Beloved Irish History Expert Visits Galway

Irish historyRob patted the paper. “You should read it. Compliment is the word.”

The headline was “Beloved Irish History Expert Visits Galway” which could have been better if it were accurate. And shorter.

The facts in the article were accurate, but it read more like a resume written by my mother. Apparently, according to the article, the Irish people consider me one of their own, and would gladly entrust me with their nation’s most valued historical artifacts. Assumptions about my run-ins with the late Michael O’Quinn, known by one and all to be a rabble-rousing pseudo-patriot of the worst kind, furthered the assumptions that I was some kind of history-saving hero. “Death before dishonor” was the general tone of the article.

This is an excerpt from Into the Fog. To read the whole story, get your copy at Amazon.

White as a sheet, eyes wide in fear

Pally was silent.

Dope headed for the house. Since he had my arm twisted behind my back, I headed for the house, too.

Just before we entered the light from the door, a large sliding glass affair, Dope let my arm go and Pally stepped up next to me, as if they’d been like that all along. Dope slid the door open, and we stepped into a lavishly furnished living room where a tiny little man sat in a chair three sizes too large.

“What’s that on his face? What happened? He was not to be harmed, fools! This is not how we solicit assistance from our friends; it is most certainly not!”

During his tirade, startlingly violent in tone, he’d slipped from the oversized chair, crossed to Dope, and started slapping his face for punctuation. He almost had to jump, but he slapped, nonetheless. I expected Dope to snap him in half and use the sharp end for a toothpick. Nothing doing.

He was white as a sheet, eyes wide in fear.

Irish-cottage

This is an excerpt from Through the Fog. To read the whole story, get your copy at Amazon.

I’m so glad he doesn’t want my guts for garters anymore

“Wonderful. Great. I’m so glad he doesn’t want my guts for garters anymore.”

“Oh, no fear; he’s still looking for a good pair, made right out of your very own. But not just yet. You’re a sort of a distant dream, if you take my meaning. No; he’s got other concerns at the moment.

“You’ll recall a certain document he had in his possession?”

Did I.

A spectacular map of the voyage of Brendan, patron saint of voyagers and Irish icon. Concrete evidence that an Irish religious traveler had set foot in the New World nearly 1,000 years ago.

Too bad it was a fake.

“That’s in other hands now. Official hands. I couldn’t get it for him even if I wanted to. And, trust me, I don’t want to.”

“Och; not at all, Martin. We’d much prefer that oaf doesn’t have such an important icon of our nation’s history. He’s much too secular.

“We want you to get it for us.”

This is an excerpt from Into the Fog To read the whole story, get your copy at Amazon.

I pretended to be a post

Since everyone was feeling chatty, I thought I’d jump in. “So, where are we going, exactly?”

Dope pretended to be a post. Pally looked at me suspiciously like I was trying to trick him into telling me where we were going. Then he pretended to be a post, too.

I pretended to be a post. No sense making the natives restless.

The sunlight flickered on and off between the high clouds. We passed the Van Nuys airport and wound through the valley on the San Diego Freeway. Why is the 405 in LA the San Diego Freeway? When I lived in San Diego, only freeway was 5, north to LA.

When did I live in San Diego? Wasn’t only childhood; I remembered the freeway as a driver, not a kid.

Aaah; gone again.

We took Howard Hughes off the freeway and headed south on Sepulveda. That’ll take us right through the airport. Which means I’ve been there, maybe, or how else would I know South Sepulveda runs through the center of the airport?

I started racking my brain for what was south of the airport. Didn’t really matter; this car was made for traveling, and if we were going to Mexico it wouldn’t have mattered to Dope and Pally.

It also didn’t really matter, because we weren’t going through the airport, we were going to it. And I knew who Shannon was. Shannon was an international airport.

We were going to Ireland.

Chapeltown, Valentia Island, Co. Kerry, Ireland

This is an excerpt from Through the Fog. To read the whole story, get your copy at Amazon.

