J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

Archive for the category “books”

Release Day Blitz – Love, Marriage, and Other Disasters

~ Release Day Blitz ~
Love, Marriage, and Other Disasters
 by Shilpa Suraj

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Releasing Today on Amazon!

About the Book:

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She believes in love, family and…squiggles!

Alisha Rana is not your typical single desi girl. For one, she is on the wrong side of 30.  For another, she is divorced. And last but definitely not least, she is still, gasp, a virgin!

Alisha doesn’t want much. But what she does want is that elusive thing all women search for – A man who gets her…but a man who gets her hot! She calls it “feeling the squiggle.”

Enter Dr. Vivaan Kapoor, cute, hot, squiggle-worthy. The younger brother of her cousin’s prospective groom, he’s got the squiggle factor in spades. The only catch? He’s never been married and is years younger than Alisha. Basically, completely off-limits.

And then there is Arjun. Widowed, older than her by the right number of years and a genuinely nice guy. He’s Vivaan’s cousin and a so-called perfect match for Alisha. The problem is, Alisha’s squiggle-o-meter refuses to budge for him.

What will Alisha choose? A lifetime together with the ‘right’ man or a chance at happiness with the ‘wrong’ one?

Book Links:

Goodreads * Amazon

Enjoy the Quotes from Love, Marriage, and Other Disasters by Shilpa Suraj

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About Shilpa Suraj:

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Shilpa Suraj wears many hats – corporate drone, homemaker, mother to a fabulous toddler and author.

An avid reader with an overactive imagination, Shilpa has weaved stories in her head since she was a child. Her previous stints at Google, in an ad agency and as an entrepreneur provide colour to her present day stories, both fiction and non-fiction.

Shilpa on the Web:

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

 

 

Cover Reveal – Love, Marriage, & Other Disasters

Love, Marriage, and Other Disasters
by Shilpa Suraj

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About the Book:

She believes in love, family and…squiggles!

Alisha Rana is not your typical single desi girl. For one, she is on the wrong side of 30.  For another, she is divorced. And last but definitely not least, she is still, gasp, a virgin!

Alisha doesn’t want much. But what she does want is that elusive thing all women search for – A man who gets her…but a man who gets her hot! She calls it “feeling the squiggle.”

Enter Dr. Vivaan Kapoor, cute, hot, squiggle-worthy. The younger brother of her cousin’s prospective groom, he’s got the squiggle factor in spades. The only catch? He’s never been married and is years younger than Alisha. Basically, completely off-limits.

And then there is Arjun. Widowed, older than her by the right number of years and a genuinely nice guy. He’s Vivaan’s cousin and a so-called perfect match for Alisha. The problem is, Alisha’s squiggle-o-meter refuses to budge for him.

What will Alisha choose? A lifetime together with the ‘right’ man or a chance at happiness with the ‘wrong’ one?

Read an Excerpt from Love, Marriage, and Other Disasters

She closed her eyes and let the nippy breeze cool her flushed cheeks. This moment of solitude in the middle of all the chaos felt like heaven.

“Private moment? Or can I interrupt?” 

Resigned to her fate, Alisha looked up. “Are you stalking me?”

“No.” Sitting down next to her and stretching his long legs out, Vivaan laced his hands on his stomach. “It was getting a little stifling in there, so I thought I’d come out for fresh air. I saw you sitting here alone and figured I’d see if you wanted some company.”

“Terrible,” she said, narrowing her eyes at him.

“What?”

“Your excuse for being out here is terrible. If I wanted company, I would have stayed in there. And the only thing stifling you in there were the women throwing themselves at you.”

Grinning, he pointed out, “You weren’t.”

Tossing her hair, she said, “I have taste.”

“Ouch.” Wincing, he straightened from his slouch. “That hurt. I don’t know if I’ll ever recover from that.”

“Oh please. Go in there and let one of those girls slobber all over you. You’ll be fine in minutes.”

“All those tasteless girls in there? No thanks. I think I prefer the discerning one out here.” Reaching out to touch a lock of her hair he twined it around his fingers and watched her reaction.

“Cut it out.” Slapping at his hand, Alisha stood up. “You shouldn’t be flirting with me.”

Rising with her, he faced her. “Why?”

“Because I don’t cradle snatch and I certainly don’t intend to start with my younger cousin’s brother in law.” She tried for both their family’s sakes to take the sting out of her words but knew she’d failed when she saw the expression on his face.

“How old do you think I am?”

Alisha sighed. “Do we have to do this?”

“I’m trying to understand,” Vivaan said. “The age thing matters so much?”

 Alisha stared past him to the crowd now leaving the bar and yelling out goodbyes to each other. Drunk, happy and carefree. She felt every inch of her exhausting thirty-three years at that moment.

