stories in and

The Toy Maker by Melanie Flynn

A missing woman. A serial killer on the loose. A smart-mouthed private investigator on the case. What could go wrong? Rylee Scott is a New York private investigator with a secret: she's psychic and allergic to her cat. But only one of these secrets has the power to break her. When she's hired to find a missing woman, she finds herself racing against the clock to save her before she becomes the next victim of a prolific serial killer, the Toy Maker, who turns his victims into beautiful and horrific life-size versions of classic toys. After years of living under the radar, Rylee will have to enlist the help of the NYPD if she has any hope of bringing the woman home safe. Calum Reese is an NYPD detective with a southern accent, a chip on his shoulder and a secret of his own. On the hunt for the Toy Maker, he finds himself working with a certain private investigator who knows things she shouldn't and refuses to play by his rules. Can they put aside their differences to catch the killer before more bodies drop? Or will they be drowning in corpses before long?


Textbook Murder: A Frank Hall Mystery by Fred Tippett, II

MURDER BY THE BOOK Master crime novelist and creative writing professor Frank Hall is asked by his longtime friend Gillian Morgan to help locate her missing son Damien. Troubled and recovering from a history of drug addiction, Damien had recently found purpose and a fresh start as Frank’s pupil and mentee. But Gillian is worried that he may have suffered a relapse, that he may just need help coming home. So, as a favor to Gillian, Frank agrees to help her find him. Frank’s search for Damien turns up several hidden details of Damien’s personal life—including evidence of an affair with a most unlikely individual. But the quest ends in tragedy one day later, when Frank finds Damien dead of an apparent drug overdose. To the investigating authorities, Damien’s death seems an open-and-shut case of relapse by a former addict who simply could not stay clean. But to Frank’s eyes—eyes seasoned by years of crime research and intimate friendship with Damien’s family—it looks like far more. It looks like murder, craftily concealed and carefully planned. When the police refuse to examine Damien’s death as a homicide, Frank decides that he’ll just have to do it himself, if only for the sake of Damien’s grieving mother. And the more Frank investigates, the more determined he grows to get to the truth. Even if that means incurring the wrath of the fiery and territorial lead detective assigned to Damien’s case. But Frank soon finds that he’s in for far more than he imagined. A cunning, ruthless sociopath took Damien Morgan’s life—a sociopath who does not want the motive for Damien’s murder exposed. A sociopath who has killed many times before and who will not hesitate to kill again.


A Troll Walks into a Bar: A Noir Urban Fantasy Novel (Alexander Southerland, P.I. Book 1) by Douglas Lumsden

When a troll speaks--listen up! Hardboiled P.I. Alexander Southerland just wants to enjoy a quiet drink when a 500-pound troll walks into the bar. Next thing he knows, Southerland is navigating his way through rogue cops, a gang war, beautiful nymphs from the ocean depths, a were-rat, the mayor's corrupt fixer, the sleaziest (and cleverest) gnome in Yerba City, and creatures right out of legend. At the center of it all is a mysterious locked box. Can Southerland discover its explosive secret--and survive long enough to pay his rent on time?


A Night Owl Slips into a Diner: A Noir Urban Fantasy Novel (Alexander Southerland, P.I.) by Douglas Lumsden

He’s up to his eyeballs in hot water, and he thinks he’s taking a bubble bath! A routine case of industrial espionage pitches hardboiled P.I. Alexander Southerland headlong into a maelstrom of shadowy political intrigue and deadly supernatural mayhem—not to mention some malevolent owls and the mysterious 'boy who talks backwards'! After his exposure of a white-collar thief has harrowing consequences, a guilt-ridden and disconsolate Southerland roams the mean streets and dark alleys of Yerba City seeking to uncover a secret so stunning—so staggering—that just knowing it could unravel the bonds that keep the social order from dissolving into chaos!


Quiet, Pretty Things by Megan Stockton

Small town detectives investigate a string of puzzling local murders, and tensions rise as fatal mistakes inadvertently direct the killer's focus onto them.


The Case Files of Sheridan Bell: The Vanishing Beast by Em Rowene

A strange woman comes to Detective Bell with an even stranger problem: she’s about to be arrested for murder and needs Detective Bell to clear her name. When the police confuse a simple protection charm for something more sinister and arrest the wrong person, Bell must untangle cons, confront powerful sidhe families, and find the mysterious beast that roams the streets of his city.


The Last Shadow by J.D. Robinson

The woman in the alley scratches a symbol into the pavement, then vanishes from the video. Now her desperate father is begging Bas Milius to accept one last case.In 1991, strange things are afoot in Boston. Bas is on the verge of hanging up his hat, until his final client—the missing woman’s father—suddenly claims to be someone else entirely. Someone without a daughter.Across town, Dee Khalaji finds herself seeing visions of someone in the shadows watching a recorded video—one that changes each time it’s played back.In a downtown compound, a secretive couple promises healing to lost souls through compulsory sessions of meditation and dance. But how have they been monitoring each member without the use of cameras? And why does the very first tape in their extensive surveillance collection focus on someone Bas lost a decade ago?A man on a mission to put the pieces together. A nonverbal autistic girl with the ability to see through others’ eyes. A story of identity, connection, and magic, set in a Boston that never was.


