Those of you who know my full history know that I spent about twenty years working in and around the Japanese automotive industry.
I am definitely a Japanophile. The history, culture, and language of Japan have long fascinated me. Japan has never been my permanent place of residence, but I’ve traveled there more times than I can count.
I learned the Japanese language in the late 1980s/early 1990s. I spent some time working as a translator/interpreter. My Japanese is a little rusty nowadays, compared to what it was in 1995 or 2000, when I was doing simultaneous interpretations at business meetings. But I can still manage an adult-level text or a news broadcast in Japanese.
I’m working on a new fiction series, set in Japan in the early 1990s. It will feature young Gen X protagonists. (Generation X was young in the early 1990s.)
Like all my books, this series will be available on Amazon, in both Kindle and paperback. But I may experiment with some other forms of distribution as well. (I’ve been wanting to try audio-first releases, possibly serialized here on Edward Trimnell Books, for example.)
This book is now available on Amazon! Below are the first two chapters. In this opening scene, Betty Lehmann has a run-in with her old nemesis, FBI Special Agent Paul Gellar:
Betty Lehmann stood on a crowded passenger ship dock in Brooklyn, New York, on the western shoreline of New York Harbor. She looked up at the tall, wide prow of the RMS Scotlander.
It was a balmy day in September of 1938. The city of New York was sweltering under a late-season heat wave, but there was a pleasant breeze here, so close to the Atlantic.
Betty, moreover, could feel herself tingling with excitement, for the journey that was about to begin. Within the hour, Betty would board the Scotlander, which was bound for the Egyptian port of Alexandria.
This trip would be different from her recent one to Germany. Whereas the trip to Germany had been like official tourism in the name of the German-American Bund, this trip to Egypt would involve hands-on training.
And yes, probably a real-life test or two.
This had been a year of tests. A full year had passed since Betty had pushed Barry Rosenberg from the precipice at Lover’s Ridge. She had survived that trial by fire, dodging the inquiries of both the Dutch Falls police, and then the FBI.
Perhaps those trials had, ironically, made her more prepared for the challenges that lay ahead.
She had known that the purpose of her recent trip to Germany was twofold. On one hand, the trip gave her an opportunity to see the Fatherland. But it also gave officials who oversaw the Reich’s Operation Pastorius a chance to evaluate her.
She had even been given the honor of meeting Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, one of the most powerful men in Germany.
How many ordinary people, she wondered, got to meet Heydrich? It had been the opportunity of a lifetime!
And the men in Berlin must have been impressed with her—at least to a degree. Otherwise, they would not have approved her participation in an actual Gestapo operation.
Of course, Rudolf Schenk would be primarily responsible for tracking down the perfidious traitors in Cairo. She would be only a trainee and an observer. But it was an opportunity and an honor, nevertheless.
The only downside was that Frank would be accompanying her to Egypt. She recalled how he had behaved in Berlin. Frank had jealously hovered over her the entire time. Frank had not learned of her fling with Colonel Volker’s young adjutant, Karl Richter; but he had suspected.
She was now twenty years old, and she did not intend to answer to her older brother about her personal life. Frank acted not like a brother, anyway, but more like a jealous beau.
This realization made her skin crawl, and she pushed it away. Hopefully Frank wouldn’t be too much of a wet blanket while they were in Egypt. She was anxious to learn everything she could from this Rudolf Schenk. If Frank became jealous of Schenk, too, he might ruin everything.
But at least Frank wasn’t here with her now, this minute. He had just excused himself to go into the station building for the shipping line. Probably he needed to use the restroom. Betty hadn’t asked. She was simply glad to be free of his overbearing presence for a few minutes.
Betty noticed a man looking at her from some distance away, amid the crowd waiting to board the RMS Scotlander.
The man looked vaguely familiar, but she couldn’t place him. Probably he reminded her of someone she knew back in Dutch Falls.
This was New York City, she reminded herself. She didn’t know anyone here. No one at all.
Perhaps the man merely found her attractive. It wouldn’t be the first time, after all, that a strange man had noticed her.
So as not to encourage him, she tilted her head upward, and then looked away.
Horst had been almost as excited to see Betty off as Betty was herself. Her father had been the architect of this trip, after all, and of her previous trip to Germany. Horst was the leader of the German-American Bund in Dutch Falls. From Horst Betty had acquired not only her drive and discipline, but also her love for Germany and the Führer.
Not everyone in Dutch Falls had been anxious to see her go, however. Her younger sister, Heidi, would miss her.
And then there was Patrick.
