Author Archives: D.P. Lyle, MD

About D.P. Lyle, MD

Author, Lecturer, Story Consultant

Criminal Mischief: Episode #21: Autopsy Of A Thriller: The Terminator

Criminal Mischief: Episode #21: Autopsy OF A Thriller: The Terminator





The Autopsy of a Thriller

The Terminator (1984)

T = The Terminator

R = Kyle Reese

S = Sarah Conner

T appears in ball of light, takes clothes from punk after being stabbed and ripping out his heart. + – 0

R appears in ball of light, takes vagrants clothes, steals shotgun from police car, escapes from police, finds 3 Sarah Conners in phone book.


S works at Big Boy, ditsy and clumsy. + – 0

T steals guns from gun shop, kills owner + – 0

T finds 3 Sarah Conners in phone book. + – 0

T kills Sarah Conner #1. + – 0

S sees TV broadcast of Sarah Conner’s murder. + – 0

S date stands her up, she goes out alone. + – 0

Police learn of murder of 2nd Sarah Conner. + – 0

S heads out for night, R follows. + – 0

S in restaurant sees TV news of 2nd Sarah Conner murder, tries to call police, phone out of service   + – 0

S senses she’s being followed by R, ducks into disco, R follows, S calls police, can’t get through. + – 0

T goes to S’s apartment, kills roommate and boyfriend, hears call from Sarah who leaves message about where she is, sees photo ID of S. + – 0

S reaches police, they are coming to disco. + – 0

(Inciting Incident) 

T arrives, R and T have shoot-out. T shot multiple times but gets up. + – 0

S and R escape, T steals police car and chases + – 0

R explains that he is there to protect her and that she has been targeted for termination and that T is a cyborg that will not stop until S is dead. R tells Sarah that in the near future machines take over and start a nuclear war, then set out to destroy all humans. T must kill her to prevent her from having her son, John Conner, mankind’s savior from the machines that will rule the future world. + – 0

Chase resumes between R & S, T, and the police. S and R crash car, arrested by police, T escapes. + – 0

S learns that roommate was killed. + – 0

T repairs injured forearm and removes injured eye, revealing that he is indeed a cyborg.    + – 0

Psychiatrist explains to S that R is crazy and that T was likely on PCP and wearing a flak jacket. + – 0

(1st Turning Point) 

T attacks police station, killing many cops. + – 0

S and R steal car and escape. + – 0

T looks through Sarah’s address book, finds mother’s address. + – 0

S and R get room in motel out of city. Sarah calls her mother, tells her where they are, but she is talking to T.   + – 0

S and R make sticks of nitroglycerine and then make love. + – 0

T arrives, but S and R escape in stolen truck, T chases on motorcycle. + – 0

T avoids nitro sticks, S knocks T off bike, crashes truck, T is run over by 18-wheeler.     +   – 0

T gets up, takes over 18-wheeler, and chases S and R. + – 0

R slips nitro stick into truck, blowing it up in huge fireball, T burns in fire. + – 0

(2nd Turning Point) 

T rises from fire, now reduced to a metallic skeleton.  +-0

R and S hide in industrial building, T follows. + – 0

T corners S and R in building. + – 0

R places nitro stick in T’s ribs and blows him to pieces. + – 0

Upper half of T keeps coming, forcing S into corner. + – 0


S leads T into crushing machine and crushes him. + – 0


R dies, pregnant Sarah leaves country to prepare for coming war. 





Details and Order:

Publishers Weekly:

In Lyle’s ingenious third mystery featuring retired major league pitcher Jake Longly (after 2017’s A-List), Jake, who runs a restaurant in Gulf Shores, Ala., is again roped into working for his father Ray’s PI firm. An attorney has contacted Ray on behalf of Billy Wayne Baker, a convicted serial killer. Though Baker pleaded guilty to strangling seven women, he insists that he killed only five of them, and wants that assertion validated. When Jake meets Baker in prison, the murderer refuses to name the other killer, claiming that doing so would lead to accusations that Jake’s inquiries were biased. The investigator’s task is made even harder by Baker’s not even identifying which of the dead women were killed by someone else . (To his credit, Lyle makes this complicated scenario credible.) Along with his girlfriend, Jake travels to Pine Key, Fla., the scene of three of the strangulations, where the couple pretends to be researching a documentary examining the impact of the killings on the small community. The clever plot twists will surprise even genre veterans. This entry is the best in the series so far. 


Doug Lyle’s criminally entertaining Sunshine State (Oceanview) welcomes back his investigative team of Jake Longly and Nicole Jamison with a heavier touch and darker tone he handles with wit and aplomb. 

As Tim Dorsey and Carl Hiaasen have aptly shown, Florida seems to be where all the country’s weirdness calls home. Good thing Longly and Jamison call it home too and they’re going to need all their sleuthing skills when they find themselves in a small coastal town riddled by murders. The fact that Billy Wayne has already confessed to the crimes puts a crimp in their efforts, until his story starts to unravel and the stalwart team realizes a killer might still be out there, about to claim his, or her, next victim.

Sunshine State sizzles with just the right mix of action and mystery, a rollicking roller-coaster ride on a track lined with thrills and spills.

Authors On The Air Book Review Crew Review:

In this newest installment of the Jake Longly series, Jake is faced with his most bizarre case yet. Longly Investigations is hired by an anonymous benefactor to prove that notorious serial killer Billy Wayne Baker only committed 5 of the 7 murders he confessed to. The investigation brings them to a small coastal town of Pine Key, Florida, where 3 of the 7 murders occured. What they uncover here is more than they expected.

Lyle is a savant of description, never leaving out any detail, fully immersing you in the storyline and the lives of his characters. The suspense built slowly and carefully, only giving a small hint of the truth at a time. I kept guessing until the very end, and I was still wrong! I love that while this is a series, the author gave enough back story that it can be read as a stand-alone novel. I highly recommend this book. Heck, I highly recommend this author in general.

