Dark Turns by Cate Halohan – Spotlight

Welcome Cate Holahan to Long and Short Reviews as she chats about Dark Turns.

11_24 cate holahan book coverNia Washington fought her way up from the streets and was nearing the pinnacle of her profession when an injury and a broken heart derailed her career. Taking a temporary job as a dance instructor at an elite boarding school was supposed to give her time to nurse both body and soul. It was supposed to be a safe place to launch a triumphant comeback. It is anything but.

Not long after she arrives at the beautiful lakeside campus, she discovers the body of a murdered student, and her life takes a truly dark turn. Suddenly, she is drawn into a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse with a ruthless killer. And Nia isn’t the only target. She must use all of her street smarts to protect her dancers, save a wrongfully accused student, and rescue the man she loves.

A stunning and suspenseful tale of passion and betrayal, Cate Holahan’s Dark Turns will take readers deep into the mind of a murderer and the woman who must put an end to the killing.

Enjoy an excerpt:

She followed Battle down the sloping path to the water. The lake was small, perhaps the size of four football fields. A dense forest surrounded two-thirds of it, obscuring the nar- row road that defined the shoreline to her right. The path led to a clearing where the trees had been removed to make room for a boathouse and beach. Long racing shells with the school logo—a monogrammed W—lay stacked upside down in a wooden structure. A couple of rowboats floated atop the water, tethered to posts.

Sunlight painted the lake a pale gold. Nia stepped to the water’s edge, careful to maintain her dancer’s posture despite her sore ankle. She loved the water.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Battle said. “The view always gets my creative juices flowing.”

“Yes. It’s so calming.” Healing, almost.

“It started as a small canal. Wallace’s founder, Gregory Andrew Wallace, had the idea to create the reservoir and the little beach you’re standing on.”

Battle continued the history lesson. Nia listened to the inflections in his voice, nodding at what sounded like the appropriate time. She didn’t care who carved the lake. She watched the breeze stir the ripples into meringues. Water lapped at her feet.

A strange darkness blurred the surface just beyond her toes. Brown, seaweed-like strands crawled toward the sand. Did lakes have seaweed? She crouched to get a better look.

It was hair.

Her mouth opened in a silent scream. Instinct pushed her feet backward. She stumbled during the retreat. Her butt hit the beach. Sand scraped against her leggings.

About the Author:11_24 cate holahan imageCATE HOLAHAN is an award-winning journalist and former television producer. Holahan’s articles have appeared in BusinessWeek, The Boston Globe, The Record and on web sites for CBS, MSN Money, NorthJersey.com, BusinessWeek.com, and CNBC. Her short fiction won first place in the 19th annual Calliope competition, a magazine published by the writer’s group of American Mensa.


The War Between our Government and Hackers by DS Kane – Guest Blog and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. DS Kane will be awarding ebook versions of the whole Spies Lie series (which includes Bloodridge, DeathByte, Swiftshadow, GrayNet, and Baksheesh) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

The war between our government and hackers

I was a hacker long ago. I worked for a group within the United Sates government. Some of my friends are white hat hackers. Now, I write the Spies Lie series of Amazon bestselling technothriller espionage novels. The characters in my books are traditional spies, hackers, mercenaries and politicians. Sort of a typical day in any nation’s capital.

While white hat hackers try to keep us safe by determining if there are flaws in the software we use, there are also black hats who exploit those flaws for their own economic benefit, stealing identities and selling them wholesale. The NSA’s charter calls for them to protect the data of American businesses, government entities and individuals. On this, they continue to fail miserably, instead searching the data of Americans without any warrant to do so… a violation of law and individual rights to privacy.

Last week the United States Senate passed the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), which faces vehement opposition from leading tech companies and privacy advocates. Apple, Twitter, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Google, Dropbox, Salesforce and others. This bill will not in any significant way make anyone’s identity safe and won’t protect American businesses or make them more secure. In fact, it offers black hat hackers a larger target than they had before.

An article on this bill states that “the bill works so hard to encourage companies to share information with the government that it cuts corners on privacy, oversight and legal accountability. One major concern is that when companies share information on threats—such as an email that was part of a phishing attack or a file infected with malware—those files could contain customers’ personal data. Normally, the government would have to go to court to get a warrant to access this kind of private information. But under the Senate bill, the companies would be absolved of any liability for sharing this private information with law enforcement agencies.” (http://qz.com/543692/americans-should-probably-be-more-freaked-out-about-that-new-cybersecurity-bill/)

If passed by the full Congress, you can expect that hackers will focus on government agencies that receive data dumps from corporations, resulting in more Americans having their identities stolen. I expect that the next step will target white hat hackers and make them criminals.

Over 200 million Americans have suffered identity theft. When my identity and my wife’s were stolen, it cost us about $10,000 in legal fees to convince the IRS we weren’t terrorists. I hacked enough data bases to find the black hat thief and he’s now in prison. My brother’s identity was also stolen, directly from the IRS. Our government has no clue how to prevent this. White hat hackers are sitting on the scrimmage line, our best defense.

Will your identity be stolen next, or has it already been stolen?


She spied for her country, blackmailed her president, and ran from more threats than she can remember. But when the love of her life proposes, covert agent Cassandra Sashakovich is finally ready to settle down. Unfortunately her past is not quite ready to let her walk away.

Old enemies—including a vengeful president—want her dead, and they’re willing to attack her loved ones, including her adopted teenage daughter, if that’s what it takes.

But Cassandra has other pressing problems—a world leader is assassinated and an arm dealer’s revenge threatens to lead to nuclear war. Now Cassandra and her security firm, Swiftshadow must defuse the threats and find a way to outmaneuver those who threaten not only her family, but her country as well.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Lee Ainsley, her boyfriend, knelt, holding up the tiny ring with its miniature diamond in his hand, offering it to her. He seemed to sense the tsunami of emotions overpowering her. Feelings mixed with logic, pointing in every direction away from what she truly wanted.

He grinned slyly, like a child who’d waited too long for Christmas. “What’s your answer? Cassandra Sashakovich, I’m hopelessly in love with you. Please marry me.”

