was to find a lost diary by a young woman who had lived during the "Jazz age." Goldblatt had already made the connection and wanted Swann to deal with the exchange--or something like that--but what it turned out to be was that Swann went to the meet and was assaulted! Not a good way to start a relationship...

The second job was to attempt to find the lost photos of a once well-known photographer. Pictures he had taken of Marilyn Monroe had surfaced sometime in the recent past and had sold for a bundle... Goldblatt was contacted to search for the remaining work that had never been found.

Let's stop a minute and mention that Goldblatt, an attorney, has been disbarred, but still manages to keep a living going by these strange jobs that he finds somehow... Swann, as you may know, started out as a skip tracer, finding people who had not paid their bills. He was good at it--finding people. So all that Goldblatt had brought to him was some version of that activity.

The last job was a straight-out missing person case. A young-man, heartbroken when his girlfriend left in the middle of the night, wanted Swann to find her. Hopefully to bring her back but at least to find out that she was not dead or in danger...

When readers watch Swann in action, you might first consider that this investigative work is easy... But that opinion doesn't last very long as he's working his way through the lives of the involved three people, trying to find some clue, some tip that sounds marginally possible, to see what the next step in the search is. You can understand my comment about time to think through each of these puzzles! But with three cases going at once and an agreed-upon temporary partner who has the pushy personality of a lawyer, Swann is becoming overwhelmed at times... But, hey, Swann handles himself quite well...most of the time...

"Nice guy, huh?" he said, as he swiveled back and forth in my chair.
"I try not to jump to conclusions."
"You don't like him?"
"I didn't say that. I just said the verdict isn't in yet. There's something a little off about his story...and him. I don't pretend to know women and I know they're unpredictable, but disappearing into thin air like that. That's something professional con-women do. But in this case, she didn't take him for anything, at least anything he's admitting to her having taken, so I'm stumped."
"Just his heart."
"Yeach, just his heart. Suddenly, I've turned into Miss Lonelyhearts," I said, as I made a subtle motion with my hand for him to get out of my damn chair. Somehow, he didn't get the message. "Would you please stop swiveling around like that. You're making me dizzy. Besides, shouldn't I be sitting in my own chair?"
"You want I should get up?"
"God forbid," I said, as I dragged a folding chair from the corner and sat down opposite him...
"I've got a few other irons in the fire. But there is something else I wanted to talk to you about."
"I don't renegotiate. The split is the split."
"It's not that, although I think we are going to have to revisit that subject at some point in our relationship. We've got a little unfinished business I'd like you to take care of."
"It wouldn't be that Long Beach fiasco, would it?"
"Year, As it turns out, that money you lost if a little more important than I thought it would be."
"Quel surprise. And by the way, just for the record, I didn't lose it. It was taken from me. And it never would have happened if you'd warned me what was going on. You sent me there like a lamb to the slaughter."

While each of the jobs is really a mystery to be solved, there is no suspense, few thrills... What readers will enjoy is engaging, humorous, dialogue as two men begin to know each other and think about working together... Then there Claudia who uses the attraction she sees in Swann to ensure he agrees to work with her...even though she and her friend are the ones who first assaulted him! Got to say, she must be some kind of woman and slick enough to fit in with Swann's least, in my opinion...LOL

The talk is rough, sometimes with words you might never have heard of, like a "solid" but easily understood to be the street language of the businesses and the place where they live...

I'd never juggled three cases at once, but the money on this one, if it was real, was awfully tempting. In my head, while Goldblatt rattled on, I tried to organize how I'd handle it. this was Wednesday. If I went out to Long Beach Thursday morning, I could take care of that. Friday, I could start the ball rolling on the Feingersh case. Florida, Saturday morning, take care of that. I wasn't used to working that hard, but I could do it, especially if the motivating color was green.

And speaking of money...I'd never make it in this kind of work...Handing out $20 here and $20 there...or more would never, in my mind, justify working on dangerous jobs, no matter what the pay... But then, as they say, people do what they do best... And Swann knows how to find people... Of course, he solved all the cases... But how he solved them? Well, not even Goldblatt, his temporary partner, will ever know...

