Criminal Mischief: The Art and Science of Crime Fiction: Episode #46: The Opening Scene

Criminal Mischief: The Art and Science of Crime Fiction: Episode #46: The Opening Scene




Your opening scene carries a heavy load. It must hook the reader, introduce the story question—and often the protagonist/antagonist, reveal the setting/story world, evoke emotion in the reader, and reveal the voice and tone of the story. That’s a lot of work, and pressure on the writer.

Why is the opening scene so important?

1—It must do all or most of the above

2—It’s all most people will ever read—-unless it’s compelling

3—It’s what grabs the attention of agents and editors

4—It’s you first—and only—chance to make a good impression

Things you must do in the first few pages:

Hook the reader

Introduce an interesting character or situation

Ask the story question

Set the tone and voice

Introduce the story world

Hints at what’s to come

Make the reader care, or at least curious

A Few Openings:

Red Dragon–Thomas Harris

Will Graham sat Crawford down at a picnic table between the house and the ocean and gave him a glass of iced tea.

Jack Crawford looked at the pleasant old house, salt-silvered wood in the clear light. “I should have caught you in Marathon when you got off work,” he said. “You don’t want to talk about it here.”

“I don’t want to talk about anywhere, Jack. You’ve got to talk about it, so let’s have it. Just don’t get out any pictures. If you brought pictures, leave them in the briefcase — Molly and Willy will be back soon.”

“How much do you know?”

“What was in the Miami Herald and the Times,” Graham said. “Two families killed in their houses a month apart. Birmingham and Atlanta. The circumstances were similar.”

“Not similar. The same.”

“How many confessions so far?”

“Eighty-six when I called this afternoon,” Crawford said. “Cranks. None of them knew details. He smashes the mirrors and uses the pieces. None of them knew that.”

The Secret History—Donna Tartt

The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we came to understand the gravity of our situation. He’d been dead for ten days before they found him, you know. It was one of the biggest manhunts in Vermont history – state troopers, the FBI, even an army helicopter; the college closed, the dye factory in Hampden shut down, people coming from New Hampshire, upstate New York, as far away as Boston.

The Concrete Blonde—Michael Connelly

The house in Silverlake was dark, its windows as empty as a dead man’s eyes. It was an old California Craftsman with a full front porch and two dormer windows set on the long slope of the roof. But no light shone behind the glass, not even from above the doorway. Instead, the house cast a foreboding darkness about it that not even the glow from the streetlight could penetrate. A man could be standing there on the porch and Bosch knew he probably wouldn’t be able to see him.

“You sure this is it?” he asked her.

“Not the house,” she said. “Behind it. The garage. Pull up so you can see down the drive.”

Bosch tapped the gas pedal and the Caprice moved forward and crossed the entrance to the driveway.

“There,” she said.

Bosch stopped the car. There was a garage behind the house with an apartment above it. Wooden staircase up the side, light over the door. Two windows, lights on inside.

“Okay,” Bosch said.

They stared at the garage for several moments. Bosch didn’t know what he expected to see. Maybe nothing. The whore’s perfume was filling the car and he rolled his window down. He didn’t know whether to trust her claim or not. The one thing he knew he couldn’t do was call for backup. He hadn’t brought a rover with him and the car was not equipped with a phone.

“What are you going to – – there he goes!” she said urgently.

Bosch had seen it, the shadow of a figure crossing behind the smaller window. The bathroom, he guessed.

“He’s in the bathroom,” she said. “That’s where I saw all the stuff.”

Bosch looked away from the window and at her.

“What stuff?”

“I, uh, checked the cabinet. You know, when I was in there. Just looking to see what he had. A girl has to be careful. And I saw all the stuff. Makeup shit. You know, mascara, lipsticks, compacts and stuff. That’s how I figured it was him. He used all that stuff to paint ‘em when he was done, you know, killing them.”

Run To Ground–D. P. Lyle

“I can still smell him.” Martha Foster inhaled deeply and closed her eyes.

Tim stood just inside the doorway and looked down at his wife. She sat on the edge of their son’s bed, eyes moist, chin trembling, as were the fingers that clutched the navy-blue Tommy Hilfiger sweatshirt to her chest. It had been Steven’s favorite. He had slept in it every night the first month, until Martha finally pried it away long enough to run it through the wash.