Her eyes had popped wide open the first time he asked. Now, she tried to speak but her lips wouldn’t move.

She’d shown him her heart, her only private place where thought had no currency.

She forced herself to moisten her lips through the pain, preparing to speak. The voice inside her head told her not to try and sort all of it out before she answered him.

Time to feel? Time to think?

She realized there wasn’t time to sort this out properly. Cassie tried thinking anyway, since—for her—thinking always happened before any action. She wondered what she really wanted. Of course she wanted Lee. And the voice in the back of her head stated bluntly that having Lee would be dangerous for him. She wasn’t safe. No one with her could ever be safe.

Now, what she had originally dreamed of, being wanted and loved by an intelligent, good-looking man, was about to become her dream come true. But Lee had been targeted for death because of her. Accepting his proposal would only exaggerate his peril. And, Ann, her adopted daughter would be at greater risk with both her and Lee as choke points. Furthermore, it would be so much easier for any enemies of Cassie to use her family as leverage against her. Yet, if she declined, she’d acknowledge that her enemies had succeeded in destroying her life.

Cassie sighed. It was a lose-lose situation.

Her heart leaped at the sight of the miniscule ring. Where had he bought it? When had he had time? It had to have been just before he was picked up by the FBI and taken to Guantanamo Bay; it was so small that he’d probably bought it the day after they’d left the Israeli embassy in Washington, DC.

Cassie realized, ohmigod, he’s been planning this for months.

She heard Ann tiptoe down the stairs. She saw the teen’s reflection, watching from just beyond the kitchen doors, facing Cassie’s back. Ann’s ragged hair had been dyed back to its natural mousy brown, from the purple and pink she’d colored it to disguise herself when she ran from a Saudi assassin weeks ago. Ann held Gizmo, their small, black kitten in her arms. She smiled. “Do it, mom,” she whispered.

Time to choose.

About the Author:

DS Kane worked in the field of covert intelligence for over a decade. During that time, his cover was his real name, and he was on the faculty of NYU’s Stern Graduate School of Business. He traveled globally for clients including government and military agencies, the largest banks, and Fortune 100 corporations, and while in-country, he did side jobs for the government. One of the banks DS Kane investigated housed the banking assets of many of the world’s intelligence agencies and secret police forces, including the CIA and NSA. Much of his work product was pure but believable fiction, lies he told, and truths he concealed. Secrets that–if revealed–might have gotten him killed. When his cover got blown, he fled the field and moved 3,000 miles.

Now, DS Kane is a former spy, still writing fiction. Through his novels, he exposes the way intelligence agencies craft fiction for sale to sway their countries and manipulate their national policy, driving countries into dangerous conflicts.

To learn more about DS Kane and his books, visit www.dskane.com or join him on Facebook for book giveaways and details on espionage.

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Where Do Ideas Come From by R. Arundel – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. One randomly chosen commenter via Rafflecopter will receive a $50 Amazon/BN gift card. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Where do ideas come from?

My quick answer is that ideas spontaneously come from my head. I just sit down and like magic a great book idea pops into my head. It might seem like that but I know it’s not true. The ideas are the sum total of all that I’ve read and all the information I have processed. A few good areas where I get ideas from are current newspaper stories, books I’ve read, people I’ve interacted with, or my own fantasy life.

Newspapers are an endless supply of book ideas. For mystery or thriller writers there is a daily stream of news that can be the genesis of a book idea. Often truth is stranger than fiction and supplies the perfect jumping off point for a book. I read all my news online these days except for Sunday when I read a paper copy of the New York Times. I have the digital edition but I like to take some time on Sunday morning with the paper and just go through it from start to finish. There is something about the tactile feel of a paper that I find refreshing. When I was a boy my dad would read the newspaper and often he would throw me a section and I would just hold it in my hands and look at the pictures. I think newspapers also are a good way to understand what people are interested in and what topics might make a compelling novel.

Books are a great source of ideas for books. You might read a great vampire novel and then say wouldn’t a story about modern day businessmen ‘sucking the blood’ out of each other be the perfect vampire story for the real world? You could also read a book the explores loss and get an idea about how your original story about loss could be put together. After reading Agatha’s Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, any writer is tempted to create the ultimate plot twist: the murderer is the narrator of the story. Reading George R. R . Martin’s Game of Thrones with its rich and layered fantasy world can give a writer inspiration to create their own fantasy world. With The Face Transplant many people remember the movie Face Off with John Travolta.. Although my book is very different than this movie many people are reminded of the movie after reading the book, I saw the movie many years ago and realize that the movie was probably in my subconscious when I wrote my book.

People I interact with play an important role in stories I generate. I never use a person I have interacted with for a novel. If any of my characters resemble a real life character it is truly by chance, but what I do note is how people speak and act. I find style of dress, patterns of speech, favorite music can often define certain demographics. For example, if I meet a person who’s lived their whole life in Southern California, I am careful to note their appearance, speech and mannerisms. If in the future I need a Southern California character I can conjure up this person. Quite often people in a similar profession have certain mannerisms and patterns of speech that are similar. Noting these can help in making your characters more believable.

MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_TheFaceTransplantAn epic journey of suspense, murder, and sacrifice

Dr. Matthew MacAulay is a facial transplant surgeon at a prestigious New York hospital. When his friend and mentor, Tom Grabowski, dies under mysterious circumstances, Matthew uncovers his friend’s secret: a new technique that allows perfect facial transplants. No incisions, no scars. Tom was able to accomplish this monumental feat with the help of Alice, a supercomputer robot with almost human abilities. While trying to find the people responsible for murdering Tom, Matthew realizes he is the prime suspect. He must flee for his life with the help of Dr. Sarah Larsson, a colleague and reluctant helper, who has a secret of her own, and Alice, who helps them make sense of a baffling series of seemingly unrelated events. The clues carry Matthew and Sarah around the world. They stumble onto a sinister plot of monumental proportions that leads Matthew all the way to the White House.

