Monthly Archives: June 2020

Bad Luck X2: First Your Head Gets Lopped Off, Second You End Up In A Wall

The guillotine was an integral part of the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror that followed. Ask Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. But at least their bodies, and their heads, ended up in a cemetery. It seems that several hundreds of others weren’t that lucky. They simply got plastered into a wall. That’s what a recent discovery at the Chapelle Expiatoire suggests.

I’ve blogged about the guillotine before. It was a brutal but fascinating piece of equipment with a history that is more than a little bloody. It also indirectly left a future king in prison and his heart on the lam. 

Guillotine and Death: How Long Does It Take?:

Mitochondrial DNA and the Heart of a Future King:


RIGGED: Kings River Life Review and Giveaway


Kings River Life Review

Longly Investigations includes Ray the owner, his son Jake, Jake’s girlfriend Nicole, and Tommy “Pancake” Jeffers. They are currently investigating the finances of Emily and her husband Sean who are in the process of divorcing. Emily was Pancake’s first love, and he has never forgotten her. When Emily fails to show for their first business meeting, Pancake is thrown into a turmoil. Shortly after the missed meeting Emily’s body along with the body of the man she had been dating are found in a neighbor’s field killed execution style. Pancake is devastated and is determined to find the murderer.

Is Emily’s soon-to-be ex-husband, Sean, involved even though he has an iron clad alibi? Sean was working on a Gulf Shore oil rig at the time. Was it the second man who Emily had been dating, even though she considered him just a friend? Had he wanted more? Was it someone who had a beef with Emily’s boyfriend and Emily was just collateral damage?

As Pancake and the team investigate, drugs come into the picture. A small amount of drugs had been found with the bodies and as the team digs deeper into the town of Fairhope, Alabama, they find themselves scoping out the local drug community for suspects and reasons. Soon they have a whole new list of suspects to follow up on. Can Pancake and the team find the murderer and provide Emily with justice or will they fail?

This was an intense read that kept me turning the pages. The characters are well drawn and never lose their focus. The murder plot is cunningly twisted and will keep you guessing right to the final confrontation. I highly recommend this book and series to anyone who enjoys a great mystery thriller because the author always delivers a fantastic adventure!

RIGGED Details:

Original Post and Giveaway:

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Posted by on June 27, 2020 in Writing


Golden State Killer’s Evidence Pilfered From Sheriff’s Office for “Book Research.”

Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, who authorities suspect is the so-called Golden State Killer responsible for at least a dozen murders and 50 rapes in the 1970s and 80s, is accompanied by Sacramento County Public Defender Diane Howard, right, as he makes his first appearance, Friday, April 27, 2018, in Sacramento County Superior Court in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

An amazing turn of events in the Golden State Killer case. Might this evidence “heist” impact his prosecution and/or plea deal? Is this a problem with evidence handling by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, another case of Hollywood getting special access, or both? We will see what happens.

The good news is that for crime writers this might offer you another plot point to work with.


Criminal Mischief: Episode #38: PIs Make Great Characters

Criminal Mischief: Episode #38: PIs Make Great Characters




PIs Make Great Characters

Cops are cool, and memorable fictional characters, but P.I.s seem to come in more variable and quirkier flavors. From ex-military types to everyday folks with a knack for sniffing out wrongdoing to little old ladies with cats. The latter tend to be the smartest and toughest. This wide variety is what makes reading P.I. stories fun. Private investigators, both licensed and amateur, tend to be more eccentric, possess different skills (some useful, others less so), and seem to break the rules with impunity. How much fun is that?

The fictional P.I. world is populated with iconic characters such as Holmes, Spade, Marlowe, Milhone, Hammer, Archer, Robicheaux, and the list goes on. Meeting such folks is why reading P.I. novels is so rewarding. And so much fun to write.

James Crumley’s CW Sughrue:

From The Last Good Kiss:

When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog names Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon.

