INTERVIEW and GIVEAWAY
(Penny Larkin Book 2)
(Penny Larkin Book 2)
by Rebecca Jean Downey
Devil Eye is Rebecca Jean Downey's second novel featuring Penny Larkin. Also available: The Middle Eye.
Devil Eye is currently on tour with Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my interview with the author, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.
When the U.S. Marshal wants to stop a sale of firearms to Mexico, he asks controlled remote viewer, Penny Larkin, to track down New Mexico gun runner, Juan Rico. Penny heads off to Columbus, New Mexico and winds up stranded on the Interstate during a dust storm. She is forced to use her gun to hold off a gang trying to high-jack her car. A man winds up dead and New Mexico State Trooper Johnny Trejo arrests Penny for the murder.
When Penny's boyfriend, El Paso County Sheriff Leo Tellez, comes to rescue Penny from the clutches of the law, he brings Adriana, the beautiful twin sister of Leo's dead wife. Penny is desperate to get out of jail to defend her relationship with Leo, but when she finally clears her name, she has to keep her word to the Marshal, and find Juan Rico first. While Penny is gone, Adriana lures Leo into a romantic encounter.
On the trail of Rico, Penny is kidnapped and dragged into Mexico by gun traffickers, along with their guns. This means certain death for Penny in a country where thousands of women have gone missing. It will be up to Penny to find a way to escape the gun runners and get back to the U.S., because no one knows she's missing.
Does Penny escape the clutches of the gun traffickers? Read Devil Eye and find out!
Penny slid her stocking feet across the hardwood floor of the hacienda’s massive living room, inching closer to the man relaxing in the leather chair. The shadows of the cavernous space, mingled with the subdued lighting, gave his face a yellow cast, and accentuated his gaunt cheeks. Even from ten feet away, Penny could tell he had not been well. She was so focused on the condition of the man’s health, that Pancho’s creeping up behind her, caught her off guard. He was carrying her pocketbook! “What are you doing with my bag?” She gasped, and grabbed for it.
“Si los pierdes! You lose it!” He elbowed her in the side, causing her to stumble and fall to the floor. She landed on her knees, and a knife-like pain shot up her right knee into her thigh. “Ahh!” She cried out, and the man in the chair laughed.
Pancho placed Penny’s purse in the man’s lap.
“Gracias, Pancho. Usted es un buen hombre.”
Penny managed to stand, determined to hold herself together, but her fingers were trembling and her eyes welling up with tears. Up until now, Penny thought she could talk her way out of this situation, but Pancho, in his fatigues, black boots and black beard, was a sinister presence in the dimly lit room. The man waved Pancho away, and he left.
He held her leather, hobo-style bag between his legs and rummaged through it, until he found Penny’s wallet and pulled out her driver’s license. “You won’t be doing any more driving! I’m going to keep this as a little token of our meeting.” He waved her license in the air, laughed again, and then shoved his hand deeper inside the bag. “There’s always something more in a woman’s handbag. I’ve learned that the hard way.” His chuckle came from the depth of his throat, causing him to choke on phlegm. He coughed several times, and wiped his mouth with a napkin lying on the side table, that also held the lamp. He pulled out Penny’s cell phone, which she noticed, somewhat hopefully, was still flashing green. That was good news. Perhaps someone could track her after all! He saw the green light, too, and dropped the phone to the floor and smashed it with his foot. Penny couldn’t help but express her anger. “You son of a bitch!” Her cell phone was her best chance of getting help because even if she could convince the man to let her go, how would she get back to the United States without someone coming for her? For the first time, hope slithered away, like a snake seeking sunlight on a cold afternoon. She felt an aching behind her eyes, and a pressure inside her nose, like her head was going to explode. She wanted to reach over and knock this little pittance of a man back on his heels. She tightened her fists, holding herself in check, only to remember that her right hand was bruised. This time the tears streamed down her face, and rolled beneath the neck of her sweatshirt, on to her chest.
“Miss Penny Larkin. I know you are wondering why I brought you to my ranch. And I will be up front with you, I can’t let you go back home. Federico Castañón tells me you are too smart for your own good.”
Penny was stunned! She had been foolish to tell the mayor she was working as an investigator. No wonder he had run from the Gas n Go like a coward!
The man rifled through her bag again, until he found her U.S. Marshal’s badge. “What do we have here? Federico thought you were a private detective. He had no clue you are working for the feds! This makes life so much more entertaining.” Penny could see his teeth, all white and perfect, as he smiled at her.
She had to keep her wits about her. She recognized that things would only get worse, if she reacted in fear. Guys like this got off on hurting women. He may have a bad arm, but he was surrounded with bullies who could do the damage for him. All he had to do was sit back and watch her take a beating. She wiped the tears with her fingers and crossed her arms, widening her stance. Her stocking feet were slick, making it tough to keep standing that way, but she was sure going to try.
The man smiled as he watched Penny’s aggressive body language. “Federico had followed you and tried to stop you on the highway during the dust storm. He hadn’t counted on you being armed. Instead he framed you for the murder of an informant they had with them—a traitor he and his men were planning to kill anyway. I guess the ballistics from your gun didn’t match up because you’re here and not in jail. It would have been safer for you to still be under suspicion.”
Penny’s face flushed, and she could feel the blood pounding through the veins on the back of her neck. She felt violated! This ugly man knew everything about her and she still didn’t know his name.
