Monday, June 17, 2024

Cover Reveal ~ Nine Levels - Where Legends Come to Life by Elana Gomel

 

Mirror World Publishing and Sapphyria's Book Promotions present the cover reveal for 
Nine Levels by Elana Gomel.

About Nine Levels:

Waking up on the beach in Greece after a midnight party, Cleo, a British-Greek tourist, sees a stranger sitting next to her. The stranger has a giant spider on his forearm.

So begins an incredible odyssey through the nine levels of the mysterious mountain populated by an odd assortment of monsters, demons, and avatars of dead gods. Still grieving the unsolved disappearance of her twin sister Cora, Cleo is thrust into the world whose rules she does not understand and whose inhabitants confound everything she thought she knew about Greek mythology. Confronted by Woven Women, masked huntresses, sentient graffiti, and Mother of Monsters, Cleo has to make sense of it all. And meanwhile, a mysterious Call reverberates in her brain: You have to go up. You have to find your sister.

A story of self-discovery, courage, and breathtaking adventure, Nine Levels is a highly imaginative, innovative, and engrossing retelling of familiar legends with a twist you won’t see coming.


Release Date: July 17, 2024

Meet the Author:


Born in Ukraine and currently residing in California, Elana Gomel is an academic, an award-winning writer, and a professional nomad. She is well-known for her work on speculative fiction and narrative theory, represented by her academic books, which Beyond the Golden Rule, Bloodscripts, and The Palgrave Handbook of Global Fantasy. Twelve years ago she published her first fantasy novel and has never looked back. She is the author of more than a hundred short stories, two collections, several novellas, and seven novels. She writes dark fantasy, dark SF, fairy tales, and hard-to classify dreamlike stories, some of them connected to her roots in the former USSR. Her stories won several awards, and “Mine Seven” was featured in the Best of Horror 13 edited by Ellen Datlow. Her latest fiction publications are the dark fairy tale Nightwood (Silver Award in the Bookfest 2023 competition) and Girl of Light, an alternative history of the USSR with monsters. Many of her stories and novels have mythological and folkloric overtones, inspired by her travels and her academic research. Having lived in several countries including Israel, Italy, the UK, and Hong Kong, she now resides in the magical – and sinister – redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains with her husband.

Amazon Author Profile: https://amzn.to/3z5FHeU

Book Tour ~ The Dove that Didn't Return by Hael S. Hacohen

 


Poetry

Date Published: May 21, 2024

Publisher: Holy Cow! Press


 

A poet and female commander in the Israeli Defense Forces creates an original perspective from the war-torn front lines of the Middle East conflict.

The Dove That Didn’t Return tackles the canon of war poetry, an almost exclusively male-penned body of poems. In the book, biblical stories, verses, and fragments are rewritten through the eyes of a female lieutenant in the Israeli Army. It is a contemporary poetics on the revelations of war from an Israeli perspective never before told—a woman, and a soldier at that.

This debut full-length collection follows upon the publication of her critically acclaimed chapbook, Between Sanctity and Sand, from Finishing Line Press.


 BETWEEN SANCTITY AND SAND

 

The first time I shot an M-16

it was the heat of summer in the Negev.

Gas-operated with a rotating bolt, five-point-fifty-

six caliber, with nineteen bullets a box.

I could shoot like an angel.

 I could hit a running target

at six-hundred-fifty meters.

I hummed to myself as I shot,

I was eighteen.

The retama flower of my hair-bun drawn back tight

blooming, sprouting open with every green round.

About the Author

Yael S. Hacohen earned a Ph.D. at UC Berkeley. She has received research/teaching fellowships from Tel Aviv University and Bar Ilan University. She has an MFA in Poetry from New York University, where she was an NYU Veterans Workshop Fellow, International Editor at Washington Square Literary Review, and Editor-in-Chief at Nine Lines Literary Review. Her work has been featured or is forthcoming in The Poetry Review, Ploughshares, The Missouri Review, Bellevue Literary Review, LIT, Prairie Schooner, New York Quarterly Magazine, Colorado Review, and many more. Hacohen published her chapbook Between Sanctity and Sand with Finishing Line Press in 2021. Hacohen served as a lieutenant in the 162nd Armored Division of the Israeli Defense Forces. She lives with her family in Tel Aviv, Israel.

 

Purchase Link

Amazon


RABT Book Tours & PR

Book Tour ~ Let's Run Our School Together by D. J. Mathews

 

 

Self-Help

Date Published: 01-05-2024

Publisher: booklocker.com


 

Are you frustrated about the way schools may be run today? Will your child or grandchild be entering school soon?How do we help teachers help students in public schools do their best? And why does it "take a village" to raise a child? Learn about education ideas and helping the future with this book, including if you want to run for school board. Written in a down-to-earth style with answers you need in each chapter.

 

 

About the Author

Ms. D. J. Mathews has been the wife of a teacher, taken education classes, and taught logic and writing for several years at Radford University. A mother of 3 sons, her spouse experienced big job issues while teaching in a poorly run school system. This inspired Ms. Mathews to write an informative book, a slim book with a chapter on each member of the education community -- teachers, parents, principals, students, school board members -- and how they can all work better together. She is also a Master naturalist member.

 

Contact Links

Website

Facebook

Twitter: @deejaywriternow

Blog

Goodreads

Ko-Fi

 

Purchase Links

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Publisher

 

 


a Rafflecopter giveaway 


RABT Book Tours & PR

Book Blitz ~ Love Under the Stars - The Lilac Lake Inn Series by Judith Keim

 

 

The Lilac Lake Inn Series, Book 3

 

Romantic Women's Fiction

Date Published: June 17, 2024

 

 

Keeping a family promise can be the beginning of a whole new life for everyone in town.

Whitney Gilford is delighted to be called away from Hollywood where her co-star and former lover, Zane Blanchard, is addicted to drugs and blaming her for his unhappiness. News of her beloved grandmother, GG, giving her and her sisters a cottage on the land of The Lilac Lake Inn is a tremendous relief from the negative publicity about her on social media. In Lilac Lake, helping with the renovation of the cottage, Whitney starts to rethink her entire career. Lilac Lake is full of interesting people, including the man she’d once had a crush on. As she struggles to rediscover the woman she wants to be, Whitney and her two sisters become closer. And when danger arises, threatening the life of the man she’s come to love, Whitney realizes what’s she wants out of a new life.

