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Category Archives: Writing

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.

https://carnivalmacabre.libsyn.com/thorne-cross-carnival-macabre-what-hollywood-gets-wrong-with-forensics-expert-dp-lyle

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.

SUNSHINE STATE: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07P9KM8VY/

RIGGED: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0831RJCRQ

 
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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

Details: http://www.dplylemd.com/book-details/skin-in-the-game.html

Order: https://www.amazon.com/Skin-Game-Cain-Harper-Thriller-ebook/dp/B07VKQKQM8/

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

Details: http://www.dplylemd.com/book-details/prior-bad-acts.html

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2021 in Writing

 

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: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07PGR19V3

#1: DEEP SIX

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.

Details/Order: http://www.dplylemd.com/book-details/deep-six/

#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.

Details/Order: http://www.dplylemd.com/book-details/a-list.html

#3: SUNSHINE STATE

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.

Details/Order: http://www.dplylemd.com/book-details/sunshine-state.html

#4: RIGGED

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.

Details/Order: http://www.dplylemd.com/book-details/rigged.html

JAKE, NICOLE, RAY, AND PANCAKE WILL BE BACK THIS FALL

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.

PreOrder: https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B08SR7QTVH/

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2021 in Writing

 

All 4 Jake Longly Comedic Thrillers On Sale Until the End of the Year

Need a Christmas gift for that reader in your family or circle of friends? Maybe some humor for the holidays to cap off this strange year.
All 4 Jake Longly comedic thrillers are on sale from 11-15 thru 12-31 at all major ebook outlets for only $1.99 each.

#1: DEEP SIX

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.

Details/Order: http://www.dplylemd.com/book-details/deep-six/

#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.

Details/Order: http://www.dplylemd.com/book-details/a-list.html

#3: SUNSHINE STATE

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.

Details/Order: http://www.dplylemd.com/book-details/sunshine-state.html

#4: RIGGED

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.

Details/Order: http://www.dplylemd.com/book-details/rigged.html

THE OC, Jake Longly #5, is coming next fall.

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2020 in Writing

 

NOTHING GOOD HAPPENS AFTER MIDNIGHT Is Coming

NOTHING GOOD HAPPENS AFTER MIDNIGHT is coming and it’s filled with fun stories:

Details/Praise: http://www.dplylemd.com/book-details/nothing-good-happens-after.html

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2020 in Writing

 

RIGGED, Jake Longly #4, Kindle Book Deal

RIGGED, Jake Longly #4, is a Kindle Book Deal $1.99 October 26 thru November 1.

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. 

Publishers Weekly:

In Lyle’s fast, fun fourth Jake Longly thriller (after 2019’s Sunshine State), Longly describes himself as an “ex–major league baseball stud, restaurateur, defender of frivolous lawsuits, lover of women, well, one in particular, and for sure a world-class avoider of work.” He reluctantly helps out at his father’s Alabama PI firm, where his girlfriend, Nicole Jamison, and his best friend, Tommy “Pancake” Jeffers, work as operatives. Pancake is assigned to the financial side of the divorce of a woman he last saw in grade school, Emily Patterson. He’s looking forward to meeting Emily again, but she fails to turn up for their appointment and is later found murdered, along with her friend Jason Collins. Drugs found in Jason’s pocket and the gangland-style killings lead the local police chief to suspect a turf war between rival dealers. Emily’s brother hires the Longly team to bring her killer to justice. The characters are fresh and well-defined, but it’s Jake’s snappy patter and amusing riffs, often focusing on his monumentally annoying ex-wife, that drive the narrative to its Glock-blazing conclusion. This series just keeps getting better.

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2020 in Writing

 

PRIOR BAD ACTS, Cain/Harper #2 Now Available Plus Author Reading

PRIOR BAD ACTS, Cain/Harper #2 Now Available Plus Author Reading

LISTEN: https://soundcloud.com/authorsontheair/episode-42-prior-bad-acts-an-author-reading

PAST SHOWS: http://www.dplylemd.com/criminal-mischief.html

PRIOR BAD ACTS DETAILS/ORDER: http://www.dplylemd.com/book-details/prior-bad-acts.html

SHOW NOTES:

“Prior bad acts predict future bad acts.”—Harper McCoy

Fear grips an isolated mountain town after drug dealer Dalton Southwell kills a rogue dealer and his entire family. Score settled, message delivered. But, Dalton’s best-laid plans go awry when his brother Dennie takes a bullet in the gut. In a panic, Dr. Buck Buckner is kidnaped from the local ER, a pharmacy is robbed and the owner murdered, and the killers melt into the rugged Tennessee hills. Buck’s physician father calls in Bobby Cain and Harper McCoy to rescue his son from killers who would have little use for him after he saves Dennie, or worse, the wounded man dies. But, which direction and how far did they run? What hideaway did they burrow into? For Cain and Harper it’s a race against time to locate the killers, safely retrieve Buck, and settle their own score.

