Focus Friday: Launch day for Toby Neal’s newest, FIRE BEACH


This is a particularly exciting post, because today, Friday, October 17, is launch day for Toby Neal’s newest Lei Crime novel, Fire Beach!



Proverbs 14:11

A wise woman builds her house; a foolish woman tears hers down with her own hands.

Chapter 1

“Fire is poetry. Flame is destiny.”The Fireman smiled to himself as he said the words out loud, tasting the way they sounded.

Heading for an ignition site brought that poetic side out in him. Next to him, on the floor of the battered old truck, a rusty gas can rattled as he drove down the deserted sugarcane-hauling road. Harsh red dust rose from the potholed dirt as Maui’s strong trade winds kicked up.

He’d chosen a cane field they’d be burning in a week or two, yellowing since the company’d stopped watering it, fifteen-foot flowering tassels of mature sugarcane waving like mares’ tails.But if he burned it first, the cane company would lose their harvest, two years of work, and thousands of dollars.

The Fireman pulled the dust-covered truck over at one of the points of origin he’d chosen. He splashed the area with a mix of diesel to cling to the sugarcane, plus gas for ignitability, and tossed a match. He jumped back into the truck, feeling that kick of adrenaline, and floored it to the next ignition site, where he repeated the process. And a third time.

The Fireman looked back down the road into the wall of rising flames. It was catching faster than he’d planned. Maybe this one would jump the highway, really put a thrill into the Road to Hana for the tourists.

He stood there and savored a feeling of power as crackling energy released all around him. The sweet-smelling, burnt-sugar smoke soared into the higher elevations and hit colder air, coalescing into mushroom-cloud shapes. White cattle egrets flew in, landing in the road to feast on fleeing insects. A familiar roaring filled his ears as the heat fanned his cheeks.

The fire was a creature of beauty. He extended a hand to the fire, enjoying the multisensory experience he’d unleashed—and a back swirl of wind blew a tongue of flame to sear that hand like the lash of a whip. He howled in pain and hurled the gas can he was still holding into the oncoming inferno before it could blow up in his hand.

He leaped into the truck, threw it into gear, and peeled away. He couldn’t help ducking as the gas can exploded behind him with a boom! He floored it and pulled away, bouncing crazily down the potholed dirt road toward the highway. He lifted his hand, seared across the back in a stripe that looked like raw steak.

He licked the burn, tasting ash and blood. “Bitch. How I love you.”

Behind his racing truck, the wall of flame swept forward into the field with a crackling scream like a thousand demons in chorus. Insects, birds, mongooses, and more fled in futile terror before it.


Lieutenant Michael Stevens picked up a call at his office in Haiku. “Bro, it’s Jared.” His little brother’s voice sounded amped up and hoarse. “I thought I’d better call you. You know that cane fire this morning?”

Jared was a firefighter at Kahului Station, recently transferred to Maui to get away from the holocaust of summer fires in LA—but from what Stevens could tell, Maui hadn’t been the mellow posting Jared was hoping for.

“Yeah, I saw the smoke. Smelled it, too. Thought they were just doing a scheduled burn.” Maui was one of the last places in the United States still growing and harvesting sugar. The plantation operated at an annual loss, in part because of the vast amount of water and resources it took to produce even a single pound of “white gold.” The harvesting process was also pollution-heavy. It began with burning fields to get rid of excess leaves, leaving the stalks behind, heavy with syrup, to be processed.

“No. We think it’s another arson case.” Jared coughed. “We’ve almost got it contained. Remember, I told you there have been at least three of these arson cane fires in the last month. Anyway, there’s a fatality. Tourists found a guy on the side of the road, crispy as a chicken wing.”

Stevens winced inwardly, trying not to imagine what “crispy as a chicken wing” looked like in human form. Likely he’d get to see firsthand. He stood, reaching for the shoulder holster hung on the wall to strap into. “So if it was arson, it’s a homicide.”

“Right. I thought I’d give you a heads-up since it’s in your district.”

As if on cue, his radio crackled with the call to respond. “Thanks, Jared. If I don’t see you at the scene, I’ll see you at dinner tonight. Still coming, right?”

“Right. I’ll bring dessert.” Jared had begun making weekly visits to have dinner with Stevens, his pregnant wife, Lei Texeira, their son, Kiet, and Lei’s dad, Wayne, who lived with them and provided child care.