Polite words served up with a straight razor

close-shave“Ah. Doctor Martin. You’re early, or I’d not have been moving about so close during your grand entrance.”

As usual for Dubin, polite words served up with a straight razor.

And unfortunately, as usual for me, incoherent babbling.

“My what? Early? For what?”

“I don’t have time for you to sort things out on your own, my good doctor, so I’ll elaborate, boring as it is. Your bumbling associates have traded your skills for their skins.” He looked around, and one of the four, no five, large over-coated gents moved an ancient oak chair closer. Another shoved a smaller chair behind me, pushing it against the backs of my knees.

I dropped onto the chair. Dubin sat, and continued. “I’ll begin our conversation by ensuring I have your attention.” He beckoned with a finger, and another of the thugs pulled out an iPad.

This is an excerpt from Into the Fog To read the whole story, get your copy at Amazon.

No Pursuer in the Desert

9 Days Earlier

The sand rose and fell in miniature dunes as far as he could see. Unless he looked straight up into the cloudless sky, it was all sand, sand in two-foot dunes.

He turned, just his head, then his upper body, as far as he could, all the way right, all the way left.

Sand.

Jarring not to see footprints behind him. As a tracker, no trail was out of his experience.

His pack grew heavier as he listened.

The silence, too, grew heavier.

No wind. Not a flutter.

desert

He brushed his right hand on the rough canvas sleeve on his left forearm. Heard the light scratching noise.

He could hear. There just wasn’t anything to hear.

He turned again, this time his whole body, stepping a few degrees at a time in a circle.

There.

On the horizon.

… more … “No Pursuer in the Desert”

200

200When I rebooted this site in January of 2013 it wasn’t about fiction. I wasn’t writing fiction then, not much.

April that year I started experimenting with short pieces here.

Two years later, I’m working to write 3 new mysteries a year.

And while a handful of the 200 posts here aren’t about my mystery writing, a whole lot more are.

Which do you enjoy most here at the blog, news about my books, or the little vignettes I write?

My Editor Makin’ My Book Better

You’ll want to sing that title to the tune of, um, something that fits. I don’t know what. I just know it’s better if you sing it.

polish-it-upMy editor, Tom Bentley, doesn’t just nudge my words into place. Line editing is important. His polishes my words from workmanlike to well done.

He also asks me hard questions.

… more … “My Editor Makin’ My Book Better”

Anodyne, Featuring Jesse Donovan: An Excerpt

Costa-RicaMinor excitement on Sunday: Isaac Ransom called. Isaac hired me when I finished school, taught me how to make a living as an accountant. Not just how to get paid, how to put something in the bank so later when you turned your whole life upside down you could still afford a classy loft in a ritzy neighborhood.

“Heard you were back on the market, Jess.”

“Heard where?” I knew better than to ask, but maybe he’d softened in his old age.

“Around.” Nope.

“Around. Sure. Anyway, not sure what market I’m back on, Izzy.”

… more … “Anodyne, Featuring Jesse Donovan: An Excerpt”

Tabloid Thousand Rover

Cold morning. Mist. Garage doors open, close. Lemming boxen off to slave.

Feet stamped awake. Couch cushions put back. Taste of dirt in his mouth.

Unemployment. Self-employment, maybe. Guns and gals and goodness.

Cold tap water. Hands, face, stomach. No breakfast. Coffee. Black.

Out, down, gone. No lemming box. Just feet.

Foot and foot, foot by foot.

Save the world. Save someone.

Save yourself.

A Long, Hard Look is All Yours

A Long Hard LookIt’s been almost 6 weeks since that last post; long overdue.

A Long, Hard Look is ready, as you can see from the sidebar on the left.

Get it in paperback from me or Amazon or get the Kindle version or any other digital version. Help yourself.

A Long, Hard Look (Chapter 50)

It’ll make more sense if you start with Chapter 1

They didn’t call me a cab, but they didn’t shove me down on the pavement either. I did the former for myself and skipped the latter.