“A born storyteller”—Peter James, UK #1 Bestselling Author of the Detective Superintendent Roy Grace Series

Prior Bad Acts moves like a runaway freight train, thundering along from beginning to end and picking up speed until the very last page. D. P. Lyle’s second effort to feature Bobby Cain and Harper McCoy finds his stalwart heroes on the dark side of the American Dream, as they attempt to right wrongs that turn small-town Americana into a Shakespearean tragedy. This is a crime thriller of the highest order and an absolute must read.”—-Jon Land, USA Today bestselling author 

CHAPTER 1 

PRESENT 

Bobby Cain stood at the wall of windows in the St. Germain Place penthouse condo he shared with his sister Harper McCoy. Near two a.m. He enveloped a firm rubber ball in each fist, squeezing them in a to-and-fro rhythm. Right-left-right-left. The action made little inroad into the tension that gripped his shoulders, his entire body, but at least it was adding to his hand strength. The key, according to Uncle Mo. Whether climbing a tree, pulling off a second-story B&E, or attempting to survive a mano-a-mano fight to the death, grip strength offered the make-or-break advantage.

Rain streaked the glass and muted his view over the SoBro area and the lights from Broadway, a block away. Lower Broadway, the Bourbon Street of Nashville, rich with food, drink, and country music, was winding down. Lights winking off, drunks staggering home, musicians packing up, another gig finished. The city stumbled toward slumber.

Not so for Cain. The fourth night in a row fitful sleep had dragged him from bed to stand in this very spot. Not an uncommon occurrence. His dreams came off and on in no predictable pattern. Lately more on. Even during restful nights, they appeared as not- so-gentle nips along the edge of his dreamscape, coiled to flare up full-blown. When they did, sleep became impossible. 


“Bad night?” Harper moved to stand next to him.

“Yeah.”


“Which one?”


She meant which dream. Cain possessed a catalog to choose 

from. Not that the choice was his. Never his. Sometimes it was the traitorous Iraqi commander whose throat he had sliced just so. Dark room, third floor, dead of night. Never saw his face, but felt the warmth of his departing life ooze over his hands. Other times it was the Al-Qaeda bomb maker who earned Cain’s blade up through his diaphragm and into his heart for dispatching three Marines with his roadside devices. Or one of the other two dozen sanctioned missions he had completed. 

Sometimes an unsanctioned mission reared up. Like the three Mexicans, the ones who had killed his parents in Tyler and fled, thinking the border and the cartel they worked for would protect them. He and Harper tracked the trio to Juarez, dead of night, in and out, no shadow of their visit left behind. Only the three corpses.

Tonight? The Taliban scumbag who stood sentry while a pair of his compadres raped a young woman, her screams and cries still jangling in his head. Cain and the other assigned operatives— Seals, Marines, and Harper as the CIA controller—had completed their mission, the silent elimination of an enemy asset, and were hunkered down in a basement, waiting to hump it to the desert extraction site. But, the sounds of the girl’s misery and fear had frayed his nerves to the point that sitting by was no longer an option. Harper had been there—the night of their reunion after a fifteen-year separation—and had helped. Without hesitation. 

Their actions were unsanctioned, no permission granted, or sought. Risky move. Could have crashed both their careers. Turned out that was a moot concern. 

Harper caught the sentry’s attention. Cain over-powered and bled him through a deft puncture of his femoral artery, clutching him tightly, hand over his mouth, feeling his struggles wane as his vital energy faded. He and Harper then introduced the two rapists to their virgins. The girl scurried to freedom. If there was such a thing in that desert hellhole.

“You were there,” Cain said. No other words needed.

Harper nodded.


“Want some tea?” she asked.


