The Bailey Crane Mystery Series

  The Bailey Crane Mysteries 1-6

Meet Bailey Crane, a sleuth who wears his emotions in easy view of whomever he comes in contact. His musing is part of his charm and wit. He muses about old love affairs, friendships, anger, con artists, people of unusual character and wisdom. The case he’s working at the time does not suffer with his musing but gives more than flesh and bone dimensions to the characters. Below, mystery lovers may enjoy a 6-book series featuring a protagonist whose DNA is not only in solving crimes but in matters of the heart and soul. Bailey and the characters come alive within the pages.

Five of the six ‘Bailey Crane Mysteries’ are inspired by real crimes. Book 3 stands on only the author’s fictional narrative and character dialogue and development. The first book in the series is special because the young actress brutally murdered many years ago was a friend of the author and his wife. It is a case still unsolved to this day – a ‘cold case’ for the Phoenix Police Department.

These books are ‘stand alone’ reads but do have some obvious connectors – aging and life changes of the central character and his partners in crime solving. Here are the books in order, with a quick preview, and BUY sites.

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An Arizona Tragedy (1)

Editorial Reviews

Review

5.0 out of 5 starsA Thoroughly Enjoyable Must-Read!

By SUSAN H. MCINTYRE

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

I was glued to this story all the way to the end.. I want to avoid any spoilers, so I won’t reveal the plot. the description, however, does not begin to show how well-written this mystery novel is. The plot has twists and turns, with a few red herrings that kept me from predicting the end. I loved that! In addition, the main character, Bailey Crane, is well-developed. I feel as if I know this guy. He philosophizes, loves, has friends, and yet stays on track of the case. This book was a delight, and I plan to read more by this author!

From the Author

From the Author

Many years ago, a lovely actress friend of mine was brutally murdered in the desert northeast of Phoenix, Arizona. She was a young mother of two children, a legal secretary for two of my attorney buddies, and she was responsible for my acting avocation — we had the same great agent in Scottsdale, Bobby Ball.

My friend’s murder has never been solved, and this fictional novel was inspired by her death. The book was originally published years ago under the title, “Probable Cause,” by a small publisher. I’ve dusted it off, edited it, rewrote some sections, and it is now, “An Arizona Tragedy – A Bailey Crane Mystery.” It is my way of remembering her. She had her life in front of her with all the dreams most of our young generation had at the time, but her biggest dream was to have someone to love and a home for her family. 

You are never far from our thoughts, dear lady. 

BUY SITES:
Amazon US:  https://goo.gl/NQrJqF
Amazon UK:  https://goo.gl/Rxb528
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Satan’s Song (2)

A young lady in Phoenix, Arizona is decapitated while riding her bike in a municipal park…(inspired by a true Phoenix crime). The Phoenix PD has the case but the girl’s mother comes to Bailey Crane and asks for his personal help in finding the maniacal killer. Another young lady is murdered in San Diego, yet another in Texas, and Bailey finds common connections. The final disposition of the case will come in a small ski community in Colorado. Bailey finds his killer and also a new beginning for his life. 

NOTE: This crime was unsolved for many years. Within the past few years, the Phoenix PD found their killer.

BUY SITES:

Amazon US: https://goo.gl/2dQcte

Amazon UK: https://goo.gl/NvBD72

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The Brutus Gate (3)

A warehouse fire nearly consumes Bailey Crane in this fiery opening, but our intrepid sleuth lives to add more battle scars to his job description. One of the thugs arrested at the warehouse is heard to mutter a cryptic phrase, “Beware the Brutus Gate.” Bailey and his buddies in blue have a hearty laugh at the pithy utterance and try to figure out what it means.

This is a proverbial roller coaster ride for Bailey, the department, and the Fibbies as they anticipate drug shipments coming in from Mexico. In this large caper there’s a bunch of crimes taking place – drugs, murder, rape, political corruption. Bailey has all he can handle plus another ‘turning point’ in his life. 

BUY SITES:

Amazon US: https://goo.gl/psF7CD

Amazon UK: https://goo.gl/c7wqrD

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Murder in Pueblo del Mar (4)

5.0 out of 5 stars Murder in Pueblo del Mar by Billy Ray Chitwood
Recently finished “Murder in Pueblo del Mar” and found it very entertaining! It’s one of those “hard to put down” kind of mysteries! Will be looking for more books by Billy Ray Chitwood!
Review Published 15 days ago on amazon.com by Mary A. Smith
5.0 out of 5 starsAnother Mexico Murder Story

By Mike D. Landfair on August 18, 2014

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

I liked the story, and the introspection. The dropping of “I” as the subject in his sentences, while annoying, wasn’t enough to reduce the novel to four stars.

From the Author

“Murder In Pueblo Del Mar – A Bailey Crane Mystery” is Book 4 of 6 in the ‘Bailey Crane Series.’

Some years ago a mother was savagely murdered while on holiday in Mexico. The case had many interesting elements, from cock fights and sex tapes to transsexual lover. This true event inspired me to write book 4 of The Bailey Crane mysteries. This author also had a dear friend whose wife was fighting her battles with alcoholism and there was an inherent need to combine this element in the story. It is my feeling that including issues with which many people can identify, along with the criminal case under study can only bring heightened awareness and some measure of compatibility with the plot line. It is also true that my father-in-law did in fact live around the ‘bend of the caliche road’, and my wife and I were frequent visitors.

The friends are now gone and sorely missed…friends in the book: father-in-law and my wife’s step-mother in truth.

BUY SITES:

Amazon US: https://goo.gl/bNfefn

Amazon UK: https://goo.gl/KzKS5L

*****

A Soul Defiled (5)Editorial Reviews

From the Author

“A Soul Defiled – A Bailey Crane Mystery” is Book 5 of six books in the ‘Bailey Crane Mystery Series’.

This short ‘Bailey Crane’ book will be the fifth in the series and likely one of my personal favorites. Why? Don’t really know, except the environment for writing the book was so very pleasant — stopping occasionally during the laptop pecks and looking out across that beautiful sea was so exhilirating. In fact, watching from my deck, a hawker walking on the beach peddling his serapes gave me the very first glimpse into this ‘Bailey Crane’ novel. Unfortunately, the poor hawker in the book was to have a very short appearance in the prologue of “A Soul Defiled.” 

Note: Each ‘Bailey Crane’ Book can be read independently of the other. 

From the Back Cover

Bailey Crane and wife, Wendy, are just settling into their new condo unit on the Sea of Cortez when a call from an old friend begins a dangerous ride through another mystery maze. They’re all here, the scammers, contract killers, good guys, bad guys. Bailey has come to the sea for some retirement fun and sun. Instead, he gets kidnapped twice, battered and bruised twice, meets a man of intrigue, and, finally finds that friendship and life can come to surprising ends. 

With compelling characters and a beautiful backdrop of sea and desert elegance, this is a tale with surprising climactic moments, not to be missed.

BUY SITES:

Amazon US: https://goo.gl/ojyTgk

Amazon UK: https://goo.gl/P0cwuT

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A Common Evil (6)

Editorial Reviews

Review

5.0 out of 5 stars – Sin and sand

By CA reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

A COMMON EVIL is the 6th and final novel in his Bailey Crane mystery series and takes us to a seaside resort along Mexico’s Sea of Cortez. Bailey is a retired Arizona cop who, with his wife Wendy, has settled into the condo resort in Mexico and is now the homeowner’s association head honcho. But along with sun and luxe, the Cranes also find danger and duplicity.