Another of Judith Keim’s series books celebrating love and families, strong women meeting challenges, and clean women’s fiction with a touch of romance—beach reads for all ages with a touch of humor, satisfying twists, and happy endings

 

 


Love by Design

The Lilac Lake Inn Series Book 1


Love Between the Lines

The Lilac Lake Inn Series Book 2


Love Under The Stars

The Lilac Lake Inn Series Book 3

 


About the Author

Judith Keim, A USA Today Best Selling Author, is a hybrid author who both has a publisher and self-publishes. Ms. Keim writes heart-warming novels about women who face unexpected challenges, meet them with strength, and find love and happiness along the way, stories with heart. Her best-selling books are based, in part, on many of the places she's lived or visited and on the interesting people she's met, creating believable characters and realistic settings her many loyal readers love.

She enjoyed her childhood and young-adult years in Elmira, New York, and now makes her home in Boise, Idaho, with her husband and their adorable dachshund, Wally, and other members of her family.

While growing up, she was drawn to the idea of writing stories from a young age. Books were always present, being read, ready to go back to the library, or about to be discovered. All in her family shared information from the books in general conversation, giving them a wealth of knowledge and vivid imaginations.

Ms. Keim loves to hear from her readers and appreciates their enthusiasm for her stories.

 

Follow her on Amazon

Book Bub

Website

Subscribe to her Newsletter

Join my special FB Group - Women with Heart

Goodreads

Facebook

 

Purchase Links

Amazon

iBooks 

B&N

Google Play 

Kobo



RABT Book Tours & PR

Pre-Order Blitz ~ Escape - Runaway Home by Camille Anthony

 

 

Dark Fantasy, Interracial Romance

Date Published: June 21, 2025

 

 

Fleeing the shame of being rejected in favor of an Omega, Jackson Southerly, alpha wolf, has run away to one of his family's ski resorts.

Fleeing the shame of being left at the altar, Sioux Brown has traded in her tickets to the Bahamas and run away to the snowy slopes of Colorado, where she plans to lick her wounds in solitude.

The snow in their hearts melts as they share the deserted lobby in the dark of night, but will their growing attraction survive the light of day?

 

 

 

EXCERPT


"Mmmm…" Sioux Brown awoke cocooned in a nest of warm blankets. She arched her back, bare skin sliding smoothly on silken sheets, stretching pleasantly flaccid muscles in a languid morning ritual.

"Good morning, doll."

"Aarrghhhhhh!" The slow, gravel and silk voice acted like a bucket of ice water on her drowsing mind. With a scream shrill enough to shatter glass, she ripped her way out of sheets, blankets and quilts. Heart pounding, pulse skittering out of sync, she leaped free of the bed and promptly tripped on a trailing corner of the top comforter. She landed on her butt, still yelling.

"Holy ambulance sirens, Sioux. You're going to bring security down on us! Please! Stop while I still have eardrums." A sleepy white man sat up in the disarray of blankets, hands clapped over his ears.

Sioux gulped, stopping only long enough to gather more breath. She screamed again, but couldn't decide if it was from fear or excitement. Because really, if the man was going to hurt her, it seemed he'd had all night to do it. Even frightened half out of her chocolate skin, Sioux couldn't help noticing juicy details.

There was a hunky, hairy, naked white man in her bed. His dense swirls of chest hair almost hid flat brown nipples and he sported a six-pack she could quench her thirst with all day long. His thick mop of tangled black hair fell over a broad brow that narrowed into a striking craggy face. Not handsome per se, yet not butt-ugly, either… interesting. Nice mouth too.

He sat up, knees apart, the edge of the sheet covering his assets from the hips down. It was thin enough she could see the shadow of his muscular legs, as well as the outline -- the huge outline of what promised to be a monster cock jutting between his thighs.

Sioux stopped screaming long enough to demand, "Who are you and what are you doing in my bed?"

The man sighed. "See, I was afraid of this. Something told me you didn't drink often, and couldn't be held responsible for your decisions."

She narrowed her eyes at him. "You know nothing about my drinking habits."

"I know you got plastered on two baby drinks." He smiled at her, displaying a cute dimple in his left cheek. "'Course, I might be wrong. Maybe it wasn't the drink that had you acting the way you did last night. Maybe it was me. One can live in hope…"

 

 

About the Author

A funny thing happened on the way to the grave... In 2006, Cammy was diagnosed with Pulmonary Sarcoidosis and given two weeks to live. She promptly discharged herself AMA -- Against Medical Advice -- since, as she stubbornly informed her doctors, she could die at home far more comfortably than at the hospital. But then... she got an idea for a new story. Then another, and another...

Fifteen years and dozens of fantastic tales later, Cammy passed quietly in her sleep, at home, as was her wish. We miss her. Her work lives on, and we hold her in our hearts. Cammy decided many years ago that upon her passing, she wished to donate her royalties to The Quiet Kitty fund, which helps authors with emergency medical expenses. We do, to keep her in our hearts and minds.

 

Publisher on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok: @changelingpress

 

Pre-Order Today


RABT Book Tours & PR

Cover Reveal ~ The Storm Breaks - Book 6 of Demon Storm by Valerie Storm

 

 


Demon Storm, Book 6


Young Adult Fantasy

Date Published: 07-13-2024

Publisher: Shadow Spark Publishing


 

Wolf and demon born…

…under storm the land is torn.

Tendrils of darkness reach from the depths of her mind and shadows flicker around every corner. Still reeling from Raven’s horrific display of power, Kari suffers in silence.

When Guine finally returns with stories of a mirror that could help him with his problems, Kari finds herself hoping that maybe, just maybe, it could help with hers as well.

With the promise of a relatively straightforward outing, Kari, Ari, and Guine set forth to find the mirror.

But what they find beyond the looking-glass threatens not only Kari and her sanity, but also the world she loves.


About the Author

Valerie Storm was raised in Tucson, Arizona. Growing up, she fell in love with everything fantasy. When she wasn’t playing video games, she was writing. By age ten, she began to write her own stories as a way to escape reality. When these stories became a full-length series, she considered the path to sharing with other children & children-at/heart looking for a place to call home.

 

Contact Links

Website

Twitter

Goodreads

 

Preorder Today



RABT Book Tours & PR

Book Blast ~ Private License - A Sam Quinton Mystery by Kevin R. Doyle

 



This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Kevin R. Doyle will award a $10 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

All Lorie Jones wants is a little help with her divorce. Some extra information, a bit of ammunition to take into court against her no-good husband. And when she hires the biggest and best investigation firm Kansas City has to offer, that’s exactly what she gets. But after their operative wraps up Lori’s case, he decides he doesn’t want to move on, and Lori soon realizes that she’s got an even bigger problem than she had before, one that threatens her privacy, and maybe even her life.