The Face Transplant is a powerful medical suspense thriller of the first order. The novel was written by a surgeon who weaves politics, medicine, and espionage into a tightly paced, intelligent thriller.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Matthew, “Sarah, I know. The tremors, the leg weakness. I put it all together. ALS.”

“My Sherlock Holmes at work again.” Sarah laughs.

“I know and I don’t care.”

Sarah smiles at Matthew. “Do you know what you’re saying?”

“ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. A progressive neuro-muscular disorder with no cure. You will stop walking one day, and finally, you will lose control of all your muscles.”

“Not bad, Holmes.”

“We surgeons aren’t as thick as you think.”

“Then you know I don’t have long.” Sarah punches in the code to lock the anesthetic machine.

“I don’t care. I need you,” says Matthew.

“You know what my life will be very soon, how it is going to end.”

“I don’t care. I have to take a chance—I have to live. Give me that chance.”

“In the end I would regret doing that to you. I refuse to have you look after me in the prime of your life. I’m going to be on a ventilator, not able to move any muscle in my body. I’m going to end up being only able to use my eyes. Totally locked in a useless body.”

About the Author: R. Arundel is a practising surgeon. This experience brings realism to the story. The novel asks what would happen if a surgeon were to develop the perfect face transplant. This would allow people to have a new face, in essence create a new identity. You can create the perfect double, the perfect Doppelganger.

Buy the book at Amazon.


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Mind the Gap by Tim Richards – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Tim will be awarding an eCopy of Mind the Gap to 3 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

11_12 BookCover_MindTheGap He’s been threatened by a knife-wielding maniac on a London train, interrogated by a mysterious warrior woman beneath the city’s streets, pursued by a military death squad in Melbourne, had his new girlfriend kidnapped and held hostage in Prague, and been captured and taken to another world.

And it’s barely been three days since his life started to fall to pieces.

On top of all this, he’s developed a bizarre ability that allows him to teleport in quite unusual circumstances – an ability that several deadly enemies will do anything to gain control of.

In a desperate struggle involving alternate worlds, Egyptian mythology, ancient prophecy, malevolent felines, underground railway stations and the power of dreams, can Darius long survive the arrival of his newfound power?

Enjoy an excerpt:

The short, dark man bent over the flower and inhaled. Its perfume was hardly noticeable against the thick, heady aroma of the conservatory, but he enjoyed the ritual in any case. Turning, his gaze swept around the chamber. It was still impressive, even though he was intimately familiar with its contents after years of visits.

The conservatory was housed in a structure that resembled a vast, egg-shaped bubble, perfectly smooth and of an opaque greyish white. The curved inner surface seemed to glow slightly, emitting light. It was surprisingly soothing, this gentle glow. The man absent-mindedly fingered the metal badge on his robe as he looked over the greenery around him.

He turned back to the flower, and picked up a slender-handled instrumentfrom next to the pot. He lifted it toward the plant …

… and doubled over in agony as a wave of pain crashed through his mind. All sensation was blocked as he fell, not noticing his impact with the ground. His right arm toppled the table and the plant fell to the floor, its earthenware container smashed. The metal tool clattered along the wooden flooring, its indicator lights flashing.

Waves of colours were moving through the man’s mind, and beyond them he could sense a shape, or concept. It eluded him, but he felt drawn toward it.

Just as it was starting to take form, the screaming stopped. Reality flooded back in.

Despite the residual pain, the man dragged himself to his feet and set the table upright. Leaning against it, he touched his badge again and closed his eyes.

In a moment, he felt the Controller’s mind. It, too, was tinged with shock and surprise.

‘What was that?’ came the Controller’s mental reply, the niceties of formal address lost in the aftermath of the event. ‘I blacked out … we all did …’

The robed man gathered his swirling uncertainties together and hid them behind a mental shield of confidence.

‘Notify all agents,’ he replied. ‘We have found him. This must be the one’.

About the Author: Tim Richards is a freelance travel writer based in Melbourne, Australia. His writing has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines and websites, and in Lonely Planet’s guidebooks.

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How to Handle Negative Criticism by Felicity Young – Guest Post and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Felicty will be awarding an eCopy of Flashpoint to 3 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

How to Handle Negative Criticism
Sending your first manuscript out into the world is like being forced to take your clothes off in front of strangers. You are naked, exposed and very much alone. My first piece of advice would be to be very careful whom you first expose yourself too. Unless your nearest and dearest are experienced literary critics, avoid them. They will either tell you your work is marvelous when it is not, for fear of hurting your feelings, or rip it apart with non-constructive criticism – and possibly damage your relationship forever.

Ideally, you send your manusript to a professional assessor who has no idea who you are. If you have chosen your assessor carefully, they will be someone with credentials that you respect. Often, these skilled professionals will point out what and why certain problems have arisen. Sometimes when these are highlighted to you, a light globe will go off in your head and you’ll say to yourself, ‘of course, why didn’t I see that problem before?’

That’s the ideal scenario, and if you can put aside the natural instinct of being defensive, you can learn heaps by adopting this kind of open-minded attitude.

Alternatively, you may not agree that your work warrants such criticism. If that’s the case, and you have been as open minded as possible, then don’t accept the advice. This is your work after all and no one knows it as well as you.

An effective assessor will balance their assessment with both positive and negative comments. Often, one, well written, sincere paragraph of positive commentary can make up for a page of negative criticism. Don’t listen, what ever you do, to someone who does nothing but discourage you.

Once you have polished your ms to the best of your ability you start sending it off to the publishers. Unless you were as lucky as me (luck being the operative word) to have your first publication accepted almost immediately, the rejection letters will start rolling in. Consider your rejection letters to be Purple Hearts, share them with your writing buddies and proudly show off your wounds. How many rejection letters did JK Rowlings get? About ten, I think, and she has since become a literary legend in her own time.

So that’s the early days/ weeks/months/years of your writing career over and you now have a publishing contract. You will have to deal with editors who will not always be on your wavelength and you will have to learn to compromise. As with the assessors, these people will be more experienced than you are, and therefore well worth listening to. Don’t feel compelled to take on all of the editor’s suggestions, but be open-minded, as you were with the assessor. No publishing house likes an arrogant new author – the tantrums can start after the first best seller!