Behind her, a dozen photos of Steven lay scattered across the blue comforter. A proud Steven in his first baseball uniform. A seven-year-old Steven, grinning, upper left front tooth missing, soft freckles over his nose, buzz-cut hair, a blue swimming ribbon dangling around his neck. A playful Steven, sitting next to Martha at the backyard picnic table, face screwed into a goofy expression, smoke from the Weber BBQ rising behind them. Tim remembered the day he snapped the picture. Labor Day weekend. Just six months before that day. He squeezed back his own tears and swallowed hard.

Martha shifted her weight and twisted toward the photos. She laid the sweatshirt aside and reached out, lightly touching an image of Steven’s face. The trembling of her delicate fingers increased. She said nothing for a moment and then, “I’m taking these.”

Tim walked to where she sat and pulled her to him, her cheek nestling against his chest, her tears soaking through his tee shirt. He kissed the top of her head. 

“He’s gone,” Martha said. “Everything’s gone. Or will be.”


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Posted by on August 3, 2021 in Uncategorized


DEEP SIX, Jake Longly #1, A Kindle Daily Deal Today Only

DEEP SIX, Jake Longly #1, is a Kindle Daily Deal July 3rd 

Only $1.99

Ex-professional baseball player Jake Longly adamantly refuses to work for Ray, his PI father, preferring to chase bikinis along the beaches of Gulf Shores, Alabama. But Ray could be persuasive so Jake finds himself staking-out a suspected adulteress who gets murdered right under Jake’s nose. Aided by new girlfriend Nicole Jamison, Jake’s homicide investigation quickly runs afoul of Ukrainian mobster Victor Borkov. Was Borkov behind the murder? If so, why? As the intrepid couple nose around, more murders pile up, and ultimately they must somehow escape being deep-sixed from Borkov’s massive yacht.

We all know Lyle’s erudition and expertise – but who knew he was this funny?–Lee Child, NY Times Best Selling Author

Corruption, vendettas, cartel killers, oh my!  Deep Six puts the fun back into late night reading with this fast-paced romp through murder and mayhem.  Prepare to flip the pages.–Lisa Gardner, NY Times Best-selling Author

Grab a copy and hang out with Jake, Nicole, Ray, and of course Pancake.

More Details:


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Posted by on July 3, 2021 in Uncategorized


Criminal Mischief: Episode #45: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Criminal Mischief: The Art and Science of Crime Fiction: Episode #45: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning





That Sneaky Carbon Monoxide 

Carbon monoxide is sneaky and deadly. When authorities find a suicide victim in her garage, sitting in a car with the engine running, they can usually chalk up that death to carbon monoxide. 

Carbon monoxide is a tasteless, odorless, colorless gas that is completely undetectable by humans. It results from the incomplete combustion of carbon‐containing fuels like wood, coal, and gas. Faulty stoves, heaters, and fireplaces can fill the air with CO. Carbon monoxide poisoning kills more people trapped in fires than the fire itself does. 

CO is particularly treacherous because it binds to hemoglobin, producing carboxyhemoglobin in your blood. Because carboxyhemoglobin contains no usable oxygen, cells containing this molecule can’t supply oxygen to the tissues of the body. Thus, the body’s cells become starved for oxygen. Carbon monoxide binds to hemoglobin 300 times more readily than oxygen does and thus takes oxygen’s place in the body. Your body can get very high blood levels of CO by breathing air that contains only small amounts of it. For example, breathing air that contains a carbon monoxide level as low as 0.2 percent can lead to blood CO saturations greater than 60 percent after only 30 to 45 minutes. 

Most people believe that CO is toxic only in an enclosed area, but that’s just not true. People have died while working on their cars in the open air; typically, someone finds the victim lying near the car’s exhaust. Similarly, swimmers and water skiers who loiter near the dive platform on the back of an idling powerboat also run the risk of CO poisoning. Carbon monoxide’s powerful attraction to hemoglobin explains how people can succumb to CO poisoning in open areas. 

The signs and symptoms of CO toxicity correlate with its concentration in the blood:

1–The normal level of CO in the blood is 1 to 3 percent, but it can be as high as 7 to 10 percent in smokers.

2–At levels of 10 to 20 percent, you experience headaches and a poor ability to concentrate on complex tasks.