The cornerstone of the story is a scenario in which the largest cartel in Mexico, with a jefe who is not too objectionable, promises to clean up the violence and strike a deal with the Mexican government. Part of the clean-up action (read: getting rid of his rivals in order to run a drug monopoly with Mexico City’s approval) spills over onto Bailey’s turf. There’s a shootout on the resort property, Wendy is kidnapped because of a letter Bailey wrote protesting the dubious dealings of an American in with the cartels, and Bailey’s survival instincts surge to the fore, although not always with the results he intends.

This isn’t the usual whodunit but a look at Mexico’s drug war through an expatriate’s eye. The charm of the novel–and the series–is driven by Bailey’s unmissable musings on life and love. His voice is a gutsier, spicier, and more raw version of Alexander McCall Smith’s point of view in the latter’s Isabel Dalhousie series but his subject matter is both more intense and immediate. Recommended.

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5.0 out of 5 starsChitwood adds wonderful finale to Bailey Crane Mystery Series

By Timothy M. Tays 

Format: Paperback

Billy Ray Chitwood channels his alter ego, Bailey Crane, for another suspenseful tale. In this final book in the Bailey Crane Mystery Series, Bailey wants nothing more than to enjoy a relaxing retirement in his penthouse in a Mexican beach resort with his beloved wife, Wendy. But once again, trouble finds him–and by association, Wendy–this time in the form of a vicious Mexican drug cartel and the nefarious characters who populate it. Bailey is sucked into violence when the cartel blames him for a government crackdown. When Wendy is targeted as a way to punish Bailey, he must suspend his gentle southern ways and become as vicious as the cartel thugs to save her. What follows is intrigue and moral dilemmas as Bailey fights forces too large for him to defeat.
With a final unexpected twist at the end, this is a gritty tale of evil that will always exists as long as people give in to their darker side–which, of course, they will. Somehow Bailey survives and still finds love and hope among the systemic evil and moral compromises. A must-read mystery novel!
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5.0 out of 5 starsA Common Evil is basic in all of us
By eden
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

A Common Evil addresses something basic in all of us–the need to preserve the things we love, whether they are people, a place to live, or a certain way of life.

This is the sixth and final book in the Bailey Crane Mystery Series, which started with An Arizona Tragedy – A Bailey Crane Mystery (Bailey Crane Mystery Series Book 1), and it more than stands on its own as an engaging story.

The setting is the Sea of Cortez, also known by other names–Gulf of California or Gulf of Mexico, a large inlet along the northwestern coast of Mexico. Already, the story attracted me due to its location – exotic, hot, sand, beach, and home to Corona beer.

Bailey Crane, a retired detective is minding his own business, living in a luxury beach resort with his wife, Wendy, when he is drawn into the shifty underworld. The start of the book pulls you in immediately with raucous gunfire. It offers a look of what it’s like to live among drug cartels that are at odds with one another. The paradox of paradise is that life is expendable when profit and greed motivate those in power.

Against the backdrop of the fascinating world of living in Mexico as an American, Mr. Chitwood treats us to moments of self-reflection with strong hints of his Southern upbringing. These moments were for me, some of the most satisfying passages in the book. They offered a deeper look into the inner workings of his protagonist.

Bailey Crane is not afraid to be brutish to protect what he wants. While he may wrestle with inner demons, he can steep himself firmly in the task at hand and reflect on his own morality later. In other words, he gets the job done.

Through his two main characters, the author offers us a glimpse of a couple who have been through a lot. Bailey Crane and Wendy have a very strong relationship, one with a love that runs deep and is deeply personal. Within that love, words are not always required to express how they feel for each other. At times, the book reads as an ode from Bailey to Wendy, and I found this particularly endearing.

As with all good mystery/thrillers, there are twists and turns and a surprise ending that made for a wonderful read. For lovers of the mystery genre, whether you slant toward action, cozy, or literary–A Common Evil will not disappoint.

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5.0 out of 5 stars
Fun and Games South of the Border
By Diogenes 
Format: Kindle Edition
‘A Common Evil’ is the sixth book in Billy Ray Chitwood’s mystery series. It is also the first of the series I have read – but I WILL be back for more.
Chitwood’s detective, Bailey Crane, has moved to Mexico with his wife, Wendy, hoping for a quiet retirement by the Sea of Cortez. But fate intervenes and Crane finds himself caught up in a shootout with members of a Mexican drugs cartel. So much for a quiet life. From then on, things go from bad to worse for the ex-detective…

One of the things I enjoy about Chitwood’s books – apart from the absorbing passages of reflection on life and purpose – is that his characters possess a moral ambivalence. Tales about two-dimensional ‘good’ and ‘bad’ guys bore me to tears. Not only does this approach strike me as lazy writing, but it also patronises the reader. Chitwood’s protagonists, on the other hand, face tough choices and the decisions they make are not always good ones.
Not just a crime/adventure tale, this novel is a treatise on what it means to grow old, to have secrets and to recognize the things that bind us and the things that fulfill us.

‘A Common Evil’ is a quick read, but a satisfying one. Now I need to go back and start the series at book one to see what I’ve missed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars… I read mysteries for the sleuth more than the sleuthing and that’s why I enjoyed A Common Evil so much
ByAmazon Customeron July 29, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I read mysteries for the sleuth more than the sleuthing and that’s why I enjoyed A Common Evil so much. Bailey Crane is a bible-belt gumshoe living la vida loca on the Sea of Cortez. It’s a retirement fantasy life that he and his wife – also an ex-cop – have cultivated as a reward for years of catching bad guys. But when a drug cartel muscles into his beach and barbecue lifestyle, the dream of a peaceful march into old age evaporates and Bailey is thrust back into the world of cops and robbers he and his wife had left behind. A fun, suspenseful mystery filled with the musings of a protagonist with plenty of regrets, A Common Evil makes for terrific beach reading (that’s where I read my copy).

Buy Sites:

Amazon US: https://goo.gl/57ExVZ

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One final word from me, the author…
It is my fault alone that these most readable mysteries have languished on the blogosphere shelfs for too long without better marketing – make that, little or no marketing! These books deserve more than what I’ve given them in terms of book marketing. So, you know what’s coming…please do yourself a favor and read one, several, or, all of these books. It’s my belief you will have satisfying reads.
Of the sixteen books I’ve written, these were my first six, and I’m sad that they are not getting the attention I believe they deserve. Five of the six are inspired by true criminal cases.
So, give Bailey Crane a chance to win you over! It is not lost on me that there are those ’31 flavors’ out there and these might not be your reading choices. 
These six books are good…hope you give them a read! 
-Billy Ray Chitwood – Author – July 30, 2018
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Murder in Pueblo del Mar

[This is my ‘Oops!’ – I scheduled this to go out last week. WordPress or I goofed: believe I’m safe in guessing it was ‘I’ who made the ‘goof’! A Mystery series with six books NEEDS to have six books, I always say! SO, here’s that fourth book that should have followed “The Brutus Gate” Book 3 last week…SORRY!}

“Murder in Pueblo del Mar”

Book 4 – ‘Bailey Crane Mystery Series

Inspired by a vicious homicide in Mexico of a Phoenix, Arizona wife and mother, this fourth book in the ‘Bailey Crane Mystery Series’ 1-6 has all the characteristics the author gives to Bailey Crane, that is, Bailey’s criminal cases seem always to bring his penchant for musings and mind-wanderings of a special nature – a stranger that he finds exotic in a most unusual way, an event that brings thoughts of a yesterday, some moments that bring a nascent sadness. Love him, hate him, that’s Bailey Crane, wearing his heart like epaulets, sharing his thoughts while he stays true to the chase for the bad guys.