Now the reviews start pouring in — and they might not all be glowing. I tend to have an inner ‘worthiness’ gauge. If the bad review is from a respected hard copy writer or blogger, although I might wince when I read it, I try to take on board the criticism and make sure I don’t make the same mistakes again. If the bad review is by an anonymous critic who can barely string a sentence together, let alone understand the book, I brush it off with a laugh.

I don’t think any author, however successful, loses that feeling of vulnerability they had when they first started writing, but we can develop ways of dealing with it. I hope the above tips will help those of you who are embarking on a literary career.

Take the negative criticism on the chin, and whatever happens, don’t give up!

You can run from everything but your fears.

Three years after a gang brutally murdered his wife and son, Sergeant Cam Fraser has returned with his daughter Ruby to the country town where he was raised – a town too small for trouble. But then a body is found on the school grounds, badly burned and unrecognisable. Who in Glenroyd could possibly be a murderer? And why?

This violent crime plunges Cam straight into a baffling and deadly investigation, where nothing is as it seems. From shady cop Vince to the secretive Smithsons who run the school to the local bikie gang who may still want him dead, Cam has his hands full with suspects. Not to mention Jo, his daughter’s teacher, whom he can’t keep his mind off of …

But the danger is coming closer to home, and Cam is running out of time to solve the case. Will he be able to protect Ruby and stop the killer? Or will everything go up in flames?

Enjoy an excerpt:

The atmosphere in the staffroom loomed like a headache. Cam realised it was caused by more than the chemical smell of the surrounding newness, and silently berated himself for allowing Vince to tackle the first round of interviews on his own.


Vince introduced Cam to Anne Smithson, the principal, and her husband Jeffrey, explaining that he’d allowed the other staff members to leave.

Cam remembered reading about the couple in his wife’s Old Glenroydians’ Magazine. They’d been recruited from the eastern states by the School Board in a last ditch effort to prevent the school from closing down. Assisted by the generous endowment of an old girl, they had, according to the magazine, been performing restorative miracles, including an ambitious building renovation program.

Mr Smithson rose from the table and offered Cam a firm, moist hand but no smile, in keeping with the sobriety of the occasion.

‘As I was explaining to the Constable here,’ he said, ‘we weren’t even on the school grounds the day of the fire. We’d been to the city for the day –’

‘They have an apartment in the city – all right for some eh, Sarge?’ Vince exaggerated a wink. Cam felt the temperature in the room drop several degrees.

Mr Smithson shot Vince a look that suggested he’d just picked him off the sole of his shoe. His wife frowned when Cam shook her hand, telling him with her deep grey eyes that she’d had about as much of the Senior Constable as she could endure.

Mr Smithson continued in a tone of restrained calm. ‘The first we knew about the body was when Joanne arrived at Monday’s staff meeting, late as always.’ He caught his wife’s eye in a way that suggested this topic had been discussed before. ‘And broke the news.’

Anne Smithson nodded her agreement. ‘We’ve given our statements. May we go home now, Sergeant?’

‘I won’t keep you much longer, Mrs Smithson. Please bear with me for just five more minutes.’

Anne Smithson pursed her lips, the only sign of impatience she gave. Her ash blonde hair, stretched tight against her skull, was fastened at the back with a tortoise-shell clip. She sat in her straight-backed chair, hands clasped in her lap, her eyes half-closed. Cam wondered if she was reciting her getting-through-appointments-with-ranting-parents mantra. He knew the signs; he’d used the technique often enough himself on tedious witnesses.

Jeffrey smoothed down his thin moustache and beat a soft tattoo on the table’s surface, waiting for Cam to finish skimming through the witness statement forms. When Cam met his eye the drumming abruptly stopped. Then, as if deciding the ordeal had lasted long enough, Jeffrey pushed his chair back and climbed to his feet. A small round belly peeped through a gap in his blazer when he indicated the door to his wife with a tilt of his head.

Cam held out his hand for her to stay where she was. ‘Mrs Smithson,’ he said. ‘At the moment the body is unidentifiable, but sometimes people have vague ideas about who a victim could be. Can you make a guess? Have you been aware of any itinerants hanging around the school grounds? Did any of your groundsmen not turn up for work this morning? Have you given anyone permission to camp on the grounds during the school holidays?’

Mrs Smithson’s thin fingers reached for the double string of pearls resting on the bosom of her silk blouse. The nervous mannerism did not escape Cam. He had a fleeting glimpse of the kind of vulnerability the headmistress of an elite school would be forced to hide.

‘No, Sergeant, although there have been plenty of people coming and going all holidays to work on the renovations. I know there were men here yesterday,’ she said. ‘I suppose one of the builders might have decided to go for a walk and accidentally started the bushfire.’

Cam turned to Vince. ‘Check with the builders. See if there was anyone away from work yesterday who should have been there.’

The big man gave a nod.

Mrs Smithson rose from the table with a waft of Chanel. Cam said, ‘Thank you for your cooperation. I don’t think we’ll be needing to ask you any more questions for the moment.’ He smiled. Number 5 had always been his wife’s favourite. When she moved to stand by her husband, he noticed she was the taller by about three inches.

Mrs Smithson gave Cam a tight smile back. ‘Please turn the lights off when you go.’

Vince grunted out a reply. When the Smithsons turned to leave, he caught Cam’s eye and flicked the end of his nose with his finger. Cam ignored him and glanced back to one of the forms on the table. He addressed the departing couple.

‘Before you go, I’d like to have a bit more of a chat with Ms Tilly, the science teacher.’ He tapped at the form in front of him with his pen. ‘It says here she lives in a flat at the school. Mind pointing me in the right direction?’

‘I hope it won’t take long. We need to get home; it’s been a long day,’ Mr Smithson said.

‘I quite understand. I don’t need you to come with me, just tell me where I can find her.’