Library Journal Review

In Lyle’s third “Jake Longly” story (Deep Six; A-List), Jake, former major league fastballer and now sometime PI for his father’s detective firm, and girlfriend Nicole pursue a bizarre case. Convicted mass murderer Billy Wayne Baker wants his crimes reexamined, claiming he didn’t kill seven women, only five, even though he confessed to all the killings. He cheerfully admits he’s a murderer but doesn’t want his record besmirched. Nicole and Jake head to the small Gulf Coast town of Pine Key, FL. Three killings occurred there, not one, Billy Wayne’s modus operandi was to kill once, then move on. So who might have murdered the other two, and how can they get people to talk? Working for Billy Wayne won’t do it. Enter Nicole’s Uncle Charles, TV producer. The PIs arrive in town posing as an advance team for a proposed television documentary on the lives of the victims, not the murderer. Here Jake proves his worth: people like talking to him, and he and Nicole need them to talk. That and the 80-mile-an-hour remnant of Jake’s formerly 100- mile-an-hour fastball are Jake’s strengths: both of which he uses to his advantage in this loosey-goosey detective story. VERDICT This attractive PI thriller should appeal to lovers of detective fiction.

Kirkus Review:

A third case takes the ever reluctant “sort of a P.I.” Jake Longly and his girlfriend, Nicole Jamison, from Gulf Shores, Alabama, to a tiny Florida town on what sure looks like a fool’s errand. 

Billy Wayne Baker, who’s doing seven consecutive life sentences in the Union Correctional Institute for a two-year spree of rape and murder, insists that he’s the victim of rank injustice: He only killed five of those women. 

Ordinarily, his protestations would fall on indifferent ears, but they’ve managed to intrigue a wealthy fan who’s willing to pay Longly Investigations, the brainchild of Jake’s father, to revisit Billy Wayne’s checkered history. There are a couple of caveats that would turn away anyone but Jake, whose professed distance from his father keeps getting overridden by his willingness to work with him (A-List, 2017, etc.). Ray Longly’s client wants to remain anonymous, and Billy Wayne refuses to reveal which of his two alleged victims were actually somebody else’s. His averral that he doesn’t want to prejudice the investigation makes no sense, but it does set up the promise of a highly original kind of mystery that, sadly, Lyle resolves before you can bleat “wrongly accused,” narrowing the field of possible outlier victims with indecent haste so that Jake, Ray, and his behemoth operative, Pancake, can get down to the infinitely less interesting business of ignoring more than half the murders in order to place virtually every citizen of Pine Key, Florida, under a microscope, provoking an eighth homicide along the way, so that they can determine whodunit. 

If you can overlook the wildly implausible premise, medical specialist Lyle provides suitably gossipy small-town atmosphere, straightforward plotting, a likable, wisecracking hero, and, of course, solid forensics. But that’s an awful lot to overlook. 

SUNSHINE STATE Indie Forward Review

Reluctant but effective PI Jake Longly journeys to a sleepy Florida town to prove that a murderer didn’t commit all of the crimes credited to him. Billy Wayne Baker—a self- confessed and convicted serial killer—professes that he only killed five people. Longly and his allies discover that Baker’s MO demanded one kill per town before he moved on to the next—but in Pine Key, three women were murdered. Longly and his girlfriend adopt documentarian personas to ascertain if Baker is playing games or if someone used his killing spree as a cover. 

The unlikely premise becomes an interesting hook for Longly Investigations, whose team focuses on determining which of Pine Key’s seemingly benign citizens had the means and motive to take advantage of Baker’s killing spree. Longly and crew’s cover allows them to interview and investigate without raising flags until they uncover key evidence. Another murder occurs, leading to a satisfying climax. 

This mystery is the third in its series, providing strong context and characterization to entice new readers. The relationships between the major characters build well, with subtle callbacks to previous adventures. Longly anchors the story alongside his girlfriend and PI father. 

The social dynamics of Pine Key steal the spotlight. Following 

Longly’s investigation provides ample opportunity for humanizing and casting doubt on several of the townspeople, and multiple suspects rise to the top, even though the team struggles to find proof. Snappy dialogue, fantastic scene setting, and polished prose set the action without hampering the pace. 

Sunshine State is an enjoyable murder mystery filled with heart and humor. JOHN M. MURRAY (May/June 2019)

Sunshine State Booklist Review

As serial killers go, Billy Wayne Baker could out-nice even Ted Bundy. Those who meet him and live use words like pleasant and engaging and note that “he even has small hands.” Hard to believe he murdered seven women. Billy Wayne claims he didn’t— there were no more than five. He had to confess to seven, he says, to avoid the death penalty. Now he wants those two taken off his list, so he asks author Lyle’s series hero, ex- baseballer and unconfident PI Jake Longly, to uncover the truth. 

Jake and his cohorts—lover Nicole plus a pal named Pancake plus Dad, who’s a real PI—travel to a picturesque village on the Gulf Coast, only to find that the evidence of Baker’s guilt is overwhelming. The investigation, the evidence, the autopsies—all were flawless. Of course, it unravels, thanks in part to a chance conversation accidentally overheard. Meantime, readers

are asked to tag along on a genially sybaritic investigation oiled by Blanton bourbon, R & J cigars, and Louisiana po’boys. It’s all told in appropriately low-key prose. Until the finale, that is.

— Don Crinklaw

Linda’s Book Reviews

PI Jake Longly and Nicole Jamison are faced with a unique, unheard of investigation. Well known serial killer, Billy Wayne Baker, confessed to seven murders in order not to go to trial. Residing in prison now, his lawyer contacts Longly and team. Baker now says that 2 of those murders were not done by him.. but he won’t tell them which victims. He says he knows who did them but he won’t tell them that. either. 

So where to start? Baker’s victims were really spread out. According to him, he would sneak in, commit the murder and promptly leave town before he was caught. But there was one place that was hit multiple times, leaving three dead women…..that’s where they think they will be. 

Will they be able to find the real killer of two of these victims .. or is Baker playing a game? 

An ex-big league ballplayer, now a beach bar owner, and working for his dad as a reluctant private investigator, Jake Longly brings his smarts, his good looks, and his sense of humor to the table. Nicole is a smart woman, loves her work helping out the PIs, and she has a playfulness that can’t be denied. Pancake is a lifelong friend of Jake’s .. a mountain of a man who eats 24 hours a day. He also works for Ray Longly, who owns the PI family business. 