“For the record, I’m twenty-nine years old.” His low murmur had her closing her eyes. Twenty-nine. Shit. 

“I don’t think we should be having this conversation,” she said, starting to walk past him to the foyer.

Vivaan caught her hand as she crossed him and yanked her back, his grip firm and compelling. “Answer me. My age matters so much?”

“Yes,” she said, finally.

“Why? Does it make that much of a difference to who I am?”

“Why? What do you mean why? I’m older than you and divorced to add to that. You need any more reasons?” Giving her hand a slight tug, she groaned when his grasp only tightened. “Let go of my hand.”

“Does being older and divorced mean, you can’t be friends with me?” 

“It means I can’t stand around holding hands with you.” Staring pointedly at their hands until he released hers, she stepped back and started to move away.

“What makes you think any of it matters to me?” His question had her stopping in her tracks and turning to look at him. “I don’t care, Alisha. I like you.”

“It doesn’t make a difference if none of it matters to you. All of it matters to me.” This time when she made her way into the crowd, she didn’t look back.

About Shilpa Suraj:

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Shilpa Suraj wears many hats – corporate drone, homemaker, mother to a fabulous toddler and author.

An avid reader with an overactive imagination, Shilpa has weaved stories in her head since she was a child. Her previous stints at Google, in an ad agency and as an entrepreneur provide colour to her present day stories, both fiction and non-fiction.

Shilpa on the Web:

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

 

Cover Reveal – Murder in the Chowdhury Palace

~ Cover Reveal ~
Murder in the Chowdhury Palace
by Sharmishtha Shenoy

Murder in the Chowdhury Palace Banner copy

Murder in the Chowdhury Palace Cover copy

About the Book:

What if someone you loved… was murdered? How far would you go to bring a killer to justice?

Orphaned in her childhood, Durga has always longed for wealth, security and, above all, a sense of belonging. She finds it all when she marries Debnarayan Chowdhury, heir to an immense, multi-crore estate. But the Chowdhury family has been under a curse that dates back to the British era. The first-born of each generation dies young, purportedly killed by the spirit of Kadambari, a young woman murdered by the notorious Shankar Dakat, the founder of the Chowdhury family and their Zamindari. When her father-in-law Birendranath dies unexpectedly, Durga and Debnarayan come down to the ancestral home in Kakdihi, a small village near Kolkata. The moment Durga enters her new palatial home, she crosses a threshold of terror. She loses her husband within a month of her marriage and finds herself a widow in a house full of strangers. Are Debnarayan’s and Birendranath’s deaths accidental? Everyone in her new family and the neighborhood appear to be friendly. Most of them have a motive to kill her. A well-meaning neighbor tells her, ‘Run from this place. You have no friends here.’ Is she, the current owner of the estate, now on the murderer’s radar? 

Read an Excerpt from Murder in the Chowdhury Palace

The trees were denser beyond the pond on the northern side, and the area was unkempt and full of thorny bushes and nettles.  Debu remarked, ‘Not many people venture into the northern part of the woods from this point because the haunted house is less than a mile from here. So this part of the estate is in a rather wild state.’

‘Yes, I can see that nature has completely taken over this part. But still, let’s go there.’ I said excitedly.

‘Some other day…,’ Debu murmured. His face was slightly pale.

‘Debu! You really seem to believe in these ghosts and all that nonsense…,’ I said rather incredulously.

‘No… no… of course not!’ Debu exclaimed.

‘Then prove it! Let’s go and visit the house.’

‘Look… it won’t be very safe. The walls are crumbling, and I am sure that bats have made their home there.’

‘Please, Debu, let’s go, I have never seen a haunted house,’ I said, cajolingly. I gripped his hand and almost dragged him towards the house.

We came upon the abandoned temple first. The plaster was coming off the walls, and the aerial roots of a huge banyan tree had encroached upon the temple and gone in through the walls causing rainwater to leak into the walls and damage them further. The house was located a further quarter kilometer away.

There was a strange, sinister silence all around. Even the birds did not twitter in this part of the woods. The house with its closed shutters and peeling walls was a one-storey medium-sized building. It was dark and uninviting, steeped in shadow due to the jungle of trees that had flourished around it. Darkness echoed and folded upon itself. I walked resolutely to the main door, only to find it locked. 

‘Where is the key to this door?’

‘I don’t think anybody has it.’

I was in a naughty mood. ‘Then let’s break it open. I really want to see what’s inside.’ 

In spite of Debu’s protests, I picked up a heavy rock and hit the rusty lock with it. The lock broke easily.