“Couldn’t hurt.”


They sat at the kitchen table. Cain placed the stress balls on 

the surface, settling them against the metal napkin holder. He cradled the warm cup, took a sip. The chamomile infused his nerves, softening the invading images.

“We need a job,” Harper said.


He looked at her over his cup.


“Idleness makes you fret,” Harper continued. “Drags up your 

demons.”


That was true. They had had a month to unwind from their 

last job. Cain could do a week, even two, but a month? Too much downtime allowed the past to dig in its claws. Pull him from bed to the window where he watched the sleeping city, and fought internal battles. 

It wasn’t guilt. He never allowed that to enter the equation. Each of his sanctioned missions had been righteous. On point. A problem that he could best resolve. Even if they were off the books. Way off. No written orders, no records. It’s the way it had to be. 

And the others? The ones since he and Harper left military service behind? The three who had killed his parents? Never guilt over that one. 

No, it wasn’t guilt. It was simply images. A series of pictograms, movies no one should have to store in their memory banks. His were filled with such. 

“You’re right,” Cain said. He stood. “Want some more?”


“I’m good.”


He refilled his cup. His cell chimed. From the living room 

coffee table where he had left it. Caller ID read “Milner.” Well, they wanted a job. 

CHAPTER 2 

8 HOURS EARLIER 

The gun appeared from nowhere, materializing at the end of an unsteady arm, the black hole of its muzzle searching for a target. Then the flash-bang of sudden, remorseless violence. The shock momentarily locking the scene like a still-life. 

Who keeps a gun stuffed between sofa cushions? 

For Dalton Southwell the answer was simple. A punk-ass little shit is who. A punk-ass like Tommy Finley, jacked up on his own stash. Wired to the point of implosion, leaving him no way to make a smart move. A desperate one, sure. It didn’t save him and didn’t save his family. Not that anything could have. Their shared fate had been sealed the moment Dalton arrived in town. 

Everything had been so smooth. Exactly as Dalton had set it up. He had choreographed every move that his brother Dennie and Jessie Parker, a member of his crew, would make. His sources indicated that there would be four people inside: Tommy the punk, along with his father, mother, and sister. Dalton had hammered into their heads that they were to flank him so that they would have clean lines of fire if needed, and that they were to remain silent, leaving the talking to him. That’s how it went down. He had been in total control, right up until he wasn’t. 

His knock on the door had been answered by the father. John,
if Dalton remembered correctly. If not, so what? He didn’t really give two shits.

The curious look on the father’s face as he swung open the front door and asked what Dalton wanted was quickly replaced by shock when Dalton’s Glock pressed against his chest. 

Gathering the family in the den, Tommy, his sister, and his mother on the sofa, the father in a wing-backed chair at one end of the coffee table. Some stupid sitcom played on the big screen along the far wall. Dalton ended it with a single round spit from his silenced weapon. 

That got their undivided attention, Tommy flinching, his mother covering her open mouth with one hand, only partially smothering her gasp. His father’s face paled, his breathing quick and raspy, head swiveling, obviously seeking a way out, a way to defend his family. The father asked again what the three men who leveled guns in his direction wanted.

“You want to tell him who I am?” Dalton asked Tommy.

Tommy’s gaze danced quickly to his father and then back to Dalton but he said nothing. As if his throat was clogged. Probably was. Dalton offered a half-smile. 

“Then allow me to enlighten your family,” Dalton said. “Bring them up to date on your recent activities.”

The mother and sister stared with big eyes as he dumped the bad news on them. That he and his crew were there to settle a score, and to deliver a message. That dear old Tommy had tried to flex his own muscles, go out on his own. That was something that couldn’t be allowed. Not from Tommy, not from anyone.

“I don’t understand,” the father said.

Dalton scratched his chin with his free hand. “You see, Tommy made a bad move. He tried to cut us out of his sales. He tried to hook up with another supplier and build his own crew.” Dalton pointed the weapon at Tommy. “He’d been warned. He chose not to listen.”

“Are you talking about drugs?” the father asked. He glanced at his son. “Tommy isn’t into that anymore. He went to rehab and put it all behind him.” He now slid forward on his seat and stared at his son. “Tell him. Tell him you’re clean.”

Dalton laughed. Clean? Not Tommy. His large, black pupils were only partly due to fear, the rest from the meth that swept through his bloodstream. Dalton’s meth.


