To celebrate the start of 2014, I am offering a free autographed copy of STRANGER: A DEATH VALLEY MYSTERY to all my followers. If you would like a personally signed paperback copy mailed to you, please send your name and address to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy New Year and Happy Reading!
Please note your information will NOT be sold or given out to anyone. Offer expires 1/31/14.
The Interim Los Angeles Coroner Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran has released an update to the Natalie Wood case.
Natalie Wood, a child actress who grew up in the Hollywood system and then married actor Robert Wagner, died in 1981 under mysterious conditions. While boating with her husband and his friend, Christopher Walken, and consuming large amounts of alcohol, Woods disappeared. When Mr. Wagner realized his wife was missing, he radioed for help and a search began. The LA County Life Guards pulled her from the water hours later.
Upon investigation, it appeared she had climbed out of the yacht after an argument with her husband and boarded a dinghy perhaps to go ashore. The case was closed as a probable drowning.
In the new report, the LA coroner has revised the cause of death to “drowning and other undetermined factors.”
The report states it is unable to “exclude non-volitional, unplanned entry into the water.” This could include falling in accidentally or worse, being forced into the water.
The mystery continues.
Barnes & Noble asked some of the most popular Mystery Authors what titles they would suggest to new readers in the genre. Here are their suggestions. How many have you read?
Click the links for full list of suggested novels.
Michael Connelly - Suggests novels spanning from Robert Crais to Harper Lee
Robert Crais - Suggests novels from mystery superstar Michael Connelly and legend Raymond Chandler
Sue Grafton - Suggests novels from spanning from John le Carre to James M. Cain
Lisa Scottoline - Suggests novels from thriller writer David Baldacci to mystery superstar Sandra Brown.
What would you suggest to a new mystery reader?
1. Stranger takes place in Death Valley in the middle of the hot summer. What is your opinion of Death Valley? Did your image of Death Valley change after reading the novel? What do the characters in the novel feel about it?
2. During his interview with a possible witness, Detective Will Stellar tells Alex Delgado she has issues with control. Discuss other instances in the novel where Alex displays a problem with controlling herself. Discuss the ways in which Alex tries to gain control in these situations.
3. Ric Delgado often refers to other people by a nickname, such as calling Detective Stellar “Cowboy.” When referring to the computer store clerk, he explains he forgot the boy’s name. In another instance he calls his longtime partner, Detective Dade by the name of “Judas.” Why do you think Ric uses nicknames for the other characters?
4. Ric Delgado admits having doubts about what he would have done if Alex had called him instead of Detective Dade the night she shot Davey. Ric believes Detective Stellar will save his brother instead of arresting him when confronted with the truth. Do you think Ric’s opinion of Detective Stellar will change knowing Stellar arrested his brother instead of protect him?
5. Detective Dade and Ric Delgado have a tenuous relationship at the end of the novel. Do you think they will remain friends or will they throw away their past partnership and move on? Do you think Detective Dade will check up on the Delgados?
6. Will Stellar’s relationship with Erika is much like a roller coaster. Do you think their relationship will be able to move past her infidelity with his brother? Do you think they will ever come to an agreement regarding their future?
7. Do you think Alex and Ric grew closer together or further apart by the end of the novel? Do you think they will stay in Lake City?
8. What did you find to be most compelling about Stranger — the action scenes, the characters, the setting, the dialogue, or something else entirely? Why?
9. A red herring is defined as something that draws attention away from the central issue. In crime fiction, a red herring is often put there to fool or distract you. Were you fooled by anything in Stranger? Were you surprised by the killer’s identity?
10. Are you satisfied with how the book ends? Would you have preferred another ending? Where do you think the series will go from here?
reposted from an earlier blog.
There is a dead body in room 110 of the Death Valley Motel, and the evidence points to murder. Managers Ric and Alex Delgado, siblings with police work in their blood, chose this small Death Valley city specifically because it appeared to be a quiet place in which Alex could heal from the violent traumas of her past. Now a killer has struck too close to Alex, opening old wounds and threatening her new life.
The situation gets more complicated when Detective Will Stellar trains his observant eye on the siblings and ascertains they have something to hide. Murder seems to follow Alex Delgado, and Detective Stellar is certain she is a dangerous woman. Racing against time and against each other, the Delgados and Detective Stellar risk their lives to uncover the truth, which is ever more complicated and dangerous than any of them have imagined.
1. What is your view of Luc Actar? What motivates him to find out more about Spencer’s disappearance?
2. Discuss the other characters’ motivations for their actions, both the “villains” and “heroes” in the story, including Mattie Hardwin, Spencer Hardwin, Detective Ward, and John Carliss.