‘This way,’ Mr Smithson said, leading Cam away from his wife into the vestibule. He glanced back at the staffroom and gripped Cam’s arm. No longer within earshot of his wife, he dropped his previous tone of forced politeness and spoke through clenched teeth.

‘My wife and I have done everything in our power to cooperate with the police over this unfortunate incident. I want you to know that we found Constable Petrowski’s blunt questioning very disturbing. The details he gave us about the condition of the body were totally unnecessary. It was as if he was deliberately trying to upset us, to bully us into taking some kind of responsibility for this tragic accident.’

Cam worked hard not to show his irritation with Vince. One of the first rules of a preliminary interview is to keep the witnesses on side, talk to them in a relaxed manner, steer the questions in a way that would put them at ease and encourage them to do the talking. It seemed the only thing Vince had encouraged was aggravation. It was going to take a lot of smoothing over to get the Smithsons back on track.

‘I apologise on his behalf. I’ll have a word with him and I’ll be happy to assist if you wish to make a formal complaint,’ Cam said.

Mr Smithson thought for a moment. ‘I might just do that. I’ll discuss the matter with my wife. In the meantime, if you wish to re-address this topic, Sergeant, please ring in advance for an appointment and speak to me. It is not necessary for my wife to hear all the gruesome details. I’m sure I can answer any further questions you might have. She doesn’t have to be included.’

As he was also irritated by the man’s arrogant tone, Cam could imagine how he and Vince had goaded each other. He shrugged off the hand that gripped his arm.

‘I quite understand, Mr Smithson, but I’m afraid I’ll probably have to speak to both you and your wife again. Until then, good day, sir.’

About the Author:

Felicity Young was born in Germany and educated in the United Kingdom whilst her parents were posted around the world with the British Army. In 1976 the family settled in Perth. Felicity trained as a nurse followed by an arts degree. In 1990 the family moved from the city and established a Suffolk sheep farm in Gidgegannup WA. Here she studied music, reared orphan kangaroos and started writing.

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Perfectly Toxic by Kristine Mason – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Kristine Mason will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN to two randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

What do you get when you mix a mad scientist, a psychopath, an ice cream lady and a repo man? Something perfectly toxic…

Melanie Scarlet is a knife-wielding badass who knows how to dispose of a body, and make evidence disappear. But Mel, a.k.a., the Ice Cream Lady, draws the line at one thing: she refuses to live with her husband, Cash Maddox, unless he quits the repo business that nearly got him killed—no matter how much she loves him.

To thaw Mel’s heart and convince her to leave the Everglades and move back home to Tallahassee, Cash is finally ready to retire from his adrenaline-fueled job…until homeless men begin vanishing. As Mel investigates the disappearances, Cash’s temper goes into overdrive when he realizes his wife has been keeping a dangerous secret from him. She’s been doing more than scooping ice cream—she’s a cleaner for the underground criminal investigation agency, Above the Law.

Mel isn’t the only one with a secret. A scientist has created a drug that will cure psychopaths by deadening the urge to dominate, hurt and murder. To prove his chemical combination works, he uses the homeless as test subjects. He breaks and scrambles their minds, turns them into killers, then tries to fix them. But what if the scientist creates a killer he can’t fix? A true psychopath he can’t control? As Cash joins Mel and the ATL crew, they learn firsthand, the results could be…toxic.

Enjoy an excerpt:

When Melanie reached the front door, she touched the faded, sun-bleached wreath she’d made over two years ago. Nostalgia settled over her heart. Although Cash had still been recovering from his injuries, those days had been happy ones. He hadn’t been able to repo.

Betrayal and frustration gave nostalgia the boot. Dang it. They could have been good together. She knocked on the door. Instead, they were living separate lives because she wasn’t enough. Not enough excitement, not enough of a challenge. His accident had taught her that she didn’t need those things anymore. Then again, she had signed on to ATL and did still chop the occasional car or boat. Oh, God. There was also those bodies she’d disposed of in her daddy’s swamp.

The door opened and Cash’s large body filled the threshold. His t-shirt clung to his arms and chest, revealing the muscles she loved to hang onto when she rode him. Her heart beat hard as she shifted her gaze from his chest to his mouth. How she’d love to shove him against the door and kiss that arrogant, overconfident smile off his lips.

“How are ya’, babe?” Cash asked, his tone rough, sexy.

She met his gaze. His dark-brown eyes held hunger, lust and smugness. During their two-year separation, they’d found excuses to see each other. Then they’d have a long weekend of hot sex. Cash was in for a rude awakening. Just because he knew how to make her moan didn’t mean he’d be getting any action during this visit.

He took a step forward and crowded her space. She inhaled his cologne as he slid a finger along her jawline until he reached her chin. “I’ve missed you.” He leaned forward, brought their mouths so close together his warm breath brushed her lips.

God, how she ached for him. If only he loved her enough. The reminder stung and bolstered the promise she’d made to herself: no sex, discuss making their separation permanent.

“Don’t touch me,” she murmured. “I have my period.”< About the Author:

Kristine Mason is the bestselling author of the popular romantic suspense trilogies, C.O.R.E. Shadow and Ultimate C.O.R.E. She is currently working on her next trilogy, C.O.R.E. Above the Law, along with a series of Psychic C.O.R.E. novellas.

Although Kristine has published a few contemporary romance novels, she focuses most of her energy on her romantic suspense stories, which she loves for their blend of dark mystery/suspense and sexy romance. She is fascinated with what makes people afraid, and is famous for her depraved villains whose crimes present massive obstacles for her heroes and heroines to overcome.

Kristine has a degree in journalism from Ohio State University and lives in Northeast Ohio with her husband, four kids, and two dogs. If she’s not writing, she’s chauffeuring kids, gardening, or collecting gnomes. Oh, and she makes a mean chocolate chip cookie!

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The Hysteria behind the History of Hoodoo by Kathryn Rogers – Guest Blog

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Kathryn Rogers.