A Poenix wife and mother is slashed to death in a rental villa while on holiday in a small Mexican fishing village on the Sea of Cortez. Bailey Crane and Wendy are visiting long-time friends just around the bend of the old caliche road. These special friends of Bailey and Wendy figure prominently in this brutal murder case. There are the time-consuming battles between the United States and Mexico over jurisdiction, but that in-fighting does not stop the action on both sides of the border.

There is a ‘transsexual element’ in the authenic criminal case and it is also a riveting part of this fictional rendering. There are some sexual parts in the story but they are handled without livid details.

The heart of the case is of course this sensationally gruesome murder, but what makes it more compelling is the author’s connections with some of the characters in this story and the heartache he came to know from his close relationship… In the book, the author refers to close friends living just around the bend of the road from where the wife and mother was murdered. In truth, the couple were his father-in-law and his wife. They are now both gone, the wife no doubt from her vodka consumption, and the father-in-law from illness. The author would live for several years not far from that murder scene on the Sea of Cortez.

Hope you can read Murder in Pueblo del Mar,and, please, let me know what you think. YOU CAN FIND THIS BOOK AND OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES AT MY WEBSITE – https://billyraychitwood.com 

Billy Ray Chitwood – July 21, 2018

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The Brutus Gate

The Brutus Gate

Okay, I’m a little ‘cute’ with the title, but they were the first words to pop into my mind. When the thug at the beginning of this ‘Bailey Crane’ romp was heard to utter these words, I knew it was to become my title for better or worse. Speaking of the beginning, that’s when the warehouse fire nearly consumes our Southern ‘muser’ and crime fighter supreme…take my word for it, it’s a beginning you will likely read again and again…he says hopefully.

The Brutus Gate is the third installment in ‘The Bailey Crane Mystery Series’ 1-6. The book has just about everything a ‘Crime Fiction’ devotee would want in a book PLUS some romantic moments. You heard right. There’s a big drug shipment due to arrive in the US from Mexico. The Phoenix Police Department’s aces, Bailey Crane, his most capable partner, Wendy, and the FBI are charged with stopping it.

What this great team of crimebusters encounter is political corruption, murder, rape, aforementioned drugs…and, they have to travel to Rome and go through the Brutus Gate…okay, I’m now being a little ‘too cute’. No Rome! No Brutus Gate! The attempt at comedy comes from being too serious all my life.

So, we have all these elements coming together in this fictional masterpiece (Stop it! Already!) – Okay, ‘in this very good novel’. With all the action taking place, you would think Bailey wouldn’t have time for musing and mumbling to himself and his alter ego. Think again! That’s his way of tapping into our subconscious and thinking about our yesterdays and tomorrows. Bailey is cursed with a mind that stores all of his mistakes, all his loves, and all the teenage pimples he had to a minor degree as a high schooler. However, I’ve got to say, I’ve known this guy for some time now, and I really like him – even when he sometimes has to remember he has a crime to solve.

My guess is most of you will find some ‘Baa-relief’ in Bailey, unless there are only two of you reading the book. Then, of course, that statement falls under the label of ‘nonsense’. Well, authors are only worth what their characters tend to put them through and Bailey Crane is an expert at playing with the mind.

The Brutus Gate after all my auditions for humor is a good book, if not in the range of thriller, it’s darn close!

Just saying!

Read it! Let me know what you think!

The next book up in the Series is Murder in Pueblo del Sol, a mystery inspired by an awful murder in Mexico of an American wife and mother. Actually, five of the six ‘Bailey Crane Mysteries’ are inspired by actual events.

Sure hope you read them all!

Billy Ray Chitwood – July 18, 2018

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A Soul Defiled – A Bailey Crane Mystery #5

A Soul Defiled – A Bailey Crane Mystery #5 

I wrote this installment of the ‘Bailey Crane Mysteries’ while living on the beautiful Sea of Cortez in Sonora State, Mexico in a most lovely resort Called ‘Bella Sirena’. Also, for a period of time, I was President of the Homeowners Association and needed to know the workings of the Mexican system of government and the peso. A Soul Defiled is not total reality but it does give an accurate sense of money transfers and some rather scary aspects of the well-publicized criminal activities.

The characters are my stereotypes, many of whom were built by my imagination and some from the good people who were responsible for care of resort owners’ condos and villas. There is one character in particular for whom I developed a love/hate relationship. You will be able to determine this person’s raison d’être and his Achilles Heel. It’s rather amazing how an author can create a character with all the ‘warts’ of criminality and a ‘distant heart’ that can feel and come to understand his life for what it is. It’s not my intention to be vague here, but I want you to ‘flesh out’ this character with me in the book! I just simply like this character despite what he represents.

A Soul Defiled stays true to Bailey Crane’s character, his rash observations and musings. In this episode he gets kidnapped twice, roughed up, and, in the end, finds himself as always questioning his judgements. Wendy is there with him, his loyal ‘sounding board’ and support system of love and provision.

The current ‘President of the Board’ of ‘Mar y Sol’ is a good friend of Bailey and Wendy. The ‘Treasurer of the Board’ has just been murdered, and the President of the Board enlists the help of Bailey – now a new resident at the resort. It is suspected that there is some sort of criminal operation at the resort.

This relatively short novel provides all the ingredients of a good read – business malfeasance, kidnapping, murder, and love.

Hope you put A Soul Defiled on your ‘Reading List’. It is a book you can easily enjoy at the beach, at the pool, and/or in the evening at your favorite reading spot.

Let me know what you think!

As always, My best wishes.

Billy Ray Chitwood – July 21, 2018

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Satan’s Song

Wherein Be Evil

Is the wolf’s wistful wail to the moon a siren of evil?

A stretch, no doubt, but Hollywood has made a lot of money with Lon Chaney and the Wolf-man…a full moon and a man turning into a werewolf.

Satan’s Song A Bailey Crane Mystery regrettably has no connection with Hollywood where millionaires are made overnight when their books are tailored into screenplays. Of course, I easily salivate with thoughts of that enticing proposition and welcome that ‘producer’s request’ to do just that with any of my books.

Well, that thought remains on a fading ‘wish list’!

Satan’s Song has the ‘evil’ and it has also inspiration from a true Arizona decapitation homicide. Like the first book in the ‘Bailey Crane Mystery Series’, An Arizona Tragedy, this title was also a ‘Cold Case’ for many years. Recently, Phoenix Police Department found their killer.

In my novel, the details of that long-ago murder of a young blond lady is fictionalized and turns into a case of serial murders. The suspense and surprise of Satan’s Song deals with the motive and psychotic mind of the killer. The murder spree of the killer includes young ladies in the states of Texas, Ohio, and California, plus a male victim in Pennsylvania.

Bailey Crane’s life undergoes changes as my hero’s personal life becomes complicated and must deal with some emotionally painful realities.

There is a strong ‘women presence’ particularly in this book, and, in truth, all six books of the Bailey Crane mystery series. Please, partake and enjoy!

Hope all your reads are enjoyable.