3–Between 30 and 40 percent, headaches become severe and throbbing, and nausea, vomiting, faintness, and lethargy appear. Pulse and breathing rate increase noticeably.

4–Between 40 and 60 percent, the victim becomes confused, disoriented, weak, and displays extremely poor coordination.

5–Above 60 percent, coma and death arrive.
In the elderly and those individuals with heart or lung disease, levels as low as 20 percent can be lethal. Victims of car exhaust suicide or those who die from fire in an enclosed room may reach CO levels as high as 90 percent.

Autopsy findings in CO poisoning depend, in part, on carboxyhemoglobin’s bright red color. When the ME performs an autopsy on a victim of CO poisoning, the blood and internal organs often appear bright red, and this offers a clue to the possible cause of death. 

Individuals who survive CO intoxication can suffer serious health problems. Carbon monoxide mostly damages the brain because it’s the organ most sensitive to a lack of oxygen. Symptoms and signs of significant brain insult may begin immediately or be delayed for several days or weeks. The most common after‐effects include chronic headaches, memory loss, blindness, confusion, disorientation, poor coordination, and hallucinations. The ME may be asked to evaluate a surviving victim if authorities suspect that the exposure was the result of a criminal act or they want documentation for a civil lawsuit.

Newser Story:

CO Deaths on Lake Erie:

CO Deaths From car Used as Heat Source:

PubMed: CO Poisoning Deaths is US, 1999-2012:

CDC: CP Poisoning:

Famous People Who Died of CO Poisoning:

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Posted by on June 29, 2021 in Uncategorized


Jake Longly News and Deals

Jake Longly #1
Kindle Daily Deal 5-18-21 only
Jake Longly#2
Kindle Daily Deal 5-28-21 only
Jake Longly #4
Coming in Paperback 5-25-21
Jake Longly #5
Coming October, 2021 
Available for Pre—order:

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Posted by on May 11, 2021 in Uncategorized


Thorne & Cross: Carnival Macabre: What Hollywood Gets Wrong with DP Lyle

Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross have a new gig, Carnival Macabre, which replaces their excellent Haunted Nights show. But it didn’t tamp down their zaniness.

I had a great time talking about Hollywood, crime, and storytelling. Take a listen.

Top 10 Writers’ Medical Mistakes

D. P. Lyle, MD

The Quick Death: No one dies instantly. Well, almost no one. Instant death can occur with heart attacks, strokes, extremely abnormal heart rhythms, and cyanide and other “metabolic” poisons. Cyanide and a few other chemicals prevent the body’s cells from using oxygen so death arrives in a hurry. But trauma, such as gunshot wounds (GSWs) and blows to the head, rarely cause sudden death. Yet, how often has a single shot felled a villain? Bang, and he drops dead. In order for that to occur, the bullet would need to severely damage the brain, the heart, or the cervical (neck) portion of the spinal cord. A shot to the chest or abdomen leads to a lot of screaming and moaning, but death comes from bleeding and that takes a while.

The Pretty Death: I call this the “Hollywood Death.” Calm, peaceful, and not a hair out of place. Blood? Almost never. The deceased is nicely dressed, lying in bed, make-up perfect, and with a slight flutter of the eyelids if you look closely. Real dead people are ugly. I don’t care what they looked like during life, in death they are pale, waxy, and gray. Their eyes do not flutter and they do not look relaxed and peaceful. They look dead.

The Bleeding Dead: Your detective arrives at a murder scene a half hour after the deed. Blood oozes from the corpse’s mouth and from the GSW in his chest. Tilt! Dead folks don’t bleed. You see, when you die, your heart stops and the blood no longer circulates and it clots. Stagnant or clotted blood does not move. It does not gush or ooze or gurgle or flow or trickle from the body. 

The Accurate Time of Death: Determining the time of death is neither easy nor very accurate. It is always a best guess and is stated as a range and not an exact time. Yet, how many times have you seen the detective or the ME confidently announce that the victim died at “10:30 last night”? I always wonder exactly how he made this determination. Was it rigor mortis, body temperature, or lividity? Was it the presence of absence of certain bugs? Of course, the problem is that none of these is accurate. In real-life the ME would say that death likely occurred “between 8 p.m. and midnight.” But that might make him appear wishy-washy and Hollywood likes its heroes to be smart. Smarter than they could possibly be.