“Tell him, Tommy,” Dalton said. “Tell him what a good boy you’ve been.”


“Listen, Dalton,” Tommy said, “I didn’t screw you or anyone else. I was simply trying to expand my operation and make us all more money.” 

The father now appeared to be in full panic mode. As if his worst nightmare had materialized. No longer relegated to the darkness of restless sleep but rather standing right in front of him. Dalton loved this. That brief slice of time when a victim realized that their personal apocalypse had arrived, that Dalton was the personification of their every fear. Heady stuff.

“Tommy, what’re you talking about?” the father asked, his voice wavering.

“It’s not what it seems, Dad.”


Dalton laughed. “Actually, it’s exactly as it seems.”


Tommy’s fingers fidgeted with the edge of the sofa cushion, then he wiped his hands on his jeans as he shook his head. “Dalton, I didn’t go around you. I swear.”

“What about the guy over in Knoxville? The one who’s cooking for you?” 

Tommy’s left knee began to bounce, and his voice ticked to a higher pitch, the words coming quickly as if saying a lot was saying the right thing. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. What guy? I don’t know anyone over there.”

Dalton took a deep breath and puffed out his cheeks as he exhaled. “Tommy, Tommy, Tommy. Don’t you know me? Don’t you know you can’t bullshit me? Don’t you know we work inside a very small community? That every time a new cooker pops up, we know the who, the where, the what, and, most importantly, the how much before he even cranks out his first batch?”

“Listen to me…” Tommy began.

Dalton cut him off. “Shut the fuck up. This isn’t a negotiation.” He now waved his weapon toward the two women. They recoiled, wide-eyed. “And now you’ve dragged your family into this.”

“What is it you want?” the father asked.

“I told you. To deliver a message.” 

The father nodded. “We’re listening.” 

Dalton smiled. “The message isn’t for you. It’s for anyone else who might be tempted to follow in old Tommy’s footsteps.”

That’s when the gun appeared. Tommy had shoved a hand between the cushions and came up with the .357. He managed to snap off a single round before Dalton punched a hollow point into his forehead. Then two into the father’s chest, the man attempting to rise, his butt never clearing the chair’s cushion before death arrived. The women released a chorus of screams, voices stretched to the snapping point, hands raised for protection. A pair of shots from Jessie’s gun silenced them. The mother took it through her left eye, death following immediately; the daughter to the chest, now moaning and clutching at the red blossom blooming near her left breast. Dalton stepped toward her and ended her struggles with a single shot to the forehead.

He walked to where Tommy lay, crumpled on the sofa. The entry wound in his forehead was surprisingly clean. Very little blood surrounding the black hole. Of course, the back of his head and his brain were splattered over the sofa and the lamp that stood behind. Dalton searched Tommy’s pockets. He found a wad of money, which he took, and two phones. An iPhone and a burner. The former he left, but the burner he slid into his own pocket. 

Then Dalton saw his brother Dennie. He was on his knees, clutching his belly, left side, blood flowing between his fingers. 

Goddamn it. This entire operation had just morphed from quick, easy, and smooth to screwed, blued, and tattooed.

The truly infuriating part was that Dalton knew it was his fault. He should have forgone the speech and taken out Tommy straight up. But for him, the preamble was the payoff. His victim’s rising fear with its coppery taste, the look in their eyes, the begging and bargaining. God, he loved that. Like waves of electric current enveloping his entire body. The killing was simply the exclamation point. 

CHAPTER 3 

PRESENT

Cain’s phone lay on the coffee table. He sat on the sofa and punched it to speaker. Harper settled next to him, leaning forward, brow creased, head cocked slightly. 

Marcus Milner. Attorney at law. Senior partner at one of Nashville’s most high-dollar firms, he was also Cain’s and Harper’s go-between for cases. He fielded the calls, set up the accounts, and made the deals. Then, turned them loose to do the fixing. That’s what they did. Fixed things. Made things right. Or at least even. 

For Milner to call at this hour, the job had to be time critical. Something that couldn’t wait for sunrise. 

“It’s a kidnapping,” Milner said. “Tanner’s Crossroads. Over near Knoxville.” 

“Who?” 

“The son of the client. A Dr. Frank Buckner. Runs a clinic near Charlotte, North Carolina.” 