Patrick O’Dell had made one final, impassioned plea, practically begging her to stay in Pennsylvania. She had, at least, managed to allay his suspicions about her role in the death of Barry Rosenberg. But convincing him to forget about her was another thing.
Patrick O’Dell had been a pleasant enough diversion by Pennsylvania standards. But while in Germany, she had seen and recognized the kind of man she wanted. She wanted a man like Ensign Karl Richter, the young Wehrmacht adjutant with whom she’d had an affair while in Berlin.
If only Patrick O’Dell would just forget about her.
The man she had noticed a few minutes ago—the one who had seemed to notice her—was now walking directly toward her at a brisk pace.
Suddenly he did look familiar. Very familiar.
“Betty Lehmann,” he said. “Remember me?”
It took Betty only a few seconds to place the man, now that he was standing practically face-to-face with her.
This was the FBI agent who had shown up in Dutch Falls the previous winter, leveling accusations at her father, and also at her.
His name was—
“Special Agent Paul Gellar,” he said. “Just in case you’ve forgotten.”
Betty attempted to reply, but found herself tongue-tied.
Horst had warned her that they might not be completely finished with the FBI agent. Gellar might show up again, and try to trip one of them up.
The way to handle him, her father had said, was with cool-headed deliberation. Be civil; do not provoke him. But say as little as possible. Don’t allow him to rattle you, or goad you into saying something that you would regret later.
“Good afternoon, Agent Gellar,” Betty said, recovering herself now. “How nice of you to come and see me off. You must have a lot of time on your hands at the Bureau, if you have time for this.”
“Let’s just say that you’re a priority, Miss Lehmann.”
Betty felt a little chill run through her. She didn’t want to be a priority for the FBI.
But of course Gellar would say something like that. He wanted to disorient her, to make her incriminate herself.
With some difficulty, she forced herself to remember Horst’s instructions.
“Am I? You flatter me, Agent Gellar. Still, it’s reassuring to know that the FBI makes time to see citizens off when they take ocean voyages. Too bad you didn’t show up earlier. You could have helped me with my luggage.”
“Cut the crap, Miss Lehmann. You’re about as innocent as a fox leaving the henhouse with blood on its muzzle.”
Betty rolled her eyes at Gellar. “And you’re about as good at metaphor as well, a third-rate FBI agent. What is this about?”
It occurred to Betty that she was no longer following her father’s instructions to the letter. She wasn’t being entirely civil; nor was she saying as little as possible. She was actively sparring with Agent Gellar, in fact.
“I know you were lying,” Gellar said. “I know that you had some role in Barry Rosenberg’s death, in him falling off that cliff. I don’t know if you pushed him yourself, or if you lured him there, and someone else did the dirty work. Either way, though, I know you had a part in it.”
“You have a very vivid imagination, Agent Gellar.”
“How do you sleep at night, Miss Lehmann?”
“Usually in a negligee, Agent Gellar. But sometimes we German American women sleep in the nude. Put that in your report.”
She was pleased to see the color rise in his cheeks. She had just made an FBI agent blush.
“You think you’re clever, don’t you?” he asked, regaining himself.
“Have a pleasant day, Agent Gellar. Unless you have grounds to arrest me, I think we’re done with this conversation.”
“For now, maybe,” he said. “But we’re not done for good. And we won’t be, until you’re behind bars.” Gellar tipped his hat. “Have a pleasant voyage, Miss Lehmann. Anchors away!”
With that Gellar turned on his heels, started whistling to himself, and walked away.
The man still had nothing on her. Otherwise, she reminded herself, he would have arrested her. Especially when she was preparing to embark on a trip abroad. This entire encounter had been nothing but yet another attempt to rattle her.
But he hadn’t succeeded.
Frank showed up at almost the exact same moment that Gellar receded into the crowd.
“Who was that?” Frank asked.
“That was Agent Gellar. The FBI agent.”
Frank had had no real interaction with Special Agent Paul Gellar. But he had heard about him. Horst, moreover, had warned Frank not to allow himself to be provoked.
“What was he doing here?”
“Just fishing for information, Frank.”
Neither Horst nor Betty had ever told Frank the truth about what had happened to Barry Rosenberg. He had no need to know about it. Nor did either of them completely trust his discretion.
“About Papa,” Betty answered. “About the Bund. About everything. You know how they are. They cast a wide net, and look for anything they can use. Anyway, come on: It’s almost time for us to board.”
Below is a series of scenes from THE ROCKLAND HORROR 4, an upcoming installment in THE ROCKLAND HORROR series.