We stepped inside a large hall. It was full of cobwebs and broken dilapidated furniture. Suddenly, a bat swept past my face. I let out a startled cry and drew back. I would have fallen to the ground had Debu not caught me.

‘Let’s get out of here. You shouldn’t be so adventurous in your present condition. The baby might get hurt,’ he said in a quavering voice. 

‘Oh come on… please Debu…let’s explore a bit more.’

I went further in and switched on the torch of my mobile to see better. At the center of the hall, were the remains of a havan done a long time back. The bricks used for the havan were blackened, charred and crumbling with spiders spinning their webs over the layers of dust. There was a portrait of Shankar Dakat and another of a woman on a wooden platform near which the havan had been performed.

‘This is, of course, Shankar Dakat’s portrait. And this must be Kadambari…,’ I said. ‘Who painted this?’ The painting of Kadambari mesmerized me. She was little more than a young girl in a green sari, worn without a blouse in the traditional fashion. Her big eyes were strangely life-like and sad and her long, thick, curly hair cascaded down her bare shoulders like a cloud.

‘I don’t know who painted this, nor do I care. Let’s go, Durga. I feel really uncomfortable here.’ Debu said a little impatiently. I started coughing because of the dirt. ‘Durga, you know you are allergic to dust. Come away now. I don’t want our baby to get hurt.’ He clutched my hand in a death grip, and almost dragged me out of the house.

The fear in his voice was contagious. Also, to be honest, the life-like painting had spooked me. We hurried back towards the pond. As we almost ran back and neared our home, there was a shout from the ground-floor east-wing balcony. It was Kanak. She shouted, ‘Who goes there?’

About Sharmishtha Shenoy:

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Sharmishtha Shenoy is the author of the Vikram Rana Mystery series. The books under the series are “Vikram Rana Investigates,” “A Season for Dying,” “Behind the Scenes” and “Fatal Fallout”. She has also published a book of short stories, “Quirky Tales.”

Her short stories have been published in efiction magazine and Woman’s era. She loves writing murder mysteries, the kind of books that she likes to read. Her favorite authors are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie. She also likes the work of Satyajit Ray – especially the Feluda Series. 

Before starting to write, she had been an IT professional and had worked in TCS, Satyam, Infosys, and Microsoft. 

She is a big foodie and enjoys Biriyani (both Hyderabadi and Awadhi versions) and rasgullas like most Bengalis. She is also a lusty singer of the bathroom singing variety.

Though she is happily married to Mr. Shenoy in real life, in her fantasy world she is wedded to her creation Vikram Rana.  You can get to her blog by typing the word “Sharmishtha Rana” into Google. No, seriously, try it.

She was born in Calcutta. She is an M Tech from the University of Reading, Great Britain and had received a 100% British Government Scholarship to study there. She lives in Hyderabad.

Sharmishtha on the Web:

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * YouTube 

 

Another Stellar Review for A Beautiful Glittering Lie

I recently received another flattering review for my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie. Thank you so much, Abi Rowe, for your review!

BTW, this book is being republished with another company, and will be re-released this spring. Stay tuned for a new cover reveal!

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The work follows how the lives of a family from a small town in Alabama are affected by the Civil War. I usually steer clear of historical fiction revolving around wars because they’re all battles or overly romanticized. The author of this work does an excellent job at finding a balance; this is one of the most realistic works of fiction I’ve read concerning the CIvil War. The author did her research. The characters are also well-written and aren’t static, making the work engaging.
I received a complimentary copy of this work through Voracious Readers Only in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Blitz – Unusual Equations

About the Book:

Viraj is struggling to concentrate at work because he has a wife to worry about. But he is more apprehensive because he knows that she is currently parked at the apartment of his arch nemesis.

Madhuri fought with her husband last night and in her rage left the house. She knows there is one place in the world where she is always welcome. She only hopes that she is not crossing any lines.

Aman has for long given up hope. Yet he can’t help but get a kick out of the circumstances that have brought her to his place. Is this is chance finally to bring her back to him?

Lives of three people entwined by love, passion, urge and devotion. Will they survive these unusual equations? Or will it destroy their happiness forever?

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Buy from Amazon

Read an Excerpt:

Anyone who had seen them together thought that Viraj was one doting husband. Madhuri didn’t consider it to be a big deal.

“I left my family for him, after all.”  she felt entitled in lieu of the sacrifice she had made to be with him.

“You gotta be easy on him, Madhuri. The reason he can’t stop looking at you like a love-struck puppy even today is not just that you left your family to be with him. It’s his innate need to love and cherish you,” mentioned one of her free-lancer friends last night. Madhuri couldn’t care less.

Even Aman is so loving and caring towards me.