The One-punch Knockout: You’ve seen and read this a million times. The hero socks the bad guy’s henchmen in the jaw. He goes down and is apparently written out of the script, since we never hear from him again. It’s always the henchmen, because the antagonist, like most people, requires a few solid blows to go down. Think about a boxing match. Two guys that are trained to inflict damage and they have trouble knocking each other out. And when they do, the one on his back is up in a couple of minutes, claiming the other guy caught him with a lucky punch. Listen to me. Only James Bond can knock someone out with a single blow. And maybe Mike Tyson. Your car-salesman-turned-amateur-sleuth cannot.

The Disappearing Black Eye: If your character gets a black eye in Chapter 3, he will have it for two weeks, which will likely take you through the end of the book. He will not be “normal” in two days. A black eye is a contusion (bruise). It is caused by blood leaking from tiny blood vessels, which are injured by the blow. It takes the body about two weeks to clear all that out of the tissues. It will darken over two days, fade over 4 or 5, turn greenish, brownish, and a sickly yellow before it disappears. On a good note, by about day 7, your female character may be able to hide it with make-up.

The Quick Healing: This is a corollary to the above. If your character falls down the stairs and injuries his back, he will not be able to run from or chase the bad guy or make love to his new lover the next day. Give the guy a few days to heal and make him limp and complain in the interim. If he breaks an arm, he’ll need 4 weeks minimum.

The Untraceable Poison: No such thing. With fancy equipment like Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectroscopy (GS-MS) virtually any chemical can be identified. The combination of these two tests gives a “chemical fingerprint” of the compound in question. The trick is to disguise the death to look like something else so that an expensive and time consuming full toxicological examination will not be done.

The Instant Athlete: Your PI drinks too much, smokes too much, and eats donuts on a regular basis. He will not be able to chase the villain for 10 blocks. Two on a good day. If he must, then make him capable. Remember “Babe” Levy (Dustin Hoffman) in Marathon Man? He had to run for his life as Dr. Christian Szell (Sir Laurence Olivier) and his Nazi bad guys chased him endlessly. But earlier in the film we learned that he ran around the reservoir in Central Park everyday. He could run for his life.

The Instant Lab Result: The world is not like CSI. They get results in a New York minute. In the real world the same test can take days, even weeks. A preliminary or presumptive test may be done quickly, but most confirmatory testing takes time. And the coroner will not likely release a report until the results are confirmed.


Jake Longly SUNSHINE STATE (#3) and RIGGED (#4) are Kindle Monthly Deals for April.

Jake Longly SUNSHINE STATE (#3) and RIGGED (#4) are Kindle Monthly Deals for April. Only $1.99 each.



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Posted by on April 3, 2021 in Writing


Poisons: The Perfect Murder Weapon on YouTube

Poisons: The Perfect Murder Weapon with DP Lyle, MD

MWA Rocky Mountain Chapter Event on YouTube

Many thanks to the MWA Rocky Mountain Chapter for hosting this event and asking me to do it.

Great group.


SKIN IN THE GAME is a Kindle Monthly Deal for March

SKIN IN THE GAME is a Kindle Monthly deal for March. Only $2.99



Raised as siblings by an itinerant “gypsy” family, knife expert Bobby Cain, trained by the US military in the lethal art of covert eliminations, and Harper McCoy, nurtured by the US Navy and the CIA to run black ops and wage psychological warfare, are now civilians. Of a sort. Employing the skills learned from the “family” and their training, they now fix the unfixable. Case in point: Retired General William Kessler hires the duo to track down his missing granddaughter, a Vanderbilt University co-ed. Their search leads them to a small, bucolic, lake-side town in central Tennessee and into a world of prostitution, human trafficking, and serial murder. The question then becomes: Will their considerable skills be enough for Cain and Harper to save the young woman, and themselves, from a sociopath with “home field” advantage, a hunter’s skills, and his own deeply disturbing agenda?