It’s up to Sam Quinton, one-man detective agency, to take on the largest firm in the business, and as Sam digs into the background of Lori’s harasser, he soon finds something bigger, and much more dangerous, than one overzealous guy who just can’t let go.

Read an Excerpt

Lorie hadn’t reported the latest invasion of her home. Maybe she was tired of running to the police and getting nothing accomplished, but when I considered the last intrusion and threatening note had happened before Karyn Roberts had suggested coming to me, my stomach fluttered a bit.

“Not exactly the kind of stuff you go to local cops for,” I said. “No offense.”

Sloan grunted. “None taken, mainly because you’re right. And actually, she didn’t initially bother us with the first two incidents.”

I nodded. “It was the third went over the top for her.”

“Yeah.” Sloan closed the file. “Which kind of fits because messing around with someone’s home is cop business. The rest of it lies with the post office and the banking people.”

“So what did you do?”

“About what?” Sloan looked up at me.

I sighed and managed to keep myself from shaking my head. And here we’d been getting along so well. “Did you look into her allegations?”

“These would be the allegations that a respected employee of a respected firm in the city was screwing around with her mind and emotions.”

“No,” I said, dropping my voice an octave or so. “Those would be the allegations a licensed private investigator, an ex-cop at that, was harassing and intimidating his own client.”

“You implying somehow we slow walked this because the guy she mentioned used to be a cop?”

About the Author:

A retired high-school teacher and former college instructor, Kevin R. Doyle is the author of four novels in the Sam Quinton mystery series, all published by Camel Press. He’s also written four crime thrillers, including And the Devil Walks Away and The Anchor, and one horror novel, The Litter, along with numerous short horror stories published in small magazines over the years. The first Quinton book, Squatter’s Rights, was nominated for the 2021 Shamus award for Best First PI Novel, and the fifth in the series, Private License, will be out in August of 2024.

http://kevindoylefiction.com
http://www.facebook.com/kevindoylefiction

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Private-License-Quinton-Kevin-Doyle/dp/1684923042

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, June 7, 2024

Blog Tour ~ Scales of Justice by Mitchell S. Karnes

 

Scales of Justice by Mitchell S Karnes Banner

SCALES OF JUSTICE

by Mitchell S Karnes

May 13 - June 7, 2024 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Scales of Justice by Mitchell S Karnes

Top assassin Graham Turner walks a delicate line as he tries to secretly solve the mystery of his parents' "accidental" deaths. The truth is buried deep within a child's forgotten past and an organization that demands secrecy and absolute devotion. His main obstacle is William Allen, Graham's boss and legal guardian. A master of manipulation and control, William pits Graham and his brother Robert against one another like pawns on a chessboard. William's idea of justice is kill or be killed.

Just as Graham discovers the identity of his parents' murderer and sets out to exact his revenge, he falls in love and develops a conscience. Graham must choose between love or loyalty, forgiveness or revenge. In a world of gray, Graham must find the line between black and white, wrong and right.

Follow the parallel stories of Graham and his father, two assassins who become their own worst enemies.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Published by: Amazon
Publication Date: September 7, 2023
Number of Pages: 479
ISBN: 9798860779228
Book Links: Amazon | Goodreads | MitchellSKarnes.com

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

“Ease up, Champ,” Graham whispered. “Don’t wear yourself out and make my job too easy.” He removed the small envelope from the three-pronged plastic stick of the bouquet and opened it. “You are the only Chance I’ll ever take. Have a great conference. I’ll see you next month…and I’ll be keeping Atlanta hot for you!” There was a little red heart sign and the name, “Mary.” Graham shook his head in disgust. “He really does have a woman in every port.” As soon as the noise subsided and Graham heard the shower water, he readied himself for the task at hand. He slipped into the shadows of the far corner of the den and waited for Chance to come to him. Graham didn’t have to wait long.

Chance opened the bedroom door and wrapped the fluffy white towel around his waist. He examined the damage to his brand-new white shirt. Twisting and turning it in his hands, he noted the two missing buttons, the slight tear, and the smudges of red lipstick. “Oh well,” he said and tossed the shirt in a nearby wastebasket. “Well worth it.” Opening the fridge, he uncorked a chilled liqueur and chugged the miniature bottle. “Wow, Stacey was tenacious!”

Shelly, you idiot, Graham thought. He wanted to step out of the shadow and kill Chance right then, but he resisted the urge. All in due time, Graham, he assured himself.

“Oh well, she served her purpose,” Chance said. “Now how do I get rid of her before Janet calls?” Chance walked back to the bedroom and returned with a gold ring. Putting it on his left hand and glancing one more time toward the sleeping naked woman in the bedroom, he lifted the phone to his mouth and said, “Call Janet.” It rang once…twice…three times.

“Hey, babe,” came the sweet voice on the other end. “How’s your day been?”

“Draining,” Chance said with a smile as he looked back to the bedroom. “It was a real struggle.”

“Oh, but I’m sure you kept up your end of the deal,” she said. “Nobody can stand up to my man.”

“You got that right.” Chance heard laughter in the background of the phone and bristled defensively, “Janet, who’s that?”

“Oh, I’m at the ladies’ book club tonight. You want to talk to anyone?” she asked.

“No thanks,” he said. “Hey, I got to go. I need to get packing for the trip back.”

“Okay, babe. I love you,” she said and then hung up.

“Yeah, yeah,” Chance said and tossed the phone to the couch to the left of Graham. Chance suddenly noticed the flowers and walked over to examine the bouquet. “When did these get…” He pulled out the note. “Mary…Mary…Mary…who the hell’s Mary?” He picked up the bouquet, smelled it once, and then walked it over to the trash can. He slapped the back of his neck. “What the hell?” He twisted around and slapped again at the stinging sensation in the back of his neck.

“The polistes annularis,” the dark figure announced calmly. “Or as we say in Tennessee, ‘The red paper wasp.’” He took a step back as Chance swung awkwardly at him. “But you lawyers…you love all of that Latin mumbo-jumbo, don’t you?” Chance fell to his knees. Graham took the opportunity to touch Chance once again with the wasp held delicately in his tweezers, this time stinging the front of his throat. Chance slapped at the wasp, but Graham pulled it safely away. “Ah…ah…ah,” Graham said with a shake of his head. “Just one more for good measure, if you don’t mind.” He put the wasp to Chance’s temple, and it obliged once again with a deadly sting.

Chance uttered raspily, “Who are you?” as he grabbed at the swelling lumps on his temple and neck. His tongue was swelling rapidly, and Graham could tell he was already struggling desperately to breathe.

