Tag Archives: Love Murder & Mayhem

Angela Hardwicke, Intergalactic Private Eye

I love private eyes. Always have. Part detective, part crime stopper, part secret agent. And lots of mystery.

And yet Angela Hardwicke, my hard-boiled PI who has now appeared in eight of my books through Crazy 8 Press, seemingly came out of nowhere.

Then again, doesn’t that sound like a private eye?

An amalgam of Doctor Who, Blade Runner, and Philip Marlowe, Angela Hardwicke first appeared in Genius de Milo, the second in my Finders Keepers sci-fi comedy backpacking trilogy, which might seem an odd place for a private eye to show up in the first place.

Loosely based on a series of backpacking trips I took through Europe and New Zealand with a buddy of mine, Finders Keepers is a Bill and Ted-style romp about two loveable knuckleheads running around the globe having zany adventures, while simultaneously mixed up in a quest for a jar containing the Universe’s DNA.

Finders Keepers was supposed to be one and done, but I left it open-ended, and ultimately followed up with the sequels Genius de Milo and Astropalooza, with the scope of the three-book narrative far exceeding my expectations. Continue reading

Love, Murder & Mayhem: Read it Now: DuckBob: Killer Service

“DuckBob: Killer Service” by Aaron Rosenberg is the wackiest (and final) tale of the bunch, wherein good ole DuckBob Spinowitz and his sexy gal pal Mary find their lives in peril thanks to a miscommunication between DuckBob and the funky new gadget he bought for home his home entertainment unit. Who knew that a mail-order gift to self could be so deadly?

To find out how—or if—DuckBob gets out of this one, here’s an early look:

DuckBob: Killer Service

By Aaron Rosenberg

“DuckBob—get down, my love!” Mary shouts as she hurdles the couch in an amazing display of beauty and grace—yes, I stop to admire her form, even in the midst of all this chaos—and dives behind it. The couch, ever helpful, rises and solidifies into a small shield wall to protect her.

It always did like her more.

For my part, I duck—yeah, ha ha, never heard that one before, only been ten years since the little gray aliens most people just call Grays abducted and altered me, you think in all that time no one’s ever made a “quack” at me before?—as something small, flat, circular, and silvery goes whizzing past right where my neck had been.

“Hey!” I shout, straightening back up and glaring at the room in general. “Was that my Rockford Files soundtrack? Do you have any idea how hard it is to come by one of those? That took me weeks of searching, and an entire hour of listening to the vendor’s sob story about the death of vinyl!”

A second CD shoots toward me—The Best of Johnny Mathis,

I think, so I’m a little less upset about that one—and I quickly dive to the ground, thrusting my arms out in push-up position to keep from slamming my bill against the floor. See, Tall, I do work out when given the right motivation! A whole bunch more silvery discs follow, racing overhead to imbed themselves in the couch, the wall, and anything else in their path.

Why oh why did I ever think it would be so awesomely cool to buy the seventy-six-disc changer?

“Knock it off, Iris!” I bellow from my forced-exercise pose.

“That is what I am endeavoring to accomplish,” her perfectly modulated voice replies from all around me. Which was always creepy to begin with, and is twice as bad now that she’s literally trying to kill me.

You just can’t find good help these days.

It all started the day before. And, as usual, I didn’t really have anyone to blame but myself.

“Check this out!” I told Mary as I returned to bed holding the mail—a handful of bills (it’s amazing that you can literally go to the ends of the universe—or its center, anyway, since the Matrix is here at the Galactic Core—and deliberately not leave a forwarding address but somehow they always find you. Especially medical bills—I’m convinced that most physicians’ assistants should really moonlight as bounty hunters, if they aren’t already. Nobody would escape them! Especially if they’ve ever gone in for elective surgery), a bunch of ads, two fast-food menus (one for Langnock’s Sweet and Sour Stir-fried Mineral Balls, which I order from sometimes as much so I can giggle over the name as because I love the food), a letter from the local Galactic Neighborhood Association (which always has at least one reference to “that glittering pink monstrosity in our midst.” Hey, what can I say, I live in a show home.)—and a small box from Tek R Us, delivered by the UPS (Universal Postal Service, what else?). I dropped all the rest at the foot of the bed and clambered back onto the mattress cradling the box like it held my child.