Hey, grab a sandwich, cup of joe, sit in your favorite easy chair and let Swann tell you all about his latest cases! You'll relax, smile a lot, maybe chuckle once in a while and...enjoy! And, maybe, by the time you get toward the end, you'll be very interested in listening to Swann's spout his philosophy about how each of the cases were closed...

"Cut the crap, Goldblatt."
"Listen, Swann, if this is going to work, if we're going to be partners, then we have to be equal partners. Otherwise, there's the risk of bad feelings on one side. My side, to be precise."
"What about my bad feelings about splitting things with you fifty-fifty, especially since I'm out there doing all the work, taking all the risks?"
"What risks? I don't see a mark on you."
"Psychological wounds, Goldblatt. The kinds of wounds you can't see."
"What? You're gonna tell me you suffer from post-traumatic syndrome? You gonna pull that card on me?"

Right about then, I was thinking, OMG, is Goldblatt ever going to shut...up...? Yet, Swann was sitting there smiling, who knew?

Hey, check this out...and if you're good with your research, you'll find out who plays Swann... Me, I was quite happy with the face, going with the voice...sure glad I got to know you better in your latest! Swann, you're welcome at BRH any time... Now, about that girl Friday... 

Highly recommended!

"Dreams don't work unless you do." --John C. Maxwell

Charles Salzberg is a New York-based novelist, journalist and acclaimed writing instructor.
His new novel, Devil in the Hole, a work of literary crime fiction based on the notorious John List murders, is on the shelves now. He is also the author of the Henry Swann detective series: Swann’s Last Song, which was nominated for a Shamus Award for Best First PI Novel; Swann Dives In; and the upcoming Swann's Lake of Despair.
A celebrated and popular creative writing teacher, he has been a Visiting Professor at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, and has taught writing at Sarah Lawrence College, Hunter College, the Writer's Voice, and the New York Writers Workshop, where he is a Founding Member. He is a consulting editor at the webzine and co-host, with Jonathan Kravetz, of the reading series, Trumpet Fiction, at KGB in New York City.
His freelance work has appeared in such publications as Esquire, New York Magazine, GQ, Elle, Redbook, Ladies Home Journal, The New York Times Arts and Leisure section, The New York Times Book Review, and the Los Angeles Times Book Review.
He is also the author of From Set Shot to Slam Dunk, An Oral History of the NBA; On A Clear Day They Could See Seventh Place: Baseball’s 10 Worst Teams of the Century; and co-author of My Zany Life and Times, by Soupy Sales, Catch Them Being Good; and The Mad Fisherman.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Fantastic Fantasy, Music City, by Sara M. Harvey, Added to Personal Favorites for 2014! Heading for Ireland; then Nashville!

"You haven't been an arse," Keela Laughed. "You've actually been quite charming. I'm not used to flirtation, I rather like it." That was too bold, she thought, too bold by half! 
He grinned and his eyes crinkled again at the corners. "You're not like my banshee," Michael whispered, his voice barely audible above the howl of the wind. "They take themselves too seriously. You're more like I imagined a banshee would be like as a youngster. Do you like to dance?" He mimed classic goth moves, clearing imaginary cobwebs with his hands swept over his head and then reaching up and twisting his wrists as if changing an invisible lightbulb. 
Keela put the back of her hand to her forehead and leaned back, looking as insulted as she could manage. Then giggling, she made as if she was handing him a cup of tea, then swished her arm away from him, wrapping it across her chest with a toss of her head.
It's settled, then! Let's hit Considine's Bar and then see if we can find a club hosting a goth night anywhere in Galway."