“Who am I? I guess I owe you that much,” Graham said. “What harm could it do?” He squatted a few feet from Chance and scrutinized the desperation in his face and eyes. Chance clawed his way toward the bathroom, but it was so far away. “Graham Turner at your service.” He studied his victim as Chance’s body convulsed. Graham laughed, not at Chance’s situation but his own last comment. “Well, I suppose I’m actually at the service of your wife Janet.”

Chance stopped struggling and turned his swollen neck towards Graham. Was it a joke? Chance tried to say Janet’s name, but his tongue was too swollen to utter any sound other than the heavy wheezing of each belabored breath. The couch within his reach, Chance crawled for it.

“Looking for this?” Graham asked, waving Chance’s phone in front of him. “You lawyers are way too predictable.” He put the phone in his jacket pocket. “Anyway, you asked a question and we only have a few minutes at most, so let me explain while there’s time.” Graham moved toward the bedroom door and waited there. Seeing Chance glance towards the bed, Graham said, “Oh, don’t concern yourself with Shelly; I drugged her drink downstairs as soon as I saw your overt interest in her little black dress. She’s out for at least another hour.”

Graham smiled. He didn’t have to hear the words to know the thought. “Yes, I do think of everything. That’s why they pay me so much. But your wife…” Graham paused. “Yes, your wife, she thinks of everything too. Quite a lady you have there. Well, I suppose I should speak in the past tense in that situation. Quite a lady you had, Chance.”

The lawyer’s neck was blowing up like a massive goiter and his face contorting so badly that Graham’s stomach heaved; he quickly stood and walked away as Chance struggled toward the bathroom. Looking out the window, Graham continued, “She caught wind of your plan to leave her and cut her out of everything…last year, I think.” Graham couldn’t stand to see Chance struggle any longer. He moved back to him, stepped over the lump of flesh and said, “Save your energy, you won’t find the epinephrine kit either.” Chance collapsed; sobbing, quivering and moaning to his last gasp of breath. Graham removed the black gloves and replaced them with a set of blue latex gloves instead. He checked Chance’s wrist for any sign of a pulse. He waited and watched until he was absolutely certain Chance Harrington was dead from the anaphylactic shock. According to the research, Chance Harrington had a deadly allergy to wasp stings…especially the red paper wasp. Graham set the wasp on Chance’s neck and used the dead man’s hand to squash it. Finally, he put the dead wasp next to the bouquet Chance had dropped on the floor.

As he removed up any evidence of his own presence in the room and made certain the scene looked authentic for a bee sting, Graham said, “Thanks, Mary…I owe you one.” He closed the door, wiped the handle and waited for the elevator. He wasn’t about to walk back down fourteen flights of stairs, especially in Denver.

The elevator door opened, and Graham disappeared inside. One more dead body to lose in the endless count of bodies…one more name to forget…one more job to mark off as “Zero Retribution,” a job well done.

***

Excerpt from Scales of Justice by Mitchell S Karnes. Copyright 2024 by Mitchell S Karnes. Reproduced with permission from Mitchell S Karnes. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Mitchell S Karnes

Mitchell S Karnes is a husband, father of seven, and grandfather of nine. Mitchell uses his experience and insights as a minister, counselor, and educator to write and speak on challenging issues and concerns with an ever-growing audience. He has published five novels, three short stories, a one-act play, and numerous Bible study lessons. He is now working on a new series featuring Abbey Rhodes, a Nashville Homicide Detective.

Through two separate battles against Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, God has given Mitchell a new perspective on life that challenges him to create stories to not only entertain audiences but call them to action. Mitchell's mission is to reach and reconcile those who have been disillusioned with God and His church and inspire the church to live out the love of Christ Jesus in a broken and hurting world.

Catch Up With Mitchell S Karnes:
MitchellSKarnes.com
Goodreads
Instagram - @mitchellskarnesauthor
Twitter/X - @mitchellskarnes
Facebook

 

 

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and opportunities to WIN in the giveaway!

 

 

Win Big! Enter Now for Your Chance to Win!

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for Mitchell S Karnes. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.

 

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Tours

 

Blog Tour ~ The Birthday of Eternity - A Comfort & Company Mystery by A. D. Price

 

The Birthday of Eternity by A. D. Price Banner

THE BIRTHDAY OF ETERNITY

by A. D. Price

May 13 - June 7, 2024 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

The Birthday of Eternity by A. D. Price

A Comfort & Company Mystery

 

L.A. private investigators Kit and Henry become entangled in the city's robust post-WWII occult trade when they're hired to track down Lillian, the estranged wife of a prominent physician, and her spellbinding "spirit" lover Tashin. Fresh from her training in judo and “dirty fighting,” Kit poses as an eager recruit at a Hollywood cult run by the ambitious Reverend, while Henry takes on the city's séance circuit, which has reinvented itself in the wake of war. Assisting them are Kit's psychiatrist lover Luca and her combat veteran brother Stanley, who offer their own brand of expertise in unraveling the tricks of the conmen. Plunged into the strange and deadly world of mediums and gurus, Kit and Henry soon discover that surviving the spirit trade will take all of their cunning and a whole lot of luck.

Praise for The Birthday of Eternity:

"This atmospheric mystery is a must-read for fans of L.A. Noir and postwar historical fiction. Author A.D. Price deftly creates a vibrant postwar community of séances, psychics, mystics and their customers. . . . Readers can look forward to a jaw-dropping reveal in the book’s final act."
~ Mishka Rao for BestThrillers

"The action and dialogues, with the intelligent story-building and narrative, made this book THE PERFECT read."
~ Wajeeha Bashir for Book Nerdection. A Book Nerdection Must Read

"This is a captivating mystery rich in historical illustrations, con artists, and crime."
~ Aurora Eliam for Reedsy Discovery

"The Birthday of Eternity is a gripping tale of murder, mystery, and crime. A.D. Price's pageturner of a novel stuns you at every turn, with unexpected twists and curveballs you never see coming."
~ Pikasho Deka for Readers’ Favorite

The Birthday of Eternity Audiobook Sample:

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Private Detective Mystery
Published by: Indie
Publication Date: December 6, 2023
Number of Pages: 358
ISBN: 9798986893044
Series: Comfort & Company Book 2
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop.org | Goodreads
Audiobook Links: Audible | Spotify | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | Chirp

Read an excerpt:

PROLOGUE

DAIVIKA

(Preface, “Survival: My Journey to Enlightenment,” CoEB Press, 1948)

Happy New Year! Today, I begin the story of my death. The story of my death and my rebirth. The story of my journey to enlightenment. It won’t begin at the beginning. It won’t unfold in chronological order, or in subject order. Instead, it will flow in psychic order. An order marked by change—the before and the after—and its place in my eternal existence, in the circle with no beginning and no end.