3. What did you find to be most compelling about Falling Angels — the action scenes, the characters, the setting, the dialogue, or something else entirely?
4. “A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry, but money answereth all things.” Discuss how food, alcohol, and money tie into the theme of salvation in Falling Angels.
5. Luc explains that he was able to escape his life on the streets by stealing. He tells Detective Ward that crime still pays for some people. Do you believe this was Luc’s only way out?
6. Luc and Mattie are from separate financial spectrums. Why do you think they became friends? What keeps them together?
7. As a child Luc ignores Mattie’s hints at rebellion. Why do you think he refuses to see her as anything other than an angel?
8. A red herring is defined as something that draws attention away from the central issue. In crime fiction, a red herring is often put there to fool or distract you. Were you fooled by anything in Falling Angels? Were you surprised by the killer’s identity?
9. The novel contains many flashbacks to when Luc and Mattie are younger. Do you feel these flashbacks helped the story or help you better understand their personalities or did they hinder the flow of the mystery?
10. Are you satisfied with how the book ends? Would you have preferred another ending? Do you think Luc and Mattie would be satisfied with a ‘happily-ever-after’ ending?
reposted from an earlier blog.
About Falling Angels:
After a panicked call from his best friend, Mattie Hardwin, Luc Actar must return to Los Angeles and the life he fled three years earlier. Mattie’s husband, a prestigious lawyer named Spencer Hardwin, has mysteriously disappeared. Desperate for assistance, Luc enlists the help of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in his search to find Spencer, despite his better judgment. But he soon learns that the detectives have their own reasons for locating Spencer—the lawyer has become the prime suspect in a drug dealer’s brutal murder.
As he hunts for the man he thought he knew, Luc’s history with Mattie haunts his dreams and drives him to the depths of the misery he once escaped. Back on the streets of Los Angeles, Luc employs old friends and encounters childhood rivals to take on the sheriff’s department, while a slew of lawyers impede his every move to save those closest to him from an unknown killer.
FALLING ANGELS is the first in the Luc Actar crime series by Melissa M. Garcia.
Yes, the sequel to FALLING ANGELS is on it’s way. I’ve promised you all and I swear it’s close. But it’s like my child. I watched it grow up from just a small baby of an idea and now it’s blossomed into a full-length crime novel. I want to share CHASING DEMONS with all of you, but I’m nervous. Is it ready to be out in the world? It recently left for about two months and spent some time with my editor, but it’s back for one last review and I’m hesitant to let it out of my sight again. But alas, I know I must let it go. So, as it leaves me today to get formatted for publishing, I will tease you with the summary.
About CHASING DEMONS:
Journalist and ex-car thief, Luc Actar has finally decided to settle down. He’s traded in his life of crime for the life he’s always wanted. He’s moved in with his recently-divorced girlfriend, Mattie Hardwin in her large Malibu home overlooking the Pacific Ocean. He’s back at work at the Crime Reporterinvestigating stories of corruption and abuse by the political and legal authorities of Los Angeles County.
When detectives arrive to inform Luc of the death of his father, Luc is hesitant to get involved. But once he discovers a powerful leader in the mental health industry is pulling the strings in his father’s investigation, Luc is determined to take him down. As he chases the demons of his past, Luc unknowingly steps right into the crosshairs of a killer determined to keep his own life from falling apart.
About MELISSA M. GARCIA
Born in La Mirada, California, Melissa M. Garcia (@MelissaM_Garcia) has lived most of her life in the sometimes gritty, always entertaining, and ever-changing landscape that is Southern California. She graduated from California State University in Long Beach with a degree in English/Literature. Melissa is the author of the Luc Actar crime series (including FALLING ANGELS and CHASING DEMONS) and the Death Valley Mystery series (STRANGER: A DEATH VALLEY MYSTERY). Melissa recently released an e-book collection, Faith Departed: Short Stories of Mystery, Crime, and Despair. Melissa is also the author of the online blog, “Musings from a Crime Writer.” Her novels are available in paperback and e-book formats. She currently lives with her husband in Southern California and is at work on the next Death Valley Mystery.
Retired FBI agent Robert Levinson disappeared in Iran 2,000 days ago. Levinson, who became a private investigator after retiring from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, was working on a cigarette smuggling case when he disappeared more than five years ago while on a business trip on Iran’s Kish island on March 8, 2007. A proof of life was provided in 2010 where Levinson asks the US Government for help.
The FBI has offered a reward of $1 million for information leading to Levinson’s safe return, but no new leads on who is holding him or what they want. The US continues to put pressure on Iran for information on Levinson’s whereabouts.