"I like Trad, too, you know, doesn't even have to be the slow, sad stuff either. I like me some jigs and reels as much as the next Irishwoman! So, any place will do, so long as there's music." She couldn't believe she was agreeing to a date with an O'Neill boy!
"Of course," she smiled, taking her hand in his. His fingers were cold, but hers were colder, she knew. He didn't seem to mind one bit. "So long as there's music."
Mary Black as Keela
That was how it began. Such a simple, carefree beginning it was, too. They met for beer, or whiskey, or coffee, or dancing of just a quiet walk along the River Corrib. She never wanted to leave; it was as if Galway belonged to them, a place solen out of time for the two of them. And the mortals around them, usually so susceptible to the presence of harbingers, just shrugged and smiled as if Keela was nothing more than Michael's peculiar girlfriend. The bands played late into the night for them while Michael sang along. Keela never joined in...
Start this vid and allow it to play while you read!
There must be music!
It wasn't that she didn't enjoy singing, in fact, she sang constantly when alone. But she'd been admonished by her mother and aunts and sisters over it enough times that she dared not utter a single note in public. Not because she feared losing their good graces, but because she truly feared what loosing that voice might actually do. So, she let Michael sing, and it warmed her heart...
Michael was smitten.Keela was head over heels...
Michael brought his hands up and ran them along the sides of her throat, then curled his fingers into her hair. He held her tight as she stiffened and tried to back away.
"Shhhh," he soothed bringing his left hand up the back of her head, angling towards the silver comb she always wore. All banshees had one, most wore theirs every day. The combs had power, great power, Mortals were never supposed to touch them. Ever.
"I thought you'd like it if I brushed your hair."
Keela shoot her head. She reached back for the comb. "Let me take this out first."
"Please allow me." His hand darted past her eyes in a playful manner and she tried to duck her head out of his reach. Michael's fingertip traced the edge of the scrollwork reach. Michael's fingertip traced the edge of the scrollwork on the comb before he pulled it free with a flourish. "Ah ha!"
Keela's midnight black hair uncoiled from the French twist she'd pulled it up into and fanned out across her shoulders and then swept down her back. 
He smiled at her with delighted pride for the span of a single heartbeat before falling over dead...

Music City
By Sara M. Harvey

Keela was banned from Ireland due to her dalliance with another's human... But as young lovers they could not deny their love... Neither knew they had been betrayed... Taking out a banshee's comb meant immediate death to a human! But, as sometimes happens, the bad brought about something good. If Keela could find a certain Irish song, Oran na Cele, which had once been stolen, and which had much power, then Michael could be brought back to life. He had not had his own banshee sing for him!

Being banned, Keela really had no choice but to leave and, hopefully, find the song. It was known that it had been taken to America... And it was there she met three sister banshees, who helped her to find the oracle, the Fae of True Telling... but one of her guardians turned them away...  Keela, however, was not going to be turned away after coming so far!
 Fortunately, she gained entrance because the will-o'-the-wisps seemed to like her, and she soon caught the attention of Molan MacLiath, Guardian of the Fae... Where they were, truly seemed enchanted, and you will need to learn the description of the Fae when you read this wonderful fantasy!

Keela also seemed to charm the Fae, but she discovered she would have to pay for that privilege! She was asked to explain why she was there and, in sympathy, Radha asked if she would like to see Michael...

"I will let you see him. Through me. Look here."
Keela thought she would fall up into those limitless eyes, so bright and expansive were they. She held fast to the stone 
from the River Liffey and thought of Molan guardian the door. How could she alert him that she needed his help?
"You do not need Molan to help you. You must find the strength in yourself, or be lost. Gut you came this far on your own. I believe you must be strong, Cadhla."
Keela tensed. She could hear in the slight difference in pronunciation that Radha had used her true name and her soul lit up, shining fiercely bright as Radha's terrible gaze.
She saw Michael O'Neill. His auburn hair and his green eyes. In his hand, he held her silver comb with its long, elegant teeth and circles and swirls decorating it. He gripped it almost desperately, as if knowing that it kept him close in spirit to her, his only salvation from a life lost forever in purgatory. She reached for him, but her hyands passed right through.
"You cannot touch him, Cadhla, your power is broken."
"How do I get it back?"
"You must sing for it."
Keela nodded. "Oran na Cele."
"Yes, the song of death's beautiful companion."
"But it's lost."
"It is here..."
"Listen now, faerie daughter, this is the song of all banshees, the song taught to the very first of your kind. It was a song to seduce death, to lull it into submission, to rend holes in the veil that separates the worlds. It was meant only to ensure the safe passage of a human sour from the living realm to that of the dead. But Eimean O'Neill is correct, it can be made to work in reverse."
"Who taught it to us?"
"I did..."

