Monday, February 1, 2016

Spending a Weekend with Lauren Carr is What Book Readers Heaven is All About! First...Kill and Run

“This has to do with your first husband,” Agent Sanders said. “Pennsylvania State Trooper Nicolas Gates.” 
Cameron grasped Joshua’s hand and squeezed it. He took her hand into both of his. “We can talk in my study.” As if to lead the way, Irving trotted ahead of them into the study. Spotting the cat for the first time, Special Agent Horrigan stopped. “Is that—”
 “He’s a cat,” Joshua said.
 “Then he’s not going to spray me,” the agent sighed. “But he will give you plenty of bad attitude.” 
In Joshua’s study, Irving jumped up into Cameron’s lap as soon as she sat on the sofa. After closing the door, Joshua took the seat next to her and clasped her hand. 
She opened the conversation by saying, “I would ask if you came to tell me that you found the driver who ran Nick down, but hit and runs aren’t federal cases— even if a state police officer is killed. So what is this about?” 
Special Agent Sanders leaned forward in his seat across from her. “Actually, we’re here to tell you that we have the man who ran your late husband down in custody.” 
Shooting Joshua a weak smile, Cameron sighed. Joshua squeezed her shoulders and kissed her forehead. Fighting back tears, Cameron swallowed. “I knew that one day— eventually, we’d get him.” 
“I’m afraid it’s not that simple,” the senior agent said. 
“Something told me it wasn’t,” Joshua said. “Like she asked, what interest would the FBI have in a simple hit and run?”
 “It wasn’t a simple hit and run,” Agent Horrigan said. “It was a paid hit with your husband Nicolas Gates as the target.”
Cameron’s head shot up. “Why? Who would pay to have Nick killed?”
“We were hoping you could tell us,” Special Agent Horrigan said. “How did you come by that information?” 
Joshua asked. Special Agent Sanders explained, “Last week, we arrested Sal Bertonelli, a professional hit man with a list of assassinations going back over twenty years. This guy was good. He mostly worked for the Russian mob. He’s also done some important hits for major drug cartels. He’s turned government witness in exchange for immunity. He’s testifying against the top echelon of organized crime in the country.”
 “Part of the bargain was for him to give us a list of murders for pay that he has committed,” Agent Horrigan said. “Pennsylvania State Trooper Nick Gates was on that list.”
Cameron stared at one of them and then the other. When she found her voice, she asked, “Why would the Russian mob or a drug cartel want to kill Nick?” 
“We were hoping you could tell us that,” Agent Sanders replied. 
“What does Bertonelli say?” Joshua asked.
“He never asked any questions,” Agent Horrigan said. “That’s why he was so popular with the mob. He just took the orders and collected his pay. He was ordered to make Trooper Gates’ murder look like an accident. He was tailing him and saw him pull over a car for speeding— ripe for a hit and run.”
“Was your husband working any cases involving organized crime or major drug dealers?” Agent Sanders asked Cameron. 
“No,” she blurted out. “He was a patrolman. Yes, he wanted to work up to detective, but he wasn’t working any cases on his own. He …” 
Speechless, she turned to Joshua. Seeing tears in her eyes, Joshua rubbed her back and told the agents in a quiet tone.
“As you can tell, this is a big shock for my wife. Can you leave your card with us—”
“I want to talk to him,” Cameron said in a surprisingly strong voice. 
“I’m afraid—” Agent Sanders started to say.
“He killed my husband,” Cameron said. “He and whoever hired him took away someone who was very dear to me. That night, my life changed forever. It was never the same from the very second that bastard ran down Nick. I have the right to a face to face with him to find out the name of the monster who ordered him to kill my husband and why.” 
“We have him in protective custody in Washington, D.C.,” Agent Sanders argued. “Both the Russian mob and the drug cartels have already put out contracts on him,” Agent Horrigan said. “I’m going to Washington,” Cameron said...

Kill and Run:
A Thorny Rose Mystery

By Lauren Carr

Up until this weekend of relaxing into two Lauren Carr books, I was considering Three Days to Forever  my top favorite of Carr's books, but Kill and Run sure is running close and I'm looking forward to seeing where this new series goes! Although Carr places all of her books primarily into the mystery genre, I've become intrigued to see her take off into complex, diverse stories that "tip over" into multi-genre categories that leaves me wondering if there is anybody out there producing the wealth of divergent and dissimilar areas of interests into which Carr is willing to travel...and achieve!