Billy Ray Chitwood – June 14, 2018

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AN ARIZONA TRAGEDY – A Bailey Crane Mystery – Book #1

Her lowlife killer is still out there after all the years!,

Her?

A friend of mine back in the day! A friend of my wife! When not acting and/or modeling she was a legal secretary to my good attorney buddies.

A lovely actress/model, age twenty-six, divorced, a mother of two children, a daughter and a son! Cheerful, vibrant, high on life with all her dreams of marriage and family ahead of Hollywood on her ‘To Do’ list.

She lived in an apartment across from an elementary school where her car would be found on the side of a road, one car door open, and her open purse on the front seat. It was to be a hot sunny Phoenix Monday morning in August nearly a half-century ago. Cathy (the name I’ve given her in my novel), went missing for six weeks.

Cathy was found under a Palo Verde tree by a wash in the open desert near what is now the Mayo Clinic, her ragged dress faded and in tatters,  her body ravaged by denizens of the hostile desert.

In doing my research for the book, scouring the newspaper microfiche of the brutal murder, it was difficult to imagine what this dear young lady had to endure on that last night of her life so many years ago. Through some tears and memories I wrote “An Arizona Tragedy,” the first book in my six-book ‘Bailey Crane Mystery Series’. In writing this fictional account of Cathy’s homicide years later, I had some difficulty justifying my effort…she was my friend, my wife’s friend – was I being selfishly commercial in my endeavor to spin a fictional playback of her gruesome murder?

Well, I wrote the book, finally justifying the work as a ‘tribute’ to her memory, plus, just maybe, awakening someone’s mind regarding that crime to remember something that would help solve this now ‘cold case’. I gave it the title of “Probable Cause” and sent it out into the ‘wind swirls’ of publishing and got a ‘hit’! A small press ran with the book but years later changed the direction of it’s publishing goals to Sci-Fi, paranormal, and unique ‘fad-type’ books.

Well, you know the story, I did some re-writing, re-titled, and self-published this book and the series, plus the other ten books I’ve written…and, by the way, you might have heard about my glowing successes in marketing my own books! (It’s perfectly okay to have your giggles – I even giggle myself at my ‘under-achieving’ self-promoting!)

So, if there is interest in reading “An Arizona Tragedy,” you should know I did wrap my fiction around  most, if not all, of the forensics attached to the case. Six weeks in an Arizona desert in the summer where temps can reach 120+ degrees fahrenhite did not leave the investigators much to go on. Cathy’s car as well left very little of evidentiary value.

There’s something a good Texas friend wrote in an Amazon review regarding the new edition of my “Mama’s Madness” novel, another work fashioned in fiction from a true crime. He wrote: “The writing in this story is so good the reader feels like a transportation into the scenes has taken place. The descriptions of people, places, and events are jaw-droppingly beautiful. Mr. Chitwood has been blessed with a golden pen (or keyboard). He can show the reader all the sights, sounds, and smells of each scene through a tapestry that only can be woven by a perfectionist literary genius. I think that pretty much describes Billy Ray Chitwood. He has honed his writing art, and there is no more exquisite example of the resulting output than this book. I would recommend Mama’s madness to anyone who enjoys a deeply disturbing story told effectively and with great taste.”

I’ve gotten some really good reviews along with ‘the other kind’ but this one just overwhelmed me… That first night after reading that review, I got out of bed every ten minutes to re-read it. Whatever he was ‘high on’, he passes it right along to me. I’m likely to change my will for that Texas ‘feller’.  Well, yeah, I’m going off the deep-end here, but that review is about as good as an author can get, and I’m thanking that man in an open forum. I’ve never kissed a man before and won’t think about it now, but I’ll sure polish his shoes and walk his dogs… Just saying!

That leaves us with “An Arizona Tragedy.” That’s the first book of my sixteen that was published, and I believe it’s well-written. Why don’t you all get a copy, read it, and let me know what you think. I’m betting you like the writing and my alter-ego ‘punching bag’, Bailey Crane. AND, you can write an Amazon review and try to outdo that Texas feller, but I’m not even considering giving odds on that.

Billy Ray Chitwood – July 11, 2018

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Hammer’s Holy Grail

Hammer’s Holy Grail

by BR Chitwood

-Coming July – 2018- 

 

“Hammer’s Holy Grail” is a relatively short read of 36,000-+ words. It will be published without launch, without fanfare (except for this blog post!) later this month! The book is about a kid who has an emotional family situation – angry father, his critical Appalachian uncertainty, gifted with football talent and a beautiful girlfriend he’s known since junior high.

Wesley Walton is a sophomore at Garden View University in Knoxville, Tennessee, has a great passing arm and faces a great future. The pro-football scouts are already looking at the kid with a golden arm.

Wesley meets a man named ‘Hammer’ who is both a decorated veteran and a person of great wisdom and with a unique hobby. Wes and Hammer become immediate friends.

The short tale follows Wesley’s football season as well as his parental love and woes. The book is not a ‘thriller’ or destined to be a classic by any means, but the pages do carry some interesting moments, and I believe it to be well-written… In any event, it will be an inexpensive read and one I hope the book buyer will like, PLUS, I’m giving you the first chapter free of charge in this post. Feel free in letting me know what you think.

So, no launch, no parades and graffiti, just my usual ‘do nothing’ marketing campaign with a hope some of you will buy the book, give me some ‘reviews’, and ‘PUSH’ it forward.

Here’s the first chapter (working on the cover):

HAMMER’S HOLY GRAIL

Chapter One

The darkness and fog are palpable viscid sweat things crawling all over my flesh! A gentle wind stir comes and my skin does shiver dances. I swallow and it’s like I’m somewhere between passing out and regaining my breath.

My eyes cannot be trusted. I rub my eyes and they project things that are not really there. My mind questions the logic that brought me to that decision. My concentration is drawn to these vague flashing images that keep popping up in spaces to the front, sides, and back of me… I figure it’s the mind doing its reckoning! I’m likely trying too hard to see and my brain is trying to accommodate me.

Okay, I admit it. I’m a big boy, scared. I mean, there is no way this world can be this dark and foggy.

“Why?” Someone might ask, “are you so stupid to be standing where you’re standing?”

The reason is really simple, but I’m going to make it complicated for you…not out of a warped and evil sense, but because this is a story I need to tell and it has some crazy turns and twists. Call it a weird psychological need if you want! That’s as good a description as any, but, please understand, I have not lost all my marbles. Then, again, maybe my bio here is not so unusual a tale after all. Maybe you readers have experienced some of the same events in your life – only, framed differently.

So, this little journey on which I’m taking you, please stay with me. An Epic? Probably not, but it might have some stuff that’ll stay with you for a while after I’m finished with the narrative – up to the point when I run out of words.

***

When I was a little boy, my crippled cousin had to have the light on during his dark bedtime hours. Now, I didn’t tease him about that but if I just mentioned it he chased me up one country road and down another. If I didn’t have a pretty good lead he’d catch me. Then, we would end up wrestling until one of us said ‘Uncle’ – usually me! We were best pals and I loved my club-footed cousin-buddy, but he would get madder than a frigging copperhead on LSD if anyone brought up sleeping with lights on.

That’s not part of this rather complicated story, at least, not in a major way. This darkness and fog just makes me think of JB – JB Hill, that’s his name. He’s the son of my Dad’s sister, Norma Hill.