All the characters are finely drawn… quirky in a multitude of ways …. and the small town where all the action takes place is charming. This is not an action-packed thriller with guns blasting and road races with police cars. There is mystery, there is some suspense … but it’s more like a fine wine that slowly warms your insides. 

Although third in the 3-book trilogy, this can easily be read as a stand-alone. I’ve read a different series by this author, but I’m looking forward to reading the first two books in this one.

Many thanks to the author / Oceanview Publishing / Edelweiss for the digital copy of this humorous crime fiction. Opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own. 

Midwest Book Review

“Jake Longly and Nicole Jamison are confronted with the most bizarre case yet. Serial killer Billy Wayne Baker now denies that two of his seven murders were actually his work. An anonymous benefactor, who believes Billy Wayne’s denials, has hired Longly Investigations to prove Billy Wayne right. Billy Wayne had confessed to all seven. Not only did the confessed serial killer have the motive, means, and opportunity for murder, but his DNA was found at each crime scene. Bizarre doesn’t quite cover it. Jake and Nicole travel to the small Gulf Coast town of Pine Key, Florida, where three of the murders occurred. The local police, FBI, state prosecutor, and crime lab each did their jobs, uncovered overwhelming evidence of Billy Wayne’s guilt―and even extracted a full confession. Is Billy Wayne simply trying to tweak the system to garner another fifteen minutes of fame? It’s likely all a game to him, but, if he’s being truthful― someone out there is getting away with multiple murders. How? Why? And most importantly, who? Dark clouds loom in the Sunshine State. D. P. Lyle’s “Sunshine State” is another deftly penned suspense thriller of a read by a master of narrative storytelling. While unreservedly recommended as an addition to community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that “Sunshine State” is also available in a digital book format.”—Midwest Book Review 

BookBub KCaprero

“Sunshine State” by D. P. Lyle is book three in the “Jake

Longly” series, but it has enough suspense and hilarious antics that new readers will have no trouble following Jake and friends along the Gulf Shore.

“Sunshine State” is largely Jake Longly’s first person narrative, and he obligingly introduces himself and the various players. He talks to himself; he talks to others, and he talks to readers. He shares, strategizes, plans, and sometimes even thinks. The plot is conversation driven, so readers know what he says to people and what they say to him. He comments on everything, including what he thinks about people, the case, and the food.

Jake begrudgingly works for his father at Longly Investigations but prefers working at his bar on the sand on the Gulf Shore. Longly Investigations now has a very unusual case, one filled with mystery and intrigue, one that makes absolutely no sense. A serial killer in a Florida prison wants to prove that he only killed five people instead of seven. Since someone is footing the bill for the investigation, Jake and his familiar crew head

off to check out the multiple murders, multiple players, and multiple conspiracies. Readers follow along as the case unfolds with the clues and the miscues, the revelations and the theories.

There is plenty of humor starting with the players, “This is Tommy Jeffers. Folks call him Pancake.” And their feelings about the situation, “More like an exchange program. We can ship them a couple of liquored-up good old boys complete with pick-up trucks, and they could send us a serial killer.”

Lyle immerses readers in the geography of the area with relaxed and flowing descriptions, “The air held a salty must, and a gentle breeze came off the water. The sky was blue and pock- marked with wads of fluffy clouds”

“Sunshine State” is an entertaining book, with a proposition so outrageous and improbable that readers are compelled to turn the pages to see just how this absurdity plays out. I received a review copy of “Deep Six” from D. P. Lyle, and Oceanview Publishing. It is not a headache-inducing thriller; it is an entertaining book to read, considering it is about a serial killer, of course. Jake and his cohorts are not intense investigators, dedicated sleuths, or even excessively thoughtful; they are just fun.—Katie Caprero BookBub

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Posted by on June 8, 2019 in Writing


Criminal Mischief: Episode #20: Elements Of A Thriller

Criminal Mischief: Episode #20: Elements Of A Thriller

AOTA Graphic




Elements of a Thriller

Open with a Bang or a Chill or a Compelling Question

Establish the 4 Ws Early——-Who, What, When, and Where

Inciting Incident—Sets the protagonist’s story in motion

Establish the Story Question—What does the Protagonist want/need?

Rising Tension

Who/What opposes the Protagonist and Why?

What does the antagonist want/need?

Establish a Time or Situation Endpoint

Scenes advance or obstruct the protagonist’s attaining goal

Each power scene poses a question and ends with:



Yes, but————————Strong

No, and furthermore——-Strongest

Convergence of Space and Time—“Life in a Trash Compactor”

Epiphany—Protagonist grasps the solution

Personal Jeopardy—Protagonist must fear for personal safety

Mano a’ Mano—Protagonist must confront antagonist “face to face”

Resolution—all major story questions are resolved

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Posted by on May 28, 2019 in Writing




SS 500X766

SUNSHINE STATE RELEASE DAY is next Tuesday May 21, 2019

Previous Posts include:

A Reading of the first 2 chapters:

Who The Heck Is Jake Longly?:


Join me for these events:

MJ Magazine Interview with Fran Lewis
Discussion of SUNSHINE STATE
Tuesday, May 21, 2019, 7 a.m. Pacific

Authors On The air with Pam Stack
Discussion of SUNSHINE STATE
Tuesday, May 21, 2019, 2 p.m. PDT

Lit Up! OC: Reading from SUNSHINE STATE
Tuesday, May 21, 2019, 7 p.m.
Bardot Bars & Coffee
662 El Camino Real
Tustin, CA

SUNSHINE STATE Launch Party Signing
Mystery Ink, Huntington Beach, CA
Saturday, May 25, 2019, 3 p.m.
Mystery Ink Bookstore
8907 Warner Ave. #135
Huntington Beach, CA

Sisters in Crime, Orange County
“Meeting Mysterious Characters For The First Time”
Sunday, May 26th, 2019, 2 p.m.
Irvine Water District
15500 Sand Canyon Ave
Irvine, CA

Suspense Radio Interview
Discussion of SUNSHINE STATE
Saturday, June 1, 2019, 9 a.m. Pacific

