Showing posts with label crime. Show all posts
Showing posts with label crime. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

"Casino Girl" by Leslie Wolfe

EXCERPT and GIVEAWAY
Casino Girl
(Baxter and Holt Book 2)
by Leslie Wolfe

Casino Girl (Baxter and Holt Book 2) by Leslie Wolfe

Casino Girl is the second book in the Baxter and Holt series by Leslie Wolfe. Get your copy today for only $0.99. Also available: Las Vegas Girl and Las Vegas Crime (pre-order now, releases 16 November).

Las Vegas Girl by Leslie WolfeLas Vegas Crime by Leslie Wolfe


Casino Girl is currently on tour with Silver Dagger Book Tours. The tour stops here today for an excerpt and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.


Description
In Las Vegas, secrets are deadly.
Detectives Laura Baxter and Jack Holt are members of the elite: Las Vegas Metro PD, one of the toughest and most respected law enforcement agencies in the United States. In the middle of a city with two million residents and 43 million annual visitors, they’re hunting for a killer.
The girl
When a beautiful, young girl is killed in the high-roller Pleasure Pit of the exclusive Scala Casino, the news reverberates for hours among the ritzy clientele. Before taking the stage where she found her death, Crystal was last seen boarding an unmarked helicopter for a late-night flight to an unknown destination.
The money
The stakes are high at the roulette table, and the players are hot-blooded. Among them, a stone-cold killer watches, waits, and kills without leaving a single trace of evidence. Rien ne va plus but death.
The game
The name of the game is murder, and it doesn’t stop with Crystal’s demise. Anyone who threatens to expose the killer’s identity will soon find they’re being targeted.
In Las Vegas, secrets can kill.
Two mavericks make an intriguing team. Baxter and Holt trust each other with their lives, only not with their darkest secrets.