I don’t want you to think JB is so crippled everyone has to be sorry for him. He turns out later on to be a top scratch golfer. He’s gone now, died too darned early in his life because of some darned rare breathing illness. His sisters and brother were with him when he left us. His wife should have been there with him, but, earlier, JB caught her screwing the next-door neighbor, and my cousin beat the shit out of the neighbor and threw all her clothes – and her – out of the house. Sure, he was club-footed but he was no chicken yellow-belly. Nobody gave him any crap, that’s for sure.

Well, again, that’s not part of the complicated story either – but I won’t lead you on any further.

It all starts with my sister, Sarah Lou. She’s sixteen going on twenty-four, if you get my drift, built like a brick shit-house, big boobs, long silky brown hair, great figure, pretty, and she reckons she’s the ‘cat’s meow’. It seems she knows early on she wants to taste some parts of life she is no way ready to taste.

I’m convinced Sarah Lou is the genuine product of her – and, my – dad. No question about it! He gets madder than hell and beats up on her and my Mom. Well, he did when he was coming around more

Dad has this fiery temper, and it’s his way or the highway, so to speak. This is when he’s visiting us. He and Mom are divorced, and Dad seems to have these demons inside him that make for crazy flip-outs at any moment. I’ve noticed his behavior changes when Mom mentions her side of the family – they don’t like Dad and he doesn’t like them. Of course, that gut-searing corn whiskey could have something to do with it. He likes his hooch! He’s also tall, good-looking in a George Clooney kind of way (sort of!) and has a thing for the ladies. How can I know that? Well, that’s a whole different story, and it’s doubtful I’ll ever tell it!

Well, anyhow, the genes running loose through Sarah Lou must be near-identical to Dad’s.

Moving the story along, Sarah Lou turns sixteen and elopes with an army corporal, runs off to another state when the corporal gets transferred. Mom is heart-sick and scared because she knows she’s got to tell Dad the news. And, me, well, I’m scared right along with her. You see, it’s just Mom and me since Sarah Lou eloped, and I sure have sleepless nights worrying about my dear sweet mother. She works so hard to make ends meet, has no time for socializing and being with her friends. It’s part of her nature to worry and fret about things. Did I fail to mention? My Mom is a beautiful lady, big brown eyes that sparkle and brown hair to go with them. She looks like a famous old-time movie star by the name of Claudette Colbert, famous actress during that golden era of Hollywood. Mom and I are fans of ‘old movies’.

Through some rough times, Mom has done her best to shelter my sister and me from all those emotional ills of divorce and the economic crises that rise from working sometimes two jobs. She has done well by Sarah Lou and me despite the troubles she’s had to bear. Dad’s visits end up most of the time in bad arguments and fights. As a young kid, I saw him too often physically abuse Mom and, somehow, I still love the man.

Enough ugly truth for a few sentences. Suffice it, Mom worked hard and got me through high school where I played quarterback for the football team and got a scholarship to Garden View University. Garden View is part of the greater metro area of Knoxville, Tennessee, and the university sets on a lovely and lush campus of about one hundred acres. It is a university that dates back to the 1940s and has academic achievement awards that any higher institution would covet.

Well, as implied above, here is more ugly truth.

Mom and I, my now older club-footed cousin, JB, and Lulu, his big sister on my Dad’s side of the family, go to the Hooper Hotel in Knoxville where my Dad is living to tell him about Sarah Lou’s elopement.

In Dad’s hotel room, my Cousin and his sister take the two chairs in the room and I sit under a window on an old radiator…you know, those ugly heavy metal gray vertically-elongated rods connected all in a row as one unit. Now, the heat isn’t on during this visit, but those units are particularly awful and uncomfortable to sit on. And, you’re right, those heating units were not built to be sat on. I just keep changing my sitting ‘this way and that’, dictated by my butt cheeks.

Now, Dad knows right away that something is up, and, he knows it isn’t good news – guess our sad faces and body language give us away.

When Dad hears the news about Sarah Lou, he stomps around the room in a fury, the anger and prelude to eruption showing on his face. Abruptly, he stops in front of Mom who is sitting on the bed. My sweet hard-working, lovely Mom sits there very still with her hands clasped on her lap with a blanched and pitiful look on her face, puffy from crying and the awful dread of telling Dad news of Sarah Lou’s rash elopement.

My ‘tainted-gene’ Dad hovers over Mom, his face distorted with fury like a dragon breathing fire, gritting his teeth, and says, “Damn you, Maureen.”

Suddenly, he gives Mom a hard looping open-hand slap to the face with so much force it knocks her over. My immediate fear is that he’s knocked something loose in her brain or upper body…and he’s getting ready to do more hitting.

I’m petrified and watching it all from this hotel room radiator and l reckon something snaps inside me. I’ve watched this kind of madness too many times before as a young kid. I’m a lot bigger now and I rush him and tackle him onto the bed, crying and mumbling something stupid, like, ‘I’ve seen you do that to my Mom too many times’. I’ll never forget – he’s got this look on his face like a slight smile and surprise all at the same time.

Multiple times I hit him with my fists, lost in my own anger, my tears dropping down on his face. Mom moves from the bed and stands crying in the corner of the hotel room.

Soon, Dad is not moving. I must have connected with a vulnerable spot on his head. It’s like he just turns his head over to the side and goes to sleep.

Seconds pass and I realize what has happened. I’ve attacked my own father and knocked him out. His pulse is okay, and I feel a bit better. After several anxious minutes of trying to revive him, I tell our little group that Dad will be crazy mad when he comes around so we likely should leave.

We hustle out of Dad’s room and loudly close the door. I feel bad leaving him unconscious on the bed, but more afraid of what he might do when he comes out of it and we’re still there.

Mom cries all the way down in the elevator, and we go unnoticed out a side entrance of the lobby.

I drive my Cousin and his sister home, and, except for the sound of the car engine, no one makes a sound. Tears flow down our faces, and the only sounds in the car are from our sniffing. We all hug and kiss each other when they get out of the car at their place.

Next, I drive Mom to her folks’ place some forty miles away.

We give Grandma and Grandpa all the news about our fateful visit with Dad, and they’re madder than hornets in a whirl-wind. ‘Is he dead?’ ‘Is he alive?’ They want to know. I ask Mom to promise me she’ll stay with the grandparents until she hears from me. There’s no way Dad, assuming I didn’t kill him, would want to go around Grandpa because of a fight they had some years back. Grandpa gave Dad quite a whipping.

After a few more tears are shed, I take off. Mom pleads with me to stay but she can’t talk me out of leaving. I’m worried about my dad and want to go back to the Hooper Hotel and check on him.

Beneath my tousled blond hair, my head inside is churning with thoughts as I drive back to the hotel. The closer I get, the more I become anxious and fearful of what I’ll find.

There’s this grim need to know about my Dad, whether he’s okay or dead. I’m a sturdy 6’2” young man now, 185 pounds, playing quarterback as a Sophomore at Garden View University. It’s difficult to calculate how hard I hit my Dad – I feel like a part of me was holding back.

There is just no way to forget what I did in that hotel room. Now, after a few hours, I’m making a return visit to the Hooper Hotel. I need to know, one way or another, about my Dad. Is he alive? Is he dead? Despite losing it and hitting him, I still love my Dad. Guess I should hate him, but I don’t. Seeing Mom so fearful and frozen in place I denied my own fear and went after my Dad.