Some in my position might shy away from sharing their story. They might prefer to keep their past a secret. However, from my experience—the experience that brought me to this point today—secrets destroy. They destroy trust, of course, but they also destroy hope. We can’t profess to love nature’s sunshine while keeping a part of ourselves in the darkness. Our past, our histories, are as much a part of our being as our beliefs and our actions.

Of course, it’s impossible to recall everything, and not all revelations are suitable for all audiences, but as far as common decency and memory will allow me, I will be truthful and open with my history. It’s the least I can do for my new friends and colleagues. Now more than ever, I need your trust. So, I will give you my secrets—some of them anyway.

And circle or not, I must start my story somewhere, and when I think about the past, I find myself returning to one moment, one place, one hot summer afternoon. It was a moment whose significance grew over time, like a soft mew swelling to a roar. It’s there I’ll begin the story of my life, a not-so-long-ago moment, fresh from death’s door.

 

Chapter 1

DAIVIKA

(Excerpt from “Survival: My Journey to Enlightenment.” CoEB Press, 1948)

Death, as a concept, bubbles up often in my current existence, but in my previous life, I did my best to keep the topic at bay, to push down my fears and ignore any pain. Months after the war’s end, I was still rationing my sadness, still offering fake smiles and unearned laughs.

That began to change with the death of my grandmother. Days before, she had taken a bad fall and her recovery had been fitful. I dropped by the hospital once or twice, but on that last Sunday, I canceled my planned visit and attended one of my husband’s archery competitions instead. She passed during the night.

Gramma had always been the kind constant in my life—more giving than my mother—and her departure from this world was a blow to my defenses. Its full impact, however—my shame especially— didn’t hit me until later. Even then, as I first stood by her open grave under that scorching sun, dry martinis in ice-cold glasses were all I was thinking about.

In her will, Gramma instructed she be buried at Forest Lawn, in the Everlasting Love section, next to her beloved husband, my grandpa. He had succumbed to a stroke a few years earlier, and his demise rendered Gramma spiritually unbalanced. Or as she put it, without him by her side, her life had no joy. At the time, I didn’t associate Gramma’s spiritual imbalance with a literal imbalance, the type of vertigo that caused her to misjudge a step, take a spill and break her hip, but the connection seems obvious to me now.

I also see now the deep imprint that my grandparents’ long and loving marriage left on my psyche. My parents’ marriage was fragile and my own romances were flops. But Gramma and Grandpa’s bond truly was everlasting—in life and beyond. Who doesn’t yearn for that?

No doubt that if my native Californian Gramma had been in charge of the matter, her burial would have taken place on a rainy dawn in winter. As it turned out, however, the fates preferred a cloudless afternoon in July. The night before, a Santa Ana wind had blown in, delivering a day of gusts so hot and dry they all but set fire to the lungs. The service at the Wee Kirk o’ the Heather Church had been reasonably well-attended, but most of the mourners, including my husband, skipped the burial. While immaculate and stubbornly green, the lawn the cemetery was famous for had absorbed the wind’s heat, making standing graveside more hellish than heavenly.

The minister-for-hire went through his rituals as quickly as was socially acceptable. But as he was delivering his final words over Gramma’s coffin, the birds and insects of Forest Lawn went abruptly silent. I felt the silence more than I heard it, but I sensed instantly that something was off and something else was eminent. And just as that anticipation hit, the sky’s light dimmed and the air dulled. We had been plunged, midday, into dusk.

During the next few seconds, my ears started to ring, or rather, hum. My heart raced, and I gasped. Then I fainted. My knees gave out and I tumbled to the ground. I toppled just inches from the open grave, my left arm dangling over the side. I quickly recovered but when I opened my eyes, the world was tinged with red and the air that swirled around me was frigid. I could hear murmurs of concern and felt someone touching my back. Embarrassed, I struggled to my feet and assured everyone I was fine.

And for a time, I fooled myself into believing that I was fine. On the drive home from the cemetery, I heard radio bulletins describing the total solar eclipse that had just occurred in the Northern Hemisphere. Everything I had experienced during the funeral was unusual but explainable. A natural phenomenon.

Or was it? Was Gramma’s funeral occurring at the same time as a rare astronomical event a coincidence? Or had Fortuna influenced the scheduling somehow? What had I seen? What had I felt? Had I felt through that cold wind Gramma’s spirit heading for the Afterlife? Or was it the stirring of my own sorrow, blowing around me in warning? Or both?

 

Chapter 2

HENRY

With a thwap, the arrow struck the hay bale, missing the square target by an inch. A crow clattered in a nearby sycamore, and a muttered curse slipped from Hoyle Cooper’s mouth. By Henry’s estimation, the target, set up in a sunny spot between two gnarled olive trees, was about 40 yards away.

With all the studiousness you’d expect from a man who had earned the nickname “Doctor to the Stars,” Cooper pursed his lips and reached for another arrow in his quiver. “Just one more,” he said, eyes narrowed. Cooper inserted the arrow and drew back his bent arm like Sagittarius on the battlefield. Although Henry knew next to nothing about archery, he sensed that Cooper’s form was perfect. The arrow flew out and, in a blink, struck the target dead center.

“That’s more like it,” Cooper said, half to himself. The faintest of smiles creased his smooth, pampered face, and he turned to face Henry for the first time. He didn’t offer his hand, but nodded. “Mr. Richman. Thank you for agreeing to meet me here. I know it’s a little out of the way for you.” He gestured at the arrow-dotted target and started off toward it. “Don’t move an inch. I’ll be right back.”

“I understand the need for privacy,” Henry yelled to his prospective client as he strode off. The archery field, located in the Arroyo Seco, was only a few miles from his downtown office—a short drive on the new parkway­—but its dusty roughness seemed a world away from his usual concrete haunts.

“I’m sure you do,” Cooper called over his shoulder. With one swoop, he grabbed the four spent arrows from the bale and dropped them into his quiver. He gestured again, this time to a trail behind Henry. “That way.”

Henry tugged at his fedora as he stepped onto the dirt path. Roughly outlined by rocks, it curved gently around some flowering chaparral, heading east up a slight incline. “Do you practice here often?”

“Every Monday and Saturday. And any other day I can get over here.”

“It shows.”

“Thank you,” Cooper said, joining Henry on the path, but keeping one striding step ahead. “I took up field archery a few years ago as a way to keep my mind and vision sharp. Then, I admit, it became a bit of an obsession.”