Book Carnival, Orange, CA
SUNSHINE STATE Signing and Interview by Maddie Margarita
(And it’s Maddie’s Birthday!!!!)
Saturday, June 1, 2019, 2 p.m.
348 S. Tustin Street
Orange, CA

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Posted by on May 17, 2019 in Uncategorized


Criminal Mischief: Episode #19: SUNSHINE STATE Is Coming

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Criminal Mischief: Episode #19: SUNSHINE STATE Is Coming





From Publishers Weekly: 

In Lyle’s ingenious third mystery featuring retired major league pitcher Jake Longly (after 2017’s A-List), Jake, who runs a restaurant in Gulf Shores, Ala., is again roped into working for his father Ray’s PI firm. An attorney has contacted Ray on behalf of Billy Wayne Baker, a convicted serial killer. Though Baker pleaded guilty to strangling seven women, he insists that he killed only five of them, and wants that assertion validated. When Jake meets Baker in prison, the murderer refuses to name the other killer, claiming that doing so would lead to accusations that Jake’s inquiries were biased. The investigator’s task is made even harder by Baker’s not even identifying which of the dead women were killed by someone else . (To his credit, Lyle makes this complicated scenario credible.) Along with his girlfriend, Jake travels to Pine Key, Fla., the scene of three of the strangulations, where the couple pretend to be researching a documentary examining the impact of the killings on the small community. The clever plot twists will surprise even genre veterans. This entry is the best in the series so far.


Here’s the deal. Ray thinks I’m a wimp. Has for years. The best I can remember it began around the time I left major league baseball. For several years, I pitched for the Texas Rangers. Could really bring the heat. A hundred miles an hour. Zip, pop. Loved that sound. Loved that the catcher would often shake his hand out after snagging one of my fastballs. That was me. Jake Longly, baseball stud. Everybody said so. Even the ESPN folks. 

Not so Ray. He never actually used the word wimp. Pussy. That’s the one he preferred. Four weeks ago being his most recent assessment. 

Nicole Jamison, my current girlfriend, love interest, whatever she was, I wasn’t sure yet, had laughed. Rude, but she does love getting her shots in. Besides, she just might’ve agreed with him. Mostly. Not in bed, mind you. I’m freaking Godzilla in the sack. Really, I am. I think she would agree. In fact, just last night, if I remember correctly, there was tequila involved, she invoked God a couple of times. Or it could’ve been my echo. Lord knows I called on Him a couple of times. 

Okay, I added the zilla part. So, sue me. No, wait, don’t. The best attorney in town, Walter Horton, is married to my ex-wife, Tammy the Insane. He’d already done a colonoscopy on my wallet. Probably wouldn’t hesitate to encore that performance. pastedGraphic.png 

So, let’s just say Nicole and I have fun. 

Regardless, she and Ray conspired to enroll us in martial arts classes. Actually, some craziness based on Krav Maga and several other disciplines mixed into a soup of pain, mayhem, and considerable bodily harm. Taught by an ex-Mossad guy that Ray knew from back in the day. Ben Levitsky. Six-two, lean and muscular, the body fat of a distance runner, and no nonsense. No wonder he and Ray got along. 

Ray Longly. My father. Owner of Longly Investigations. An outfit that, depending on your definition, employs Nicole. Speaking of employing, Ray has used every trick in his considerable bag of mischief to drag me into his business. But, I prefer Captain Rocky’s, my just dive-y enough bar/restaurant on the sand in Gulf Shores. I’d much rather hang out there with Pancake, who really does work for Ray. He also thinks I should sign on with Ray. Not going to happen. At least, not officially. 

Seems like despite this resolve, I repeatedly get dragged into Ray’s world. And end up throwing baseballs at hitmen, or whacking alligators with baseball bats, stuff like that. 

Captain Rocky’s is much safer.

Back to Krav Maga. It’s a system of combat that is aggressive and can be lethal in the right hands—and feet—or whatever might be handy. Ben Levitsky ended his career with Mossad nearly ten years ago. I suspected he had done things that weren’t nice, or legal, or even Kosher. Now, he owned a studio in Orange Beach where he dispensed his knowledge to folks of all ages and skill levels. Nicole and I had already taken a gazillion lessons. Actually, three a week for four weeks, but my hands felt like a gazillion. They ached and making a fist was a process not an event. No way this was a healthy pursuit. I mean, I could hardly wrap my fist around a beer. 

Nicole felt otherwise. She loved it. Her hands were fine. Fact is, all of her was fine. But that’s another story. 

We had completed our morning session of bag punching and kicking and spinning and thrusting and had downed a couple of breakfast burritos my cooks had whipped up for us, when I sat down at an umbrella-shaded table on the deck at Captain Rocky’s with Carla Martinez, my manager. The one who really ran the joint. She had a stack of stuff for me to go over, checks and papers to sign, invoices and orders to review, inventory lists that blurred my vision. Paper work is not my thing. 

It was August and the daily temp, which was projected to reach well into the nineties, had begun to climb. I had already downed two glasses of sweet tea and was working on a third. 

Nicole opted for a walk on the beach. In a red string bikini. Not enough material to wad a shotgun. An exhibitionist’s dream. Which was another of her outstanding qualities. All that exposed flesh garnered a lot of attention. As she disappeared up the beach, every male head turned in her direction. Most of the women, too. She even brought a touch football game to a halt. Now, as she walked back our way, I saw she had attracted a couple of followers. Two old dudes with metal detectors. I don’t think their focus was on finding coins any longer. Pervs. 

Speaking of focus.

“Are you listening to me?” Carla asked.


“What did I just say?”

“That we needed to order more ribs and chicken.”

She smiled. “And here I thought you were daydreaming again. 

Glad to know you can multitask.”

“I can. I’m a multitasking freak.” 

“You’re a freak, all right.” She smiled. 

Like Nicole, Carla enjoyed giving me a ration. Come to think if it, so did Ray and Pancake. 

She twisted in her chair and looked up the beach. The direction of my gaze. Where Nicole was leaving a trail of footprints near the waterline. “I should’ve known.” 

I smiled. “Never get tired of that view.”

“You’re obsessed.”