Excerpt
1
Odds
They’re called quasi-strippers.
They don’t really bare it all, like real strippers do behind the darkened glass doors of specialty adult clubs, but they aren’t exactly fully dressed either while they perform.
Crystal preferred the term exotic dancer. Five nights a week she took the small stage at the center of the high-limit blackjack tables, in the glamorous Scala Casino. Five nights a week she danced and smiled and undulated her perfect body to the rhythm of sultry songs, carefully chosen to lure the gamblers’ attention away from the cards and the ever-diminishing stacks of their chips. In the background, nothing is more Vegas than the Scala Casino floor, filled with a million noises, dazzling lights, and excess adrenaline. Nothing is more alive.
That’s where she belonged, among the glitter and the gold, the glitzy and the rich.
She wore strappy lingerie with black and gold lace accents on beige silk, designed to trick the mind’s eye into believing she was naked. Black, knee-high stiletto boots completed her attire, her black, garter-belt straps attached to them, sexy and kinky and fun. The appreciative looks she basked in that night told her she’d chosen her ensemble well. It was going to be a profitable evening.
The familiar music seemed a bit too loud, making her wince, a little dizzy. She grabbed the pole tighter, aware she was dancing out of rhythm, but knowing the customers were too far gone to notice. It was almost four in the morning, and by that time, most of them were pleasantly inebriated, high on their own excitement and maybe more, living the Vegas dream.
The only danger was that asshole, Farley, a fat, lewd pig who liked to scream at the girls, giving them a hard time for everything they did, right or wrong regardless. Two minutes of being late or changing clothes mid-shift and she’d get pulled inside the pit manager’s office for another scolding session.
But she held her head up during those moments, aware they were going to pass and even more aware they were meant to intimidate her into offering sexual favors in return for a privileged work atmosphere.
Oh, hell, no.
Not ever. Not even if the prick turned blue in the face from too much screaming, or his waiting-to-happen stroke knocked him dead right before her eyes.
But even Stan Farley was looking away that moment, focused on a newly arrived high roller who’d taken a seat at one of the blackjack tables with a view of the stage. She didn’t know that one, but judging by the way Farley fawned over him, he must’ve been someone important.
Someone rich.
Someone who didn’t care that the odds at his blackjack table were stacked higher against him, just because the table came with a view of full inviting cleavage and tight little buns.
Hers.
She felt beads of sweat bursting at the roots of her hair and forced some stale air into her lungs. Maybe the air conditioning was off, or something. The cigar smoke made it almost unbreathable, but it was an acceptable tradeoff for being allowed to work the high roller pit, not some fifty-cents-minimum roulette floor, where the tips were always Washingtons, never a Franklin and rarely a Lincoln, and not a whole lot of them to count at the end of a shift anyway.
No, she’d been lucky, and her luck had started to play in her favor about a month after she’d been hired. For that she probably had Devine to thank.
Her sweaty palms made it difficult for her to get a good grip on the shiny, chrome pole, but she managed a back hook spin and landed facing Devine. Her best friend danced some 30 feet away, on a small, elevated stage set among four, high-limit, roulette tables.
She waited until she could make eye contact with Devine and waved discreetly at her best friend. Just seeing her smile back made her feel less lonely, less vulnerable. Maybe she was going to be okay. Maybe things would work out after all.
Without realizing, she put her palm on her belly in a soft, caressing gesture, aimed to comfort the tiny sparkle of life growing inside her. She wasn’t showing a baby bump yet, but soon that would change, and with it, her entire life as she knew it.
She skipped out of rhythm again, but soon snapped out of her trance, motivated by Farley’s mean glare. She focused on her customers for a while and, within a few minutes of smiling provocatively and wiggling her rear, a crisp fifty-dollar bill landed under the thin strap of her thong, delivered by long, hairy fingers that reached lower and lingered longer than was necessary.
Sometimes she was happy the payout was 6:5 instead of 3:2 on a blackjack at the tables facing her; those jerks deserved to pay.
But she smiled at the man who’d delivered the tip and mocked a reverence without letting go of the pole. Then she let herself fall into a back bend and frowned when she saw Farley was approaching.
“What the hell is wrong with you, huh?” he snapped, after grabbing her arm and pulling her close. The music was loud, and no one could hear his words; not that anyone would care if they did. “Could you be bothered to do your job tonight? A deaf penguin has more rhythm than you.”
“I’m working it, Stan, what the hell? I haven’t taken a break in two hours.”
“The hell you are, bitch. You see those bozos? If they’re looking at their cards instead of your ass, you ain’t earning your keep.”
He let go of her arm and disappeared before she could say anything. He was a two-faced creep; with her and the other girls he showed his real charm. For all the patrons and the rest of the Scala staff, he was a perfect gentleman, always dressed in an impeccable suit and starched, white shirts, pleasantly smiling and accommodating.
She knew better than to let him get under her skin.
But her head was spinning, and she held on tight to the pole, not as part of her routine, but for much-needed balance. The music changed, and she welcomed the new beat, one of her favorites. She knew the playlist by heart; the casino had a limited supply of premixed tracks, but the customers didn’t seem to care.
Cheers erupted at the table in front of her, and one of the players lifted his arms in the air, beaming. The croupier pushed an impressive pile of chips in front of the man, and she quickly flashed her megawatt smile and made lingering eye contact. He didn’t disappoint; he picked one of the chips and sent it flying her way. She caught it gracefully, then placed it on the floor, next to the pole. Her barely-there panties weren’t made to hold casino chips.
When she looked up, she startled.
It was him. It was Paul, and he was furious, by the angle of his eyebrows, by the deep ridges flanking his mouth.
He stood right there, next to her stage, glaring at her with a loaded gaze filled with such hatred that her breath caught. He beckoned her to come closer without making a single gesture. She approached him hesitantly and crouched to bring their eyes on the same level, aware not even Farley would dare say a word. She shot a quick glance toward Devine’s stage, but she was gone, nowhere in sight.
His eyes drilled into hers, close enough she could see his dilated pupils. Without a word, he shoved a purple and white chip deep inside her bra, then grabbed the thin strap, pulling her closer to him. He said something, keeping his voice low and menacing. She couldn’t make out his words but didn’t dare to ask. She wanted to explain herself, wanted him to understand her motives, but she couldn’t find her words.
She didn’t want his money, and she didn’t deserve his anger.
When he finally let go of her strap and pushed her away, she almost fell. Her knees were shaking, and she felt the urge to sit for a moment, to catch her breath. She grabbed the pole tightly and did a clumsy back slide against the shiny surface, landing hard on her butt, then folded her legs to the side. She let her head hang low, and her long, wavy hair covered her face, hiding the fear in her eyes until it subsided a little.
Then she wrapped her hands around the pole again, planning to stand and do a pirouette, but her arms and legs felt numb, listless. She tried to breathe, but air refused to enter her lungs. Frantic, she looked around, searching for someone, anyone, who could help. Only one man was looking at her, but her desperate and silent plea was misunderstood.
The man licked his lips, arranged his crotch with a quick gesture, then looked away at another dancer.
She gasped for air a couple of times, then the bright lights of the casino seemed to dim, inviting darkness to engulf her view of the lively floor. Silence came, heavy, palpable. Against it, not even her own heart beats could be heard.
Defeated, she let go. Her body landed on the stage floor with a loud thump that no one heard. Unnoticed, a white and purple casino chip fell out of her top and rolled onto the floor, stopping under a table.
For a long moment, Farley thought the immobile pose was part of Crystal’s routine, some new dance move that she was trying. Customers really enjoyed seeing girls crawling on the stage; it made the viewers feel powerful, superior, in control. By the time Farley realized he’d been wrong, she was already gone. His chubby fingers felt for a pulse and found nothing.
Now he’d have to call the cops and close the pit. His worst nightmare.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]