Which, in a way, I guess I did.

To read the rest of “DuckBob: Killer Service” click here.

Love, Murder & Mayhem: Read it Now: Make it Didn’t Happen

“Make it Didn’t Happen: by Glenn Hauman is a time travel tale, in which a teenage girl gets a visit from the future, to protect her from an act of violence that will forever alter her fate. Does her protector arrive in time? Does she even believe he’s there to help? Or does someone have revenge on their minds?

To find out, here’s an early look:

Make it Didn’t Happen

By Glenn Hauman

The creepy old perv had been following me around for three days before he finally came up to me outside of school.

And he was old. Older than any of the teachers, probably older than that pile of bricks, too.

I don’t know why I noticed him at all, really—he stayed a good distance away from the schoolyard, and he never came any closer than two houses away. He just seemed to be lurking. He spent a lot of time fiddling with branches and things like an old guy does instead of feeding pigeons, but he always seemed to be keeping an eye on me. No one else seemed to notice him, and the teachers didn’t do anything.

But when I was supposed to be walking home on Thursday, I felt like there was something itching at the back of my neck. I wished I hadn’t been wearing a dress, but it was picture day and BitchMom insisted that I wear something nice.

I was sure that I was being watched.

So I took another way home that I knew, one that would take me near the woods. No one had bothered me there since 6th grade, so I was pretty sure I could get away if I had to.

I guessed wrong. He was there waiting, leaning on the big tree at the front of the path.

“Hello, Kelly,” he said. Now that I could see him better he didn’t look like a pervert, but he was sizing me up as if he was trying to fit a piece of the puzzle into place, like he’d seen me before from a distance, and this was just him wondering what he was going to do with me now that he had seen me up close. Like a stalker meeting his favorite actress for the first time, he seemed unsure as to what to say next.

“Who the hell are you?”

“I’m a friend, I promise.” He raised his hands to his chest like I had a gun pointed at him. I wish I had.

“The hell you are. How long have you been following me around, old man?”

He paused and his eyes darted back and forth, like he was trying to figure out the answer and didn’t want to tell me the truth. “A while, kind of. Look, I’m just going to reach into my pocket, very slowly, and then I’m going to show you something. I know this will convince you.”

“How do you know?”

“I know.” His hand pulled out a little piece of shiny metal, about the size of an index card but about as thick as a pencil. He looked at it like he was looking into a mirror, and dragged his finger across it, and tapped it a few times. Then he smiled and turned it around. A picture flashed on the metal like a tiny television.

Then I saw her.

“Hey, Kelly-Belly.”

She looked like my mom, but with the same little mole over her eyebrow that I have.

“Wow, this is really weird—I’m saying the exact words I remember her telling me. It’s just happening. This is just the way I remember it happening. Kelly, this is going to sound crazy, but . . . I’m you. From the future. I’m here with Matt—show her,” she said, and the screen’s point of view swished around and showed a close-up of the same man in front of me, who waved at the camera, then panned back.

“This is going to sound strange—maybe impossible to believe—but there are two things you have to know right off the bat. One: I’m you, from years in the future. Let me show you—Matt, zoom in here—see, here on my foot? This is the scar that’s left from where you dropped Mom’s good scissors. Two: Matt has invented a way to travel through time, and he’s fit it all into a belt. He’s wearing it now.”

To read the rest of “Make it Didn’t Happen” click here.

Love, Murder & Mayhem: Read it Now: This Mortal Coil

“This Mortal Coil” from Peter David, Kathleen David, and Sean O’Shea asks the questions: Wouldn’t it be great to have someone sleep for us, because we have so much stuff to do? But what if a sleep surrogate discovers that one of the people he’s sleeping for is actually a murderer? Would he ignore it, report it …or investigate it himself?

To find out, here’s an early look:

This Mortal Coil

by Peter David, Kathleen David, and Sean O’Shea

My lover, whom I have never met, is dead.

I do not know her name. I have no idea where I might have met her. Her voice keeps changing every time I hear it, its tone shifting depending on what is being discussed. But she is beautiful and she is mine, and I can feel her moving beneath me as I thrust into her in an environment that keeps shifting around us.