Stevens hung up and stuck his head outside his office to holler to his veteran detective. “Ferreira! Ten-fifty on Hana Highway!”

About the book

Hawaii is cane fires, lush jungles, and feuds that won’t die until everyone’s dead.

Detective Lei Texeira stalks the shroud killer on her own terms as Michael Stevens finds himself engulfed in the flames of a case with tangled consequences. In this eighth of the bestselling Lei Crime Series, Lei and Stevens find out just how far hate and love will go.

“Toby Neal’s Lei Crime Series is a wonderful achievement in consistency and style, introducing us to a rich landscape filled with memorable characters. Eight books in, I’m already anxiously waiting for number nine!” Detective (Ret) David Swinson, author of A Detailed Man

Find it on Amazon.

About the Author:

TobyNealToby Neal was raised on Kaua`i in Hawaii. She wrote and illustrated her first story at age five and credits her counseling background with adding depth to her characters–from the villains to Lei Texeira, the courageous multicultural heroine of the Lei Crime Series. “I’m endlessly fascinated with people’s stories.”




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Focus Friday: Forgive No More, by Seb Kirby


Forgive No More is Seb Kirby’s latest release, the third in the James Blake thriller series.

Forgive No More Cover

Madeleine Jamieson, visiting London from Seattle, jumped at the chance to become a mudlarker. She’d always been interested in history and when she heard about the London walk that took in the chance to beach comb on the banks of the Thames it was too good to miss.

At low tide, the Thames retreated along the river bank between Somerset House and St Paul’s to reveal a distinct beach made up of shingle and the detritus of earlier centuries. Back in the 1600s, clay pipes filled with tobacco had been smoked and discarded into the river. These were abundant and formed the main treasure to be found at low tide now, though in the mind’s eye of any self-respecting mudlarker there was always the chance of real treasure in the shape of a Roman coin or something more valuable such as mediaeval jewelry. In Victorian times, to be a mudlarker was a recognized profession, given the wealth discarded into the Thames each day when the Port of London was the gateway to the world. These days, mudlarking was, at best, archaeology for everyman.

When the tour guide in the bright yellow T-shirt finished telling the small group these things she wished them well and sent them out on their search for the remains of London’s past. “Good hunting to you all. Come back with plenty of treasure.”

Madeline Jamieson turned to her husband. “Phil, let’s separate. We’ll have more chance of making good finds.”

Phil Jamieson was less interested in any of this but was keen to please her. “OK, Maddie. See you back here in twenty minutes.”
Madeleine made her way along the shore, searching as she went, and before long she’d found the first of the half dozen clay pipe fragments she was to collect. She couldn’t help thinking. “Now, if only I could find an intact clay pipe, that would be something to show Phil.”

She’d walked further than intended and was by now some distance away from the main group. In fact, she was approaching the buttress supports of Vauxhall Bridge.
When she saw the body she gave out a long and piercing scream heard a quarter of a mile away.

The body was bloated and in the late stages of decomposition. It had been dumped in the Thames some days before and the weights used to keep it beneath the water had now slipped. Brought in on the morning tide it had been washed against the supports of the bridge where it was now lodged.

The tour guide was the first to reach her and tried to calm her. “Just take deep breaths. Did I see you were with your husband? He’ll soon be here.”

When Phil Jamieson arrived, the guide was quick to attempt to reassure him. “It’s one of those unfortunate events we can’t guard against. I’m sure your wife will be able to get over this with your help.”

He wrapped his arms around his wife and walked her away from the scene. He tried to cheer her. “We didn’t expect to find anything as Charles Dickens as that, eh?”

She attempted a smile. “And this town is supposed to be so peaceful.”

Forgive No More is available on Amazon.

Seb Kirby, author

I’m the author of the James Blake Thriller series (Take No More, Regret No More and, now, Forgive No More) and the Raymond Bridges sci-fi thriller series (Double Bind). I’ve been an avid reader from an early age — my grandfather ran a mobile lending library in Birmingham and when it closed my parents inherited many of the books. From the first moment I was hooked. Now, as a full-time writer myself, it’s my goal to add to the magic of the wonderful words and stories I discovered back then.

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