“Do you compete?” Henry said with a wince. His aging leather shoes offered little protection against the sharp rocks whose tips protruded out of the arroyo dirt.

“With the Roving Archers.”

“Where do they compete?”

“We’re part of the Southern California league, but we compete nationally,” Cooper said with a note of pride. “Like the World Series.”

“The team’s good?” Henry knew the answer would be yes, because that’s how men like Cooper conversed.

“Number one in the country,” Cooper gushed.

Henry half-smiled. “Congratulations.”

At last, they reached the apex, and Cooper stopped and nodded in the direction of some oak trees. “Let’s talk at the table.”

The rough wood table looked like it hadn’t hosted a picnic, or any other human activity, in a dog’s age. If Cooper wanted privacy, Henry thought, he couldn’t have found a better spot. With a rag plucked from his quiver, Cooper swept away pine needles and dried berries from the table’s benches, and Henry took note of the doctor’s powerful but smooth hands. “Sorry about the mess. I should have warned you to dress casually.”

Henry shrugged as he knocked dust from his hat.

Cooper dropped his quiver on the table top and collapsed on the closest bench, straddling it like a horse. Then he gestured toward the opposing bench and said to Henry, “Have a seat.”

Henry positioned himself directly across from the doctor, who had his hands folded across his chest. If Cooper had intended to make Henry uncomfortable, as rich clients often did, he had succeeded in spades. In the past, Henry might have resented the maneuvering and even retaliated for it, but these days he was content to play the long game. In a minute or two, Henry knew, the cocky Hoyle Cooper would be exposing his vulnerability to him, a stranger, and in that moment, Henry would hold all the power. “How can I be of help?”

“It’s my wife Lillian,” Cooper said, then added, “My soon-to-be ex-wife, I should say” Reaching inside his jacket, he pulled out some Pall Malls and offered the pack to Henry, who waved them off with a polite smile.

“Your ex-wife?” Henry repeated, as Cooper went through the motions of lighting a cigarette. Henry didn’t keep up with the town’s gossip, but Kit had mentioned seeing a publicity item about the starlet’s marriage to the much-older physician years before.

“That’s right. She left me in March and served me with divorce papers in April.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Thank you.” Cooper muttered, then took a deep drag on his Pall Mall. “If I’m being honest, the whole business took me completely by surprise.”

“In my experience husbands never see the bad things coming,” Henry said. Cooper grunted and tilted his head to exhale and stare into the distance. Henry gave him a few seconds, then broke the silence. “On what grounds is she suing you for divorce?”

At the word “divorce” Cooper snapped back to attention. “Unbelievably, on the grounds of incompatibility.”

“Why unbelievable?”

“Because she’s the one who changed, not me. If anyone should be suing on that basis, it’s me.”

“Changed how?” Henry blinked a few times and removed his glasses. Finding a fine layer of dust covering both lenses, he pulled a handkerchief out of his back pants pocket. Methodically, he began to rub the right lens.

“Where to begin?” Cooper placed his half-smoked cigarette on the table’s edge. He closed his eyes as though summoning the remains of his self-control, but said nothing.

Henry stopped mid-rub and raised his eyebrows. “How about the beginning of the end? Did she fall out of love with you?”

“That’s what she’s claiming. But there’s more to it than that.”

“There usually is,” Henry said, moving on to his left lens.

“A lot more. You have no idea.” Cooper looked down and bit his lip. In his discomfort, he seemed to have abandoned his cigarette.

Henry checked his watch. “Forgive me, Mr. Cooper, but if you want me to help you, you’ll need to give me a few more details. Did she fall in love with someone else?”

Cooper gave a barking laugh. “In a manner of speaking.”

Henry tucked the curved arms of his glasses behind his ears and stared expectantly at Cooper. The man had gotten rich off the indiscretions of Hollywood’s brightest stars, carefully hiding their abortions, venereal diseases, sterility or the real reason they had to split town from spouses and the gossip columnists. Maybe it had never occurred to him that one day, he’d be haunted by some of his own secrets.

At last, Cooper took a deep breath and continued, “Lillian’s grandmother Zinnie died last fall. She had a bad fall and a stroke—nothing unusual for someone her age. But she and Lillian had been very close. Almost like mother and daughter. In fact, I think Lillian loved Zinnie more than her own mother. At any rate, Lillian was devastated by her death. She barely ate or slept for a month afterward. It was like she was in a trance. I wanted to send her to a psychiatrist, but she said no. And she refused to take any medications.”

“Medications? You mean goofballs?” Henry said, his muscles tensing. He had his own opinions on the topic of goofballs.

“We don’t call them that, but yes, barbiturates. She refused to take them. I was nearing my wit’s end. When you’re in my line of work, you need a functioning wife. Then the wife of an old friend, Perriman—he’s my stockbroker—suggested we do a séance for Lillian. Alberta thought —

“Who thought?”

“Mrs. Perriman, Alberta, thought maybe an appearance from Zinnie might bring her out of her stupor. I was skeptical but desperate. So, I agreed to hire one.”

“A medium?”

“A so-called medium. Madame Zarzinzky.”

Henry interrupted. “Zarzinsky with two z’s?”

Cooper sneered. “Three fucking z’s. My friend’s wife claimed they had helped her cope after their son was killed in the war.”

“They helped?”

“It was a couple. The woman was the medium. The husband apparently led the group during the contact phase.”

“You didn’t attend the séance?”

“I wasn’t invited. But the couple dropped by the house for a preliminary consultation—as they called it.”

Henry nodded. “Sounds like they were pros, if they took the time for a reconnaissance mission. Where did this séance take place?”

“It was set up by someone Alberta Perriman knew, from her charity work. A producer’s wife, Sheila Seaver,” Cooper said with a dismissive half-shrug. “She’s a go-between of some sort. I admit I didn’t pay that much attention to the details.”

“I assume Zinnie made an appearance of some sort at the séance?”

Cooper gave a rueful smile. “Exactly what you’d expect. As Lillian described it, Zinnie spoke through the medium, mentioned a few personal details about Lillian. Just enough to be convincing.”

“But nothing that couldn’t be deduced from the consultation?”

“It was all obvious, except for a couple of tidbits that Lillian probably let slip during their first interview. But I’ll tell you, afterward, Lillian was transformed. She started eating again, going out, seeing friends. It was great at first.”

“Then?”

“Then she was introduced to Tashin.”

“Sorry?”

“Tashh,” Cooper said, then paused for effect, “Shinn. Also known as Lillian’s soulmate.”

“The other man.”