Trahearne had been on this wandering binge for nearly three weeks, and the big man, dressed in rumpled khakis, looked like and old soldier after a long campaign, sipping slow beers to wash the taste of death from his mouth. The dog slumped on the stool beside him like a tired little buddy, only raising his head occasionally for a taste of beer from a dirty ashtray set on the bar.

Raymond Chandler’s Phillip Marlowe:

From The Long Goodbye:

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.

Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins:

From Devil With A Blue Dress:

I was surprised to see a white man walk into Joppy’s bar. It’s not just that he was white but he wore an off-white linen suit and shirt with a Panama straw hat and bone shoes over flashing white silk socks. His skin was smooth and pale with just a few freckles. One lick of strawberry-blond hair escaped the band of his hat. He stopped in the doorway, filling it with his large frame, and surveyed the room with pale eyes, not a color I’d ever seen in a man’s eyes. When he looked at me I felt a thrill of fear, but that went away quickly because I was used to white people by 1948.

I had spent five years with white men, and women, from Africa to Italy, through Paris, and into the Fatherland itself. I ate with them and slept with them, and I killed enough blue-eyed young men to know that the were just as afraid to die as I was.

Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade:

From The Maltese Falcon:

Samuel Spade’s jaw was long and bony, his chin a jutting V under the more flexible V of his mouth. His nostrils curved back to make another, smaller, V. His yellow-gray eyes were horizontal. The V motif was picked up again by thickish brows rising outward from twin creases above a hooked nose, and his pale brown hair grew down—-from high flat temples—in a point on his forehead. He looked rather pleasantly like a blond satan.

Robert B Parker’s Spenser:

From God Save The Child:

If you leaned back in the chair and cranked your neck hard over you could see the sky from my office window, delft blue and cloudless so bright it looked solid. It was September after Labor Day, and somewhere the corn was probably as high as an elephant’s eye, and the kind of weather when a wino could sleep warm in a doorway.

“Mr. Spenser, are you listening to us?”

I straightened my head up and looked at Roger and Margery Bartlett.

“Yea, Ma’am,” I said. “You were just saying about how you never dealt with a private detective before, but this was an extreme case and there seemed no other avenue. Everybody who comes in here tends to say about the same thing to me.”

Each of my four thriller series (Dub Walker, Samantha Cody, Jake Longly, Cain/Harper) features a private investigator, of sorts. None are what you would call a normal, licensed P.I. but each serves that function one way or the other.

Dub Walker from Stress Fracture:

“You ain’t going to like it,” Sheriff Luther Randall said.

My gut knotted. “Let’s do it.”

Life morphed into slow motion as I followed Luther down the hallway toward Mike’s bedroom. My legs felt heavy, and my shoe soles grabbed the carpet as if trying to hold me back. As if they knew what lay ahead.

My name is Dub Walker. I’d worked more than a hundred homicides in my career. As a MP for the US Marines, as a lab tech with the Alabama Department of Forensic Science here in Huntsville, as a trainee and consultant in Quantico with the FBI’s Behavioral Assessment Unit, and as a crime scene and evidence analyst on cases all over the country. I’m considered somewhat of an expert in this stuff. I’ve written a dozen books on these subjects, and if you do that people automatically think you know a bunch about it. Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t. Could go either way. It was that perception-reality deal.

I’d seen angry spouses slice, dice, and shoot each other; drug deals gone sideways; murders for hire; gang massacres; Mafia hits; and a few killings that didn’t fit into any pigeonhole. I’d seen victims of shootings, poisonings, beatings, fires, explosive devices, and one-way flights off tall buildings. I’d seen firsthand the work of serial killers who tortured, mutilated, cannibalized, and even preserved victims.

None of this prepared me for this one.

Jake Longly from Rigged:

Life runs in odd circles. Creates circumstances you never see coming, could never predict. Makes for strange bedfellows.