In the following scenes, undead samurai warriors have invaded the town of Cumminsville, Kansas!
They’ve come across the Pacific Ocean and half a continent. They’re on their way to Rockland, Indiana, of course!
From THE ROCKLAND HORROR 4:
As the dusk fell, a man named Roy Hollis pushed back his wife’s frilly curtains from the living room window of his one-story farmhouse. Roy’s farm lay four miles outside the town limits of Cumminsville. The middle of nowhere, really.
Roy gazed out across the rows of his cornfield.
He had a bad feeling tonight.
Something foul was afoot.
The sun had begun to set about an hour ago, but there was still a trace of sunlight above the western horizon. It burned the top of the cornstalks gold, orange, and red.
Roy strained his eyes examining the cornfield. He was sure he had seen a trace of movement amid the cornstalks.
There was no wind tonight. It might have been a stoat or a bobcat. The little farm was surrounded by woods, and animals of every kind.
Roy hoped that it was something as harmless as a stoat or a bobcat.
“Whatsamatter, Pa?” Randy asked. Randy was Roy’s fourteen-year-old son.
Roy turned around, and was a little startled to see Randy standing just behind him.
“You alright, Pa?”
“I’m fine, son. It’s just—don’t sneak up on me like that, okay?”
“Sure. But what’s wrong outside? Why are you looking out the window?”
“I just thought I saw something moving out in the cornfield,” Roy said.
“You want me to fetch the .22 and go have a look?” Randy responded eagerly.
Randy was disappointed that the war had ended before he was old enough to serve. He was always looking for some excuse to fetch the family’s .22 rifle and go on a mock patrol.
“No,” Roy said. “Don’t you go out there.”
“Just don’t go. Now listen to me, son.”
“Yessir,” Randy said, deflated.
Randy’s other son, twelve-year-old Micah, sat at the kitchen table, poring over a copy of Life magazine.
Life magazine was filled with news about the war. Roy did not need to read Life. He already knew all about the war. He had been there, done that. Roy was a recent veteran, after all.
Although he had been married and old enough to avoid the draft, Roy had nevertheless enlisted after Pearl Harbor. He had honestly believed that Hitler and Hirohito had designs on taking over the United States. They would plant their Rising Sun and swastika flags not just in godless New York and Washington DC, but also in little salt-of-the-earth towns like Cumminsville, Kansas.
That prospect might seem far-fetched now. It had seemed all too realistic in December 1941, when Germany and Japan were winning all the battles, and taking territory left and right.
Roy had joined the United States Navy and served in the Pacific. He had had a few close calls near the end of the war, when the Japanese started going after American ships with those kamikaze suicide attacks.
His war, though, had been nothing like that of the marines who had been tasked with the duty of going ashore, and removing the enemy from their entrenched island positions. Roy was very grateful that he had chosen the Navy, and not the Marine Corps.
Since returning to Cumminsville, Roy had occasionally found himself on edge. Lingering anxiety from the war, he supposed. There were articles about that in the newspapers, too. Men who had returned from the war, but who could not remove the war from inside their own heads.
“Got a bad feeling tonight,” Roy said to no one in particular.
His wife, however, answered him from the kitchen.
“You need to relax, Roy,” Mabel Hollis said. “No one’s going to be sneaking up on the farmhouse. There are no Japanese soldiers in Cumminsville.”
Mabel was cleaning up the remains of their dinner, recently concluded.
“I know that, Mabe,” he said, closing the curtain. “I know there are no Japanese soldiers in Kansas. Of course I know that.”
Tonight, however, he wasn’t completely certain that was true. Tonight he had a bad case of the heebie-jeebies, and he couldn’t say why.
Some time later, the Hollis family was listening to a broadcast of The Jack Benny Program on the big Magnadyne radio in the living room of the farmhouse. Mabel, Randy, and Micah all laughed uproariously throughout the show, but Jack Benny’s jokes simply didn’t resonate with Roy like they had before the war.
By the time the thirty-minute show ended, Roy had barely cracked a smile.
Moreover, he had a persistent feeling that something was in his barn that didn’t belong there. The same thing that had been in his cornfield an hour ago.
He couldn’t have described exactly how he knew this. It came to him in a vision. Not a vivid, picture-perfect vision like the evangelical preachers sometimes claimed to have. This was a vague sensation, partly seen and partly only felt.
In any case, though, Roy sensed that it would not let him go until he checked, and knew for certain.
He began to stand up from his rocking chair.