Madhuri sat upright, jolted. Her thoughts shifted towards her relationship with Aman.

Friendship, Mads, it’s friendship with Aman.

What Madhuri shared with Aman was inexplicable. To call it a childhood friendship or companionship would be marring the beauty of it all.

Growing up in an extremely patriarchal household, where her brother was almost worshipped, Aman made her feel like she was the centre of his universe. He was the only person in her life who never wanted to change a thing about her.  He counseled her, helped her, and when she got herself into any madness, he just stood along and ensured that he was there to pick her up if she fell.

In fact, it was Madhuri’s affinity towards getting into all kinds of weird situations while dealing with people that Aman had christened her – Mads.

A much suppressed spirit as a child, Madhuri turned out to be rebellious and aloof as a teenager and a young adult. A part of the reason was also the awareness that she just had to turn and Aman would definitely be somewhere around the corner. He was always close by to help her with academics and extracurricular activities. Whenever she reported sick and missed school, Aman didn’t hesitate to go the extra mile and do double the work by copying all her class-work and assignments in her notebooks for her.

Madhuri never worried about even a dime in her life because she knew that Aman was there to root for her. Always.

Well, not always. 

Author

About the Author:

Anupriya belongs to that generation of Idiots (the proud ones though), who did their engineering first and then decided on what they actually wanted to do. She completed her MBA in Human Resources and worked in the corporate world for 8 years, before taking a professional break. A mom by day and a reader/writer by night, Anupriya is a die-hard romantic. Yet she believes that love (in any relationship) is a part of life, not, the heart of life. And she aims to bring to the world, stories around this theme. She can be found in the dot com world at her blog http://www.mommytincture.com , which contains her ranting about her experiences in her various roles as a mother, daughter, wife and foremost a human being, all churned together. It is also her outlet to the world where she doles out loads of gyaan on self-improvement and relationship management.

Anupriya on the Web:

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Pinterest

 

 

Cover Reveal – Saved by Love

~ Cover Reveal ~

Saved by Love 

by Shilpa Suraj

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About the Book:

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They meet under impossible circumstances.

She is kidnapped by terrorists blackmailing her father, a Supreme Court Judge. He leads the team sent to rescue her. 

Trekking to safety through Ladakh… They are in danger of falling in love. But, Lt. Col. Arjun Rathod knows that Naina Ahuja, engaged to politics’ rising star, is not meant for him.

Forever changed by her trauma, Naina walks out of her controlling family and forges a new life.

And then, she meets Arjun again. But this time, he is engaged to someone else.

Can they save their love or is it too late?

About the Author:

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Shilpa Suraj wears many hats – corporate drone, homemaker, mother to a fabulous toddler and author.

An avid reader with an overactive imagination, Shilpa has weaved stories in her head since she was a child. Her previous stints at Google, in an ad agency and as an entrepreneur provide colour to her present day stories, both fiction and non-fiction.

Contact the Author:

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

 

Cover Reveal – The Mahasiddha Field

~ Cover Reveal ~ 

The Mahāsiddha Field

by Dwai Lahiri

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About the Book:

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The world of Asuras and Dévas is considered mythological. Indian mythology is replete with tales of Dévas battling the Asuras constantly. The interesting thing to note is that whether it is a God or an incarnation of a deity in human form, aka an Avatār, there was also a human element involved in these stories. The teachers of the Dévas (gods) and the Asuras were human sages, known as Rishis.

Find out what happens when seemingly unconnected individuals get drawn into a world of suspense and action, as mythology collides with their world in the book ‘The Mahāsiddha Field’, the first in a new sci-fi/fantasy series!

An elderly wandering mendicant in South India, two young Indian-American men, two soldiers from the Indian Army and a mysterious sage from high up in the Himalayas are thrown together in an adventure unlike any other; as a most unlikely adversary leaps out of the world of Indian Mythology to challenge their beliefs, their sanity and their courage.

About the Author:

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Dwai is a long time practitioner of the Daoist internal arts with a focus on Taijiquan. He is also an eager student and practitioner of Advaita Vedānta, Kashmir Shaivism and Yoga. He enjoys being part of the artistic process in various forms – as a writer, musician and a martial artist. The Arts are an excellent medium for spiritual practice and he has dedicated more than two decades of his life in the quest for spiritual clarity.

He started writing in the early 2000s in the public domain, under the pen name ‘Rudra’ for ‘sulekha.com’, which then was the preeminent online literary portal for the Indian Diaspora.  In 2007 he started the online journal ‘The Medha Journal’ where over 1000 articles—the compiled work of 96 authors including himself are available for readers today, on various topics ranging from Indic studies, philosophy to poetry and fiction.