This book, for instance, I would compare to A. J. Tata's Thriller Threat Series that takes readers into military action and adventure...  While Tata's strength is in his knowledge and experience in the military, Lauren Carr's strength is in creating characters that can easily fall into whatever role she has assigned them. In this case, we meet Murphy Thornton... While Tata's books are more technically involved, Carr's Murphy Thornton is a man that readers can easily identified as being both prepared and suited for special assignment to a team of Phantoms...
Murphy Thornton: Lieutenant in the United States Navy. Naval Academy graduate. Hand-picked by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to serve as a member of their elite team of Phantoms— Murphy is not your average navy officer. Joshua Thornton’s son. Newly wed to Jessica Faraday.
One of the bonuses you get from this author is a complete list of characters. Very much needed for Carr's books since a number of her series are intertwined and characters from other series come into a new series to show the relationship. For instance, Murphy Thornton is the son of Joshua Thornton. You will remember him marrying Cameron, whose first husband was killed in what was thought to be a hit-and-run. It is in this book, in this new series, that the mystery about Cameron's first husband is solved! And brings both Cameron and Joshua into working with Murphy and his new wife!

Murphy has been assigned as liaison between NCIS and the Navy. Being a member of the Phantoms is so secret that nobody in NCIS or the Navy are aware of Murphy's additional assignment. In fact, Murphy is not quite sure why he was placed in what is, essentially, a desk job--not something he's interested in as a career choice! He's wondering if he is there to watch

the head of NCIS...Because she sure needs to be! From the readers standpoint, I really loved the character that he hates...LOL She is created in such a way that you will hate her and be totally on Murphy's side, especially when it becomes her fault that Murphy is assigned to a serial killer case! For those who have seen Matilda, I can suggest that she fits the character, in my opinion...

“Murphy,” Boris shook his hand, “you are one humble guy. All that stuff that the admiral said you did? I never knew. You never told us that.”(having just been awarded the Bronze Star) 
“It was a classified mission,” Murphy explained. On the other side of the conference room, he was aware of Hillary Koch hanging back, with a bitter frown on her face. She had her arms folded tightly across her chest.
“Did he say domestic terrorism?” Susan asked. “That means it happened here in the United States, but I don’t recall seeing on the news anything like that going down.” She turned to her partner Perry. “Did you ever see anything like that on the news?” 
Perry was confirming that he hadn’t while Jessica laid her hand on Murphy’s elbow. 
“What about that lunch?” With pride, she fingered the star hanging on his breast pocket. “I know it’s early, but I was hoping you could take a couple of hours leave to celebrate.” With a naughty grin, she winked at him.
Abruptly, Hillary provided Murphy with the answer to Jessica’s invitation. “Thornton, come here. I need to talk to you.” The tone of her voice made the hair on the back of Murphy’s neck stand up on end. Wading through the agents, who sensed by Koch’s tone that she was not calling him over to bestow her congratulations, Murphy made his way to the staff chief. “Yes, Crotch—” In response to her glare, he corrected himself, “I meant Koch.”
“Sure you did,” she muttered. Murphy noticed her eying the shiny addition to his chest. She had to refrain from touching it. To do so would be to acknowledge his achievement, and she would be damned if she did that. Instead, she grasped her cell phone with both hands. “The Virginia State Police have what appears to be a home invasion in Reston. Five women murdered in a town house. One of the victims is a petty officer from the Navy Yard.” Wondering why she was telling him this, Murphy cocked his head at her. It was the duty of her staff to investigate criminal cases involving military or civilian navy personnel. He was only the liaison. Koch planted her hands on her hips. “Since this petty officer appeared to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, we need someone to go to the scene, scope it out, and then allow the local police to take the lead.”
“Why are you sending me?” “Because this award ceremony of yours has set us back. This meeting is going to have to go through lunch,” she said. “I need the rest of my staff here. This multiple murder was most likely a robbery or one—” 
“Was it our petty officer’s home?” 
“No,” Koch said. “If she was just collateral damage from another crime, then it’s not our case. But we have to send someone out there to go through the motions of a pissing contest with the state police and then let them take it. Just make sure they know to keep us in the loop on the investigation.” She smirked. “I’m sure a super man like you can handle that, Thornton.” She glanced over at Jessica who was standing a couple of feet away. “Sorry to ruin your date.” Stepping around Murphy, Koch clapped her hands. “Okay, boys and girls, the show is over. We need to get back to work.” 
Jessica murmured into his shoulder, “What a—” Murphy’s mouth clamped over hers to stifle the rest of her protest. Caught off guard, she stumbled on her high heels to fall into his arms, which he wrapped around her tightly while whispering with a husky voice into her ear, 
“Smile. Don’t give her the satisfaction of seeing that she’s ruined anything.”