Mabel looked over at him uneasily. She had been sitting on the sofa, working on one of her knitting projects while she listened to the radio.
Randy and Micah usually occupied the floor while the family consumed radio programs. The boys sat Indian-style throughout the broadcasts, leaning forward with rapt attention. They were still there, even though Jack Benny had just concluded.
The evening news broadcast was beginning. Randy was interested in news about the emerging postwar order—or rather, disorder. Randy was still planning to enlist when he turned eighteen. He said that by then, there would be another war, this one with the Ruskies.
Now Randy and Micah were looking up at their father, though. Roy stood in the middle of the living room.
“I think I’ll go have a look-see in the barn,” he said.
“Why?” Mabel asked. “Did you hear something?”
“No,” Roy answered. This was the truth. Also, Mabel was no fool. There was no way she would believe that he had heard something in the barn while Jack Benny was playing on the radio. No one’s hearing was that sharp.
“Want me to—?” Randy began.
“No,” Roy said. “Stay here with your mother and brother.”
Roy did not take the .22 rifle to the barn with him. He took a 12-gauge shotgun that he kept in the home’s mud room, immediately off the kitchen.
Before he set off, he lit a kerosene lantern. That would not only light the way, it would also keep the mosquitos at bay.
Roy desperately hoped that all of this would turn out to be nothing, that a few hungry mosquitos would be the worst perils he would encounter on his way to the barn and back.
He exited the farmhouse through the door off the mudroom. He began his walk out to the barn, the lantern in one hand, the 12-gauge in the other.
The short walk, across the main yard and skirting the edge of the main cornfield, was uneventful. No mosquitos, even.
Then he came to the big, unpainted wooden barn. The barn had been there since the late 1800s, when Roy’s grandfather, father, and uncles had built it.
He pushed the sliding barn door open, making it creak on its runners. He set the lantern down in the grass while he did this, to free one hand.
The barn door open, Roy picked up the lantern again and looked inside. He was reminded again that he needed to electrify the barn, now that he was home for good. That had been on his to-do list even before the war. There was adequate light, though, between the lantern, and what moonlight came in through the barn’s two clear glass windows.
The family had one horse, a gelding named Priam. Priam was edged back against the rear of his stall. The horse’s eyes were blank, almost as if the animal were drugged.
Priam was…scared? Was that possible?
Roy set the kerosene lantern on his nearby workbench. (He kept the 12-gauge in his right hand.) Then he spoke soothingly to the horse.
The horse did not answer him. He just continued to stare at Roy with those blank, dark eyes of his.
What was there for Priam to be afraid of? There were no wolves in this part of Kansas; there hadn’t been for nearly a hundred years.
And on a related matter: why, exactly, had he deemed it necessary to come out here?
It was just that very intense feeling he had gotten, while listening to Jack Benny. And that half-formed vision of an intruder
Roy heard something shift behind him. He turned around and saw the intruder. And yet, that description did not really do justice to what he saw.
The creature standing in the open doorway of the barn looked vaguely like a Japanese soldier from the late conflict. And yet, it wasn’t a Japanese soldier, either. It was some hideous malformation that was based on a Japanese soldier, but it had elements of something else.
Since returning from the war, Roy had taken an odd interest in Japanese history and culture. This interest bewildered even him. But he felt a compulsive need to learn more about his former enemy.
There were several books on Japanese history in the Cumminsville public library. These books informed Roy that Japan had long been a martial society. He had read about the samurai warriors, who had hacked each other to pieces with curved, razor-sharp swords.
The samurai had dressed for combat in armor that was designed to intimidate the enemy, as well as protect the wearer. Roy had seen illustrations of the old samurai warriors, clad in full battle gear.
The creature standing in the open doorway of the barn looked something like one of those medieval samurai warriors. Or a misshapen version of that.
The thing had glowing red eyes.
“Wha—?” Roy said, trembling.
The intruder opened its mouth, revealing rows of long, canine teeth. No—more like crocodile teeth.
In the space of just two seconds, a complicated series of thoughts went through Roy’s mind. There was no way he could even begin to understand what this thing was, or exactly what it wanted.
What was clear enough was that it was hostile. He had to kill it now, or it would kill him.
Roy began to raise the shotgun.
But the intruder was too fast.
Roy Hollis’s shotgun did go off in the final second of his life, as the intruder raced forward at him, but the muzzle of the gun was knocked astray. The shotgun boomed, and buckshot scattered harmlessly into the far wall of the barn.
Roy’s blood splattered on the wall of the barn, too.
