Book Review – Missing by Ann Jones

An entertaining quick read which might make you burn dinner

Missing is an intriguing mystery from debut crime novelist Ann Jones. Her main character Lyn Kramer is a no-nonsense detective who has no trouble clearing cases, getting the job done, and calling it a day. And since she is so good at it, believes herself to be impervious to the crimes she investigates. Until it becomes personal.

A simple missing persons case turns into a waking nightmare for Kramer, when it turns out it’s her twin sister who is missing. Because of a terrible painful past, and a long separation between the sisters, the case stirs up memories, Kramer would prefer to repress but is helpless to do so. And a very thin veil behind which the family skeletons hide is about to be drawn aside.

With the help of her green yet surprisingly empathetic partner, Jud, and a few resistant witnesses can Lyn save her sister, and by doing so, save herself? Or will she just crack under the pressure?

I’m afraid you’ll have to read the novel to find out.

You can pick up a free copy of Ann’s book, Missing, here

The awesome news is that Ann just released Book 2, Trapping, in this series and it is available at Amazon at a steal for 99 cents.

A bittersweet reunion…

Separated by feuding families when they were children, Detective Lyn Kramer of the Elm Grove Police Department and her estranged twin sister, high school teacher Melissa Farnsworth, have finally been reunited—but under terrifying circumstances. After freeing her sister from the clutches of Lester Barton, a devious crime boss who also happens to be their sadistic uncle, Lyn vows to keep Melissa and her family safe. However, that goal is thwarted when Barton, working behind the scenes, infiltrates their sleepy town with drug traffickers and threatens to destroy the sisters and everyone they love as an act of revenge.

Can the recently reunified twins lure the ringleader out of hiding and into the cold light of justice? Or will their evil uncle succeed in terrorizing the sisters into submission?

 

 

This is Ann by the way. Ain’t she sweet? She’s one of the best people I know.

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Indie Spotlight – Mystery Writer Sharlene Almond

Annabella Cordova quickly becomes embroiled in the conspiracy involving the university she studies at. Her life is turned into chaos when her friend disappears, seven days later a gruesome package is delivered to Andres Valero; the troubled detective, returning from forced leave, only to be faced with horrific crimes that brings his memories to the surface. 

Annabella’s past collides with her present, a traumatic childhood event leaving her deaf and without both of her parents. Her ability to read facial and body language in people leads her to discover parallels from an earlier century.

Initiated to Kill takes the reader back in time to the 19th century; creating a psychological profile of the serial killer that wanders the London streets, his paintings depicting crimes only seen by a killer’s eyes. 

Annabella  and Andres combined must stop this person at any cost, and reveal a conspiracy hidden for centuries.

Unveiling the Mystery of Body Language

I have always been intrigued by the interpretation of facial expressions and body language. The TV series “Lie to Me” increased the popularity of learning more about this interesting subject.

The incentive for me to finally decide to study Body Language came when I wrote my first novel, Initiated to Kill. My main character, Annabella Cordova is deaf, so fully understanding how body language could be read and interpreted was essential to me; as I wanted my novel to be an authentic as possible. I immersed myself into the fascinating and complicated world of Body Language.

One of the key things to remember when writing or reading a person’s body language is that it is not what they reveal in their baseline behaviour, but the change from that behaviour to something quite different.

Armed with a diploma in body language, people tend to ask me “what is my body language saying to you now?”

They might cross their arms, or do something fairly common like that, then want me to basically give them a run-down on what that body language is revealing.

However, it doesn’t work like that. A lot of people think that by crossing their arms they are being defensive or closed off, and yes, that might be true.

That doesn’t really tell me much. Instead, it’s watching people that change from one behaviour to another that exposes what is actually going on.

That is why people in law enforcement talk so much about establishing baseline behaviour. It is crucial at any point if you’re wanting to find out if someone is lying or omitting something, that their baseline behaviour is first established. That way, when you go to the line of questioning you really want to address, you can immediately see a change of behaviour; and that’s what really gives it away.

Now, some people may ask, “well, if it’s that clear cut, then why doesn’t law enforcement immediately know if someone is guilty?”