A hospital comes up with a great kickback scheme. They hire some marketers to bring in homeless patients to their hospital and treat them for imaginary illnesses. And charge the government. They get rich, the homeless get used and abused, and the American taxpayer is swindled.
Sounds like a great crime novel, right? Well,I’m sorry to tell you the story is taken. But not by a fiction writer.
Los Angeles Doctor’s Hospital, Inc., pled guilty to conspiring to defraud Medicare and Medi-Cal through the payment of illegal kickbacks to “marketers” who recruited people to act as patients. Some of the recruits were found on the famous Skid Row in downtown LA. They were treated, even if they did not need treatment in exchange for a small payment.
It appears other southern California hospitals were involved in similar schemes. All to the toll of almost $16 million!
Cousins, 8-year-old Elizabeth Collins and 10-year-old Lyric Cook-Morrissey were last seen on July 13, riding their bikes near a lake in Evansdale, Iowa. An extensive search has been conducted and police recently announced this is now an abduction case. As normal, investigations into the families has started. And disturbing information is coming out.
Misty and Daniel Morrissey, the estranged parents of Lyric Cook both have criminal records that appear to be causing concern for police.
Misty was just released from federal prison on May 30 after being convicted of nine crimes, including illegal drug use, association with persons involved in criminal activity, excessive alcohol use, and failure to comply with drug testing. Eight years earlier, in 2003, she was sentenced to four years behind bars for conspiracy to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine.
Dan has recently been charged with assaulting his estranged wife and possessing, manufacturing and distributing methamphetamine. Morrissey had been expected to accept a plea agreement July 12, the day before the girls vanished, but decided not to do so because he was not ready to go jail. Prosecutors had cut his sentence from more than 45 years to 10 years, because he has cooperated and given investigators information on other meth makers in the area. Since the early 1990s, Daniel Morrissey has been convicted of burglary, theft, drug possession, intoxicated driving, parole and probation violations and interference with official acts.
Could Lyric’s parents drug connections have caused their abduction? Could the girls have been taken by a rival meth maker out of revenge for cooperating with police? Or could the girls have been taken by a family member to keep them safe from Lyric’s parents?
To me, these don’t sound like the people who deserve to care for a child and I only hope that the girls are found safe soon. When found, I hope the state can place Lyric in a safer home environment.
*Not fact or fiction, these are just my musings.
MISSING. In Evansdale, Iowa, 8-year-old Elizabeth Collins and 10-year-old Lyric Cook were last seen by their grandmother on Friday when the two cousins left to go on a bike ride. Their bicycles were located hours after they were reported missing near a lake. A massive volunteer search over the weekend failed to locate the girls. Scent dogs used by searchers looking for signs of two missing young girls in Iowa ran around a lake and stopped at the water’s edge, but the mother of one of the girls doesn’t believe the girls had gone swimming. She believes the girls were abducted.
ARRESTED. Police have made an arrest in the abduction attempt in South Philadelphia that was caught on video. The surveillance video shows a 10-year-old girl, with her 2-year-old brother, walking home on Tuesday afternoon. The video shows an unknown male following them in a white vehicle. The video shows the suspect grabbing the girl and attempting to carry her away, but she bit him causing him to drop her. He tries again, but the girl fights as her brother screams. The man eventually let the child go and ran back to his vehicle. A suspect was arrested after turning himself into authorities.
IDENTITY THEFT. An Estonian man was sentenced to seven years in prison on Thursday for his role in stealing more than 240,000 credit card numbers. Aleksandr Suvorov hacked into a computer system belonging to the Dave & Buster’s restaurant chain to steal the credit card numbers of 81,000 customers. Suvorov attempted to sell more than 160,000 stolen credit card numbers to a buyer in San Diego.
ART CRIME. Undercover FBI agents in Florida found what investigators believe is a stolen Henri Matisse painting that had been missing for nearly a decade. Pedro Antonio Marcuello Guzman, 46, of Miami and Maria Martha Elisa Ornelas Lazo, 50, of Mexico City were charged with transporting and possessing the stolen painting after trying to sell “Odalisque in Red Pants,” valued at $3 million to undercover agents.
STRANGE. A woman in Texas was charged with child endangerment for leaving her children after her car collided with a Houston bus. She allegedly walked to a nearby CVS drug store and started taking off her clothes as she ate ice cream. The Texas mom’s three children, ages 5, 12 and 16, were in the car when the collision occurred. Officials say all three suffered minor injuries and have since been released to their grandmother.
And this is why I write crime fiction…