Praise for the Book
“This was well thought out and really a good mystery. The story unfolds little by little, making you want more. It has murder, powerful people who believe they can do anything they want, greed, revenge and self preservation. The characters are all interesting with their own set of secrets each, that Baxter and Holt have to pick through layer after layer to find the killer. There are several twists that keep you guessing. There are no misspelled words or grammar mistakes, or filler pages, which makes this a pleasure to read. I sincerely hope we see more of Baxter and Holt in the future. Another well thought out and well written story by Leslie Wolfe.” ~ PWA
“This story will take your breathe away! Leslie Wolfe has become one of my Must Read authors. […] I would highly recommend this book if you like thrillers.” ~ Cheryl Pompilii
“This book has it all: murder, mystery and intrigue! Not only is there a great plot, there are several good subplots masterfully woven in. There is no shortage of suspects - everyone from another dancer to billionaires. This thriller moves along at a decent pace from the beginning and will keep your attention until the end.” ~ Gabi Rosetti
“Satisfying murder mystery with continuous twists and turns. My kind of book. A really good sequel to Las Vegas Girl. Best to read it first for more info on the relationship between Baxter and Holt. Good editing, which is greatly appreciated. No fillers, long paragraphs. I read it in one day. Looking forward to the next sequel. Love this duo!” ~ Astrida M.
“Bestselling author Leslie Wolfe weaves another great mystery, thriller and suspense, with intriguing twists and turns that will easily captivate the reader’s attention from the beginning. The author paints a gripping and mesmerizing detective story in a very vivid and convincing way. In addition, the characters are drawn with great credibility and conviction. It’s a fast-paced novel that will keep you engaged from the first page to the last.” ~ Piaras

About the Author
Leslie Wolfe
Leslie Wolfe is a bestselling author whose novels break the mold of traditional thrillers. She creates unforgettable, brilliant, strong women heroes who deliver fast-paced, satisfying suspense, backed up by extensive background research in technology and psychology.
Leslie released the first novel, Executive, in October 2011. It was very well received, including inquiries from Hollywood. Since then, Leslie published numerous novels and enjoyed growing success and recognition in the marketplace. Among Leslie’s most notable works, The Watson Girl (2017) was recognized for offering a unique insight into the mind of a serial killer and a rarely seen first person account of his actions, in a dramatic and intense procedural thriller.
Leslie enjoys engaging with readers every day and would love to hear from you.

Giveaway
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win $1000 cash in the gift card of your choice.


Links

Friday, May 25, 2018

"Don’t Believe It" by Charlie Donlea

REVIEW and GIVEAWAY
Don’t Believe It
by Charlie Donlea

Don’t Believe It  by Charlie Donlea

Don’t Believe It by Charlie Donlea is currently on tour with Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my review, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.