Unfortunately, body language isn’t an exact science. Although, much can be revealed, people may still not know why that change occurred. But it can give an inkling that they need to dig further into that line of questioning.

So, how important is it to know more about body language? Well, 38% comes from vocal tone, while 55% comes from body language. It is even thought that at around 90% of our communication to others is through our body language, without even consciously knowing we are doing it.

People tend to look for exaggerated displays of body language, but often, it is the subtle displays that are truly revealing.

Body language in relationships can even divulge what the other person is feeling. It may seem out of nowhere, your partner suddenly wants to end the relationship, while you didn’t even think there was a problem with the relationship.

Think about it. Was your partner withdrawing? Was your partner sleeping further away from you, or being less affectionate? Did they sit on another chair instead of being close to you? Has intimacy seem to have gone out the window?

Although very subtle signs, they are also very telling, revealing that inwardly your partner is withdrawing; thus, revealing in the increase of the distance between you. However, if this is recognised early on, you can then try to make changes to help the relationship, or at least be prepared for when the relationship is over.

In a dating situation, does the other person lean closer toward you when you speak? Are their hands on the table close to yours, or in their lap? Do their eyes dart around the room, or mainly stay focused on you? What about their feet? Are their feet pointed straight ahead towards you, or in another direction?

No matter how insignificant it may seem, never underestimate the small changes, words are only a very minor part of the overall picture.

Just by looking in one direction it can reveal someone is telling the truth, while another direction they are thinking up a story. Every little bit contributes to the overall picture.

These aspects are important to consider when including body language in your writing. The more you understand how it works, the easier it will be to write a realistic portrayal of a witness, victim, cop or perpetrator.

And what may surprise many people, is that body language experts believe that the legs and feet are considered more accurate communicators than the face.

Think about it. What is your body language saying about you?

Sharlene Almond has a diploma in Body Language and Criminology, enabling her to explicitly portray her characters. Living in Auckland, New Zealand with her two dogs and partner. Currently, she is working on an advice monthly newsletter to encompass all of my training – Body, Mind and Writing Newsletter. Her education in Cognitive Behavioural therapy, Freelance Journalism, and Editing give her the ability to better understand the human mind and to write about it in a comprehensive manner.

To learn more about Sharlene, visit her blog and follow her on Google Plus and Pinterest .

Book Review: A Twist of Truth by Diane Dickson

I’ve become quite a fan of author Diane Dickson and read many of her other books and Twist of Truth doesn’t disappoint.

In the opening, we meet Simon Fulton, a man recently released from prison for the murder of his own sister. He is filled with resentment and bitterness because he has spent years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Returning to his home town, he is ripe for revenge and justice.

But avenging the injustice of his situation isn’t nearly as black and white as he believes. And though he encounters plenty of antagonist people from his past who are not happy to see him back home, it’s his encounter with Gloria, owner of the local B&B, who has the most impact on him. Her kindness and compassion begins to change him and his plans shift.

What begins as an instinctual desire for revenge becomes a search for the truth and the possible promise of an actual future. However, the truth has some thorns of its own and the twist at the end turns everything on its head.

If you like good, solid mysteries that don’t need spewing viscera and car chases every two seconds, you’ll like this. Highly recommend. Five stars.

Playing around with design

So lately, I’ve been trying to learn a bit about design.

Turns out there is a lot to learn. But I have learned a few little tricks.

Last week I did a little series of creepy/scary/mystery-ish type images which I’ll post over the next few days.

Here’s the first one.

Feel free to share your thoughts, offer advise or to criticize them – feedback is super cool and I love it.

Elizabeth Keen is Alive – For Now

giphy liz keen

Well it appears that my question from my previous post, was answered.

Indeed, Lizzie Keen is alive. Her death was faked with the help of Mr. Kaplan and once again with reiteration of the theme of this show of ‘keeping Lizzie safe.’ I have to say I feel vindicated, at least a little. I just knew Liz wasn’t gone for good. Although, like many of you, I expected her to show up in the Fall season opener, rather than in the finale of this season.

A question of paternity

And naturally, as soon as they answered the ‘Is she really dead?’ question they laid another on us – ‘Is Alexander Kirk really Liz’s father? I, like many Blacklist fans, harbor the belief that Red is Lizzie’s real dad and will probably cling to that belief until the show’s writers prove otherwise. I don’t believe that Kirk is anything other than a red herring brought in to confuse us and Liz. What do you think?