Milner continued, filling in some details. Truth was, he didn’t know much.

“When did this happen?” Harper asked.


“Around six or seven p.m. Say, seven or eight hours ago.” 

“Was he harmed?” Cain asked. “The son? When he was taken?” 

“I don’t think so.” 

“What else you got?” 

“That’s it, really. Are you on board?”


“We are,” Cain said.


“Good. I’ll tell the father. He’ll be waiting for your call. He can fill you in. I’ll text you his number.”


“We’re heading out in fifteen minutes tops,” Cain said. “We’ll get loaded up and call him from the road.” He disconnected the call. “We’ll take The Rig,” he said. 

The Rig was their black Chevy Suburban, modified for their needs. A cranked-up engine, extra fuel tanks, bulletproof glass and tires, and a satellite communication system. Because you never knew when a simple situation could shape-shift into something more dangerous.

“I’ll gather the duffles,” Harper said.

The duffles, eight in total, varied in their contents. Cain and Harper kept them ready to go at all times. For situations such as this. Where every minute created a colder trail, and a greater chance for a bad outcome. Some of the bags were packed for surveillance, some for full-on warfare, most somewhere in between. 

A kidnapping could go in many directions. From a simple rescue to a hostage situation to a hellfire shootout.

Ten minutes later, they lugged four duffles to the elevators and descended to the basement parking area. 

CHAPTER 4 

7 1/2 HOURS EARLIER 

Dalton wasn’t panicked. Panic was not in his nature. But he was furious, and such fury had always been embedded in his DNA. Even as a kid, his switch could flip on a moment’s notice, and with little provocation. That constantly simmering anger was probably the reason he did poorly in school and why he now did what he did. Dirty work for Frankie. Things like sending messages and settling scores. His fury never left room for panic. He always did what was necessary and completed the job. No matter what. That’s what Frankie paid him for. He had no doubt that he would have to earn his keep before this night was over.

Dalton twisted and turned the black Lincoln Navigator through several of the quiet neighborhood streets. Jessie rode shotgun. Dennie lay in the cargo area, moaning. They had folded the rear seats forward so Dennie had room to stretch out.

“How bad is it?” Dalton asked.


“It’s bad,” Dennie said. “Hurts like a bitch.”


“What’re we going to do?” Jessie asked.


Dalton considered the question as he turned west onto Main Street. What could they do? This was supposed to be a clean hit. As simple as one, two, three. Take out the family, walk away, message sent. But now? Dennie’s blood left at the scene, a huge stain on the light gray carpet. Tommy’s un-silenced gun going off with explosive intensity.


Did the neighbors hear anything? Had they called the police already? The houses in the neighborhood were spaced a couple of hundred feet apart so they might’ve gotten lucky, but Dalton knew anything was possible and counting on luck was never an acceptable strategy. Sure, luck could smile on you, like drawing to an inside straight when the pot was piled high, but in Dalton’s experience, it more often offered an unfriendly face. Like a gun appearing from nowhere. Fucking Tommy.

If they were in Memphis, he’d know where to go. The boss had a doc on retainer for just such emergencies. He could fix things off the radar, no record and no one the wiser. 

But here? In Fucktown, USA?


“I don’t know,” Dalton said.


He rolled past the hospital on his right, and to the left, the town’s park, quiet this time of night. Main Street became Highway 57, a narrow two-lane blacktop that wound into rural darkness. Dalton glanced back at Dennie. His bloody hands clutched his side and he winced with each bump in the road.

“Think you can make it to Memphis?” Dalton asked.


“No. I need a hospital now.”


“That ain’t going to happen.”


“Come on, brother. Memphis’ll take hours. It’s on the other side of the fucking state.”


Dalton’s knuckles whitened on the steering wheel. “A hospital’s out of the question. We might as well drive to the local PD and let them cuff us.”

“You gotta do something,” Jessie said. He spun in his seat to look back at Dennie. “He’s losing a lot of blood.”

The highway led them through what was mostly farmland punctuated with wads of trees. There was no real traffic. In fact, they passed only two cars, each headed in the opposite direction. A few miles out of town, Dalton saw a church. On the left, set back from the road a ways, it was a white frame structure with a wide gravel parking area. Empty at this hour. He wheeled into the lot and circled to the back, the chapel blocking them from the road. 