“Sort of.”

“Definitely. But she is beautiful. If I swung that way, I’d do her.” I shook my head. She laughed and turned back toward me. 

“No worry there though. I do like my dudes.”

“That you do.”

“Well,” Carla said, “you can put all your awesome multitasking talent away, because that’s all I have.” She stood and gathered up the papers, stuffing them into a folder. “What’s on your agenda today?” 

“This. I think I’m done.”

“It’s ten o’clock in the morning.”

“Long day.” I smiled.

She gave me a look I’d seen all too often. The one that said I was incorrigible.

“Don’t strain anything,” she said. “I’ve got work to do.”

Like I said, she really runs the place.

She started to walk away but stopped. “Oh, I forgot. Pancake called a little while ago. Wanted to know if you guys were here. Said he’d drop by.” 

“Any idea what’s on his mind?”

“No one knows what’s on his mind. What little he has.”

That was true. Not that Pancake was dumb. Far from it. One of the smartest people I’ve ever known. But, for lack of a better word, he’s quirky. And that’s being kind.

Carla continued. “I asked but he said he wanted to see your face when he told you.” 

That didn’t sound good.

“Guess you’ll know soon.” She laughed and headed toward the bar.

Nicole climbed the stairs to the deck and walked my way. And what a walk. Runway perfect. The murmuring of the late breakfast crowd dropped to near silence and gazes followed every stride and sway. 

She slipped on the flimsy coverlet she had left hanging over one of the chairs and sat. “Did you get your homework done?”

“I did.”

“Good boy.”

Boy? I expected her to pull out some treats and pat my head. A reward for a job well done. She didn’t.

That’s when Pancake arrived. All six feet-five and 280 lumbering pounds of him. His red hair looked wind blown. His left cheek sported what looked like road rash. 

“What happened to you?” I asked.

“Three Wild Turkeys and a bicycle.”

No further explanation offered. I tried to picture him on a bicycle. 

Sure, he and I had terrorized the neighborhood on our bikes as kids, but he outgrew the tensile strength of a Schwinn before we reached high school. The only thing that could safely transport him now was his massive dually pick-up. Apparently, a bicycle couldn’t. 

“Did you smear on any antibiotic ointment?” Nicole asked. 

“Rubbed some dirt on it.” He smiled. “That’ll do.” Worked when we were kids, so why not?

“Ray’s headed this way,” he said. 

“Really?” I asked. “Why?” 

Ray avoided Captain Rocky’s like it was a toxic waste site. Something must be up. 

“He has a job for you guys,” Pancake said.

“I don’t work for Ray.”

“I do,” Nicole said. “What is it?”

Pancake laughed. “You’re gonna love it.”

“What?” I asked, not really wanting to know, even as a niggle of curiosity rose. Or was it dread? Whenever Pancake said something like “you’re going to love it” or “wait till you hear this” or “here, hold my beer and watch this,” what followed was never predictable, and often led to chaos and mayhem. 

“I think I’ll let Ray handle it. Wouldn’t want to spoil it for him.” 

“That bad?” Nicole asked.

Pancake nodded. “Oh yeah. We’ve done a bunch of crazy shit, but this’ll beat all.”

“Cool,” Nicole said.

No, probably not close to cool.



Fifteen minutes later, Ray arrived. He took a seat. Didn’t say a word. Carla plopped down a cold can of Mountain Dew in front of him. Ray and Mountain Dew had a close relationship. Almost pathological. I think he drank a dozen a day.

“Anything else?” Carla asked.

“This’ll do,” Ray finally spoke. “Thanks.”

“Give me a wave if you change your mind.” She headed back inside. 

“What’s up?” I asked.

“Got something I want you two to check out.”

“I don’t work for you,” I said.

He shrugged. “Nicole does. And you’ll pretty much follow her wherever she goes.”

I had no response for that. Mainly because it was true.

“So, what do you have for us, boss?” Nicole asked.


“Damnedest thing I’ve ever heard of,” Ray said.

Pancake laughed. “All that and a passel of howler monkeys.” 

“The suspense is killing me,” I said.

“Me, too,” added Nicole.

I guess I neglected to add enough sarcasm to my question. For her. Not for Ray. He gave me a look before continuing. 

“I got a call from an attorney over in Jacksonville,” Ray said. “He wants us to sit down with his client and see if we can help.”

“With what?” I asked, immediately regretting it. I had no idea why I was engaging in this. Better to stay in the foxhole and hope Ray blows over.

“Prove he only killed five people instead of seven.”

“What?” Nicole said.

Ray took a big slug of Dew. “You know the name Billy Wayne Baker?”

Nicole looked at him, then me.

“Sounds familiar,” I said.

“A convicted serial killer,” Ray said.

I nodded, his history starting to take root in my head. “I do remember him. Vaguely. Murdered some folks over in Florida.”

“That’s him. Seven victims. Doing multiple life sentences.”

“Not the death penalty?” I asked.

“Part of the bargain. He confessed to all the killings. Saved the state a bunch of money. Got seven life sentences. No parole, of course.” 

“He’s the client?” Nicole asked.

“Sure is.”

“How does a lifer have the money to pay you?” I asked.

“He doesn’t. But according to his attorney—guy named Winston McCracken—there’s a benefactor who’s paying the freight.”

Nothing about that sounded right. “Serial killers now have benefactors?”

Another slug of Dew. “Apparently Billy Wayne does.”

“Who is it?” Nicole asked. “The money man?”

“Don’t know. That’s part of the deal. He stays completely anonymous.”

I couldn’t quite wrap my head around that. A serial killer, who confessed, now wants to back track, and he found someone to pony up the cash to re-open the investigation. Who the hell would do that? And why?

“That makes no sense,” I said. “He wants us to prove he didn’t kill two of the people he confessed to killing? What? Five life sentences is better than seven?”

Ray balled one fist and then opened it, spreading his fingers, examining them. “All I know is what McCracken said. That’s why I want you to check it out.”