As my grandfather was quick to say, “Life can park your butt in some unpleasant locales.” Loved that guy. More so than my father Ray, who could be a pain in the ass. Not that I didn’t love him, just that he was be a bit intense for my tastes. I think he and I tolerated each other as much as anything else. I often wished he was more like his father but that train hit the rails decades ago.

Back to parking your butt in unpleasant places.

Right now, mine had found itself on an uncomfortably hard, wooden chair behind the defense table in the Gulf Shores Municipal Courthouse. I wasn’t sure what caused the most unease—the seat, the fact that I was the defendant in the proceedings at hand, the stack of charges levied against me, or the sullenness of Judge Ruth Corvas. The woman was all decked out in her black robe, shoulders hunched forward, sharp eyes following my attorney as he walked back and forth before her, offering his closing argument. She looked like a hawk, eyeing prey. Maybe a turkey vulture sizing up carrion. Made me reconsider having waved my rights to a jury trial.

I was good with people. Always had been. That’s one reason Captain Rocky’s, my bar/restaurant, was so successful. I was the “face” of the operation. A jury might like me; judge Corvas less so. She looked like she had eaten a bad taco. Or too many barbecued beans.

Bobby Cain from Skin In The Game:

That Bobby Cain made it into the military was a minor miracle. For one thing, he had a criminal record—juvenile, sealed, and later expunged—but still a record. Surely the military had access to that part of his life. He had limited formal education. Some homeschooling as his gypsy family scurried from town to town, thanks to Aunt Dixie, and his adoptive parents, the Cains, had pushed him to a high school diploma. But his education had always felt haphazard, incomplete. 

Degree in hand, he enlisted in the US Army. Amazingly, they accepted him. Even though his final two years of school were at a military academy, he had no real “military connections” to smooth the path. Everything indicated that his Army career would be uneventful. 

Things changed a few months in. Thanks to the not-so-formal education he had received from his gypsy family.

Several of the “parents” in the troupe had offered lessons that aren’t available in a real school. Things like how to run a con, or lift a wallet, or a watch, or empty a purse in a heartbeat. Day, night, alone, in a crowd, each required a different approach and skill set. 

For Cain, these lessons most often came from Uncle Al, Aunt Dixie, and Uncle Maurice, known as Uncle Mo.

Fighting lessons were particularly intense. “No fight is fair,” was Uncle Mo’s mantra. “The guy who fights fair, loses.” He taught Cain to box, wrestle, and what he called “grappling.” The art of taking someone of any size down with a single punch, or the literal snap of a finger, or out cold with a choke hold. Most of Cain’s “brother” opponents back then had been years older, and much larger and stronger. But, he learned quickly. The key, according to Uncle Manny, was hand strength. Strong hands win fights.

Uncle Al taught him that in a fight, everything was a weapon. Fists, feet, elbows, knees, your head. A stick, a stone, a chair, a lamp, and, of course, a knife. He showed Bobby where to hide knives in his clothes and shoes, even how to construct those that could be secreted in belts, hats, pocket linings, seams. 

Aunt Dixie gave him a master class in the art of throwing.

I think the great variability in P.I. characters makes for engaging stories and, as a writer, excellent fodder for character creation and storytelling. It’s why I read P.I. novels and why I write them. As do many of my fellow authors. 

For my other posts on this topic check out:

King’s River Life Magazine

The Crime Fiction Writers’ Blog:

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Posted by on June 23, 2020 in Writing


THE BIG THRILL: UP CLOSE: Dark Secrets, Convoluted Motives, and Startling Methods of Murder

By Austin Camacho


RIGGED Jake Longly #4

Dark Secrets, Convoluted Motives, and Startling Methods of Murder 

In these trying times we can all use a smile, but rare is the writer who can get a chuckle out of his readers while delivering edge-of-your-seat suspense and thrills. That’s one reason D. P. Lyle’s latest novel, RIGGED, is such a glorious find.