In the worldly domain, he is a software engineer for a Silicon Valley software company, and an engineer by training. He likes to think of himself as humble bridge between many disparate worlds– science and spirituality, art and technology, Eastern and Western cultures.

 He lives in the suburbs of Chicago in Illinois, USA with his wife, daughter and two dogs.

Contact the Author:

Blog * Twitter * LinkedIn * Quora

 

Cover Reveal: The Pearl of Immortality

~ Cover Reveal ~

The Pearl of Immortality

by Nishi Chandermun

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A world exists that is dominated by the forces of Light and Dark magic. A world where The Sands of Time comes to life, a unique and compelling fantasy.

Xerxes discovers an ancient golden Lamp in a shop of magical artefacts and his simple life is immediately altered, propelling him into a brand-new world inhabited by powerful alien races.

On this strange and distant planet, a world so unlike Earth, Xerxes soon discovers his new identity, one that names him Dragonheart.

Presented with his ancient dragon of more than five thousand years old, a dragon with indescribable magical abilities, he is compelled to accept his destiny as Dragon Rider. A destiny that drives him into the heart of threats shadowed over by the evil Naga race.

Can Xerxes shoulder the responsibilities of a true Dragonheart? When the significance of the Lamp comes to the fore, it becomes evident that the fate of the planet lies entirely in his strength.

Goodreads

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About the Author:

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I was born and raised in the city of Durban, one of the sunniest places of South Africa, where I live with my husband and three kids. However, home away from home is the magnificent Cape Town, a serene laidback city where the heart and spirit of the ancient Table Mountain beckons one to return again and again.

I graduated with a Bachelor of Law degree, cum laude and went on to study psychology thereafter, both careers which held my avid interest. However, my greatest passion was always in writing, something I have been doing for as long as I can recall. So, it’s no wonder that I finally surrendered all else to become a professional writer.

I have previously written middle grade fiction as well as illustrated books for little children. The Sands of Time series is my first venture for young adults, a project that I have been arduously researching and working on for several years. If there’s a single belief I live by, it would be this:

Masterpieces are not created overnight. All that is truly remarkable requires a magical moment of growth.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

The Pearl of Immortality Banner copy

Book Tour – The Speaking Stone

The Speaking Stone by Ratnadip Acharya

~Book Tour~

11th to 17th November

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About the Book:

The Speaking Stone 3D Cover copy

Mumbai, December 2016: 

A young man found an ancient-looking piece of stone with strange images and Sanskrit inscriptions. A quest to know the origin of the stone brought him to the distant part of the country. 

Chandannagar, December 2016: 

A young vivacious historian woman read an old book on a century-old secret story about a little known part of the country. Her curiosity got the better of her as the book disappeared mysteriously before she could complete it. She reached a sleepy quaint state of the country to satiate her curiosity. 

Eventually they both met and their search began from the city museum to a far-flung rock mountain which revealed a century-old story of a seductive danseuse, her enigmatic lover, a string of her admirers, a painter with a photographic memory, a bird that could speak in many voices, a benevolent king and a gruesome conspiracy. And the most important clue to decode the final secret was with the missing part of The Speaking Stone. But in the process of unearthing old secrets their lives were also in danger… 

Book Links:

Amazon * Goodreads

Read an Excerpt:

Chapter 1

December 2016, Mumbai

“Sir, we are about to close,” a courteous but curt voice materialized from near his shoulder. These words, however, had barely any effect on him as he just groaned sleepily, without budging even an inch.

The middle-aged man standing behind him hesitated for a moment before placing his fingers on his shoulder and tapping on it.

“Sir, it is well past one-thirty. We must close now at any cost. You know those Colaba police, na?” the man in uniform urged him. After all, he could not afford to speak in an authoritative manner with someone who frequented their pub, always drank enough to make the pub owner richer by a few thousand, behaved well with all the butlers unlike many other young men his age, and, above all, was always generous to give tips to the workers in the pub. He was quite a favourite with the staff of this famous pub, Voodoo, a little behind Hotel Taj Palace in Colaba. They looked up to him for another reason, too. It was his demonic capacity to drink and remain composed and collected even after that. Never before had it happened that he placed his head on the table, pillowed on his locked arms and slept blissfully. Whenever he visited Voodoo on weekends he was accompanied by one or two friends and the attendants in Voodoo knew that one of those friends, who didn’t drink, was always at the wheel while they returned from the pub. But tonight he was all alone and completely drunk. They were not sure as to how he would ride home.

“Sir,” the uniformed man called him again, tapping on his shoulder, a bit impatiently now. This time as he leaned to touch the young man’s shoulder the hanging end of his tie touched his ear and earlobe. What the earnest request and tapping of the attendant couldn’t do, the hanging end of the tie seemed to have done it effortlessly. Probably it sent a tickling sensation down his spine as he raised his head with a sleepy smile.