“Who are you?” she asked. Her voice was hoarse, and her throat cracked. She may wind up buried in the desert, but she would die without finding out the truth.
“My name is Martin Romero. You have heard of me?”
“No.” She waved her hand in dismissal, brushing him off like the maggot he was.
“People call me El Acero. You can call me ‘Steel.’ You may know my nephew, Juan Rico.”
Penny was way passed being stunned by this news. Nothing surprised her now. “So you’re Rico’s contact for running guns.” She had nothing to lose. She might as well as solve the case right now, even though she would probably never live to see it prosecuted.
Steel dropped her pocketbook on to the floor. Her marshal’s badge lay on the table, along with her driver’s license. “Miss Larkin. My great grandfather, Rodrigo Romero was a trafficker of weapons during the Mexican revolution. He helped Pancho Villa arm his rebels, who, in turn, fought valiantly to save the Mexican people from dictatorship and from greedy landholders. This was his ranch, and I am simply carrying on the tradition of being a freedom fighter for my country.”
I’m going to have my housekeeper, Margarita, walk you to your room. Please enjoy your stay, until the time when you must leave us. How long that is depends on how well you behave. And by the way, we’re serving dinner at 8. He pointed to the dining area across the room, where a man, dressed in a white chef’s coat, was setting the table. “I’ve left some of my wife’s clothes in your room. You’re about her size. She doesn’t need them anymore.”
Penny didn’t know if that meant his wife had left him, or was dead, or ran around naked. It was just was well. She was so angry that all she could think about was getting away from this perverted animal.
She heard the tapping of high heels against the wood floor, and saw a tiny woman, with a long black braid and dark olive skin, moving toward to her. “You come, por favor.” Margarita waved her bony, long fingers, motioning for Penny to follow her.
“Don’t bother trying to escape.” Steel called to her, as she followed Margarita down a long hallway, lighted with brass sconces and decorated with an expensive-looking Oriental rug. The intricate pattern on the floor made Penny dizzy to look at it, so she looked straight ahead at the little woman, who moved swiftly to Penny’s room.
“There’s nothing between here and Juárez except rattle snakes and wolves. So don’t get it in your head to do anything foolish.”
Praise for the Book
"What is uncanny about Rebecca's gift for weaving a story is her keen sense of how to blend shock, horror, 'paranormal' (for lack of a better word), romance, history, and sense of place and atmosphere and make it all appear as seamless and integrated as an untouched spider's web." ~ Grady Harp
"Devil Eye is a fun adventure from the beginning to the last page. I am very excited to have found a new author with such a delightful cast of characters." ~ Sandy
"Rebecca Downey's second thriller is a winner and a must read! Hard to improve from her first novel - The Middle Eye, that launched the Penny Larkin series, but Devil Eye kicks it up a notch and keeps you turning the pages." ~ Jennifer Sturges
"This book is a wild ride that takes the reader in pursuit of ruthless gun traffickers. Penny Larkin gets far more involved in bringing down corruption than anyone expected. The heroes have all the depth, complexities, flaws and development through life that reminded me how raw it is to be human. A few times when I had to put the book down to go about my day I found myself thinking about the characters and wondering how they were doing. Crazy, I know, but that’s how fully I was drawn in as a reader. I hope this series continues. I look forward to Penny Larkin’s next adventures." ~ Hope Russell
"Engaging story relevant to our current struggles with border issues." ~ Barbara Ehrhardt
Interview With the Author
Hi Rebecca. Tell us a little about your background.
After graduation from Indiana University, my first job was as a newspaper reporter for a small Midwestern daily. I was assigned to the courts and crime beat, and became fascinated with the criminal justice system. Even though I have spent much of my professional life as a writer in higher education, I have continued to freelance for law enforcement journals, interviewing local, state and federal officials. One of the highlights of this experience was interviewing the warden at the Federal prison where Timothy McVeigh was executed.
Today I can look out the window of my seventh story office and see my neighbors in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, going to and from work and school. I remain inspired by the resilience and courage of the Mexican people, who have experienced incredible violence and even death amid warring drug cartels. In fact my novel, Devil Eye, is dedicated to the people of Mexico.
What inspired you to write your first book, The Middle Eye?
In 2008, there was hardly a citizen in El Paso, Texas that had not been impacted by the violence in Mexico. We all knew someone who had died. To date more than 70,000 people have been killed and many more thousands have gone missing across Mexico, especially women. I began writing The Middle Eye as a way of dealing with the blood bath just across the river from my office. When a bullet from Mexico hit one of our university buildings, it reinforced my commitment to tell the many stories about Mexico.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they ask?
I hear from readers all of the time. They are especially interested to know if what I write about really happened. The answer is, yes, my stories are taken from the headlines, but the names and places have been changed. They are also very invested in Penny Larkin’s love life. Penny is the heroine of my two published novels and the third one still in process. They offer advice on who Penny should choose to marry. I listen!
Thanks so much for stopping by today, Rebecca. Enjoy the rest of your tour!
About the Author
Rebecca Jean Downey is a thriller author with her eyes on the U.S.-Mexico border. Inspiration for her novels are plucked right out of the headlines or from interviews with law enforcement sources, journalists and other experts on border crime. She and her husband, Mike, live in El Paso, Texas, with their two rescue dogs, Riley and Skye.
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win an ebook copy of Devil Eye by Rebecca Jean Downey.