Terrific—truly sinister, scary, and suspenseful. Lyle never lets you down.—Lee Child, NYT Bestselling author of the Jack Reacher series

SKIN IN THE GAME hums like a tuning fork in perfect thriller pitch. Heroes Bobby Cain and Harper McCoy are skilled with blade and mind, and the villain here sent chills up my spine from page one on. This is further proof that Doug Lyle is at the top of his game.–T. Jefferson Parker author of THE LAST GOOD GUY

Check Out Book 2 in the Series: PRIOR BAD ACTS


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Posted by on March 2, 2021 in Writing


Criminal Mischief: Episode #44: Setting As Character

Criminal Mischief: Episode #44: Setting As Character




Can a story be set just anywhere? Some can, but most rely on the location and time period to underpin and amplify the story. In the best stories, setting becomes an essential character. Can you imagine James Lee Burke’s iconic Dave Robicheaux being anywhere but Louisiana? What about Linda Castillo’s Kate Burkholder or Michael Connolly’s Harry Bosch? Could they exist anywhere other than Amish country or Los Angeles, respectively? Jaws had to be on an island, The Godfather in New York, The Shining in an isolated mountain hotel, and Star Wars the far reaches of space. 

Setting has 2 parts: Where and When

Setting establishes MOOD

Setting is not simply a description of where the scene is taking place. It is more the “feel” of the location. Don’t spew out a bunch of minute details. Pick the two or three “telling details” that reveal the feel and mood of the place. Always leave room for the readers imagination.

Description is visual. That’s a given. Add depth by always including the other senses. What are the sounds, smells, and tactile characteristics of the locale? If your scene takes place at Café du Monde in New Orleans, incorporate the smell of beignets and chicory coffee, the sounds of flatware against plates, the clomping of the horse hooves of the passing carriages. If in a bar, maybe the smell of beer and cigar smoke, the clacking of pool balls, and the stickiness of spilt beer on the bar would work. If at a kennel, the yapping of dogs and the odor of excrement might be appropriate. If in a library, perhaps the muffled whispers of the patrons and the coarseness and musty aroma of the pages in an old book would be important to setting the desired mood.

The Telling Detail: the one or two things that set the scene. Might be visual or some other sense. Something that lets the reader get a feel for the setting and then fill in the details from his own mind. What detail or group of details makes the reader “see” all the other details?


Is your setting real or fictional? Urban or rural? Small or large?

Could your story be set anywhere else? Would it be a better story if it were?

What is unique about your setting?

What is your Protagonist’s and/or antagonist’s relationship to the setting? Has your character been there before, have a familiarity with the location, or is he a stranger in a strange land?

Is your setting a “story character”?

Description is visual so sight is a given, but which other senses can you bring to your setting? What are the sounds, smells, and tactile characteristics of the locale?

Setting is not simply a description of where the scene is taking place. It is more the “feel” of the location. Don’t spew out a bunch of minute details. Pick the two or three that sets the feel and mood of the place. Always leave room for the readers imagination.

What setting expresses your stories worldview and theme best?

Research setting by whatever means you can. If you live in the area or know it well, then much of the needed info is already in your head. If not, go there if you can but often that isn’t possible. Use the various map programs. Go to webpages that deal with the area and check out the history, geography, populace, businesses, and don’t forget the real estate sites that show homes and buildings in that area.

Try This: Walk into ten places you’ve never been before. Write down the first five things that make an impression on you. Now write a scene that takes place in each of these location.

Setting examples:

Black Cherry Blues–James Lee Burke

Her hair is curly and gold on the pillow, her skin white in the heat lightning that trembles beyond the pecan trees outside the bedroom window. The night is hot and breathless, the clouds painted like horsetails against the sky; a peal of thunder rumbles on the Gulf like an apple rolling around in the bottom a wooden barrel, and the first raindrops ping against the window fan. She sleeps on her side, and the sheet molds her thigh, the curve of her hip, her breast. In the flicker of the heat lightning the sun freckles on her bare shoulder look like brown flaws in sculpted marble.

In Cold Blood – – Truman Capote

The village of Holcomb stands on the high wheat plains of Western Kansas, a lonesome area that other Kansans call “out there.” Some seventy miles east of the Colorado border, the countryside, with it’s hard blue skies and desert-clear air, has an atmosphere that is rather more Far West than Middle West. The local accent is barbed with a prairie twang, a ranch-hand nasalness, and the men, many of them, wear narrow frontier trousers, Stetsons, and high-heeled boots with pointed toes. The land is flat, and the views are awesomely extensive; horses, herds of cattle, and a white cluster of grain elevators rising as gracefully as Greek temples are visible long before a traveler reaches them.