Priam, the gelding, began bucking and whinnying in his stall.
The horse drew the attention of the supernatural creature.
The intruder moved with impossible speed, covering the floorspace of the barn in a mere second.
A few seconds after that, Priam was silent, too.
“Did you hear that?” Randy said, addressing his mother and younger brother. “Out there in the barn, I mean.”
Micah and Mabel nodded. They had all heard the sound of the shotgun going off. They had also heard Priam, whinnying in what sounded like distress, before his whinnying was abruptly cut silent. This far out in the country, sounds carried long distances with clarity. And the barn was a short walk from the house.
“I heard it,” Mabel said. Then she added, hopefully, “Your pa might have killed a weasel or a skunk out there.”
Randy didn’t immediately contradict his mother, but he didn’t share her interpretation, either. That wouldn’t explain why Priam had whinnied, and then gone instantly silent.
“I’m going out there to see,” Randy said.
Mabel began to object. Randy, in a rare act of outright adolescent defiance, cut her off.
“I’m going out there,” he said. “Pa may be in trouble. He may need my help.”
“All right,” she acquiesced. “But give him a few more minutes, okay? Then you can go out there and see.”
“A few more minutes,” he agreed. “Then I need to go.”
Randy stood on the front porch of the farmhouse, holding the twenty-two.
His mother had still not liked the idea of him going outside to investigate. But when another ten minutes had passed with no sign of Roy, Mabel had relented.
Looking out into the night, Randy called out for his father.
“Pa! Are you there?”
Then a dark blur, roughly the size of a man, moved across his field of vision, in front of the barn.
Randy blinked. The shape had moved so fast that he could not fully catch sight of it, especially with the darkness factored in.
Then another blur. And another. Both of similar size and shape.
Then more blurs, rushing to and fro.
There were three shapes in total. They were moving across the yard in a bizarre, zigzagging pattern.
Randy knew, somehow, that these things were responsible for whatever had happened to his father.
(And something had to have happened; because his father had not returned to the house, or answered Randy’s calls.)
But what the heck were they? He had anticipated nothing like this.
“Where’s my pa?” Randy shouted, his voice trembling.
One of the blurs paused, perhaps midway between the barn and the front porch of the house.
It looked at Randy. And now Randy could see it, partially illuminated by the moonlight. But he could not believe it.
Randy took in the creature’s glowing red eyes. Its mouth opened, exposing razor-sharp teeth.
His hands shaking, Randy aimed the twenty-two and fired.
The thing darted out of the way,before Randy had even pulled the trigger.
Randy lowered the gun. Beneath his terror, and his dread regarding the fate of his father, was bewilderment. How had it moved so quickly? The thing traveled at a blinding speed, like a large, monstrous hummingbird.
That was the last thought that would ever go through fourteen-year-old Randy Hollis’s mind.
One of the thing’s companions took Randy from his right side. Randy never even saw it coming; and he never learned the full truth of what had happened to his father, either.
That’s the end of the excerpt!
This is a secondary plot line—which takes place far from Rockland, Indiana. But it will give you a taste of that the book will be like.
THE ROCKLAND HORROR is where history meets horror!
THE ROCKLAND HORROR 4 will be released in early April!
In the excerpt below, Jack McCallum, a soldier turned treasure hunter, has made a discovery in the Egyptian desert outside Cairo.
The discovery could make him rich, set for life.
But treasure isn’t the only thing waiting in the Egyptian desert…
The gemstone was about the size of a plum. Jack picked it up from among the clay fragments, his heart pounding.
There were little images on one side of the stone, carved into its oblong surface. Jack recognized these as Egyptian hieroglyphics, too, though he had no idea what they said.
“Tahmid,” Jack said. “Do you realize what this is?”
“Yes, boss. I do.”
It was unbelievable. This was the Garnet of Hatshepsut. Exactly as John Millhouse had promised.
Jack felt a sudden, not altogether unpleasant wave of dizziness. He paused for a moment, to take in the realization: He was going to be a rich man.
“Looks like you’ve struck it rich, boss,” Tahmid said, as if reading his mind.
Jack was distracted by the distant sound of voices, going back and forth in Arabic.
He looked up over the side of the hole.
There were roughly a dozen men, dressed in what approximated Arab bedouin attire. They had arrived on about as many camels.
They were about a quarter-mile away. At present.
Roughly half of the men were carrying rifles. The rifles appeared old, but they probably still fired. Several of the rifle-bearing men wore bandoliers criss-crossed over their chests. Many of the men were also wearing scabbards with what looked like long fighting knives.