The situations Ray had dragged me into in the past were quirkily weird. Or was it weirdly quirky? Same difference, I suspect. Ray had roped me into things like staking out the adulterous Barbara Plummer. Who, of course, did get murdered right under my nose. Okay, maybe not my best day. Or trying to figure out how Hollywood, A-List actor Kirk Ford woke up with the co-ed niece of a New Orleans mobster dead in his bed. Those were indeed quirky and odd, but I had to admit this was something else entirely.

“I am intrigued,” I said.

“I see a screenplay in there somewhere,” Nicole added.

I shook my head. “Of course, you do.”

She slugged my arm. My already sore arm from all that Krav 

Maga crap. Not to mention that my hands were too tender to hit anything. Apparently, not so for Nicole.

“Besides keeping Jake in line, what’s the plan?” she asked.

“Me? In line?”

“No small task.” She ruffled my hair.

“I can’t help you with that,” Ray said. “Lord knows I’ve tried. But on the case, the first order of business would be a sit down with McCracken. See what’s what. He said he could get you in to see Billy Wayne.”

“Who is where?” I asked.

“Union Correctional Institute. Over near Raiford.”

“We’re on it,” Nicole said.

Of course, we are.

“When?” I asked.

“Tomorrow afternoon. His office in Jacksonville.” 

“Short notice,” I said.

“What? You got something else to do?”

I was sure I did but I couldn’t think of a single thing.

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Posted by on May 14, 2019 in Writing


Who the Heck is Jake Longly?

Two weeks from today Jake Longly #3, SUNSHINE STATE, comes out. So, who the heck is Jake Longly?

Jake is the protagonist of my series of comedic thrillers. DEEP SIX and A-LIST will be followed by SUNSHINE STATE, coming May 21, 2019, and RIGGED in April 2020. Jake’s an ex-professional baseball player. Pitcher for the Texas Rangers with an overpowering fastball. Until his rotator cuff injury ended his career. Then he purchased Captain Rocky’s, a bar/restaurant on the sand in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

His major life goals now are running his bar and chasing bikinis. Worthy goals for Jake. His father Ray feels otherwise. Ray has some murky background in the US military world of black ops and now runs a P.I. firm in Gulf Shores. He can’t understand why Jake won’t work for him and is constantly trying to drag Jake into his world. Jake’s refusal creates tension, to say the least.


Here’s the deal. Ray thinks I’m a wimp. Has for years. The best I can remember it began around the time I left major league baseball. For several years, I pitched for the Texas Rangers. Could really bring the heat. A hundred miles an hour. Zip, pop. Loved that sound. Loved that the catcher would often shake his hand out after snagging one of my fastballs. That was me. Jake Longly, baseball stud. Everybody said so. Even the ESPN folks.

Not so Ray. He never actually used the word wimp. Pussy. That’s the one he preferred. Four weeks ago being his most recent assessment.

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Jake has an ex-wife. who he affectionately calls Tammy The Insane. 


It was precisely 12:12 a.m. when the window shattered. A crack-crunch, an eardrum concussing pop, and a spray of glass shards. It didn’t explode by itself, mind you, but rather courtesy of a cavity-backed, perimeter-weighted two-hundred-dollar five iron. A Callaway. I recognized it because it was mine. Or at least it had been.

I knew the exact time because the flying glass yanked me from sleep, my forward-slumped head aligned squarely with the dashboard clock. Took a couple of seconds to gain any sort of perspective on what had happened. 

Of course, sleep wasn’t part of the job. Watching the house two doors down and across the street was. In my defense, nothing had moved in the house, or even along the street that snaked through the high-dollar neighborhood, for at least a couple of hours. But sitting in the dark, behind the wheel of my car, boredom did what boredom does. Knocking back the better portion of the bottle of Knob Creek hadn’t helped either. Stakeouts were mind numbing and a little more numbing of the mind couldn’t be all bad. Right?

“Jake, what the hell are you doing?” the reason for the glass explosion screeched through the jagged hole. 

This wasn’t just any window. It was vintage, the reason it shattered rather than simply spider-webbing. The original passenger window of my otherwise spotless 1965 Mustang. Burgundy with black pony interior, now littered with glass shards. Going to be a bitch to find a replacement.

Speaking of bitches, I recognized the grating voice even before I looked up into the face of my ex. Tammy’s the name; crazy’s the game. I’d lost four good years listening to it. Mostly whining and complaining, sometimes, like now, in a full-on rage. She had a knack for anger. Seemed to need it to get through the day. 

She gripped the five iron with both hands, knuckles paled, cocked up above her shoulder, ready to smash something else. If history offered any lesson it was that she might graduate from the side window to the windshield and so on until she got to me. Tammy didn’t have brakes. Or a reverse gear.

Cute according to everyone, except maybe me, she was a beach-blond with bright blue eyes, a magic smile, and a perfect nose. Some plastic surgeons were gifted. Expensive, but gifted. I knew. I’d paid for the nose.

But cute Tammy had a short fuse. She could go from zero to C4 in a nanosecond.

Like now.


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Jake has a girlfriend. Nicole Jamison. Insanely beautiful, but no bubble-headed bleach blonde. Not even close. Smart, clever, tough, and she doesn’t suffer fools well. They met the same night Tammy The Insane shattered Jake’s Mustang window.


After the ever-pleasant Tammy and the all-business Officer Blake Cooper vacated the premises, I surveyed the damage to my car. The shattered windows were essentially irreplaceable. Seems Ford doesn’t make windows for fifty-year-old cars. The nerve of them. I began knocking away the toothy window remnants from the frames and picking up the larger pieces from the seats, dropping them on the floorboard. The floor mats were expendable, the Pony interior not. 

As if to prove that any situation could go from bad to worse, the wind kicked up, dragging with it the smell of rain. Out over the Gulf a bank of dark clouds, tops silvered by the moonlight, innards flashing bright white with lightning, marched toward shore.

Just great. Twenty miles from home, no right-side windows. Didn’t bode well for my Pony interior.

Headlights washed over me, and I looked up the street. Now what? Did Cooper have more to say? Maybe he called it in and his boss gave him the green light to haul my ass down town. To tweak Ray if nothing else.