The Long Goodbye–Raymond Chandler

When I got home I mixed a stiff one and stood by the open window in the living room and sipped it and listened to the groundswell of traffic on Laurel Canyon Boulevard and looked at the glare of the big angry city hanging over the shoulder of the hills through which the boulevard had been cut. Far off the banshee wail of police or fire sirens rose and fell, never for very long completely silent. Twenty four hours a day somebody is running, somebody else is trying to catch him. Out there in the night of a thousand crimes, people were dying, being maimed, cut by flying glass, crushed against steering wheels or under heavy tires. People were being beaten, robbed, strangled, raped, and murdered. People were hungry, sick; bored, desperate with loneliness or remorse or fear, angry, cruel, feverish, shaken by sobs. A city no worse than others, a city rich and vigorous and full of pride, a city lost and beaten and full of emptiness. It all depends on where you sit and what your own private score is. I didn’t have one. I didn’t care. I finished the drink and went to bed.

The Concrete Blonde—Michael Connelly

The house in Silverlake was dark, its windows as empty as a dead man’s eyes. It was an old California Craftsman with a full front porch and two dormer windows set on the long slope of the roof. But no light shone behind the glass, not even from above the doorway. Instead, the house cast a foreboding darkness about it that not even the glow from the streetlight could penetrate. A man could be standing there on the porch and Bosch knew he probably wouldn’t be able to see him.

A-List—-DP Lyle

Cafe du Monde. No place like it. I never visited the Big Easy without at least one trip for their beignets and chicory coffee. The aroma of each hung thick beneath the green awning that covered the patio, as did the din of conversation. It was just after eight and the place was packed, as usual, but Nicole and I managed to snag a table along the railing. Out on the sidewalk a street performer, a guy dressed like a clown, face paint and all, squeaked together balloon animals that he handed to one excited kid after another. Parents dropped bills into the small aluminum bucket near his feet. Free enterprise, baby.

Also From A-List—DP Lyle

Bourbon Street actually has three personalities, depending on the time of day. The one most folks equate with it is nighttime when it becomes one big street party. Stretching from Canal Street to Jackson Square, the neon blazes, the alcohol flows, and some of the best music in the world spills out of bar after bar. Not to mention the strip clubs. Ones that caters to any and all persuasions. Short of murder, few things are off limits. Of course, the Quarter sees more than its share of homicides, too. 

During the day, Bourbon is an altogether different experience. For sure, you don’t want to see it around sunrise. It smells of garbage and stale alcohol, the detritus of the previous night. Like a decaying corpse. Refuse crews and street cleaners do yeoman’s work to prep it for a new onslaught. 

But by noon, the trash is hauled away, the pavement dries from the hosing it has received, and the stench magically evaporates. People appear, street performers take up their stations, and music begins to crank up. 

Circle of life in the Big Easy.


Posted by on February 23, 2021 in Uncategorized


All 4 Jake Longly Comedic Thrillers Are Kindle Monthly Deals for February and On Sale At All Major eBook Outlets Thru 3-31-21

All 4 Jake Longly comedic thrillers are on sale during the month of February for only $1.99 each.

And as part of the Winter Mega Sale on all eBook outlets thru 3-31-21, also for only $1.99 each

The Series:


Ex-professional baseball player Jake Longly adamantly refuses to work for his father, to enter Ray’s PI world. He prefers to hang out at his beach-front bar/restaurant and chase bikinis along the sugary beaches of Gulf Shores, Alabama. But Ray could be persuasive so Jake finds himself staking-out the home of wealthy Barbara Plummer, suspected of adultery by her husband. Seems simple enough. Hang around, take a few pictures, sip a little bourbon. Except Barbara gets herself murdered right under Jake’s nose. Jake launches into an investigation of the homicide, aided by new girlfriend Nicole Jemison, actress, budding screenwriter, and the progeny of Hollywood A-list parents, and Tommy “Pancake” Jeffers, Ray’s redheaded, behemoth employee who has crazy computer skills. 

Jake quickly runs afoul of Ukrainian mobster Victor Borkov, his henchmen Joe Zuma and Frank Boyd, cartel hitman Carlos, and the hitmen wanna-be Wilbanks brothers. Was Borkov behind Barbara’s murder? If so, why? What could he possibly gain? As Jake and Nicole peel away the layers of the crime, more murders pile up, and the intrepid couple must somehow escape being deep-sixed from Borkov’s massive yacht.