Sometimes we are in a bedroom and sometimes on a beach and sometimes in a forest, oftentimes changing while we have sex, because literally anything can happen during that time. She is exquisite and beautiful and everything a woman could ever want to be, and I love her and I hate her. I know I hate her because I can see my hands wrapped around her throat, strangling her fiercely. Her eyes are bulging wide and there is pure terror in them. Does she know that I am about to take her life? What did she say to set me off? What could she have said, because I love her so much, and yet I despise her, the bitch.

She pulls away from me, somehow breaking my grip on her.

She staggers and I punch her as hard as I can, in the solar plexus.

She gasps, hurtles backward from the impact, and there is a window behind her. Her body slams against it, the glass shattering from the impact and she falls through it. I run to the window and look down, and I have only the briefest glimpse of her spiraling down, down toward the sidewalk. She hits it with a thud and, my God, there is blood just everywhere. People gather around her, screaming, shouting that someone should dial 911. No one does. They are all videoing her. No one is trying to get help for her. They are all racing to be the first person to post the video of her death on line, because that is the world that we live in now.

This is the stuff that dreams are made of.

And as she lies there, unmoving, bleeding profusely, her eyes snap open and she is looking straight up at me. I am now standing by her side, and she speaks in a shattered whisper. “Save me. Help me. Avenge me,” she says.

I am screaming when I wake up, but I am making no sounds when I do so. My mouth is open, but all the shrieks that I want to emit are locked in my throat. I do manage to sit up so violently that I knock loose the Dreambucket. That isn’t what it’s actually called. It has some long, technical name that is typically abbreviated as DMBKT, and that’s where Dreambucket came from. It is an elaborate metal grid on my head, carefully fitted to a series of tiny implants that run along the base of my skull. My hair has grown over them so only a close scrutiny would be able to perceive them, and even then the observer might not know exactly what it is that they are looking at.

The techie is standing there, studying the readouts. Her name is Doctor Grace. Once upon a time she might have been beautiful, but somewhere in her life she forgot how to smile and that omission has permanently screwed up her face, turning it into a twisted remnant of something that was once a caring human being. Now all she is concerned about are her readouts. She squints and sees only my reactions as they are charted on the large electronic screens in front of her, either not noticing or not caring about my startled rise from slumber. “Rough outing, Mr. Martini?”

To read the rest of “This Mortal Coil” click here.

Love, Murder & Mayhem: Read it Now: Speedeth All

“Speedeth All” by Meriah Crawford has a small, outnumbered squad of soldiers desperately fighting for their lives on a distant moon, unsure what they’re really fighting for, and why, left in the dark by their military leaders, questioning if their lives even matter. Will they make it out of battle, or will their rescue ship come too late?

To find out, here’s an early look:

Speedeth All

by Meriah Crawford

27 March 2318, UTC 14:27

It was shortly after dawn on their thirteenth day on the Bee, as they’d all started calling it. Not just as an abbreviation of the planet’s designation, but because it was annoying—and painful, if you didn’t watch what you were doing. Long days, vicious heat, nasty bugs, and hidden tunnel systems where the lizards hid. Add to that the lack of water or food, and almost complete absence of cover, and, for a “simple recon mission,” it was about as bad as it could get. About the only positive aspect of the place was that the atmosphere was breathable, though no one quite knew why.

Squad Leader Vetter leaned against a red boulder in a small impact crater watching Trine cleaning and repairing their comms unit. The box had taken a hit from a pulsed laser weapon, and

it was dead.

Trine had assured Vetter there was nothing that could be done to fix it, short of replacing “almost every single bishtup part,” including a lot of parts he didn’t have spares for. He’d been removing, cleaning, and repairing parts for the last two hours of his watch, anyway. Vetter didn’t need to ask why. She’d have killed for a task, however pointless—but there was little she could do but wait.

Macksin was snoring. Bastard could sleep through anything— was probably the best-rested biped on the dirt—but he seemed to have the mental capacity of a rutabaga. He’d follow orders if you explained them slow enough, but in a firefight, he was next to useless. And most of the time when he was awake, he just sat and read through technical specs and manuals, like he’d never set sight on the insides of the machines he’d been trained to maintain.