The Hysteria behind the History of Hoodoo

The history behind the mysterious practice of hoodoo is as intriguing as it is unsettling. While the motive behind applying hoodoo was originally to help defend slaves from mistreatment, often even well-intentioned practitioners succumbed to the temptations their powers provided them.

Doctor Yah-Yah was a talented African slave who was known for his skills with potions and root cures. However, his prestige ended when he was supposed to give his client a magic elixir, but his customer wound up dead at the hand of his poison instead.

Then there was Robert Johnson – the witch doctor we have to thank for all of the rumors that people could sell their souls at the Crossroads. This was supposedly what he himself did to acquire fame for his musical talent. Of course, this was a lie, but the notoriety behind this exciting, urban legend circulated far more widely than the truth.

In my opinion, the most interesting hoodoo legend who ever lived was Black Herman. He walked the earth from 1892-1934, and he was best known for his Private Graveyard which he sold tickets to. Spectators would come from miles around to watch his “lifeless body” be lowered into a coffin before it was buried at the location of his next performance. When the day of the next show came, the crowd would witness his coffin being exhumed where they marveled as the magic man would rise from the dead. This was how he opened all of his shows. His fans would follow the formerly deceased entertainer into his next performance, and this magic trick
made him legendary.

However, in April, 1934 Black Herman collapsed in the middle of his show while he was holding a performance in Louisville, Kentucky. Even after the coroner had declared him dead on reason of “acute indigestion,” his audience still believed this was just another one of his typical stage tricks. He had come back from the dead so many times before that the crowd refused to exit the theater, because they were all waiting for him to pop back up again. When his body was eventually transported to the funeral home, the crowd followed him there…just as they had for the openings of all of his shows. His associate, Washington Reeves, sold tickets to the funeral since he said that’s what Black Herman would have told him to do. Thousands of spectators arrived to wait for him to rise up. Some visitors even stuck pins in his corpse to see if he would jump out of his coffin. When he was eventually buried, his death made national headlines, because it was the first time ever that he didn’t rise back up out of the grave.

I often felt while writing Memphis Hoodoo Murders that when it came to June and Louie Jackson’s deaths, Addie was living like one of Black Herman’s spectators. Her grandparents had always behaved as if they were invincible. They had been like cats with nine lives, because even though they had been on the verge of death so many times, they had always come back up swinging. I can picture Addie looking out of her window and restlessly pacing her house every day. It’s almost as if she thinks she’s house sitting, and she’s waiting for them to come back home to take over their estate again.

She never talks about it, so no one in her story brings it up. Her loved ones don’t want to pour salt into an open wound she won’t even acknowledge is there. Still, it seems to me that if she had a pin and their corpses with her, she would have poked at them every hour of every day to see if that moment would finally be the anticipated moment where they would wake up to come home to save her again.

I would invite you to read more about hoodoo in the Memphis Hoodoo Murders, but I must warn you that it’s not for the faint of heart. If you think you can handle it, you probably can’t. But if you’re the sort of person who wants to enter a forbidden area just because there’s a “Do Not Enter” sign flashing above it, well, then maybe you’ll read it regardless of how much I might caution you against it. So, if you insist on leaping before you look, go ahead…open Memphis Hoodoo Murders, but I assume no responsibility for any trickery which comes your way if you do…

10_30 Hoodoo BOOK COVERAddie Jackson has witnessed people trying to kill her family her entire life, and now her grandparents’ attackers are hunting her. The Memphis police are never able to catch these crooks since the cops have been bewitched to stay away. Her grandparents, Pop and Grandma, habitually lie to Addie, but she is attentive enough to overhear the secrets they keep from her. In her predictive dreams, Addie regularly sees future events, which disturb her, but to her dismay, she has never been able to stop them from coming true. She often dreams of a dark character, who she is later shocked to discover is the Man, a devil from hoodoo legend.

Addie is disturbed to discover she is being stalked by a witch doctor named Hoodoo Helen. To make matters worse, the more secrets Addie uncovers, the more danger she finds. Addie presses Grandma for answers about the power behind the ring and pocket watch she often toys with, but Grandma remains tight-lipped. Knowing their deaths are imminent, Grandma makes a deal with the hoodoo devil to take care of Addie, and Addie is later horrified to discover that her beloved family has been murdered. John, a family friend, steps in to help Addie, and she soon realizes he knows more about her family’s tainted past than she ever has. Addie begins receiving cryptic letters from her deceased grandmother, which reveal a shocking family history revolving around slavery, time travel, and magic.

If Addie can survive jail, her cousin’s abduction, threats from a menacing gang, corrupt law enforcement, and hoodooed attacks, maybe she can finally dream of a future where she will be safe and free.

Praise for Memphis Hoodoo Murders:


“Dripping with grisly spells, wry humor and a distinctly southern brand of magical realism, you’ll be quickly mesmerized by this magnetic paranormal thriller. A home run for author Kathryn Rogers.” – Reviewed by Best Thrillers


“Addie Jackson is not your average college student. For starters, she lives with her slightly odd grandparents in a not-so-nice part of Memphis, Tennessee. Most of her life revolves around taking care of her grandparents and trying to keep a low profile in her neighborhood instead of going on dates, talking about new music, and having fun. When her grandparents’ behavior becomes even more bizarre, there are break-ins at the church the family attends, and she begins to have dreams that come true, Addie becomes even more aware of the strange life she is living. She begins to believe that her grandparents have been hiding something from her for her entire life, something big, something that could put everyone’s lives in danger. Something that could mean that Hoodoo magic is real. Kathryn Rogers’ novel, Memphis Hoodoo Murders, immediately catches the reader with an exciting title and a surprising first chapter.” – Reviewed by Red City Review


About the Author:10_30 Kathryn RogersKathryn Rogers is a Memphis native with an affinity for local BBQ and blues rock-n-roll. As a licensed therapist, she holds her Masters in Counseling and Psychology, and as a licensed educator, she holds her Bachelors in Education. Her experience providing counseling services to the community prepared her to expound upon the psychological issues her characters wrestle with in her stories. She currently lives in Jackson, Mississippi with her husband, playful preschooler, and rambunctious Labrador Retrievers.


