Wednesday, July 9, 2014

"Battle Not With Monsters" by Overton Scott

Battle Not With Monsters
(A Neen Ford Thriller Book 1)
by Overton Scott

Battle Not With Monsters is the first book in Overton Scott's Neen Ford Thriller series. Also available: Dead Wasps (A Neen Ford Short Story) (FREE on B&N and Smashwords).

Battle Not With Monsters is currently on tour with Xpresso Book Tours. The tour stops here today for an excerpt and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

Neen Ford is a loner, drifting from town to town, working as a security guard and teaching martial arts. One hot night in Dallas, she witnesses the brutal murder of a Ukranian prostitute and becomes the killer’s next target. Neen’s never backed down from a fight, but she’s never tangled with a human trafficking ring before. Until now.
Naïve young women are being trafficked into the United States by Russian criminals. Someone needs to help them. The police are trying, but they’re not moving fast enough for Neen, who is now being stalked by a man who enjoys inflicting pain.
How far will Neen go to save herself? How far, to save three young women from a life of fear and despair? And what price will she pay for battling the monster? There’s a thin line between hero and vigilante – will she cross it?

Neen lay awake for hours, watching the luminous numbers changing on her alarm clock. Her brain refused to shut down. It whirred incessantly, replaying the events of the last few days. Ray’s funeral. The drug-addled prostitute outside Jo Easterly’s office. The bearded priest with the guileless smile. Do priests lie? Neen pondered the question as the numbers ticked over. Keegan had seemed amiable and honest. Good qualifications for a priest. He was a gentleman, too. He’d walked her to her car and opened the door for her. But his demeanor had altered when she’d asked whether any prostitutes had come to him. The change had been subtle: the slightest rigidity in his shoulders, the guarded expression on his face. A terseness to his voice that hadn’t been there before. Had he been shocked by the question, or did he know something he was unwilling to share with her? Or was she imagining the priest had reacted because she had nothing else to go on?
Neen turned on her side and drew the sheet up under her chin, composed herself to sleep. Took a deep breath, then another, willing the priest to disappear from her thoughts. But as soon as he did, unbidden images began to flash across her mind, like the grainy images of a blurred film:  the impact of the bat against Ray’s skull, the blonde girl’s stumbling run into the camera’s view. Even when she dozed off the hazy pictures returned. Her body twitched and she woke with a start, heart pounding, sweat glazing her forehead. Then the cycle repeated itself. Replay the conversations with Jo Easterly and Keegan. See the pale, angular face of the man wielding the bat.
Sometime between two and three in the morning, she fell into a fitful sleep, her legs moving restlessly beneath the covers, her breathing erratic. A sound brought her to consciousness. She lay still for a moment, puzzled. Something had awakened her. She hadn’t jerked awake suddenly, her sleep disturbed by a car horn or a siren wailing on Beltline Road. And she could tell that it wasn’t time to get up yet. Neen was an early riser, a creature of habit who sprang out of bed each morning at six for a three mile run. But it could not be six already. It was still dark outside; the room was lit only by the diffused white-blue light from the street lamp in the parking lot, the soft glow from her alarm clock. She glanced at it. Three forty-seven a.m. 
Then the sound came again, and she was fully awake, her pulse hammering in her throat. She recognized the sound. She heard it several times each day. The front door of her apartment was opening, the uneven edge of the door frame snagging against the carpet, creating a faint, rasping noise. 
She grabbed her cell phone and pushed away the covers, mentally scrolling through her options.
The casement window, with two tall, rectangular glass panes, was on the other side of the room. She could be at the window in a second, but then she had to crank it open, wide enough so that she could pop out the screen and slide through the opening. There wasn’t time.
The bedroom door was open. There was a lock on it, but both it and the door were flimsy things. One kick and the intruder would be inside, even if Neen had time to get to the door, swing it shut, and turn the lock. 
Her closet was steps away, but there was no way to secure the sliding door, and in any event, whoever was in her apartment would hear her scrambling for safety, would hear the sound of the door as she closed it. She’d be a sitting duck in there, cowering among her clothes. 
She heard a stealthy footstep, sensed movement in the hall. There wasn’t even time to call the police.  
Neen left the cell phone on the bed and darted to the bedroom door. She swung in behind it, pushing it forward until it stood out at a forty-five degree angle from the frame. The intruder could walk in easily, but now the door provided a hiding place. Neen pressed her back against the wall, and waited. 
It was dark in the hall, darker than the bedroom, which was dimly lit from the streetlamp. Neen felt, rather than heard, the intruder approach. An inky presence, not yet a human form, moving cautiously. The whisper of steps in the hallway. An almost imperceptible shift in the physical structure as those steps reverberated through the timber frame of the building. The soft susurration of labored breathing.
Neen’s own breath was rapid, and shallow. It sounded loud in the silence. The saliva in her mouth had dried up, and her throat felt raw. Her skin hummed with electricity.
The intruder paused in the doorway. She felt his presence, a malignant aura that swept over her like a wave. She saw, in the crack between the door and the wall, the darkness turn a darker shade as his shadow blotted out the faint light in the bedroom. The intruder was a man, which Neen had instinctively assumed, but now that fact was confirmed. She could smell his body odor, ripe, masculine, sexual.
He stepped into the bedroom. 

Featured Review
How refreshing that we can get a new suspense series with a woman as a hero and the author doesn't give it all away in the first book. I'm looking forward to future books with more background, more fights more guns and maybe some twisty mysteries!

About the Author
Overton Scott is the pseudonym of a national bestselling author. Overton is interested in a lot of themes covered in the Neen Ford stories: martial arts, the warrior ethos, personal responsibility, and the concept of justice. Like Neen, Overton doesn’t think that the guilty should escape punishment on this earth. Unlike Neen, Overton prefers to write stories rather than take the law into his own hands. It’s just as morally satisfying, but less dangerous.
As you are reading this, Overton should be working on the next Neen Ford adventure. But he’s probably at the gym, shooting or wasting time looking at funny pictures on the internet.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of two signed copies of Battle Not With Monsters by Overton Scott (open internationally).