I park Mom’s car fifty feet down the street from the Hooper Hotel and walk to the side entrance into the lobby.

The elevator is on the lobby level as if waiting for me. On Dad’s floor, the elevator comes to a stop, doors open, and my heart jumps into my mouth as I reflexively take a step forward!

My Dad is standing in front of me, his eyes blinking like he is trying to clear his head.

“You coming off of the elevator, young fellow?” Dad asks in an impatient and impersonal tone.

He wrinkles his brow as he notices the apparent surprise on my face. “You all right, boy?”

“Dad, it’s me!”

He did a fast look behind him like I was talking to someone else.

Dad blinks some more. “You’re mixed up, boy, I don’t have a son. Now, stay in the elevator or get out. I fell and cracked my head…have to get it taken care of.”

“But, Dad, I hit you when you hurt Mom. You slapped her so hard I was worried for her. I must have given you a concussion. I just couldn’t stand by and watch you hurt her. Please let me help you!”

Dad grabs my arm and pulls me out of the elevator onto the hallway carpeting. “Told you, boy, I’ve got no son.” He goes into the elevator, pushes the lobby button on the control panel and is gone.

I can’t say how long I stand rooted to that spot in front of the elevator. I’m aware enough to know that there are other people entering and exiting the elevator while I’m standing there. I’m dumbfounded by Dad’s reaction – He seemed so sure about what he was saying.

Finally, worried sick, I take the stairs down seven floors and walk out the hotel’s side lobby entrance. My befuddled mind is on automatic pilot and leads me down the street to Mom’s car. At least, I know he’s alive. Guess that’s something of a relief.

When I pull away from the curb, confused and frightened, I drive around aimlessly, turning left here, turning right there, lost in cascading thoughts, my mind reviewing over and over the events of the day.

I drive for miles not mindful of where I’m going. Tears flow until my eyes get all misty and puffy from rubbing them with my shirt sleeve. My brain tells me to pull off the road.

I’m somewhere out in the ‘boonies’. There is an old rutted country farm road, and I turn onto the dirt and gravel, drive a quarter mile and notice that, suddenly, I can’t see. I’m in an ultra-thick cloud bank of fog, suddenly frightened by the swift change in weather and mad at myself for being so self-absorbed I let this happen.

Yes, I know! I know! How does one get so locked onto something in his mind that he doesn’t know where he is? It’s crazy, but it happened!

At this point I’m crawling along, the car barely moving, trying to see, wiping the built-up vapor off the inside windshield, hoping for better vision. After a few moments, I see the futility in my feeble efforts, utter a not-so-nice but appropriate word for the ugly foggy dilemma.

I carefully edge to what I hope is the outer side of the country road, get out of the car, touch the hood metal, holding on to the only reality given to me at the moment.

Standing there, leaning on the car’s hood, my Dad’s face flashes in front of me in the darkness and fog, along with snakes, dinosaurs, crocodiles, and other beasts of the world. I cannot see my hand when I hold it out in front of me. There is a most vivid sense of desperation.

With Dad’s face, there comes to my mind some bad recalls of life with my Dad in it, not long after the ugly divorce. I push those bad thoughts away and force myself to think of the good moments.

Much of those times were rough, but there were tender moments as well – farther back in youth, when Dad bought me the little boy’s gray suit with a gray hat, and he called me his little business man. He took many pictures of me with a cigarette dangling from my six-year old lips, pictures on train-rides, car-rides while on the way to visit his parents, my grandparents, his nearly-blind grandmother, my great-grandmother. They lived north of Knoxville some sixty miles, near the Kentucky border.

On one visit he drove us off the main US highway into the hills of High Cliff, TN. We stopped not too far from the turnoff in an area of open fields and meadows. The bucolic scene presented to my young mind cows grazing in the meadows among huge oak trees, and there was this lonely looking clapboard house setting alone on this small knoll. Dad’s sweet old grandmother sat on an old rickety wooden porch that had an excellent chance of falling plank by plank to the ground below. She had a lovely weathered and leathery face, was almost blind and sat in an old wooden rocking chair. She looked so frail behind the horn-rimmed spectacles she wore.

She was so beautiful sitting in that home-made rocking chair on that wood-warped porch, like a picture in sepia tone, like a scene in an old-time movie. She sat there with a corn cob pipe in the corner of her mouth. She was in her nineties, and Dad had to get within inches of her face before she knew we were there. She squinted and finally recognized Dad.

She formed a sweet smile on her face, hugged him with shaky thin arms coming out of the gingham dress sleeves. “That you, Thomas? Lawdy, mercy me! you are a sight for these sore eyes.” She had a thin, squeaky voice that seemed a whisper. She used up a lot of breath as she talked and maintained that sweet smile.

She then peripherally noticed me, made over me as well, and I felt an awesome sense of history – the events, all the things she had seen in her long lifetime, things I would one day study. In the remembrance, it was all so nostalgic, dream-like, and, looking back, it somehow had a time-travel feel for me, so quiet, serene, like pages of history flipping backward. Those time-worn wrinkles on her bony arms and face, the faded gingham dress, her gray-hair in a bun on the back of her head, and the slow steady motion of her rocking chair as her eyes fixed on the parts of her life that were important to her. Her time was almost used up, but she would keep rocking on that graying rough-plank porch, smoking her corn cob pipe, looking out over the blurry land playing back misty memories.

Funny, how wonderfully that memory is so vivid in my mind, so fresh and firmly planted. A country song by Alan Jackson playing on the car radio is all I need to complete my ensemble of fuzzy thoughts and tears. Guess that might say something about my southern genes.

A few happy times flashed by, those times when we played at being a family, without the tempestuous flares of raw emotions: the Saturday movie matinees; Mom and Dad smiling happily when my sister and I danced to the radio; when I attempted to write a poem; the endless questions I asked of them both – the insatiable curiosity that stayed steady on a little boy’s mind.

I love them both so much, and, now, my father has no son.

The tears do not stop until my mind reminds me of where I am, in the middle of proverbial nowhere with only those scary image-flashes coming at me from too much eye concentration, and those conjured up memories that are both keepers and throwaways.

So, the world can be dark and foggy, and, maybe, reasons for standing in the darkness and fog are not so simple.

Standing at the front of the car, measuring each stride, I take a few steps, pivot, return to the car, do the same strides on each side of the car. Feeling secure enough that the car was far enough off the road, I climb into the back seat, and lock the doors.

Assuming a fetus position on the backseat, I try desperately not to think any more about past events, the present, and the future. I can wait out the darkness and the fog.

Tomorrow will come, and the sun will replace the dismal darkness and fog with thoughts of hope.

I love my Mom and Dad.

Maybe I still have both to love.

-END OF CHAPTER ONE-

Let me know what you think! My best wishes to all.

Billy Ray Chitwood – July 7, 2018

Please preview my books at:

https://billyraychitwood.com

Please follow me on Twitter: @brchitwood

 

 

Re-Launch of “Mama’s Madness”

“Mama’s Madness” – Re-Launch – June 21, 2018

One more time! 

“Mama’s Madness” has been among my fourteen books my best seller, and I’ve changed the cover a few times. WHY AM DOING IT AGAIN?

Call me crazy, but this time I also did some re-writing, making some changes here and there – nothing major but enough, I believe, to make it even better. The old edition had some sixty reviews, most of them 5-STARS and 4-STARS, so maybe I am a bit nutty to be making a change again. However, I’m committed to this change and I hope that my friends and followers will help me with this re-launch…I’m awaiting proof copy and will be shooting for a June 21, 2018 publication.