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Dead in a Dumpster by B.L. Blair – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. B. L. Blair will be awarding a Dead in a Dumpster Gift Pack (US Only) which will include tote bag, t-shirt, magnet, and bookmark to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

When Leah Norwood finds the body of Isabel Meeks in the dumpster behind her store, she can’t believe the police consider her a suspect. Sure, she didn’t liked Isabel, but then again, neither did anyone else. Isabel had a condescending attitude and a bad reputation. As manager of the antique store, Patina, she had made a lot of enemies.

There is Patina’s assistant manager, the handsome and charming Trent. Isabel was blackmailing him. There is Patina’s owner, the aloof and influential Anthony Thorpe. Isabel was smuggling drugs through his store. And there is the entire drug dealing Cantono family. Isabel had lost a box containing heroin from one of their shipments. That is just to name a few and didn’t even include the stranger who was seen arguing with Isabel just hours before her death.

The police have too many suspects and too many soft alibis. Leah needs to prove to the sexy new chief of police that she had nothing to do with Isabel’s death.

Leah loves a good mystery. Can she find the killer before the police arrest her for murder?

Enjoy an excerpt:

It was a quarter to eight before I was finally ready to leave. I went to the bathroom, gathered up the trash, and headed out the door. The sleet was still falling, and I could feel the ice pellets hitting my head. I hurried over to the dumpster setting the trash down by the bin. I pulled back the large lid and propped it against the brick wall. As I reached down for the trash, I saw something out of the corner of my eye.

I looked into the dumpster and saw Isabel Meeks staring back at me. It took my brain a few moments to determine she wasn’t actually looking at me but sitting perfectly still, eyes wide open, a surprised look on her face, and a huge bloodstain on her chest. I had never seen a dead body outside of a funeral so I did what any rational, mature human being would do. I screamed. I then turned and ran as fast as I could back to the store. I fumbled with the lock a moment but finally managed to get the door open. I even disabled the alarm before stumbling to my chair. I sat there shaking and staring at the door trying to process the scene. An image of Isabel flashed into my head, and I bolted from my chair and to the bathroom where I promptly lost my lunch.

Still a little shaky and somewhat nauseated, I rinsed out my mouth and walked back to the chair. I don’t know why it took me so long, but it finally occurred to me that I probably needed to tell someone. So for the second time that day, I reached for my phone to call the police.

About the Author:

B. L. Blair writes simple and sweet romance and mystery/romance stories. Like most authors, she has been writing most of her life and has dozens of books started. She just needs the time to finish them.

She is the author of the Holton Romance Series and the Leah Norwood Mysteries. She enjoys reading books, writing books, and traveling wherever and as often as time and money allows. She is currently working on her latest book set in Texas, where she lives with her family.

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The Insanity of Murder by Felicity Young – Spotlight and Giveaway



This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Felicity will be awarding an eCopy of The Insanity of Murder to 3 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

To Doctor Dody McCleland, the gruesome job of dealing with the results of an explosion at the Necropolis Railway Station is testing enough. But when her suffragette sister Florence is implicated in the crime, matters worsen and Dody finds her loyalty cruelly divided. Can she choose between love for her sister and her secret love for Chief Inspector Matthew Pike, the investigating officer on the case?

Dody and Pike’s investigations lead them to a women’s rest home where patients are not encouraged to read or think and where clandestine treatments and operations are conducted in an unethical and inhumane manner. Together Dody and Pike must uncover such foul play before their secret liaisons become public knowledge – and before Florence becomes the rest home’s next victim.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Wake up, Miss Dody, wake up.’ Annie’s voice invaded Dody’s dreams. She screwed up her eyes under the lemony flare of the electric light and focused on her bedside clock — ten past three — and moaned.

‘Telephone call for you, miss. The police want a word,’ her maid said.

At the mention of police, Dody flung back the bedclothes and allowed Annie to help her into her silk kimono and slippers.

‘Did the policeman give you his name?’

‘No, miss. But it weren’t Chief Inspector Pike if that’s what you were thinking.’

Annie never tired of showing her disapproval of Matthew Pike, a regular visitor to the house. In most households the maid would be disciplined for such impertinence, but in her own home Dody preferred to choose her battles. There were battles enough to cope with at the mortuary. She sighed, rubbed the sleep from her eyes and made her way down the three flights of stairs to the telephone in the hall.

Superintendent Shepherd’s fuss and bluster made his voice hard to hear above the static. She dug the telephone’s receiving device into her ear, only catching fragments of speech. ‘Necropolis Railway … explosion … bodies … Armageddon …’

‘You want me at the railway station now to help retrieve body parts?’ Dody translated.

The static on the line was swept away as if by a broom. ‘Miss, err, Doctor. Have you not listened to a word I’ve said?’

Battles, Dody reminded herself. ‘I’ll be there as soon as I can, sir.’ She set the earpiece back on its hook and turned to Annie who was hovering on the stairs. ‘Wake Fletcher, please, and have him bring the car to the front of the house. And give Florence my apologies when she gets up — I assume she’s home now? I’ll probably miss her at breakfast.’

Annie glanced back up the stairs and opened her mouth as if she were about to say something, then changed her mind. Dody had no time for playing games with the maid. ‘Lay my work clothes out on the bed, please.’

‘Cape too, Miss Dody?’

‘No, I think my black velvet coat is more appropriate. I will need full use of my hands and the cape will get in the way.’

The black will also hide the stains, Dody thought as she steeled herself for whatever the night had in store for her.

Headlamps from half a dozen police vans and several fire engines shone on what was left of the station. Fletcher parked on the other side of Westminster Bridge Road and opened the passenger door for Dody. As soon as she stepped from the car a police sergeant scurried over to her.

‘You can’t park ’ere, ma’am, the ’ole place is out-a-bounds.’ Behind him other policemen were attempting to erect wooden barricades around the perimeter of the bombsite, their progress hampered by a crowd of spectators, many wearing overcoats over their night things, jostling for a closer look at the carnage.

‘Give us a look!’