Jack ducked down back into the hole. He raised a finger to his lips, in order to indicate that Tahmid should be absolutely silent. He pantomimed the presence of the men with his hands and fingers.
Tahmid took a cautious peek, as well. When he ducked down again, the man’s face bore an expression of abject terror.
“Thieves,” Tahmid said. “Like I tell you, the desert not safe place.”
“You said that it isn’t safe at night,” Jack countered. “This is the middle of the day.” Jack pointed upward, at the blazing sun.
“Sometimes dangerous during the day, boss. Better to stay in the city.”
Jack was tempted to ask Tahmid why—if he felt that way—he had hired on as a digging assistant to begin with. But that was a fruitless discussion that he had no time for.
His only concern now was those men in the desert. It was a dire situation. Those men would think nothing of murdering two treasure hunters in order to take the gemstone.
Jack thought back to his encounter in the alleyway, with the gang of eight hoodlums (led by the short man with the scar), and the advice of Rudy Gunther, who had literally saved his life that day.
Rudy had advised him to acquire a gun. Jack realized now that he should have taken that advice. But he didn’t know how much use a British Webley revolver would be, anyway, against a small army of armed men.
There was nothing to do but wait. The men were on their way to somewhere, obviously. They had stopped for a rest, or simply to look around, perhaps using the nearby pyramid as a landmark.
If they rode by here, Jack and Tahmid were goners. If they rode in another direction, they could probably escape.
Jack waited ten minutes. Hearing nothing, he looked up over the edge of the hole again.
The men were gone.
“How long till our ride meets us at the rendezvous point?” Jack asked Tahmid. Jack’s digging assistant took care of arranging their daily transportation. So far, he had done that with reasonable reliability and efficiency.
Don’t let me down today, Tahmid, Jack thought. Please.
“Two hours,” Tahmid reported.
The rendezvous point was at the intersection of two poorly maintained macadam roads. The spot was out in the open. Completely exposed.
Jack didn’t think it would be advisable to go there now, and risk so much time at a vulnerable location. Not with the garnet in his possession, and with a roving band of thieves afoot.
“We’ll leave in one hour,” he told Tahmid.
He wrapped the garnet in a clean cloth, and placed it in his pocket.
An hour later, Jack and Tahmid set out with their sparse equipment for the spot where their transportation would be waiting.
They reached the spot, and Jack scanned the horizon anxiously. What if the armed men returned?
Then all was lost. But this was the last big risk. If he could make it back to Cairo, he would be set. Or almost set.
A short while later, an old Ford Model A came chugging into view.
“That’s our ride,” Tahmid said.
The car was driven by two Arab men, who greeted Tahmid in Arabic, and nodded unsmilingly at Jack. They strapped the shovels and other equipment to the roof of the car. Then Jack and Tahmid piled into the back seat.
Jack remained acutely aware of the gemstone in the pocket of his trousers. This was the stone that—if he could hold on to it and get it out of Egypt—would change his life.
The Arab men chatted with Jack during the roughly half-hour ride to the edge of Cairo. Jack didn’t mind. By now he was used to people speaking a language that he couldn’t understand. (And Jack had all but given up on learning any Arabic.) Jack, moreover, was lost in his own thoughts; and he now had a lot to think about.
There was another matter, though. Jack knew nothing about these men in the front seat, or their relationship with Tahmid. What was to stop Tahmid from double-crossing him? Tahmid could tell the men about the gemstone, and arrange a robbery. Then they could plan to split the proceeds from the sale of the garnet among them. Never mind that a stone this valuable would be virtually impossible to sell in Egypt.
When he arrived safely back in the city, however, Jack felt guilty for his suspicions during the ride. True, Tahmid had been an unmotivated and lackluster employee. There was no indication, however, that he was dishonest or prone to criminal activity. Otherwise, Jack supposed, he would having joined the crew of the scarred gangster from the alleyway, or perhaps the men on camels whom they had seen today in the desert.
Book 3 of The Cairo Deceptionjust dropped on Amazon. There are two more books coming, with release dates later in 2022!
“An epic of espionage, sacrifice, and betrayal set in the years immediately before World War II.
A group of Germans and Americans must choose sides for and against Nazi Germany, and deal with the consequences of their decisions.
Their stories begin in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Hamburg, and Stuttgart. They will come together in Cairo, Egypt for a showdown in 1938.”
**You can read the series for FREE in Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program** (This is kind of like a Netflix for books, for those of you who are unaware. And yes, I do get paid when you do that, thanks!).