#2: A-LIST

Jake Longly and girlfriend Nicole Jamison are still recovering from their ordeal with Ukrainian underworld boss Victor Borkov and life on the Gulf Coast is returning to normal. Then Nicole’s producer uncle Charles Balfour calls asking them to head to New Orleans where his mega-star, A-list actor Kirk Ford, has awakened with the corpse of a college co-ed in his hotel bed. Ford, in the Big Easy for a location shoot, remembers little of the evening and nothing of the murder. As if things couldn’t get worse, the girl is the niece of local mafioso-type Tony Guidry who will do what is necessary to avenge his niece’s death.

As Jake and Nicole attempt to put the pieces together, they butt heads with Tony’s muscle, his near-do-well yet aggressive nephews (the dead girl’s brothers), as well as drug dealers Ju Ju and Ragman. Of course, Ray and Pancake arrive to help sort things out with the help of Ford’s  beautiful co-stars in the multi-billion dollar Space Quest franchise, Tegan and Tara James (aka The Twins), who vehemently support and defend Ford. 

But something isn’t right. The facts don’t fit. Who would want Kristi Guidry dead, or Kirk framed for murder? And why? Everyone has an opinion, including Kristi’s friends, her ex-boyfriend, homicide detective Troy Doucet, and even local fortuneteller Madam Theresa. It’s up to Jake and Nicole to decipher who’s lying, who’s telling the truth, and exactly who schemed to murder Kristi Guidry. 

Nothing is easy in the Big Easy.



Bizarre doesn’t quite cover it. In SUNSHINE STATE, Jake Longly and girlfriend Nicole Jamison are hired, through an anonymous benefactor, by serial killer Billy Wayne Baker to prove that two of the seven murders weren’t actually his work. Yet, he confessed to all seven and his DNA turned up at each scene. Is Billy Wayne simply trying to tweak the system, garner another fifteen minutes of fame? Or is there a killer out there getting away with murder? If so, who, why, and, most importantly, how? Nothing is as it seems in the Sunshine State.



First loves are never forgotten. Ever. Certainly not for Tommy “Pancake” Jeffers. His first-kiss, sixth-grade love Emily, who he has not seen since grammar school, is sliding toward divorce in the artsy Gulf Coast town of Fairhope. Alabama. Longly Investigations has been charged with looking into the finances involved. But, when Emily doesn’t appear for their nervously anticipated meeting, Pancake’s radar goes on high alert. When her body, along with that of Jason, one of two guys she has been dating, are found murdered, Pancake calls in Jake, Nicole, and Ray and the pursuit begins. Who would have done this? The soon-to-be ex, who has an ironclad alibi, the other guy Emily is seeing—jealousy being a motive for harm, or do the drugs found in Jason’s pocket indicate a drug-related hit? That world yields a host of suspects. As they peel back the layers of this idyllic community, dark secrets come to light and convoluted motives and methods of murder are revealed.



Coming 10-5-21: THE OC, Jake Longly #5

Jake Longly is hoping for a few weeks of fun with Nicole in the warm Orange County, CA sun—The OC, baby—before hopping up to LA for the filming of Nicole’s sure-to-be-a-hit screenplay. But on arrival they discover that Nicole’s friend Megan Weatherly, a small-market local TV reporter, has picked up an anonymous stalker. Megan thinks he’s simply an infatuated fan but Jake and Nicole, as well Megan’s new intern Abby, also a past stalking victim, think he’s potentially dangerous. As the shadowy man escalates his harassment, becomes more threatening, and circles closer and closer to Megan’s world, Ray and Pancake arrive. Are Ray’s past military black ops experience and Pancake’s computer skills enough to expose the predator in time? 

The stalker is no fool and likely has past experience. He makes no mistakes and manages to cover his trail completely. So, how do you identify and locate the untraceable? How do you protect Megan from a potentially lethal phantom? 

Suddenly the sunshine and safety of The OC seem more facade than reality. Jake and crew must punch through that facade and dig into the dark world of celebrity stalking. The clock is ticking.


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Posted by on February 1, 2021 in Writing

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