Cooper sneered. “He’s her other man in the Spirit World. Her soulmate. She calls him Tashin.”

“He’s a ghost?”

At the word “ghost” Cooper screwed up his mouth. “He’s a reincarnated spirit. That’s how Lillian described him. According to her, the two of them had been soulmates in previous incarnations. But in order to achieve perfect harmony with him in the Afterlife—I’m quoting here—she had to first divorce me.”

“Sounds convenient. And how did she meet . . .Tashin?”

“She refused to tell me.”

“Any guesses?”

Cooper shrugged. “She never wanted to discuss where she went off to, but she swore she wasn’t sleeping with anyone.”

“Did you believe her?”

“What choice did I have? Not that it mattered in the end. Wherever she was going, she was spending more and more time there. Then one day, she left and never came back.”

“Did she take anything with her?”

“A few clothes—only as much as would fit in a single suitcase. If you saw the size of her wardrobe, you’d know how strange that was.”

Henry nodded. Hollywood starlet or the wife of a rich, prominent doctor—either way, she’d be drowning in clothes and jewels. “That takes us to April. What’s going on now?”

“Now? I’m counter-suing her and naming Tashin as a co-respondent,” Cooper said, suddenly animated.

“You’re suing the spirit?”

“Please,” the doctor snarled. “He’s no spirit. He can’t be. There’s no way my gorgeous twenty-five-year-old wife left me for a bunch of stale hot air.” Anger rising, Cooper brought his fist down on the table. “That prick is as solid as this wood, guaranteed. I’d rather stick icepicks through my eyes than pay that whore a cent of alimony.”

Henry winced. If he had any sympathy for the man’s plight, it was quickly going out the window. “Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.”

“Look, I’m asking you because I heard you were the best. The last guy I hired was on the payroll for a month and couldn’t even figure out where she was going, let alone who with.”

Cooper’s revelation didn’t surprise Henry, but knowing the target was clever and aware enough to elude surveillance didn’t thrill him either. “So, to be clear,” Henry said, “if and when I locate them, you want me to serve him?”

“Exactly. Find her and serve him.”

* * *

Traffic was still light when he pulled out of the park and headed west in the Studebaker. He had left Cooper sitting at the picnic table, tending to both his ego and a fresh Pall Mall. The doctor had promised to send over all the relevant details—address and phone number for the referring friend’s wife, Lillian’s photo and a description of her known haunts and habits—later that morning.

When the subject of Henry’s fees came up, Henry requested an outrageous retainer and, as was his practice when dealing with the wealthy, doubled his daily rate. Cooper accepted the sums without debate, not even flinching when Henry suggested a second investigator, his partner, might be needed to locate his ex-wife. Apparently gut-spilling about his marriage had taken a toll on Cooper’s bravado. Either that or doctors had a more casual relationship with their money than the studio executives and politicians Henry usually did jobs for.

By the time he had eased off the parkway and headed downtown, Henry already had his afternoon planned. The first pieces were starting to fall into place, but no doubt about it, the outlines of the puzzle were stranger than anything he had ever encountered.

KIT

“He’s not a real dog,” Kit said calmly into the receiver. “Okay, he is a real dog, but he doesn’t work here. He’s a model. A dog model. My partner—my human partner—and I are the company investigators. We’d be happy to—”

The caller—an older man by the sound of the voice—hung up, and Kit jammed the handset into its cradle with a loud sigh. When she had agreed to include Valentino’s photo in their Comfort & Company Yellow Pages ad, she had worried about disappointing clients expecting to see the dog in the office. And in fact, a couple of walk-ins had promptly walked out when Valentino failed to make an appearance. But what kind of nut would hire a dog to handle their private affairs?

And where was the new Girl Friday? Without consulting her, Henry had offered the job to his wife’s niece, who had graduated from the same business school as Kit and, according to Henry, was ready to start immediately. Kit was leery of hiring “family,” but Henry had assured her that his cousin-in-law’s daughter wasn’t really family. “She’s the daughter of Bea’s cousin,” Henry explained, “and she lives with her divorced mother.”

Though unconvinced, the evening before, Kit had confiscated an ancient writing desk and chair from the downstairs supply closet and tucked them into the office’s only free corner. The phone line barely reached the small desk, and picking up the handset from the worn-down swivel chair required a stretch. Hardly ideal, Kit thought, but it was the best she could do on short notice.

The niece, Clara, was supposed to start at eight that morning, but when Kit arrived at ten, the room was so stuffy she had to leave the door open to air things out. Annoyed and disappointed, Kit plunked down in the executive chair she shared with Henry and contemplated heading for MacArthur Park with her camera.

“Knock, knock.” A young woman stuck her head into the room and smiled at Kit. “Hi. Are you Miss Comfort?”

“I am. Come on in.”

A short redhead with a fireplug build hustled in, carrying a large, string-tie envelope. Her round-collared white shirt and pleated skirt—desert brown, the color du jour—looked like they had just been pulled from a Bullocks hanger, and her copper hair sported the extreme part and soft curls popular with the collegiate crowd. She repeated her smile and, extending the envelope toward Kit, said, “It’s from Dr. Cooper. Mr. Richman said I should give it directly to you.”

“You talked to Henry?”

“No, not directly. Mr. Richman met with our client, Dr. Cooper, at the archery field.”

“Archery field?”

“Dr. Cooper spends a lot of time there,” the redhead said, then added, “Shooting arrows.” Her voice was firm but girlishly high-pitched. Kit didn’t detect an accent, other than L.A. neutral.

“And you’re from?” Kit said.

“McMasters and Rice. The law firm? Over on Fifth.”

“I know it.” Kit knew McMasters and Rice and every other law office that specialized in divorce. Many of Henry’s best clients had ended up at one of them. Kit tapped an empty space on her desk. “You can leave that there. Mr. Richman should be here soon.”

“Thanks,” the redhead said, placing the envelope near the desk’s edge. She flashed another smile, then bit her lip.

“Anything else?” Kit noticed that while the secretary’s clothes were new, her brown pumps, with their creased leather and uneven heels, weren’t.

“Is it true you rescued a woman from some crazy Nazi orange farmers?”

Kit hesitated. The “truth” was something very different than the story carried in the city papers a few months before, the orange farmers being fifth columnists and more fanatical than crazy. But the true story wasn’t hers to tell, according to the War Department. Not at the moment anyway. “More or less,” she said at last.

“That’s . . . awe-inspiring.”

“Thanks. We just did what we had to.”

“Still, gosh, it took guts. More than most people have.”