Oh, I should also note that HUNTERS AND PREY (like the previous two books in the series) will be enrolled in Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited subscription service. This means that you can read the series for free if you’re an Amazon Kindle Unlimited subscriber. (Click here for a free Kindle Unlimited trial.)
Book 3 of The Rockland Horror saga is now live on Amazon. There will also be a Book 4. (I already have the basic story mapped out, in fact.)At present, though, I’m working on a sequel to Eleven Miles of Night.
Eleven Miles of Night is set in 2013, and was published in that year. The next book in what will become the Jason Kelley series will take place eight years later, in 2021. It will involve Jason’s re-entry into the world of paranormal research.
A number of readers have asked me if there will ever be a sequel to Blood Flats. Lee McCabe’s long, gun-blazing flight through the badlands of Kentucky remains one of my more popular stories, even though this was my first novel.
As it so happens, I have been giving this some thought. In fact, I am working on a new series based on the 2011 novel.
I began Blood Flats in 2009/2010; and that is the approximate timeframe in which the novel is set. In the original story, Lee McCabe is a twenty-something former marine, recently returned from Operation Iraqi Freedom. The action in Blood Flats begins when Lee is blamed for a drug-related double homicide that he did not commit. Lee faces deadly opponents on both sides of the law as he fights to clear his name.
The new series will fast-forward into the present. Lee will be working in law enforcement in Kentucky. (Of course, he will now be in his thirties, rather than his twenties.)
I have an outline, though I’m not ready to reveal too many details just yet. If you were a fan of the television series Justified, starring Timothy Olyphant, I think you’ll like the upcoming series based on Blood Flats, starring Lee McCabe.
The first book in the series should be out in the fall of 2021. More details to follow.
I’ve launched a new series: Clint and Jennifer Huber Mysteries. These novels are classified in the “amateur sleuth’ category.
The first book in the series, 1120 Dunham Drive is out.
Introducing Clint and Jennifer Huber: amateur sleuths who must investigate a very personal mystery—the web of obsession, betrayal, and violence surrounding their “dream house” at 1120 Dunham Drive.
The problems begin with a former owner who refuses to leave quietly, and strange disturbances during the middle of the night.
Oh, and there’s something sinister about a room in the basement.
1120 Dunham Drive is a suburban mystery/thriller that will keep you guessing to the last page.
Preview the book below!
To thirty-four-year-old Jennifer Huber, the house at 1120 Dunham Drive seemed pretty close to perfect. If only, she would later think, there had been something wrong with it—something that would have sent her and her husband Clint running, never to return.
That wasn’t the way things worked out, though. On a sun-scorched Saturday afternoon in mid-July, the house at 1120 Dunham Drive drew the Hubers in.
Or at least the house drew Jennifer in. The seduction began in earnest in the realtor’s car, as Jennifer, Clint, and Tom Jarvis (the realtor) pulled into the driveway.
“It’s a Tudor!” Jennifer exclaimed.
“And what would that be?” Clint asked.
“This style of home,” Jennifer replied. “This is what they call a Tudor-style home.”
Jennifer had a fairly extensive knowledge of residential architecture, and she had studied the house’s spec sheet on the Internet the previous night. So she already knew that this would be a Tudor-style home. Her surprise had been feigned: It had simply been a gambit to prod Clint into showing some more enthusiasm about what they were doing today.
“You’ve got to admit, hon: It looks good from the road.”
“It’s a good-looking house,” Clint allowed.
Built in 1940, the house had a look that was simultaneously homey and classic: It had steeply pitched gables (a prerequisite of the neo-Tudor style), decorative half-timbering on the exterior walls, and brick inlays around the ground-floor windows.
“Let’s have a look-see,” Tom Jarvis said, turning off the engine of his Lexus and opening the front driver’s side door. Jennifer didn’t wait for either Jarvis or Clint.As soon as the vehicle was parked, she was out of the overly air-conditioned back seat and racing ahead of the two men.
“It looks like somebody really wants a house,” she heard Jarvis say conspiratorially to Clint.
Who wouldn’t want a new house? Jennifer thought. That’s the sort of thing we work for, after all.
That thought reminded her of the job she hated and the secret that kept her bound there. She pushed these thoughts away. Today was a happy occasion. She wasn’t going to think about her job at Ohio Excel Logistics. Not on a Saturday afternoon like this.
“Check this out,” Jennifer said, pulling her husband Clint by the hand. “Japanese maples.”