I could have walked. It was a beautiful day. Warm, enough breeze to make the warm comforting instead of oppressive. Sky was blue enough, considering the size of the city and the buildings in it.

I’d had enough of the Mills/Mulligan/Breville/whatever family. There was one person I knew I could talk to without explaining or arguing or thinking too hard. Though I didn’t have anything urgent to say, my need to be with someone unoppressive was reason enough for the cab.

… more … “A Long, Hard Look (Chapter 50)”

A Long, Hard Look (Chapter 40)

It’ll make more sense if you start with Chapter 1

We piled into Millie’s car and drove to Sam’s apartment, just a few blocks from the Mills Building. I felt like a school of fish, swarming from the office to Millie’s to Sam’s to who knew where.

Fish do that when there’s a shark chasing them.

It didn’t seem necessary to be secretive about going up to the apartment. Either Gertrude was watching us or she wasn’t, and I didn’t have a brilliant way to avoid being spied on by someone who meant it. I couldn’t even keep her from coming into my apartment and cutting me open.

The apartment was dark. … more … “A Long, Hard Look (Chapter 40)”

A Long, Hard Look (Chapter 30)

It’ll make more sense if you start with Chapter 1

She was a dozen yards from the car before I stopped gasping like a fish and got out.

I waited until I’d caught up so I didn’t have to yell. That, and I didn’t have the breath to speak. Or the words.

“What on earth are you talking about? How am I supposed to do that? You said she wouldn’t want to know? You’re not making any sense.”

I guess those were the words.

“It’s not logical, it’s emotional.”

“Okay, I get that. What about the rest? How am I supposed to let her know this without her resenting that it’s not coming from you, without her not flying off the handle and punching Everard Mills in the nose?”

… more … “A Long, Hard Look (Chapter 30)”

A Long, Hard Look (Chapter 20)

It’ll make more sense if you start with Chapter 1

“Are you going somewhere?” I didn’t understand why she’d stood.

“To talk to Sam. She’s behind this and I want to know why.”

Millie stood. “You don’t know that, Darcy. Gertrude could still be involved.”

“Millie’s right. I believe that you see Sam’s hand in this. But that doesn’t rule out Gertrude pulling the strings. Besides, you told me Gertrude was behind us meeting at the library, behind your boss pushing his buttons. She’s involved.”

… more … “A Long, Hard Look (Chapter 20)”

A Long, Hard Look (Chapter 10)

It’ll make more sense if you start with Chapter 1

I took a step back. A half a step. The typing rooms are small.

“Gilbert Breville?”

That threw her. The waterworks shut off.

“How do you know that? We don’t have the same last name. How could you know that?”

She was making me nervous. It came out in my voice.

“Apparently it’s a running gag. You’re the second sister to claim him today. First was a tall blonde. Nothing like you at all.”

… more … “A Long, Hard Look (Chapter 10)”

A Long, Hard Look (Chapter 1)

It was one of those days when breakfast wanted to be cheap whiskey straight from the bottle.

They came less often lately, but they came. Five years isn’t long enough. Maybe there is no long enough.

Since I sleep above my office I can hear when someone opens the door and goes in. The window rattles and the door jams a little so there’s a short sharp shriek when it opens, and again when it closes, glass rattling the whole time. One potential client glared at it and left without a word.

There’s nothing written on the door, fancy “Private Investigator” signs or things like that. Officially, I’m neither: private, nor an investigator.

… more … “A Long, Hard Look (Chapter 1)”

I Want to Make My Books a Proper Meal

Our little one is a voracious reader. No surprise there.

We’ve finally told her that after her bedtime routine (more reading, that) she’s no longer allowed to play computer games or watch videos; she can only read books until lights out.

Within 4 days after her weekly library trip, she moans that she doesn’t have anything to read. We know what she means, of course. Though she’ll have us read The Seven Sneezes every night for a month, reading on her own must be something new and exciting.

I know the feeling. … more … “I Want to Make My Books a Proper Meal”