“Sorry,” said he, looking up.

“Sir, we are well past our closing time,” repeated the man. He passed a searching glance about and as he found the pub empty except for him a sheepish smile came over his lips.

“I am sorry,” said he, trying to get to his feet. A pleasant sweet smell of Black Label whisky issued from his mouth.

“May I use the toilet once before leaving?” he asked with his usual politeness and then headed to the Men’s with an unsteady gait.

He returned from the toilet after a few minutes, wiping his face with a handkerchief.

“Are you sure, sir, you can manage to go all by yourself?” asked the concerned attendant.

“I will,” replied he and staggered to the entrance of Voodoo.

The attendant watched his six-foot-tall frame leaving the pub and hoped he would reach home safely. He consulted the watch. It was a quarter to two.

Outside the pub the young man stood for a few moments, trying to gather his thoughts. He looked around then. The street in front of him was deserted. At the corner of the street, two stray dogs were sleeping, coiling themselves against each other to feel warm in the cold winter night. A thin wisp of smoke was spiralling up from a small heap of ashes. He knew the durwans from the nearby buildings might have lit the fire with the foliage and old discarded cardboard to warm themselves up. He did a mental calculation and tottered ahead at a slow pace. All that accompanied him was his hesitant footfall and a faithful shadow. He walked past Kashmir Emporium, Rustic Rajasthan, and an antique shop whose targeted customers were usually foreign tourists, and arrived behind the Taj Continental where scores of four-wheelers were parked. As he looked at the cars, parked in an astonishingly disciplined fashion to make the most of the space, a thought struck him. Most of the cars were white. He had no difficulty in finding his car. He opened the rear door of the car and plopped himself down on the seat. It was not long before he stretched at full length, occupying the entire back seat. 

Soon he fell asleep when the crashing waves of the Arabian Sea, in front of Hotel Taj Continental, played a lullaby for him. It was the first night he slept in the car.

About the Author:
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Ratnadip Acharya is the author of two successful novels, Life is Always Aimless… Unless you love it and Paradise Lost & Regained. He is a columnist for the Speaking Tree in The Times of India. He contributed many write-ups in different collections of Chicken Soup for the Soul. He lives in Mumbai with his wife, Sophia and son, Akash.

Contact the Author:

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Spotlight – Justice Gone

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About the Book:

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When a homeless war veteran is beaten to death by the police, stormy protests ensue, engulfing a small New Jersey town. Soon after, three cops are gunned down.

A multi-state manhunt is underway for a cop killer on the loose. And Dr. Tessa Thorpe, a veteran’s counselor, is caught up in the chase.

Donald Darfield, an African-American Iraqi war vet, war-time buddy of the beaten man, and one of Tessa’s patients, is holed up in a mountain cabin. Tessa, acting on instinct, sets off to find him, but the swarm of law enforcement officers gets there first, leading to Darfield’s dramatic capture.

Now, the only people separating him from the lethal needle of state justice are Tessa and ageing blind lawyer, Nathaniel Bodine. Can they untangle the web tightening around Darfield in time, when the press and the justice system are baying for revenge?

Book Links:

Goodreads * Amazon

AFA-WINNER-TRANSPARENT-BACKGROUND copyWINNER NIEA copy  RF silver-shiny-hr copy

Winner of Three Awards:

2019 American Fiction Award

National Indie Excellency Award – Best Legal Thriller of 2019

Silver Medal Winner 2019 – Readers’ Favorites Awards

Chosen by Wiki.ezvid.com among their list of 10 Gripping and Intelligent Legal Thrillers

Reviews for Justice Gone:

The courtroom scenes are wonderfully written…the characters are well described and the author paints a picture of each in the mind of the reader…Strong plot, strong characters and a strong writing style that I really enjoyed. This one is a definite “thumbs-up.” Strongly recommend! I look forward to reading additional works by N. Lombardi, Jr.

Kim M Aalaie, Author’s Den

One of my favorite suspense novels of the year. It will make you question the legal system.

The Eclectic Review

The courtroom action is excellent, trimmed to the most gripping parts of the trial, with plenty of emotional impact…a fairly realistic portrayal of the way small-town US society works…a fast-moving story with plenty of dramatic moments, and a big twist in the final pages.

Crime Review 

Read an Excerpt:

“What does voir dire mean?” Penny asked out of the blue. “The judge said something about…”

“It means that I and the prosecutor get to question each prospective juror directly. Only the judge has that authority, we lawyers have to ask permission to do so.”