Then she learned that the song undoubtedly was in Music City!  The sisters helped her with money and she took a bus...on to Nashville, wearing the only clothes she'd ever worn, and her surprising gift from Molan, who was also guardian of the land... He gave her a small rock... Thankfully...

"Michael," she whispered. "I'm coming."
She dozed in snataches, jolted awak by dreams that were all too real then settling back to let the vibration and sway to the bus rock her to sleep once again. The sun rose behind her and chased her down the highway, beating her to Nashville. As soon as the doors of the bus opened, she heard the music. It wasn't even weekend, but live music from a dozen or more sources echoed through the brick alleys, rising and falling with thujmping drumbeats, the poignant drawl of an acoustic guitar, and now and again an exuberant whoop followed by muffled applause. Keela stepped down onto the pavement on uncertain legs and began to make her shaky way into the heart of Music City. A vibration across her skin made all of the hairs on her arm stand on end. It was the feeling of stepping into a faerie circle, or into a graveyard. This place held power...

It didn't take Keela long to start out and making herself at home... using her crow form to get around and finally settling into a nearby cemetery for her lodging and meeting the ghosts living there, for a bit of company... Soon, looking for a little touch of home she discovered there were a number of bars with live music. Then she met a fellow Irishman and was soon singing! Something she'd not been permitted in Ireland! She was going to love this magical place and soon started a "Puirt a Beul"... traditional "mouth-music... "Tha bainn' ag na caoraich uile, than bainn' ag na caoraich uile, tha bainn' ag na caoraich uile, 's e cho sleamhain ris an im."

She was now singing in a band and bringing crowds there to listen to her voice...
When she had arrived, she had not felt that any other banshees were in Nashville, except perhaps their spirits, but there were two women who came to hear her sing--Keela felt there was something different, strange about them... And then another came, wanting to become her agent...and more...

While becoming totally immersed in her new singing opportunities, Keela also began searching for the song... This mystery takes her place after place, until...she knew she was in danger. Two of them, those she had earlier met, invited her into their home where she revealed her true nature before she could leave! But at least she now knew who they were and that they would continue to try to prevent her from fulfilling her mission! And Keela was determined to find the song and bring Michael back to life! But nothing prepared anybody for what actually happens! Keela is caught in a climatic ending that is beyond imagining! Except for the author, Sara Harvey... LOL
This entire book is exciting in its vision of how music from Ireland came to live and bring life to a sister city that has grown into what they now call "Music City..." And it was Keela's and other Irish individuals' singing that made it all happen! ...So the story goes...

May you all hear the music coming through the characters, the story of Music City You might be interested to know that Keela could still be there in Nashville, singing in some club, at the Opry...or in a cemetery nearby... Don't miss this one!


Sara M. Harvey is a California Girl at heart. Born in the foggy hills of the San Francisco Bay Area, she resided there for 19 years before striking off to chase the gypsy life from Tacoma, WA, to Santa Cruz, CA, to SoCal, to New York City, to Orlando, FL, to Milwaukee, WI, and finally settling-for the moment- in Nashville, TN.

Sara writes her own brand of genre-bending fantasy as well as non-fiction clothing and costume history books, using both her experiences as a New Yorker and the Masters Degree in Costume History that she earned at NYU.

In Nashville, Sara has settled into the quiet life surprisingly well, if by "quiet" one might imagine rafter-raising Nashville Predator hockey games, a small fixer-upper house inhabited by some crazy dogs, a colorful international neighborhood with a great family restaurant serving amazing authentic Mexican or Middle Eastern food on just about every corner, and a day job teaching fashion and history to Nashville's finest and most energetic up-and-coming designers.

Besides the dogs, Guinevere the border collie mix and Eowyn the basenji mix, Sara shares this joyride with her husband, fellow author, and dearest friend: Matt.