“You’d be surprised what you’re capable of when a gun is pointed at you.” The redhead’s expression darkened, and Kit regretted the comment.

“I know, you must have been terrified.”

An awkward silence filled the room. “What did you say your name was?” Kit asked.

“Ruby O’Reilly,” the redhead said.

“Very nice to meet you, Ruby,” said Kit, imagining the moniker Henry would likely assign her: Ruby the Red.

“Oh, gosh, it’s been an honor to meet you, a real honor.” Ruby turned to leave, then paused, her attention caught by the dartboard hanging on the back of the half-open door. “If you’re looking for a secretary, I type 80 words per minute, shorthand 220 words per minute, and I know how to be discreet.”

“Thanks, but we just hired someone . . . I think,” Kit said, confused. They hadn’t advertised the position in the classifieds.

“Oh, well,” Ruby said, a little surprise in her voice, “if she doesn’t work out, you can reach me at the firm. I’m there Monday through Saturday, eight to five.”

“Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind.”

As she neared the threshold, Ruby said, “Should I close the door?”

“Please,” Kit replied and watched as Ruby grabbed the outer doorknob.

“Don’t forget to call if you need me,” Ruby repeated while pulling the door behind her. “Trinity 5, 5520.”

The door closed, and Kit sat back in the executive chair, muscles tense. To relax, she closed her eyes and breathed slowly and deeply, in and out, in and out. It was a trick taught to her by Luca, her brother’s former shrink and her current, what, beau? Lover?

On her fourth and final exhale, she opened her eyes and looked off to the right at the now-closed door. Pinned to the dartboard, she saw, was a note. She got up for a closer look. The paper was from a steno pad and the scribbled words read: “Changed my mind about the job. Office is too small. And where’s the dog?! Clara.”

* * *

Weather conditions weren’t ideal for picture taking—the sun was too bright and pervasive—but after a morning of frustration and nonsense, Kit needed an excuse to head outside. She often used photography as her escape hatch, and she wasn’t particular about her subjects. To her, a loose brick could be just as eye-catching as a beautiful bloom, a bum on a bench just as visually stimulating as a fur-draped starlet. Henry would tease her about her aesthetic choices and invent captions for her more obtuse shots: “Fire Hydrant with Dog Pee” or “How Green Was My Shoe?” But Kit wasn’t offended or deterred by the opinions of others. Photography was her soul balm. It took her away from racing thoughts and self-doubts, from bad memories and future fears.

And today, she needed that balm to push memories of the man she had killed to the back of her mind. Today, Ruby O’Reilly had been the one to unleash her painful thoughts. But sometimes all it took was the smell of oranges or the feel of dirt to return her to the scene, the orange grove where she shot and killed a man named Carl. She had pulled the trigger and fired the bullet that ended his life. He had given her no choice—she wasn’t ambivalent about her motive—but the power the little derringer had given her still haunted her. With a gun, she thought, it was too easy to become a killer, and too easy to play savior.

In one second, so much of her life had changed. Not her waking, everyday existence, but her silent, inner life. Before the shot, the dynamics of the partnership had been clear—Henry had been in charge—but after it, the lines of authority had blurred. Henry owed her his life, after all, and Henry took his debts seriously. Would he repay her with the two things she craved most from him: respect and trust? She yearned for both, but wondered if she had truly earned them yet. Was she worthy and capable? On many days, she had her doubts.

For a hot weekday afternoon, MacArthur Park was surprisingly crowded, making picture taking a challenge. She preferred to photograph faces, to select one or two and create a portrait. Usually she would ask permission, but sometimes she took them surreptitiously. The candid photos were always more interesting than the posed, permitted ones, but given her profession, she didn’t want her motives to be questioned, possibly through violent means.

According to Henry, before the war, the park had been magnificent—a destination, not a pass-through—but started going downhill a few years back after William Randolph Hearst had forced a name change on City Hall. Apparently, Hearst, who dreamt of sending General MacArthur to the White House, had calculated that having a park named after the war hero was good publicity, so, poof, Westlake Park became MacArthur Park. Kit suspected the park’s decline had more to do with the decision to split it in two, with Wilshire Boulevard running unapologetically down the middle, than with the dubious politics of General MacArthur, but she never argued civics with Henry.

Despite Henry’s grumblings, Kit loved strolling through the park. The breeze off the lake, while slight, offered some relief from the heat, and the paddling swans made for good backdrops. Along with the swans, the park boasted a collection of “florid fly-by-nights,” as Henry would say, some of whom were featured in Kit’s portrait portfolio. She was on the lookout for one of these when she noticed some tourist types clustered around a man sitting on a lake-facing bench, a small table at his knees.

The young, dark-haired man had a lively game of three-card monte going, his hands moving the king, ten and two of clubs around so fast on the table that none of his opponents had a chance to select the correct card. Hand after hand, Kit watched him play, always winning against the eager passersby. After each victory, he would slide his booty into a tin can, grinning with undisguised joy.

Fraud lay at the heart of many of Comfort & Company’s cases, and Kit had learned from Henry that most con games, including three-card monte, were simple in design but complex in detection. The mind perceived what it wanted to see, what experience had taught it to see, never what was actually going on.

As she raised her camera to take the enterprising young man’s picture, she wondered what drove people to these games, what need in them did they fulfill? Hope? The belief that next time, the outcome would be different? Or maybe it was the opposite, maybe they took a strange pleasure in the certainty of their losses. Whatever the need, the marks kept coming, and the conmen kept playing.

Kit devoted the last shots of her roll not to the young man with the dazzling smile and devilish hands but to his audience—the vacationing families, office workers, retirees and bums who had gathered to give testament to his skills. She knew the conman’s sleight-of-hand deception could never be captured in a photograph, but she hoped the reactions of his targets would be.

***

Excerpt from The Birthday of Eternity by A. D. Price. Copyright 2024 by A. D. Price. Reproduced with permission from A. D. Price. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

A. D. Price

A native of Washington, D. C., A. D. Price is an Emmy-winning screenwriter and author. Her publications (as Amy Dunkleberger) include educational books and feature articles on historical and arts-related subjects. In 2022, she published After the Blue, Blue Rain, her first novel and the first book in her Comfort & Company mystery series. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two dogs.

Catch Up With A. D. Price:
www.ADPricebooks.com
Goodreads
BookBub - @adpricebooks
Instagram - @adprice22
Threads - @adprice22
Facebook - @adpricebooks
YouTube - @ADPrice

 

 

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and opportunities to WIN in the giveaway!

 

 

 

ENTER FOR A CHANCE TO WIN!

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for A. D. Price. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.

 

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Tours