The changes I’ve made to “Mama’s Madness” do not lessen the evil transgressions in the book. It is still a book that will shock readers, make them angry, make them not believe what they’re reading, but this book is inspired by a true California case some decades ago. When I read the newspaper clippings of this ‘mother’s’ brutal treatments of her six children, it made me angry, made me sad to the point of tears, made me think of my own children and their lives…thank God, they never suffered the beating, the dark-closet confinements (for days, NOT hours!), the unsavory introduction to sex, the eating of lard and their own retch. Because my kids did suffer the emotional stress of a divorce, they never suffered from a lack of love.

In short, I had to write this book!

No one needs perhaps to be reminded of the evil in our world, but the urge was so powerful to fictionalize this mother’s brutal and psychopathic behavior for my own inner compulsion but, hopefully, to also remind people people of their vigiliance  and environments, to be aware of that solicitous smiling stranger in the park, that passing car with a weirdo at the wheel making gestures, the friendly co-worker who offers a ride home.  

Yes, there will be some who see “Mama’s Madness” as a gratuitous penning of some lurid and sensational events. Those who feel that way will not have seen an author’s tears as he wrote some sections of the book.

“Mama’s Madness” will always be to me my favorite book, NOT so much because of the evil portrayed within its pages, but because it awakened me as an author, made me so much more aware of the events in our world, and the ultimate power of words.

May I ask of my friends and followers to assist me in getting this new edition of “Mama’s Madness” re-launched. It is a novel I believe to be by anyone’s writing standard a quality book.

“Mama’s Madness” was recently posted by Caleb Pirtle: “Five of 100 books you should read before you die.”  https://calebandlindapirtle.com/five-100-books-read-die-2/efore You Die!

At the top you see the new cover for “Mama’s Madness” – Do you like it!

Any assistance you can give me will be appreciated – reblogs- suggestions.

You can read part of the ‘Prologue’ of “Mama’s Madness” here:

~*~

PROLOGUE PORTION “Mama’s Madness”

 “Help me! Please help me!”

It is a piteous whimper, lost in the black void of the narrow closet. The weak and eerie sound of her own voice chills her more fiercely than the cold. The thought brings an aberrant amusement. Her own small voice frightens her!

A sound! A creaking sound. Far off. A footfall! Is it?

No. It is not a footfall. It’s just one of the strange noises that comes in the night.

Is it night?

Time is lost. Time is gone from her world like a chunk of youth. The black hole draws her toward an uncertain vortex. She must close her eyes. But, not so tightly. She sees less with her eyes lightly closed. There is better control of her quivering body. With eyes open, the blackness comes alive with trickery.

Some crawling thing moves along her upper arm. That is her perception. She shifts and finds a wooden wall protrusion. A vertical beam. She moves her arm and body in back and forth rushes to accommodate the itch.

Her wrists are painfully numb and raw. The handcuffs seem now natural extensions of her hands.

Her shoulders ache in their sockets. They are taut from the pull of arms bound behind her back.

How long? God! It seems an eternity! A small lifetime she has lived in this palpable darkness. Maybe, it has been two days. The air has no texture or stir. It hangs there, stale and dank.

Her face is flushed with fever. It feels stiff and crusty from the tears running over her abrasive wounds. She squints and contorts. She opens and closes her mouth. There are sharp responses of pain. Her entire body feels leaden and bloated. When she moves there is a burning chaff between her thighs. A complacent soreness pervades. It no longer matters. Nor does the stench from her body’s waste matter.

It is her mind which throttles her. Whisks her off in searing flashes, abates, lingers amid the blackness. A fragile sentry. Both enemy and friend.

It is all happening again! She is next to die. Just like Celia. Was it a year ago? Two? Time, again, is elusive, lost. What does it matter? A year or an hour ago! Sarilee knows she is next. Just like Celia…

End of ‘Prologue’ portion…

~*~

Again, thank you for helping me in this  re-launch. I’m trying for a pub-date of June 21, 2018. Any suggestions you have will be welcomed, as will any and all re-blogs. If you have comments about the cover, please let me know.

Billy Ray Chitwood – May 21, 2018

Please preview my books of Mystery, Suspense, Thriller,  Romance, Memoir at:

https://billyraychitwood.com

Please follow my blog: https://brchitwood.com

Please follow me on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/brchitwood

Phoenix Fire

      

A Phoenix, Arizona entrepreneur and an ad agency director fall in love in a most unusual way. Their relationship is interrupted by sibling clashes, a gambling addiction, a murder, and a matriarch’s secret that ultimately causes emotional chaos and disorientation. This is a book that will draw the reader into the story and compel them to stay glued until the end. The gripping climax to PHOENIX FIRE is powerful, and tissues are recommended. Treat yourself to a marvelous romance, mixed with some suspense and a desert odyssey to save one’s soul. A truly great read.

Questions:

Do you like a love story with suspense?

Do you like characters with complex issues?

Do you like a smooth flow of narrative?

Do you like vivid description with your narrative?

Do you like dramatic and tense situations?

Do you enjoy plots and sub-plots that link coherently?

Do you prefer ‘Happy Endings’?

Do you like authors with a clear, lucid, style?

If you answered ‘yes’ to all of these questions, you will enjoy PHOENIX FIRE! And, you will like it enough to leave a Review on Amazon.

Now, enjoy a few excerpts from the novel… My wish is to give you a sense of my writing style, to introduce you to some of the characters. My promise: you will enjoy PHOENIX FIRE, a love story with some tense moments. Now, the excerpts:

*****

Chapter One

[Part of Chapter One]

She was lost in the brightness, a magnificent static whiteness, alluring and warm. It was an easy place to be, if, it was a place. Perhaps it was a state, a bright and new awareness, a safe and final destination.

She only knew that her essence was etched in the great luminous energy and she did not wish to leave it. The light seemed to be transporting her outward, expanding some awesome truth, recently possessed, and she wanted only to remain and to become whatever the promising ecstasy.

Then, there came a shimmer of interference, vaguely emanating from the mystic fringes, slowly fragmenting the weightless pool of white. There was a rippling which nudged her new awareness, gently precluding her anticipated oneness with the expanding light.

Then came sound, soft and beckoning, like a bird chirping in slow motion, becoming stronger and more strident. She resisted the sound and the fragmenting but she could not pull herself onward into the radiant void. Like a swimmer urgently breast stroking against a strong noiseless tide, she felt herself dipping, sinking, then free-falling from the disintegrating brilliance.

She became conscious of her head shaking in sidelong negation of the interference, her lips silently murmuring, ‘no, no, let me stay! Please let me stay!’

Then she acknowledged the inevitable full immersion back to a solid, contoured reality. The bird chirps became loud concerned voices. The ripples became caring and caressing hands.

The hard ground was cold.  She began to shiver, felt the urge to rise, but was somehow constricted. Her mind made some adjustments and she suddenly knew where she was, how she had gotten there.

Finally, she slowly opened her eyes with a fluttery acceptance of her immediate environment. A man’s face came into focus, hovering two feet above her own. She felt pinned down and quickly discovered that the man was astride her. There was a momentary sense of panic but something about the man’s face made her relax.