They entered the visitation room, a cramped stuffy space bounded by the same pea-green walls, with a wooden table and straight-backed wooden chairs in the middle of the room. It was dimly lit and windowless. They found Darfield already standing by the table, and after greetings, along with hugs on the part of Tessa and Penny, they all sat down.

“I think it’s time I made a proper introduction,” Emily Bodine said. She smiled appealingly. She was a comely woman of about thirty, with honey-brown hair combed sensually around her glossy oval face and down to  her  shoulders, and  possessing jaunty blue eyes, a cute button nose, and alluring lips. She wore a brown lawyerly, Chanel-style pants suit. “You already know I’m Nat’s daughter and his co-counsel.”

“Not as flamboyant as me, but she gets the job done,” Bodine put in.

“Thanks, Dad. Closest thing to a complement that I’ll ever get from him,” she told the others with a fleeting grin before getting down to business. “Today was the formal arraignment, and now we are entering the discovery phase.”

“What’s that mean, exactly?” Darfield wanted to know.

“It means that the State has to turn over all its evidence to us including a list of witnesses they intend to call, the exhibits they intend to admit, things like that…so we can prepare our case. And we have to do likewise.”

“When is the trial going to be?” Tessa asked, getting to the issue that was a priority on her mind.

“Yeah, I’d like to know that, too,” Darfield said.

“Well, I don’t expect before the end of the year. We have the holidays coming up. It has to be within one hundred and twenty days, you heard the judge. Maybe sometime in February.”

Tessa was upset. “February! And Donald will be locked up until then?”

Bodine intervened. “Well, it’s like six of one and half dozen of the other. We’ll at least get sufficient time to prepare. It could have been worse if we waived the right to a speedy trial. Could have been a year or more because the State’s got a weak case and they’d use that time to bone it up.”

Darfield patted her arm. “Don’t worry, Tessa, I can make it all right.”

Bodine continued. “As Emily already mentioned, this is the discovery phase, so the more time the better. You see, most prosecutors play this disgusting game in collusion with the police, to take their time with the paperwork and to withhold things until we have to file motions repeatedly complaining to the judge to get hold of what they got, even though by law we are one hundred percent entitled to it. Oh, yeah, by the way, you got a source of funds?”

Tessa backed off, and sort of shriveled up. “We assumed you were working pro bono.”

“Well I am, but that means I’m only waiving my fees. There are still expenses to pay; you don’t expect me to dig into my own pockets for those, do you?”

“What expenses?”

Emily explained. “Phone calls, photocopying, transport, investigation costs…”

“Investigation?”

“Yes, that’s a must if we’re going to trial. And then there’s the experts.”

“Experts?”

The elder Bodine once again took the reins. “Look, they don’t have any evidence that Donald killed those three men. They need eyewitnesses, and they don’t have any. And the only forensic evidence is going to be based on ballistics. So they’re going to get some expert, who works for the government of New Jersey and who is loyal to the prosecution, and get him in the witness stand and give the jury a whole mumbo-jumbo about how Donald’s weapon is tied to the bullets they found. Except it’s gonna be bullshit. But the jury will eat it up; even if they don’t understand what he’s saying, ‘cause he’s an expert, and if we rely just on my cross-examination, me, a lil ol’ lawyer, a blind one at that, trying to rip apart his testimony, it always appears as a lack of respect when I attack his credibility. I mean he’s the expert, ain’t he? That’s why we need our own expert to show up the other guy, and let me tell you, they don’t come cheap.”

“We’ll do a fund-raising,” Penny said. “How much will we need?

“Shoot for a hundred thousand,” Bodine advised. “Shit!” Darfield blurted.

“There is something that we must consider right from the start,” Emily said. “This case hinges on jury sentiment. There’s nothing else when you come right down to it. And that’s not in our favor. Asarn County is ninety-percent white and is very conservative,  as  well  as  generally  supportive  of  their  local police.”

“I thought I saw a few people outside holding signs,” Penny said. “I think they were supportive of Donald.”

“That’s the last thing we want!” Bodine remonstrated loudly, banging his cane on the floor.

The door opened and a uniformed jailer appeared. “Is there a problem in here?”

“No officer, I was just making a point.”

“Well, could you make it a little more quietly, please?” “Yeah, now shut the door.”

The guard shot Bodine a harsh glance before closing the door. “Little  pipsqueak.”  He  pointed  his  cane  toward  the  far corner,  where  a  camera  was  suspended  close  to  the  ceiling. “They can see everything going on—closed-circuit television. Can’t hear us though… He damn well knew there wasn’t any problem, just wanted to assert the little authority he has…now, as I was saying…any protesters showing up here are likely to be outsiders with a political agenda. The local community is still in shock over those cold-blooded murders; they’ve already forgotten  the  original  incident,  Felson’s  beating,  and  they’ll consider such shenanigans as insensitive liberal nonsense…and if the jury should be exposed to these types of demonstrations, they’ll turn against us.”