Other cliffhanging questions

Also the show left us hanging as to the fate of Tom Keen and Mr. Kaplan, who was last scene with her face in a not too happy Red’s hands. Would he really dispose of his loyal and reliable cleaner? And what of Tom? Has he finally used up his last of nine lives? I think we’ll be seeing him again. Perhaps Mr. Kaplan will have to fake his death too.

In the meantime, I’ll have to comfort myself with reruns from this season, hunting for hidden clues that eluded me in the first viewing.

What about you? Do you think Mr. Kaplan is toast? What about Tom? Did they kill him or is he just stashed in a Russian prison, catching mice and cockroaches for dinner? Is Alexander Kirk Liz’s father, or is this another head fake from the writers? And will the rescue for Liz occur in the new season opener or are they going to make us work for it?  Feel free to share your opinions and theories in the comments.

Obsessed with Pretty Little Liars? Me too. Who do you think is “A”?

PLL

 

I don’t know about you but I am positively addicted to the show Pretty Little Liars. I stumbled onto this show meant for 20-somethings and was hooked from the first episode. And every Monday night I am jones-ing for the next episode which airs on Tuesday. When the show is on hiatus, life just doesn’t seem the same and I find myself on message boards debating the one and only question fans want to know: Who is A?

A few days ago, People published a teaser article entitled Pretty Little Liars Star Keegan Allen: I Know Who ‘A’ Is … and So Do You! because it showed up in my Facebook feed, I had to read it. Which lead to another article on PLL entitled 5 Mind-Blowing Pretty Little Liars Fan Theories About “A”  Seduced by this never-answered, unending question, I read the comments of fans’ theories. And man were there and are there theories about who “A” is.

Who is “A”? My theory

One of the prevalent theories is that “A” is one of the pretty little liars. Personally, I don’t think so and here’s why: In the first episode each Liar receives a mysterious text from “A” and all of them react with shock and confusion. The reaction isn’t for anyone else’s benefit because each girl is alone when she receives her text. And why if you were “A” would you send yourself a text if it wasn’t to show someone else that you received it? There’s no point in doing that.

In the three or four years the show has been on the air we have gotten many red herrings: Toby, Ezra, and Mona among them. And now Mike (PLL’s Aria’s brother) is the current herring being dangled. So of course, fans are coming up with reasons why Mike is “A” because that’s what a good red herring gets you to do – believe.

According to Marlene King the creator of the show, “A” was present at Allison’s funeral. So here’s my theory based on deduction: We dismiss all the characters who have been red herrings (Toby, Ezra, and Mona) and the liars and look at who is left. Allison’s parents, Emily’s parents, Allison’s brother Jason, Jenna, and Detective Wilden. We can dismiss a few more characters: Jenna is blind so she’s out, I can’t imagine any of the girl’s parents torturing them that way, so they’re out; Allison’s mother was a possibility but her character was killed off, so she’s out, as is Detective Wilden who is also dead; the only left is Allison’s brother, Jason.

To me, Jason makes perfect sense. He hated his sister Allison and by association the liars because they were just lesser imitations of Allison in his mind. Allison was also favored by his parents so he never got the love that Ally did. So there’s his motive. He had access to Ally’s room, her computer, her phone, diaries, conversations, etc. Additionally, since they live next to Spencer and Ally’s room faces Spenser’s it’s a prime location for spying. It would be so easy for him to hack her WiFi and put cameras or mics in her house when no one was around. And he is ubiquitous – always lurking in the background. Further, Jason often mysteriously disappears and when he returns his explanations are flimsy and offhand – yet no one really questions them. Most recently he came onto and seduced Hannah’s mom, Ashley. Was he really attracted to her or just hoping to get a peek into Hannah’s room? Or load a Trojan horse program on her laptop?

I think I’m right. I’d be really jazzed if it turned out I was. And I have other theories about other things, which I’ll discuss in another post, later.

Who do you think is “A”?

So that’s my theory. I’m sure you have one too. It probably doesn’t agree with mine but hey, feel free to tell me where I’m wrong and who you think “A” is – you might change my mind. All theories welcome, come one call all and have a ball.