A light rain fell, and she was conscious of wet hair matted to her face and forehead. The sky was a dull gray, and skinny treetops came to her peripherally as some surreal apparitions. The man’s concerned face gave her a final focus. She remembered what happened.

The lightning! She recalled an awful clap of thunder, so jarring and harsh, so totally upon her, instantaneously enveloping her in its loud and splintered brightness. She remembered the searing, exquisite pain that so consummately wracked her body and mind.

She was jogging and she must have been struck by lightning. As she blinked from the raindrops and the accounting of the lightning strike, she felt lethargic and without purpose. She was struck by lightning, yet there was no panic, no real sense of urgency.

The man’s hands left her chest and he studied her with a tender and squinted concern. She felt the weight of his body leaving her, felt a great rush of air fill her chest. The man lifted himself from her but his soft blue eyes remained upon her face.

They were beautiful eyes, shrouded by dark cavernous brows. Wisps of his black hair was pasted about his forehead, and he made odd movements with his lips as though making an adjustment.

Her own lips felt strangely tender to the touch of her tongue, and, in a moment of clarity, she understood: the man had given her mouth to mouth resuscitation.

The man then spoke, softly, his voice conveying a cultured refinement and pleasant resonance. “Can you move your arms and legs?”

She understood the question and lifted her head tentatively, feeling her hands, arms, and legs slowly move to her inner commands. She nodded to the handsome stranger who knelt above and to her side. She managed a small, sad smile of gratitude.

“And can you speak?” He returned her smile.

“Yes, I think so,” came her weak reply.

She noticed for the first time a small group of people standing off to her right, near a park utility shed. She heard a siren off in the distance, its sound increasing in volume. She attempted to rise from the ground.

“Maybe you should stay where you are until you’ve been medically checked. Are you feeling much pain?” The man lightly touched her shoulder.

*****

[Part of Chapter Three]

Chapter Three

Without religious fervor or zeal, Jason Prince believed in fate and serendipity. He felt simply there were fateful events in every life.

At age thirty-three he was the recipient of some good genetic tailoring: a strong Roman angularity to his attractive face and full black hair, minus the imperious and defiant set; a well-built body without flab; intelligent, solid business acumen, with a penchant for fairness and mild aggressiveness. Jason suffered no swollen and insufferable ego problems in his stable environment. He was lucky, and, not so lucky. He carried with him a pleasant humility, no doubt the result of his grandmother, whose doting was subtle but pure. There was also no doubt that the death of his parents when Jason was eleven years old factored into whatever essence was uniquely his.

Although he was shielded by his grandmother, Jason remembered the details of his father’s and mother’s deaths. His parents died in an ill-fated traffic accident. A tractor-trailer semi, its driver asleep at the wheel, crossed a center line on Carefree Highway near Cave Creek, Arizona, and plowed head-on into his parents’ car. The truck was going seventy-five miles per hour at the time of the crash, so death for his parents was reported as instantaneous. His father and mother, weary and anxious to be home, were returning from a dinner party in Oak Creek Canyon.

Grandma Myrena Wimsley was home with Jason and his older brother, Carlton, when the call came from the authorities. There were tears and there was anguish, but Grandma Wimsley was not one to dwell too long in emotional crises. Her strong will prevailed as she sheltered the boys as much as possible from the devastating news.

Carlton Prince was the difficult son to soothe. He somehow internalized his parents’ deaths as his own personal tragedy, intermingling his tears of loss with aberrant fits of selfish tirade. Grandma Wimsley found it necessary at times to forcibly control Carlton’s behavior.

For Jason, the death of his parents brought a period of dull apathy. He seemed for some time lost in a foggy nether world, unable to accept the tragic event yet powerless to deny it. He moved in awkward limbo and was ultimately sustained by his grandmother’s stoic acceptance and patient nudging which brought him to a final certainty and reluctant peace. Grandmother Wimsley became for Jason an anchor and a symbol of stability and safe harbor. In a very real sense Jason adopted his grandmother’s calm and unflinching personality, an alluring stoicism with a slight edge of inner doubt. His tinge of humility and resolve was not an unpleasant anomaly.

It was Carlton who could not resolve his seemingly vindictive grief. He vented anger and hostility. His mood shifts were uncomfortable and unreasonable. Grandmother Wimsley came to an uneasy and wary acceptance of Carlton’s moods, hoping that eventually he would grow out of the negative self-absorption. It was Carlton who inevitably and unknowingly brought a tight bond of love between Grandmother Wimsley and Jason. There was also a decidedly open favoritism shown to Jason by his grandmother. Grandfather Wimsley stayed lovingly neutral in the background, busy in his work, leaving the rigors of child nurturing to his capable wife.

So, fate and serendipity were accepted and important acknowledgments for Jason Prince, and his unusual encounter with Jenny Mason aroused a dormant emotion. He found her image kept superimposing itself in his thoughts. He knew that this woman was somehow meant to be a part of his life. His acceptance of fate negated the fleeting feeling of impetuousness.

*****  

[Part of Chapter Eleven]

“But he is my grandson. Now stop your fretting. You did the right thing in telling me.” The pain was easing. “The medicine is working. Don’t worry about me. I’m a strong old girl. Just got an aging ailment, that’s all. You get old, the old body starts breaking down a bit. I’m feeling better now.”

“What is it, Grandmother Wimsley?” Sheila’s voice was tender and genuine in its caring. It was the first time she had addressed Myrena in that way. Sheila’s face wore the knowledge that this was not just an ‘aging ailment’ for Myrena.

Myrena was touched and beckoned Sheila to her small but strong arms. They comforted each other for some long moments.

It was Myrena who spoke. “Child, I’m going to be sorry not seeing you with Carlton anymore. But you’re not to worry. I’m going to work on the problem you’ve talked about. I want you to stay in touch with me. You are like family.”

Sheila soon left. Wardley came to the day room to assist Myrena, but she waved him away. He smiled with affection at her indomitable spirit. With the tray of uneaten finger sandwiches and lemonade in his hands, Wardley left her alone, a painful knot in his gut. She would not be with them too much longer. The trusted employee and friend felt a deep sadness with the thought and would wait until he was in his quarters before shedding the tears welling up inside of him.

Myrena went to the parlor and stood a long time in front of the portrait that she loved so much. Then she reclined on the long sofa, placing herself so that her view of the portrait was unimpaired. She was there staring at the portrait for a long time, her mind playing themes from the long ago past. She pulled the misty old memories from the deep rich tones on the portrait’s canvas. The scenes passed swiftly and poignantly before her clouding eyes.

She and John standing at the doorway to the boys’ bedroom, watching them sleep…

The daughter who bore the boys in her cap and gown at graduation exercises …

A wedding reception so gala, so full of hope and possibilities …

A funeral …

A past and present merging into a wistful place in the heart …

Dusty, rutted roads in Mexico, the smell of frijoles, mariachis strumming their plaintive, discordant guitars …

A flower garden by the sea, the boys skipping along the surf …

A camp site in the high desert …

Carlton, Jason, smiling, joyfully playing cowboy games …

A plot of land, scenes of family gatherings, loving scenes, faces, merging, flowing into a profusion of color …

Tears slowly flowed down the tanned and weathered furrows on either side of her stoic face, and she slept.

[End of Excerpts… – It truly is a great story… – Do hope you read it!]

The excerpts were randomly selected. Again, just giving a sense of style and short shots of some characters. Please enjoy the entire book.

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