‘What’s goin’ on ’ere?’

‘That racket near shook me out of bed!’

‘This road needs to be blocked off too,’ the sergeant shouted over his shoulder before returning his attention to Dody.

‘I’m Doctor McCleland, senior autopsy assistant to Doctor Bernard Spilsbury. Superintendent Shepherd has requested my presence at the scene.’ Dody had to shout above the din of police whistles, clanging bells, and the cries of the onlookers. She had no formal identification with her, but found a letterhead from the Paddington Mortuary in her pocket and handed it over.

The sergeant glanced at it and nodded his head. ‘That’ll do. Come with me then, ma’am, and watch your step.’

Dody told Fletcher not to wait, that she would find a telephone and call when she needed a lift home. She followed the sergeant, picking her way across rippled tarmacadam that could have been shaped by the sea. A fire engine chugged past, heading away from the Necropolis Station, firemen clinging to its sides. Dull light reflected through the soot on the men’s once dazzling brass helmets. Another engine near a cluster of police vans broke away, also heading for home. Perhaps the fire is under control now, Dody thought. She could see no flames from the ruined station and only the occasional thin plume of smoke.

She had never seen the aftermath of an explosion before and the first thing that assaulted her senses was the appalling smell. A projectile must have penetrated a sewerage pipe near a public convenience and raw sewage flooded the area, motorcar headlamps dancing upon pools of effluent. After carefully stepping around one such evil-smelling mire, she found herself confronted by a miasma of other odours: brick dust, industrial-smelling smoke, and a metallic tang she guessed might be gunpowder. No odour of recent death, thank goodness. Now that was a smell to which she was accustomed.

About the Author:

I was born in Germany and educated at an English boarding school while my parents travelled the world with the British army. I think the long boring plane trips home played an important part in helping me to develop my creative imagination.

I settled with my parents in Western Australia in 1976, became a nurse, married young and had three children. Not surprisingly, it took ten years to complete an Arts degree (English lit) at UWA.

In 1990 my family and I moved to a small farm 40 kilometers NE of Perth (Western Australia) where I established a Suffolk sheep stud, reared orphan kangaroos and embarked upon a life of crime writing.

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Black Diamonds by Vogue – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Vogue will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on your tour.

MediaKit_BookCover_BlackDiamondsWithin the last year, acclaimed fashion designer, Carmen Davenport, has witnessed the ups and downs of being romantically linked to one of New York’s most prominent men. On the heel of her engagement to Jay Santiago, a Puerto Rican businessman, she learns her oldest daughter has been kidnapped. A direct result of an ongoing war between her fiancé and a disgruntled drug kingpin, Carmen becomes determined to put an official end to the conflict.

She sets out to track down her daughter only to be met with unforeseen obstacles. A criminal investigation, led by her soon-to-be ex-husband, Michael Kane, leaves her fiancé behind bars. Due to Jay’s incarceration, Carmen is placed in the care of his estranged cousin, Gully. He constantly reminds Carmen of the price of fame, ultimately forcing her to take matters in her own hands. Determined to bring her daughter to safety, she takes a no holds barred approach to ensure her daughter’s return.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Carmen raised her brow before looking at the alarm clock. It was a little past twelve, which meant she had been sleep for only three hours or so. Somehow, in between that time, something had happened to prompt a phone call. Instead of instantly thinking the worst, she told the man she was indeed Carmen.

“Mrs. Davenport, I hate to disturb you at this hour, but I am Detective Morris from the Copperton City Police Department. I’m calling because your vehicle was located at the corner of Middleton Avenue. For some reason, no one was in it. Now, the number I’m calling is a New York number. Did you recently move to Copperton City from New York?”

“No, no,” Carmen repeated as she continued to wipe her face. “I’m not in Georgia. I have two daughters who are. The car is a Lexus, right? You said you located it where?”

“Mrs. Davenport, the car is a Lexus, and it’s in your name. We located it at the corner of Middleton Avenue and Parrish. No one was in it, but the front windshield has been shattered as well as the driver’s side window. The car is badly damaged, but no one took anything. There was even a purse and cell phone located in the car. A wallet was also there with money, debit cards, and credit cards still inside. The driver’s license we found was for a Kristian Kane. Do you know her?”

“That’s my daughter,” Carmen yelped, now fully awake. She pushed the bed sheets away from her just as Jay’s arm latched onto hers.

“Who is it?” Jay asked, sitting up as well.

Carmen shook her head at him, pulling her arm away from his. To put even more space in between them, she stood from the bed, heading towards the balcony.

“Ma’am, most of the time in these situations, we find a victim and their property is gone. Since there wasn’t a victim found, we are ruling this as a kidnapping. We would like for you to come down to the station in the morning. That will give us enough time to piece together the details. Will you be able to make it by let’s say ten o’clock?”

While her face once held an expression of concern, it now became enraged at the detective’s words.

About the Author: MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_BlackDiamondsBorn and raised in Greenville, South Carolina, Vogue’s journey through the world of creative writing first began in middle school with poetry and songwriting. While the mix of rhythm and words was the initial passage to self-expression, it was the discovery of prose that opened the door to a world of endless possibilities. An avid reader of Urban Fiction, Vogue felt the need to create literary works that had an equal balance of street lit, drama, romance, and faith-based undertones.

A graduate of Winthrop University (Rock Hill, S.C.), possessing a bachelor’s degree in social work, Vogue, first birthed the idea of The Diamond Collection in the halls of her alma mater. In 2003, she put pen to paper and thus was created, Diamonds In The Rough, part one of The Diamond Collection series.

By 2010, Vogue had written drafts of the entire ten book series and in June of 2010, Diamonds In The Rough, was published for her to share with the rest of the world. Soon followed by Diamonds Are Forever in October of 2010 and The Ace of Diamonds in February of 2013, Vogue joined the league of other writers, determined to make her mark in the literary world.

Still writing, Vogue released the fourth book in the series, Black Diamonds, on July 4, 2015. She is currently working on Diamonds N’ Roses, the fifth installment of the series.

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