The front garden did indeed have three Japanese maples, plus several small pine trees, and a whole lot of ivy. It was the sort of landscaping that took years to develop—either that, or a whole lot of money.
“Connor would like the yard,” Jennifer observed as Tom Jarvis bent down and retrieved the key from the lockbox on the front door.
“He probably would,” Clint replied.
“And best of all, it’s in the Mydale school district.”
Their son, Connor, was going to be a first-grader in a mere two months. The public schools in Mydale were regarded as the best in the Cincinnati area.
And then there was the most important thing about the house—the factor that made this a real possibility: The asking price of the home at 1120 Dunham Drive was within the Hubers’ range. Most of the homes in Mydale were a lot pricier.
By now Jarvis had unlocked the door. He smiled and held the door open for them.
Jarvis smiled again as Jennifer walked by and looked down. He wasn’t overly obvious about it, but the realtor had clearly taken the opportunity to check her body out.
It wasn’t the first such glance that she had noticed from the real estate agent. Nor was it all in her imagination. Clint had remarked the other day that Jarvis had taken so many liberties with his eyes during their real estate office meetings and home viewing excursions, that he owed them an additional ten percent off the asking price of whatever house they eventually settled on.
She asked Clint if it made him jealous—Jarvis looking at her that way. Clint had scoffed in reply: Jarvis was an old guy, basically harmless.
Jarvis was indeed older than them, maybe in his mid- to late-forties. He was balding and could have dropped ten pounds; but he still carried himself with the swagger of an ex-jock. Jarvis had probably been a “hound” back in the day; and his manner strongly suggested that he still considered himself a claimant to that title.
As Jennifer walked into the cool house and out of the midsummer heat, Jarvis closed the door and briefly loomed over her. He finally looked away, but not before allowing himself a furtive glance down her blouse.
Okay, that one was a bit much, she thought, but did not say.
Since roughly the age of thirteen, Jennifer had noticed that a large number of men noticed her. That seemed to go along with being thin, blonde, and reasonably pretty. Most of the time it wasn’t a big deal; and for a period of her life it had been undeniably flattering.
But she had been married for most of a decade. She was a mom now; and she was devoted to Clint.
Or at least she thought she was. Would a woman who was totally devoted to her husband and son get herself into the jam she was in at work?
Is there something wrong with me? she wondered. Do I give off the wrong signals?
Her unpleasant thoughts were pushed aside by the interior of the house. The front hall was high-ceilinged and spacious. Their footsteps echoed on the hardwood floor. Unlike many older houses, this house wasn’t dark and dingy. Quite the opposite, in fact. The windows of the downstairs flooded the first floor with natural light.
“I think I love this house.” Jennifer declared, setting aside what she knew to be her habitual skepticism about being sold anything at all. Clint, who was standing beside her, gave her a curious look.
Then the realtor said what Clint must have been thinking:
“Well, Mrs. Huber, you’ve only just seen the front yard and the front hallway. But that’s a good start.”
It’s like he doesn’t want me to get my hopes up, she thought. They had toured numerous homes with Tom Jarvis—most of them homes that Jennifer and Clint had preselected through exhaustive, late-night Internet searches. Practically none of those homes had given her instantly warm and fuzzy feelings.
But this one did. And Jarvis wasn’t exactly right about her having seen only the front yard and the front hallway. Having spotted this house online and grasped its potential, Jennifer had pored over the available photographs of its interior and landscaping. She had bookmarked the home’s portfolio in her web browser, and had returned to it numerous times, in fact.
On the drive over from the realty office, Tom Jarvis had said that the situation surrounding this house was “complicated”. He had started to explain; but apparently the act of giving an explanation was complicated, too.
“For now let’s just keep our options open,” he’d said. But what exactly did that mean? Was Tom Jarvis planning to ultimately steer them toward another house? Maybe a turkey of a house that could only be unloaded on a naïve young couple making their first home purchase?
Well, she thought, the unknown motives of a self-serving and mildly lecherous real estate agent were not going to dissuade her if this house turned out to be as perfect as it seemed. Real estate agents were always working their angles, she’d heard. None of them, she had been warned by friends, were to be trusted.
She didn’t want to make a negative generalization about an entire profession. Still, she and Clint would have to be careful. The Internet was filled with horror stories about dishonest and prevaricating real estate agents. Tom Jarvis knew they were first-time homebuyers. That might lead him to the conclusion that they could be easily led.
One thing was undeniable: For some reason, Tom Jarvis didn’t want them to purchase this house.