Let's just say that Murphy took over the case, just because he was there and wanted real action--as well as make his immediate supervisor upset! LOL
What he didn't know was that, before it was over, the case had a background starting years ago and a scope that became international! In fact, it got so complex that it finally became beyond his rank's level to handle, even though he'd been doing the job. But the case was assigned to another man to whom Murphy would report...

Ok, telling you that it was to Captain Joshua Thornton (his father) doesn't really give anything away except that this pulls together what I believe and hope will be the new team in this series...Josh and his wife and Murphy and his wife, Jessica, who is said to look like Princess Jasmine!

“Hasn’t anyone ever told you? With your dark hair and pretty eyes? You look like Princess Jasmine from the movie Aladdin.” Flattered, Jessica was speechless. A small grin came to Izzy’s lips. 

Izzy is a new character that comes into the story by way of the murder investigation. She immediately touches hearts and I was thankful that my prediction of what would happen to her proved to be correct...

And then there was a scene that absolutely got me ROFL! I know I will be forgiven in including a it even though it is near the end of the book and has been edited to hide villain's characteristics... This is a perfect example of how Carr brings in funny family furry friends and makes them so important within the books that we look forward to seeing what they will get into next! Yep! if it wasn't for two of those furry friends, the primary villain might have gotten away! Kudos especially to Monique, a new furry...ah...not friend to everybody!

Thanks to Looney Tunes
Penelope Pussycat
 for standing
in for Irving
The intruder grasped the bottom of the bed’s skirt and lifted— releasing twenty-five pounds of furry wrath. With a screech, Irving shot out from under the bed with all claws extended. Most of them found their mark. Grabbing ... face with both hands, [the villain] leapt...Screaming..whirled around while trying to capture the enraged animal that continued to claw and scratch with every ounce of rage he had inside him, before bouncing off the top of  head to the dresser, and then scurrying out the door. Letting off a string of curses, [the villain] wiped the blood. Seeing blood in the palm of hand only infuriated more.

By the time Cameron sat up, [a villain] was pointing the Beretta...snatched from Cameron’s pocket at her. “You all make the same mistake,” ... held out the gun to aim shot between Cameron’s eyes. ... arm tingled with the feel of something itchy working its way up... forearm. In the dim light of the room, ... could only make out something several inches in diameter and made up of black fur scurrying up... jaw dropped open upon realizing that the enormous furry thing was not only the size of a luncheon plate, but had eight legs. With a scream, ... dropped the gun and swiped at Monique, who hopped  until the spider landed on shoulder. Hysterical, [the villain] twisted, whirled and jumped while slapping and hitting in an attempt to kill the oversized bug. Panting with madness...

Moving from straight step-by-step research and clue gathering into thrilling action, together with that constant underlying sense of humor that only Lauren gives to all her stories, together with the move of setting into the military setting certainly continues Carr's exploration of range in her topics! In my mind, she has done an exceptional tour into the internal workings of a secret team called the Phantoms. Plus...Jessica got her PI license! Quite a pair to consider without a little help from family members!  This series I predict will be one of her best! Congrats, Lauren Carr!

And, guess what, when I was out getting the picture for this book, I saw another of Carr's! It's spooky, suspenseful and lots of fun...NEXT!


An Amazon All-Star Author, Lauren Carr writes mysteries that have made Amazon's best-selling ranks internationally. 
The tenth installment of her popular Mac Faraday Mysteries, Open Season for Murder, was released on June 1 to rave reviews and excited fans of Mac and Gnarly. 
Her upcoming new series, The Thorny Rose Mysteries is already being proclaimed a hit by reviewers. The first installment, Kill and Run was released September 4. the Thorny Rose detectives, Murphy Thornton and Jessica Faraday were introduced to fans in Three Days to Forever, which readers and reviewers have declared to be Carr's "best of the best!"
She lives with her husband, son, and three dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV. 

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