Thursday teaser: Rainy Night to Die

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Read on to see how your could WIN a free e-copy of this week’s featured novel, the brand-new espionage thriller

By Caleb Pirtle III

PAULINE SAT IN silence on the sofa as the hours dragged slowly from morning to late afternoon.

The clock might as well have stopped.

It no longer had any meaning.

Just a tick.

Then a tock.

And time, which would outlive them all, stepped off the edge of the earth and would never be recovered again.

It fell into yesterday.

It would never see tomorrow.

It was lost, gone on a one-way street that ran forever and might run into a dead end before dark, and time had taken Pauline with it.

She had the guilt of murder hanging heavy on her conscience.

She had watched his face as he moved toward her, a red mask of rage, his veins pulsating on the side of his head, his pupils dilating, eyes turning from dark to a deeper shade of black.

His hands were huge, his fingernails torn ragged, packed with blood and dirt.

His naked and bloated body was awash with sweat.

Pauline could not forget the grin that tore across his face as though it had been scarred by a hacksaw.

His pale lips wrapped themselves around a mouthful of yellowed teeth, each filed sharply to a point.

On more than one occasion, Petrov had bragged about biting the nipples off a woman’s breast before throwing her broken body back out on the street.

Pauline did not doubt his story for a moment.

The first bullet had staggered him.

He rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet.

Maybe if the slug had only erased that sick and wicked grin off his face, she would not have fired again.

Petrov’s death was self-defense, she told herself.

She had no choice.

It was a law as old as the first light to touch a barren earth.

Kill.

Or be killed.

She had borne the brunt of Nikolay’s anger for the final time.

He would never touch her again.

She would no longer bear the bruises delivered by his fists.

But did it really matter?

Who would believe her?

A judge?

Pauline knew she would never see a judge.

Her trial would take place in either a back alley some night while a splinter of moonlight touched her face or on the cold, winter shores of the Ukraine River while a bitter rain tried to wash the demons from her tortured soul.

One bullet.

Her skull would crack.

Would she see death before death found her?

Spies did not die with honor.

They just died.

Were buried.

And soon forgotten.

It was as if they had never left their footprints upon the same dirt that would hold their graves.

Pauline felt isolated.

She was alone.

She couldn’t run.

There was no place to go.

They would find her.

The Russians had eyes in every corner of the city.

They were watching.

Always watching.

They were watching her.

Her life began in one flicker of firelight and would end in another.

About Rainy Night to Die

Roland Sand is the quiet assassin. His missions for intelligence agencies are those no one else wants to tackle. The reason is simple. Sand is expendable. If he doesn’t return, he won’t be missed. His name is erased. It’s as though he never existed.

Sand is sent to Ukraine to smuggle out a beautiful lounge jazz singer who, for years, has been smuggling Russian secrets back to MI-6’s home office in Great Britain. Her contact in London has been compromised. He is found floating in the Thames River. Sand must extricate Pauline Bellerose before the Russians trace the stolen secrets back to her and place a noose around her neck.

He has twenty-four hours to find the singer and remove her to safety. If she is caught, he dies.

A ship is waiting in the fog off the coast of Odessa. Time is running out. He must reach the ship at the appointed hour, or it will leave without them. In the secret world of espionage, the window of escape is narrow and closing all the time. The midnight storm is the only place to hide.

The Russians are waiting on the road to sea. Sand can’t outrun them. He can’t outfight them. He must outwit them. Otherwise, he’s trapped, and it’s a rainy night to die.

Find it on Amazon.

Win a free copy

Caleb Pirtle will give a free e-copy of Rainy Night to Die to one person who can identify Roland Sand’s identifying feature. Leave your answer in the Comments below.

Caleb Pirtle III

began his career writing about history and travel. He learned quickly, however, that what happens is never as important as those who make it happen. Many of those people have made their way into his novels.

Pirtle is the author of more than 80 published books, including the noir suspense thrillers, Secrets of the Dead, Conspiracy of Lies, Place of Skulls, and Night Side of Dark. He has also written two noir thrillers, Lovely Night to Die and Rainy Night to Die.

Other historical novels include Back Side of a Blue Moon, winner of the Beverly Hills Book Award and Best of Texas Book Award, and Bad Side of a Wicked Moon. He has written such nonfiction award winners as XIT: The American Cowboy, Callaway Gardens: the Unending Season, The Grandest Day, Echoes from Forgotten Streets, Spirit of a Winner, and Gamble in the Devil’s Chalk.

Pirtle lives at Hideaway Lake in East Texas with his wife, Linda, who is the author of three cozy mysteries.

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Monday musings: The difference between imagination and memory

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Photo: Photo by Vidar Kristiansen on Unsplash

What’s the difference between the way a writer imagines a realistic scene, and the way a reader experiences something? Could it be similar to the difference between the way we watch a motion picture about, say, a day at the lake, and the way we remember a day at the lake?

I sometimes edit novels for other writers, looking for ways to improve the story and the way it’s told, without changing the author’s voice.

I have noticed I often change or suggest a change to a particular kind of writing: excessive description of a sequence of small actions. They’re little things that happen in a story, but that the reader doesn’t need to read. And it makes me think about the difference between the way we remember and the way we imagine.

I’ll make up an example here:

She pulled the lever and opened the car door. She stepped onto the dirt driveway in front of the summer cabin, and walked past the old porch in front. She passed the little cedar trees that had never grown very high, past the big old maple and down to the wooden dock. She walked to the end, and sat down on the boards. She removed her sandals and dipped her bare feet into the lake, only to jerk them out—cold!

It’s way too wordy. Sure, it describes what happened. It takes the reader through all the action. But it doesn’t actually bring the reader into the setting. And do we really need to read every single action?

When I think back to summer days at the lake, I don’t really think of long sequences. My memories are things like seeing my grandfather standing in his wooden boat, tinkering with something in his hands as the boat bobbed gently on the water. Or the backs of my father and grandfather, looking up at the big tin barrel that collected rainwater as the wind rippled the backs of their shirts. Or sitting on a dull, cloudy afternoon on a big rock over the shore, my uncle beside me, holding a toy fishing rod in my hand.

Which brings me to the original question: what’s the difference between imagination and memory?

It’s an important question, as things like “false memory syndrome” have a bearing on criminal cases. And maybe it’s part of the profound influence of motion pictures on our whole society.

Think about the passage above. It’s not from any particular book, but it’s typical of what I tend to tell a writer to re-write. And it’s kind of cinematic. It might be the way a screenwriter would provide instructions to a cinematographer. It has all the action, something that an actor and a camera operator could follow.

This is how I remember arriving at my grandfather’s summer cottage.

Thin fir boles and low-hanging evergreen branches framed the back of the cottage. The tires crunched softly over the dirt and forest litter before the car bounced to a stop. I popped out of the back seat—no thought of seat belts then—to be greeted by the scent of forest and water and the outhouse tucked behind a thin screen of bushes.

I ran around the log cabin, reaching out to touch the structure supporting the tin barrel that collected rainwater. The lake gleamed far below the cabin, separated by a steep slope crowded with dark evergreens and lighter deciduous bushes. A bright leopard frog leaped away, into the bushes as my sneaker-clad feet made soft drumbeats on the beaten ground of the path down to the dock.

See? Flashes, like the “Live” setting on photos on my iPhone these days. Not a long cinematic sequence.

What do you think? Are your memories more like cinematic sequences, or short live photographs?

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