Description
From acclaimed author Charlie Donlea comes a twisting, impossible-to-put-down novel of suspense in which a filmmaker helps clear a woman convicted of murder - only to find she may be a puppet in a sinister game.
The Girl of Sugar Beach is the most watched documentary in television history - a riveting, true-life mystery that unfolds over twelve weeks and centers on a fascinating question: Did Grace Sebold murder her boyfriend, Julian, while on a Spring Break vacation, or is she a victim of circumstance and poor police work? Grace has spent the last ten years in a St. Lucian prison, and reaches out to filmmaker Sidney Ryan in a last, desperate attempt to prove her innocence.
As Sidney begins researching, she uncovers startling evidence, additional suspects, and timeline issues that were all overlooked during the original investigation. Before the series even finishes filming, public outcry leads officials to reopen the case. But as the show surges towards its final episodes, Sidney receives a letter saying that she got it badly, terribly wrong.
Sidney has just convinced the world that Grace is innocent. Now she wonders if she has helped to free a ruthless killer. Delving into Grace’s past, she peels away layer after layer of deception. But as Sidney edges closer to the real heart of the story, she must decide if finding the truth is worth risking her newfound fame, her career ... even her life.

Excerpt
Chapter 1
Hewanorra International Airport
St. Lucia
March 2017
Ten Years Later
SIDNEY RYAN FINISHED TAPPING ON HER COMPUTER, SAVED HER FILE, and folded the laptop closed. She reached under the seat and slipped it into her carry-on. The popping in her ears told her they had started their descent. She pulled a thick folder from her bag, opened it, and removed the maiden letter that had started her journey.
Dear Sidney,
It's been a while. Fifteen years? Congratulations on all your success. I've followed your career, as you can imagine, quite closely. You are a champion for those who cannot help themselves. As I'm sure you are aware, your accomplishments have echoed far beyond those who have directly benefited. For those like myself, whose fates have long ago been determined, you give hope that somehow things can still change.
I'll assume you know my story. And I hope this letter makes it into your hands. You are, quite literally, my last chance. I've exhausted the appeals process. It is different here than in the States. I've learned the St. Lucian justice system well over the last decade. There are no more loopholes to find, and no more formalities to follow. From this point forward, I can count on only one thing to help me — a re-examination of the evidence. Without it, I will spend my life here. And with each year that passes, it feels as though fewer and fewer people are looking at my case. Lately it seems that no one remembers me besides my family.
I'm writing you, Sidney, to ask you to consider helping an old friend. Of course, I understand no promises can be made. And I'm able to offer nothing in the way of compensation. Yet, I still find myself writing to you. I have no one else to ask.
My attorney and I can provide you with every bit of information about my case. Perhaps, if you look through it all, you will see what so many others have missed.
Thank you, Sidney, for anything you can do for an old friend.
Yours Sincerely, Grace Sebold
Sidney folded the letter and looked out the window. The plane was on a gentle glide and ready to set down in the ocean when a runway reached out and grabbed the Airbus A330 to pull it safely onto dry land. A five-minute taxi settled the plane on the tarmac just outside the terminal doors. Everyone onboard opened overhead compartments and gathered bags. Sidney walked through the plane's exit door and stepped onto the landing of the staircase, where the humid Caribbean air quickly worked her skin to a glistening shine. She took the stairs to the tarmac and felt the heat of the pavement rise in invisible flames around her. The camera crew sorted their equipment as she headed into the terminal. Through customs thirty minutes later, she bounced in the backseat of the taxi van as the driver navigated the rolling mountains of St. Lucia and the twisting roads that cut through their slopes.
Hills lush with rain forest filled the windows of the taxi for most of the sixty-minute ride. Eventually the driver shifted to a lower gear and the van strained to climb a steep bank. As they crested the precipice on the outskirts of the Jalousie Plantation, the ocean came into view across the valley. In the middle of the afternoon, the water carried an emerald brilliance, and from such an elevated vantage point looked almost cartoonish as it smoldered bright cobalt in the area near shore, melting to a deeper navy farther out to sea.
The driver began the descent into the valley toward Sugar Beach Resort. Contrasting the journey to this point, which had been defined by a series of steep inclines barely conquered by the taxi van's straining engine, the ride down into the valley came with the constant squeak of brakes and slow turns around hairpins. The deeper they ventured into the basin, the higher the twin volcanic plugs of Gros Piton and Petit Piton rose on either side of them. The prehistoric nature of the precipitous mountains gave Sidney the sense of heading into Jurassic Park.
Finally the van made the last turn and tall iron gates parted as they approached the entrance to the resort. The humidity again mugged her when the door slid open and Sidney climbed from the van.
"Ms. Ryan," a staff member said, extending a basket of ice-cold hand towels. "Welcome to Sugar Beach."
Sidney draped the towel across the back of her neck.
"The staff will manage your bags," the woman said in a pleasant Caribbean accent. "Your firm has already arranged check-in, so your room is waiting."
Sidney nodded and followed the woman onto a path lined by Lansan trees, the shade of which offered a reprieve from the heat. The staffer pointed out landmarks as they walked.
"The spa is that way," she said, pointing. "It's world renowned and highly recommended. Built directly into the rain forest."
Sidney smiled and nodded, surveying the treehouse–like structures built within the forest and the wooden staircases that twirled down to the ground.
The woman pointed in the other direction. "This path will take you to the beach."
Overhanging branches of palm trees cocooned the long cobblestone walkway. Their heavy fronds rustled in the ocean breeze toward the far end of the path, where a spot of bright sunshine and surf was just visible from where Sidney stood.
They made one more turn. "And here is your cottage."
The woman keyed the door and allowed Sidney to enter the posh room, the furniture of which was white and immaculate. Dark cherrywood floors shone brightly with afternoon sunlight that spilled through the windows and French doors.
"The bar is stocked with anything you might like — water, juice, and soda. Spirits as well. Your bags should arrive shortly."
"Thank you," Sidney said. She glanced at the placard outside the door: 306.
"Yes," the woman said, recognizing the question in Sidney's eyes. "This was the room she stayed in."
Sidney nodded.
"Please call if you need anything," the woman said.
"Thank you."
Sidney closed the cottage door and allowed the air-conditioned interior to cool her body and unstick her shirt from her skin. She looked around the room, moving her gaze from the shining wooden floors to the lush bathroom accommodations, to the sun-drenched patio, and finally to the plush four-poster bed, with its brilliant white comforter. She ran her hand over the thick blanket before sitting on the edge.
Ten years earlier, Grace Sebold had slept in this very room the night Julian Crist was killed.