I raised one hand to shield my eyes from the headlamp glare. The car, a shiny new red SL Mercedes, rolled to a stop. The deeply-tinted window slid down, revealing a young woman. Her straight blond hair hung like silk curtains to her shoulders and framed a face that could grace the cover of Vogue. Definitely not what I expected.

“That was interesting,” she said.

“You saw that, huh?”

She laughed. Soft, almost musical. “Hard to miss a woman beating the hell out of a classic Mustang with a golf club.”

I looked back up the street, from where she had come. “You live around here I take it?”

She brushed a wayward strand of her from her face. “Just back around the bend.”

“You on a beer run or something?”

Another soft laugh. “Heading out to see a friend.”

“A little late, isn’t it?”

“He’s a bartender. Doesn’t close up until one. But he’s not nearly as interesting as this.”

“Bet he’d be happy to hear that.”

She shrugged. “He’d get over it.”

I reeled in my first response—that a woman as beautiful as her probably didn’t have to worry too much about pissing him off. No one would put her on the road for being late. Instead, I smiled.

“So what was that about?” she asked.

“My ex. She’s insane.”


“I’m Jake,”


She extended a hand out the window, and I shook it. Soft skin, firm grip. The first drops of rain peppered my face.

“You better get that beauty under cover.”

“My thoughts exactly. Problem is, cover is about twenty miles away.”

She hesitated, examining me as if trying to decide something. “Or just up the road. My place. You can stick it in the garage until this blows over.” 

“What about your friend?”

“Sean the bartender? Like I said, this is much more interesting.” 

She smiled. Perfect teeth. Perfect smile. Just perfect. Down boy.

“Glad I could brighten your evening,” I said,

“A girl’s got to find fun where she can.”

“You have an odd definition of fun.”

“I hear that a lot.”

Jake has a best friend—-Tommy “Pancake” Jeffers. Big doesn’t cover it. His hair is red and his ability to take in massive amounts of food legendary. Most people think he got his nickname from his ability to demolish a stack of pancakes, which of course he could, but as a star offensive lineman in his youth, he was famous for pancake blocks—-those that flatten the opponent. Pancake works for Ray. He possesses crazy computer skills but also knows how to handle almost any confrontation.

From A-LIST:

Jimmy Walker, aka Rag Man, was a piece of work. A piece of something anyway. The alley he did business from, as Doucet had said, was wedged between the fire station and an industrial-looking building that had seen better days. The sidewalk was veined with cracks and the alley narrow and littered with refuse. As we reached the alley entrance, we saw him. Thin, black, baggy pants, a New Orleans Saints jersey, three-sizes too large, almost reaching his knees, cigarette hanging from his lips, slouching against the building. He looked up from the phone he was working with his thumbs and came off the wall, moving toward us. He didn’t seem alarmed. Probably thought we were customers.

“Good day gentlemen,” he said, smiling. A true salesman. Probably would do well with aluminum siding. Or as a midway barker.

We introduced ourselves, Ray saying we were P.I.s and needed to ask a few questions to which Rag Man said, ““I don’t got to talk to you.” His head swiveled up and down the street. Like he didn’t want to be seen talking to us. 

“No, you don’t,” I said. “But we’d appreciate it.”

“Go appreciate something else,” he said. 

“It’s about your business,” Ray said.

“I ain’t got no business.” Another glance up the street. “I suggest you move along. Get out of my face. Might not be healthy for you white boys to hang around here. Know what I’m saying?”

I love watching Pancake work. It’s a true work of art. Mostly he’s a gentle giant, wouldn’t hurt anyone. Even go out of his way to avoid trouble. Then there were times he did stuff that made you stare in disbelief. Even if you’d seen it before.

This time, he simply grabbed Rag Man’s arm and tossed him into the alley. Just like that. Like a kid having a tantrum and tossing a doll across the room. Rag Man rolled and bounced a couple of times but to his credit quickly scrambled to his feet. Pancake was on him. He poked his chest with a finger. “No, I don’t know what you’re saying.”

“Hey dude, you can’t do that.”

“I’m just getting started.” Pancake palmed his chest, pressing him against the wall.

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Despite Jake’s resolve, he is repeatedly dragged into Ray’s world. Mostly by Nicole, who. like Pancake, works for Ray. Jake was never sure exactly how that happened but she even has a laminated card to prove it. 

Jump on board and enter Jake’s world. Lot’s of crime, craziness, and fun. DEEP SIX and A-LIST are out and available in all the usual formats. Get caught up with Jake, Nicole, Ray, and Pancake before SUNSHINE STATE is released in two weeks,  May 21, 2019.

DEEP SIX Details:

A-LIST Details:


Jake #4 RIGGED will be available next April

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Posted by on May 7, 2019 in Writing


Criminal Mischief: Episode #18: Gunshot To The Chest

XRay Chest Bullet


Criminal Mischief: Episode #18: Gunshot To The Chest




Gunshot wounds (GSWs) come in many flavors and those to the chest can be particularly dicey. Yet, a chest GSW can be a minor flesh wound, a major traumatic event with significant damage, or deadly. If you have a character who suffers such an injury, this podcast is for you.

Here are a few interesting questions about chest GSWs:

Could a Person Survive a Gunshot to the Chest in the 1880s?

Q: My scenario is set in 1880. A man in his early 20s is shot in the back by a rifle. He loses a lot of blood and is found a couple of hours later unconscious. Could he survive and if so how long would it take him it recuperate? Also, would it be possible to bring him to consciousness long enough for another man to get him into a buggy. Is any part of this scenario possible?

A: Everything about your scenario works. A gunshot wound (GSW) to the chest can kill in minutes, hours, days, or not at all. The victim would be in pain and may cough and sputter and may even cough up some blood. He could probably walk or crawl and maybe even fight and run if necessary. Painful, but possible. He would likely be consciousness so could even help get himself into the wagon.

If all goes well, he should be better and gingerly up and around in a week or two. He would be fully recovered in 6 to 8 weeks.

After surviving the initial GSW, the greatest risk to his life would a secondary wound infection. Since no antibiotics were available at that time, the death rate was very high—40 to 80 percent—for wound infections. But, if he did not develop an infection, he would heal up completely.

How Is A Gunshot To The Chest Treated?