This is the fourth thriller in the Jake Longly series, and Longly is certainly the hero—but it’s Tommy “Pancake” Jeffers who kicks off the case. Jeffers is spurred to action when Emily, his sixth-grade crush, is found murdered execution style, along with one of the two men she was dating. Pancake calls in Longly and the team to find the killer. And while ex-professional baseball player Longly could make any bad guy run for cover, Pancake, at six-foot-five and 275 pounds, is even more intimidating despite being a nice guy at heart. 

“Yes, you would love him if you met him at a party or anywhere else,” Lyle says. “Unless you’re a bad guy. Then he just might dismantle you. Literally.” 

Pancake is bound to Jake and his girlfriend Nicole, whom he would protect to the death. His nickname, from his football days, refers to his ability as an offensive lineman to make pancake blocks—those that flatten the opponent.

The plot leads our heroes through dark secrets, convoluted motives, and startling methods of murder in the idyllic community of Fairhope, Alabama. Location makes good fiction feel real, and this one is not made up. Lyle says the real Fairhope is a wonderful town and anyone who visits the Gulf Coast of Alabama should drop in. 

“Very artsy and upscale with lots of restaurants and bars,” Lyle says, “and it sits on the east side of Mobile Bay—facing west so the sunsets are spectacular. It’s quaint and quiet and that’s why the murders in this story are so upsetting to the locals—fictional locals of course. Page and Palette, the bookstore used as a scene setting in RIGGED, is a wonderful store. I’ve signed and given a talk there in the past.” 

The victim in this case is not one with lots of obvious enemies. Emily is, in fact, a wonderful person, kind and generous, a good worker, loyal, smart, and reliable, although her personal life is a bit convoluted at this point. 

“She is simply going through the dissolution of a marriage,” Lyle says, “so yes, she is dating two guys, one more serious, the other friendly. She is loved in the community and that also makes her murder more startling. She was Pancake’s sixth-grade sweetheart, his first love.” 

Which explains why he takes her murder very personally. 

Like the earlier books in this series, the murder and other criminal activity depicted are real and gritty. Still, this entire series is comedic in nature. Lyle effectively takes a lighter hand with the darker stuff and unlike most such attempts, in his books it works marvelously. 

“Most of the comedy comes from Jake’s odd take on life and his seeing of any situation,” Lyle says, “and from the interactions of the various characters. So it is more or less a sitcom with crime. To understand Jake and Nicole’s banter and jousting with each other, watch an old Tracy-Hepburn movie.” 

To an extent you can see Jake Longly as an amateur sleuth. Generally he gets involved with cases because of his father, Ray, who runs a sought-after private investigator business. 

“PIs get into these types of situations all the time—it’s just that the ones Jake, Pancake, and Nicole get involved with are a bit quirkier. Still down and dirty, but off kilter a bit. Thus the comedy.” 

Lyle is a multi-talented author. He’s a cardiologist who, in addition to his thrillers, has written mysteries, science fiction, and popular nonfiction about forensics. In addition to writing, he is a sought-after consultant who has worked for more than a dozen television shows. Some of this work concerns storytelling, but most deals with medical and forensic science, two areas he knows a lot about. 

“I think those who reach out for my help know that I can bring both scientific and storytelling elements to their work in progress,” Lyle says. “It’s one thing to know science, it’s another to make it story-friendly. “ 

Lyle actually has two successful series going right now. In addition to Jake Longly’s humorous adventures, he writes the Cain/Harper series of darker, more traditional thrillers. 

“I try to complete one from each series each year,” Lyle says. “I go back and forth, and I find that that keeps getting stale at bay. Each series requires different storytelling techniques, with a lot of overlap of course, but a different mindset and focus. I find that alternating series books in this way keeps me more engaged in the one I’m working on.” 

You can’t go wrong with any of Lyle’s work, but if you have a taste for the rare book that will both thrill you and make you laugh, RIGGED is the book for you. 

RIGGED Details/Order:


Original Post in the June 2020 The Big Thrill:

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Posted by on June 6, 2020 in Writing

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