Meanwhile, can’t wait to see what they spring on us tomorrow night.

Writer Chick
Copyright 2015

Why I Write Mysteries

why I write mysteries

I’ve always been afraid of things that go bump in the night. In fact, it’s 4:30 a.m. and instead of dreaming of sugar plums or unicorns I’m awake because of a recurring dream where something not quite human has me trapped and is going to kill me if I don’t wake up. Like the devil, he has many faces and shapes but regardless of the assumed identity, it is the same creature-spirit that pursues me in my sleep and chases me back to the conscious world.

Possibly, I write mysteries because of my personal dream mystery? Anything is possible.

My analytical mind tells me I write mysteries because I love puzzles and I love justice. Hokey as it may be, I cheer when the bad guy gets what he deserves. I celebrate the demise of tyrants no matter how large or small their kingdoms. I never tire of good triumphing over evil. And yes, Virginia, there is good and there is evil. If you don’t think so, I suggest you read books by authors such as John Douglas and Ann Rule.  Or just pick up a copy of  In Cold Blood

Regardless of the psychobabble that abounds, there’s nothing that explains away the acts of evil that are perpetrated against the innocent man, woman or child.  As I write this, children are being beheaded on the other side of the world, because of opposing religious beliefs. If that isn’t evil, than I don’t know what is. Can that be blamed on bad childhoods or brain disorders? Absolutely not. No moral relativism here, my friends.

And like the devil of my dreams, evil has many faces – an angelic adolescent, a cranky old man, a charming politician, a beautiful woman, a brilliant academic. You can never know them by their looks or position in life, you can only know them by their actions.

But why write about it? Good question.

It’s easy to understand why a writer would pen a romance because don’t we all want love in our lives? Or adventure because most of us live lives of routine and predictability. Who doesn’t fantasize about a larger than life experience? Science fiction and fantasy present worlds where the possibilities are endless and limited only by the imagination – what’s not to love there?

Solving a puzzle is a satisfying accomplishment and seeking justice is laudible. But murder and mayhem is not for sissies. It’s messy, often bloody and immerses you into the basest desires of men. Who wants to write about that? And why?

There are many reasons I suppose that a writer might choose mysteries. Maybe because there are so many  mysteries in life that we cannot solve, that we cling to something concrete, that only requires we follow the clues and find the evidence to resolve it. Or that solving that mystery reassures us that the natural order of things have been restored and life is safe to live once again. Or maybe it’s something altogether different. Or maybe different for every mystery writer who ever lived.

For me, the appeal of writing mysteries is the way it makes your blood boil and your heart pound. The pursuit of the truth of that tiny universe of hunter versus killer (ironically) makes you feel so damned alive. Engages you. Seduces you. Keeps you up at night. It’s a slap in the face with a shovel handle. It’s the involuntary gasp and jump when a floor board creaks. It’s an adrenaline high unlike any other. And quite possibly addictive. And that goes for writer and reader alike.

No matter what else man is, he is a curious beast at heart. And nothing will drive a human being more nuts than an answer that eludes him. Particularly if the one posing the questions is adept at making it seem easy yet interesting. “Step into my web,”  said the spider to the fly.

In America, mysteries became particularly popular during the Depression which was the heyday of pulp fiction. Mysteries were once looked upon as the poor man’s reading material (and perhaps they still are, genre fiction often isn’t taken seriously) – unlike literary fiction meant for the finer mind (ahem). But I reject that classification – to me mysteries:

  • Engage the mind
  • Make you think
  • Teach you to solve problems
  • Increase your alertness
  • Sharpens your observatory skills
  • And probably helps your endocrine system what with all that adrenaline pumping

What fine mind couldn’t use a good dose of the above? Got me.

Why do you read or write mysteries?

Next to romance, mystery novels are the most popular form of fiction among readers. Do you write mysteries? What drew you to the genre? Do you read mysteries? Have you called in sick to work so you could finish or stayed up all night just to finish one? Do you find the genre as addictive as I?

Feel free to agree with me, challenge me, debate me or enlighten me in the comments.

Writer Chick
Copyright 20014