Damn shame, too, because he was an exceptionally wellconstructed soldier, and command didn’t much mind fraternizing if they didn’t see it happening—not during off-world missions.

They’d gotten along well, too, at first—until things started to go wrong, and Macksin proved himself to be the least competent mechanic she’d ever seen.

Vetter shook her head. How she’d found herself left with these two—alone in their sector, as far as she could tell—was a mystery. Macksin, at least, should have been the first to go. Some of the squad started calling him a good luck charm after the third time he narrowly missed being killed or maimed. They were dead now. Every last one.

When the war with the lizards started just nine months ago, Vetter’s squad and almost two thousand other soldiers—a rough mix of lifers and draftees—were sent to the Bee. The planet supposedly had some very useful minerals but minimal tactical value, though the orders to constantly scan the surface and relay the data to orbit each watch suggested it was far more important than they’d been told. Beyond that, she had little idea what was going on. None of them even knew what had started the war—they only knew it was happening. The better their tech got, the less information command shared. Smart, she supposed, but annoying. Frustrating. And this time, maybe lethal.

To read the rest of “Speedeth All” click here https://www.amazon.com/dp/0998364118?tag=crazy8-20

Love, Murder & Mayhem: Read it Now: As Time Goes By

Patrick Thomas’ “As Time Goes By” tells the story of a super-powered villain who served his time in prison, and then, upon release, dedicates himself to being a good citizen, building a better life to share with his loyal wife, and using his powers only for the greater good. But can a well-meaning ex-con—even with super powers and a mission to do right—ever really escape his past?

To find out, here’s an early look:

As Time Goes By

by Patrick Thomas

It wasn’t every day that a super villain was released from the Gulag Penitentiary. Marcus McGowan had served his time, the irony of which was not lost on the man called the Tempus Fugitive.

Marcus wasn’t a killer, but he had powers. He’d robbed a few banks and jewelry exchanges to finance machines that helped him speed or slow the flow of time. He had the ill fortune of being captured by the Luminary.

Taking a plea deal and returning the money he stole, along with good behavior, got his sentence reduced to three years. But to him, it had been about ten days. He requested solitary confinement and had slowed his time-flow whenever possible, so serving his sentence had been nothing more than a long rest.

None the worse for wear upon release, Marcus walked out into the sunshine and enjoyed his first breath as a free man. By the time he took his second breath, he had company.

Marcus’ eyes hurt just from looking at the glowing man. He reached into his jacket pocket and put on a pair of sunglasses, which helped only slightly.

“Hello, Luminary. Come to threaten me? Make sure I don’t return to a life of crime?”

In the radiance, the man smiled.

“No lecture. What you do with your life is your decision. I am here to wish you good luck and to point out some things that perhaps you hadn’t considered,” the world’s most powerful hero said.

“How I’ll never get away with it, so I shouldn’t even bother? That kind of thing?”

The glowing man chuckled. “You know what I’ve found is the main problem with the Daring who get categorized as villains?

It’s not a lack of creativity. Most of you have that. It’s a lack of vision. Considering what you can do, there is no reason for you to rob a bank.”

“Sure, like money will just fall from the sky.”

“Maybe not, but with your abilities, you could have made it rain.” The Luminary handed Marcus a lump of coal. The Tempus Fugitive looked at his hand, then back at the glowing man. “You working for Santa now, trying to tell me I made the naughty list?”

“Your abilities as a mechanical engineer are impressive. It wouldn’t be difficult for you to rig a device that would duplicate the heat and pressure miles beneath the Earth’s crust.”

“Sure, but what’ll crushing coal get me?”

“What happens to coal under pressure for a billion years?”

Marcus McGowan’s eyebrows brows raised. His pupils got wide. “Diamonds.” He paused a moment to let that sink in. “I could slow the time-flow on the heat and pressure source as I rapid-aged the coal. A billion years would probably take only three years in real time, and if I used a big enough hunk of coal, it would create a diamond worth hundreds of millions. I’d never have to work again. I’d have enough money for three lifetimes. I’m an idiot. I didn’t have to become a criminal. I’d still have Sherri.”

To read the rest of “As Time Goes By” click here.