“What are we going to do?” Jessie asked. “Pray?” 


Dalton gave him a look, then pushed open the driver’s door. 

The interior lights popped on.


“Somebody’ll see us,” Jessie said.


“Not here.” Dalton climbed out and tugged open the rear door. 

“Let me see.”


Dennie rolled out of his fetal position, and onto his back. He lifted his blood-soaked shirt.


It was bad. No way to sugarcoat this. The bullet had entered the left side of Dennie’s abdomen. It had to have damaged some important shit inside. Dalton rolled Dennie to his right side, drawing a deep moan. He searched for an exit wound but found none. 

“Hand me that towel,” Dalton said to Jessie. He passed it to Dennie. “Hold pressure on the wound. The bleeding is slowing and that’ll stop it.” 

“We’ve got to do something,” Jessie said.

Dalton stood and looked up at the night sky. “Give me a second. I’ll figure it out.” 

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2020 in Writing

 

NOTHING GOOD HAPPENS AFTER MIDNIGHT

Didn’t your parents tell you that nothing good happens after midnight? They were right. Check out this stellar collection of down and dark short fiction.

Links To Order Your Copy Are Here: http://www.dplylemd.com/book-details/nothing-good-happens-after.html

From the Introduction:

In D. P. Lyle’s “Tonic” a couple of good old boys in rural America are cruising the backroads in an ancient pickup and simply pursuing the American dream of trying to make a living. Who could blame them? And, a more cogent question, what could go wrong? Oh, a thing or two, especially when they decide to explore a new business model and attract a little more attention than is wise. The cast includes a great small-town sheriff and a medicine man you won’t soon forget, try though you might. 

Jeffrey Deaver, Editor, Nothing Good Happens After Midnight

What others are saying about NOTHING GOOD HAPPENS AFTER MIDNIGHT

“Something very good happens after midnight…just pick up this brilliant book and be transported—and very afraid!” —Peter James, UK #1 Bestselling Author of the Detective Superintendent Roy Grace Series 

NOTHING GOOD HAPPENS AFTER MIDNIGHT is a treat— dark, chilling, and delicious. Grab it.” —Meg Gardiner, Edgar Award-Winning Author of The Dark Corners of the Night 

NOTHING GOOD HAPPENS AFTER MIDNIGHT proves that the witching hour still has the power to haunt in this suspenseful collection of stories by luminaries in the literary world. Inventive, twisted, and downright chilling, here is an anthology to be savored— well past midnight and into the dead of night.” —James Rollins, #1 New York Times Bestseller of The Last Odyssey

“This anthology showcases some of the best talent in the thriller genre—or in any genre. Whether quirky or creepy, each story displays the talent and uniqueness of its author. And since all are so good, this collection is a delightful read.” —Sandra Brown, #1 New York Times Bestseller of Thick as Thieves

NOTHING GOOD HAPPENS AFTER MIDNIGHT is loads of fun. The stories from this lineup of all-star authors are a blast to read, with plenty of neck-snapping twists and heart-stopping thrills that will keep you turning pages way past the title’s witching hour.” —Boyd Morrison, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author 

“If you like intrigue and suspense, you’ll love this salmagundi of tense tales from some of today’s short story masters. This book is guaranteed to keep you awake until midnight and beyond.” —Steven James, Bestselling Author of The Bowers Files

“Readers rarely get a gift such as this—a superb collection from the giants of mystery and suspense.”—Robert Dugoni, Bestselling Author of the Tracy Crosswhite Series 

“Midnight is the magic switch. Safe becomes dangerous, good becomes evil, quiet turns raucous. When the clock strikes twelve in NOTHING GOOD HAPPENS AFTER MIDNIGHT, a talented crew of writers unleashes a maelstrom of thrills so intense, you will never sleep again. Unputdownable!” —K.J. Howe, International Bestselling Author of SKYJACK 

NOTHING GOOD HAPPENS AFTER MIDNIGHT is a treasure chest of novelties, curiosities and gems. From Kevin O’Brien’s ‘Cell Phone Intolerant’ to Shannon Kirk’s ‘Tonight is the Night’ and Jon Land’s surprisingly heartfelt ‘ATM,’ you’ll never step outside at night in quite the same way.” —Joseph Finder, New York Times Bestselling Author of the Nick Heller Series 

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2020 in Writing

 
 
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