“You have to realize,” Emily broke in, “that this is all about assigning blame. Three men are dead and someone has to be held responsible. They can’t just let it hang in the air.”

“What about my alibi?” Darfield shot in.

Bodine turned his head in the general direction of Darfield’s voice. “I sent someone down there, and we’ll get his report soon.” “What about this judge?” Darfield asked. “Is he going to be

the same one for the trial? Looks like a mean sucker.”

“Good question, Donald,” Bodine replied. “I would say yes, most assuredly. He’s an elected judge, and this is an election year.

“Is that good or bad?” Penny asked. “Not good.”

“There’s been a study done,” Emily said, “that shows that elected judges tend to have more convictions and give out stiffer penalties during their election years.”

“And,” Bodine added, “they usually run on a platform of being tough on crime. Last campaign, Tupelo had as his slogan, Vote for Judge Tupelo, ‘cause he just don’t let ‘em go. So the DA already has one up on us, he’s got the judge. But I have a way to put Tupelo on a leash. You see, there’s one thing a judge fears, and that is having their verdicts or their decisions overturned by either an Appeals Court, or worse, the Supreme Court. Makes ‘em look bad. And I’ll be threatening him with that from the get-go.”

“I noticed they dropped some of the charges,” Tessa said. “Surely that’s a good sign.”

“No, not really,” Bodine rebutted. “The police always overdo it, then wait for the DA to choose which of them they’re gonna run with. In this case, it looks like they want to concentrate their case on the most serious charges, and it also shows their confidence in getting a conviction. If they weren’t, they would have kept all those charges hoping for at least some of them to stick.” He addressed Darfield. “Make no mistake about it, son, you’re going to end up doing time for something. If you get acquitted, they’re going to bring you up again on reckless endangerment,  for sure. And that reminds me, if that’s what happens, we can rely on your PTSD as mitigating circumstances, but NOT, I repeat NOT for this case. The prosecution will no doubt bring that up, but for our part, we’re going to downplay that as much as possible.” Bodine cleared his throat, obviously dry from all this talking. “Now there’s one more thing before I go. This matter of isolation. My hunch is that they’re going to keep you in the same cell, but just add a bunkmate. And he’ll be the snitch. Do whatever you can to keep him away from you. They won’t put you in the regular bullpen, because there’s eight guys sharing a single area, and all eight would have to corroborate each other, you get me?” Bodine didn’t wait for an answer, “Otherwise I can call the others to the stand who would testify they didn’t hear shit. But if the State does what I just said, stick him in alone with you, it’s more work for me because without witnesses to contradict him, I’ll have to spend some effort at tearing up the little rat on the stand.”

Tessa sat upright and put both hands on the table. “What about this sequestering of the jury. I noticed you were quite upset.”

“First of all, we’re gonna be restricted when it comes to jury selection. Some of the most sympathetic won’t be able to do it, for example single mothers, those who might need medical monitoring, people who cannot be away for a long time… but what I’m really concerned about is that they’ll hasten deliberation, come to a judgment too quick ‘cause they’re fed up being treated like prisoners, which, mark my word, that’s how they’ll be treated. Now some of them may resent the State because of that, but some might feel some bond with the State because they’re the ones taking care of them. Remember, that in the trial proceedings the State goes first, they can take their time, but it’s gonna force us to rush a bit because by that time the jury members are getting unhappy living the way they’re living. If we want to go meticulously about our case, then the jury will blame us for  taking  too  long and  prolonging  their  suffering. Now, is there anything else before Emily and I take our leave?”

“When will you come back?” Darfield asked. “We’ll be back by the end of the week.”

About the Author:
N. Lombardi Jr, the N for Nicholas, has spent over half his life in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, working as a groundwater geologist. Nick can speak five languages: Swahili, Thai, Lao, Chinese, and Khmer (Cambodian).

In 1997, while visiting Lao People’s Democratic Republic, he witnessed the remnants of a secret war that had been waged for nine years, among which were children wounded from leftover cluster bombs. Driven by what he saw, he worked on The Plain of Jars for the next eight years.

Nick maintains a website with content that spans most aspects of the novel: The Secret War, Laotian culture, Buddhism etc.

His second novel, Journey Towards a Falling Sun, is set in the wild frontier of northern Kenya.

His latest novel, Justice Gone was inspired by the fatal beating of a homeless man by police.

Nick now lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Follow the Author:

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