Q: I have a few questions regarding a gunshot wound that my poor character will be sustaining later on in my story. Supposing it’s a fairly small caliber bullet (typical handgun fare, not buckshot or anything) and it hits near the heart without puncturing anything important, how long might his recovery time be? He’s a strong, kinda-healthy guy in his thirties, although he drinks a fair amount and used to smoke. He’ll be rushed to a high-quality hospital immediately and receive the best care throughout recovery…what’s his outlook? When will he be allowed to go home, if all goes well? How long before he’s healed to normal?  When will it be safe for him to walk around, drive, have sex, etc.?

A: In your story, what happens to your shooting victim depends upon what injuries he received. A gunshot wound (GSW to docs and cops) can be a minor flesh wound or can be immediately deadly or anywhere in between. It all depends on the caliber and speed of the bullet and the exact structures it hits. A shot to the heart may kill instantly or not. The victim could die in a few minutes or survive for days or could recover completely with proper medical care and surgery. It’s highly variable but ask any surgeon or ER doctor and they will tell you that it’s hard to kill someone with a gun. Even with a shot or two to the chest.

A small caliber and slow speed bullet—such as those fired by .22 and .25 caliber weapons—are less likely to kill than are heavier loads and higher velocity bullets such as .38, .357, or .45 caliber bullets, particularly if they are propelled by a magnum load—such as a .357 magnum or a .44 magnum. Also, the type of bullet makes a difference. Jacketed or coated bullets penetrate more while hollow point or soft lead bullets penetrate less but do more wide-spread damage as the bullet deforms on impact.

All that is nice but the bottom line is that whatever happens, happens. That is, a small, slow bullet may kill and a large, fast one may not. Any bullet may simply embed in the chest wall or strike a rib and never enter the chest. Or it could enter the heart and kill quickly. Or it could puncture a lung. The victim here would cough some blood, be very short of breath, and could die from bleeding into the lungs—basically drowning in their own blood. Or the lung could collapse and again cause pain and shortness of breath. But we have two lungs and unless the GSWs are to both lungs and both lungs collapse the person would be able to breathe, speak, even run away, call for help, or fight off the attacker. Whatever happens, happens.

This is good for fiction writers. It means you can craft your scene any way you want and it will work. He could suffer a simple flesh wound and have pain, shortness or breathe, and be very angry. He could have a lung injury and have the above symptoms plus be very short of breathe and cough blood.  If the bleeding was severe or if both lungs were injured he could become very weak, dizzy, and slip into shock. Here his blood pressure would be very low and with the injury to his lungs the oxygen content of his blood would dip to very low levels and he would lose consciousness as you want. This could happen in a very few minutes or an hour later, depending upon the rapidity of blood loss and the degree of injury to the lungs.

Once rescued, the paramedics would probably place an endotracheal (ET) tube into his lungs to help with breathing, start an IV to giver IV fluids, and transport him to the hospital immediately. He would then be seen by a trauma surgeon or chest surgeon and immediately undergo surgery to remove the bullets (if possible) and to repair the damaged lung or whatever else was injured. He could recover quickly without complications and go home in a week, rest there for a couple of weeks, return to part-time work for a few weeks and be full speed by 3 to 4 months. Or he could have one of any number of complications and die. Or be permanently disabled, etc. It all depends upon the nature of Injuries, the treatment, and luck.

What Does a Close-range Gun Shot to the Chest Look Like?

Q: I have a question regarding gunshot wounds. In my latest mystery, a man and a woman, my heroine, struggle for a gun. It goes off, hitting the man in the chest. I want the man to live, but be temporarily incapacitated and need hospital care, so if the chest isn’t the best location, other suggestions are welcome. What would the gunshot wound likely look like before and after the man’s shirt was removed? Would there be a lot of bleeding where my heroine would take his shirt off and stuff it over the wound?

A: A gunshot wound (GSW) to the chest would work well. For it to be quickly fatal, the bullet would have to damage the heart or the aorta or another major blood vessel, such as the main pulmonary (lung) arteries. Under these circumstances, bleeding into the chest, the lungs,  and around the heart would likely be extensive and death could be almost instantaneous or in a very few minutes. He could survive even these injuries, but this would require quick and aggressive treatment, including emergent surgery, and a pile of luck.

If the bullet entered the lung, the victim could die from severe bleeding into the lung and basically drowning in his own blood. Or not. He could survive such an injury and would then require surgery to remove the bullet, control the bleeding within the lung, and repair the lung itself. This would require a couple of hours of surgery, a week in the hospital, and a couple of months to recover fully.

The bullet could simply embed in the chest wall and never enter the chest cavity. It could bounce off the sternum (breast bone) or a rib and deflect out of the chest, into the soft tissues of the chest wall, or downward into the abdomen. Once a bullet strikes bone, it can be deflected in almost any direction. Sometimes full-body X-rays are required to find the bullet. If the bullet simply embedded beneath his skin or against a rib or the sternum, he would require a minor surgical procedure to remove the bullet and debride (clean-up) the wound. He would be hospitalized for only 2 to 3 days and would go home on antibiotics and basic wound care.

Close-range, but not direct muzzle contact, wounds typically have a small central entry wound, a black halo called an abrasion collar, and often an area of charring around the wound. The charring comes from the hot gases that exit the barrel with the bullet. In addition, there is often tattooing, which is a speckled pattern around the entry wound. This is from the soot and unburned powder that follows the bullet out of the muzzle and embeds (tattoos) into the skin. The spread of this pattern depends upon how close the muzzle is to the entry point, If it over about 3 feet, then no tattooing or charring will occur.

In your scenario, the victim’s shirt would likely collect the soot and heat so that it would be charred and “tattooed,” rather than the victim’s skin. So, the shirt would show an entry hole, charring, and blood. Once the victim’s shirt was removed, the entry wound likely be a simple hole without any charring or tattooing, since the shirt would have collected this material and absorbed most of the heat. The wound could bleed a lot, a little, or almost none. It depends upon how many of the blood vessels that course through the skin and muscles are damaged.

Yes, her initial efforts should be the application of pressure over the wound to control bleeding until the paramedics arrive.

For more fun questions check out my Q&A books:


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