Praise for the Book
“Donlea’s use of the documentary format helped build and maintain suspense. He tapped into the American passion for true crime to write the story and it worked well.” ~ Bea’s Book Nook
“Charlie Donlea is definitely an author to watch out for. Five stars is not enough praise for this story.” ~ Sinfully Wicked Book Reviews
“The author did a fantastic job of drawing me into the story and keeping me interested. The last sentence of the book left me hungry for more ...” ~ Book Babble
“A perfectly executed and entirely satisfying read, Don't Believe It is a gripping thriller that will blow readers away, from the first page right up to the very last words. Charlie Donlea's best book yet!” ~ Mary Kubica, author of Pretty Baby and The Good Girl


My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.
Ten years ago, Grace was convicted of killing her boyfriend on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. Sidney, a reporter who has gained the reputation for getting convictions overturned, decides to film a documentary on the case and travels to St. Lucia for research. It looks like Grace might be innocent, but when new information comes to light, which is more important? The ratings or the truth?
Sidney’s story on the making of the documentary is interspersed with scenes from her documentary. As Sidney herself pitches it to her network: “The episodes will be a retelling of events, as I understand them. A mix of reenactments as well as live footage of my investigation. The audience will discover what I discover as I discover it.” This format gives the narrative urgency, as Sidney is on a deadline each week to come up with the material for the next episode. The author uses multiple viewpoints to tell the story; some (like the taxi driver’s) are totally unnecessary. Unfortunately, there is also a bit of head-hopping in some scenes. The ending takes the story in a different direction to what I was expecting and, while the story is complete, it is open to the possibility of a sequel.
An engrossing read.

Favorite Quote
“Can life really be started over? Can you simply turn the page in the notebook of life that has recorded your history and start writing a fresh story?”

About the Author
Charlie Donlea
USA Today bestselling author Charlie Donlea was born and raised in Chicago. He now lives in the suburbs with his wife and two young children.









Giveaway
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of three print copies of Don’t Believe It by Charlie Donlea (US only).

Links