Gates of Mars: Book 1 of the Halo Trilogy by Kathleen McFall

What happens after the plutocrats colonize Mars? An interplanetary mystery and a searing critique of the billionaire quest for Mars. Funny, irreverent, a bit hopeful. Plus, giraffes.   IN THE AGE OF SURVEILLANCE, HOW CAN A PERSON GO MISSING?  The year is 2187. Crucial Larsen, a veteran of the brutal Consolidation Wars, is working as a labor cop on Earth. The planet is a toxic dump and billions of people are miserable, but so what? It's none of his business. He's finally living a good life, or good enough. But then Essential, his beloved kid sister, disappears on Mars.  When Halo--the all-powerful artificial-intelligence overseeing Earth and Mars on behalf of the ruling Five Families--can't (or won't) locate his sister, Crucial races up-universe to find her. In the Choke, the frigid, airless expanse outside the luxury domes, Crucial uncovers a deadly secret from Essential's past that threatens to shatter his apathetic existence...and both planets. Blending science-fiction with the classic, hard-boiled detective story, Gates of Mars is a page-turning, futuristic thrill-ride featuring a gritty, irreverent anti-hero--Crucial Larsen.  The first book of the Halo Trilogy, Gates of Mars is the eighth novel by award-winning authors Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall.


The Woeling Lass by Dave Dobson

An assassin hunts Inspector Gueran Declais through the streets of Frosthelm, and she is not acting alone. Just as he learns that his family may have been attacked and slain, Gueran is struck down as well. Despite the odds, he lives. Barely. Whisked away from the city for his safety, he struggles to recover from his injuries, learn his family's fate, and uncover the identity of those who want him dead. Far from Frosthelm, he becomes caught up in investigating another bloody attack, one that may or may not have been perpetrated by vengeful spirit of a woman wronged long ago, and one that threatens to expose him to his enemies. The locals are certain, though: the killer had to be the Woeling Lass, her hands cold as the grave and her feet aflame. Back in Frosthelm, Urret Milton is an apprentice in some difficulty at the Guild. She receives a mysterious note for Gueran, a man everyone thinks is dead. Rapidly embroiled in the effort to unravel the reason for the killings and bring the assassins to justice, Urret struggles to shed her troubles and show that she has what it takes to be an inspector. But all this leads her into far more peril than she bargained for, for which she can't possibly be ready. Her position at the Guild, the security of the city, and her life itself are all at stake. This tale from the Inquisitors' Guild of Frosthelm is a fresh mystery full of swordplay, deceit, ancient magic, scheming nobles, and a healthy dose of humor. Combining the clues and hidden mysteries of detective stories with all the grand adventure of epic fantasy, The Woeling Lass is a wondrous journey through betrayal, murder, ancient legend, loss, courage, and redemption. And, it has really silly chapter titles.


SHE by Tiffany Christina Lewis

For a rare moment in his life, newly promoted Det. Sergeant Michael Taylor is failing. The same day he began supervising an all-star group of four detectives, Taylor and his partner Det. Alex Jamison, get the case of an 18-year-old young man, shot dead in a fellow classmates’ bed. The seemingly perfect victim has one problem: girls. The case is made more challenging by the fact that the high schoolers involved are living secret lives and trying to save their own skin at every turn. At the same time, Taylor is being emotionally destroyed by his love interest, Azlynn Matthews. In turn, he is aiming his vexation at the detectives on his team. Due to his domineering and forceful management style, the team is on the verge of breaking down. Taylor must now combat his personal failures in order to pull his team back together, prevent the woman he wants from leaving him, and catch a maddening killer.


Detective King Book I: Magic and Mystery by LionBolt

What’s a detective to do when faced by criminals he doesn’t believe exist? Ghosts, magical creatures, demons, and was that a talking mouse? The son of Dr. John Watson strives to overtake the legacy of Sherlock Holmes but finds himself cast into another world filled with the paranormal, mythical and impossible while sinister plots threaten the fabric of society. When a mysterious woman who looks just like his late mother makes off with an ancient demon, can the teenage detective unravel the web of supernatural mysteries and take his crown as the detective king? And seriously—I’m certain that mouse just spoke. Whether fighting a witch raising the dead, fighting a mythological, or simply solving your run-of-the-mill serial murder—come along with Arthur and his Detective Knights in the first installment of their roaring twenties fantasy adventure.


Ishraat's Interrupted Wedding Night by Bob Young

Ishraat Sarabhai has become the CEO of a chemical assay company spun off by her alma mater Chemistry Department. Her company is enlisted in discovering how a group of elementary aged school girls ended up poisoned. Unfortunately, before Ishraat can get started one of the girls dies. By the time she figures things out, two are dead. Ishraat gives the authorities the info to pick up the killer and flies off to Mumbai for her destination wedding. The killer eludes the police and checks into Ishraat's hotel in India.


Ishraat's Long Night by Bob Young

Ishraat Sarabhai is a chemist for the adhesives manufacturer she works for. She becomes a hostage when three disgruntled employees take over the company ushering all the other employees out of the building. She manages to escape her captors remaining elusive hiding in the warehouse. She pulls in her fiancé to help her survive the siege. But things turn screwy when the terrorists start dying. Ishraat uses her chemical expertise to detect how they died as she waits for the police to rescue her. Unfortunately, she becomes a murder subject.


This Wicked Darkness (A Portal World Holiday Anthology) by Laura Hazan, Jen Davenport, Melody Caraballo, Megan Van Dyke, K. J. Harrowick

Pick your portal to a holiday tale edged with danger: Murder Mystery at the Symphony Maestro Anna is the number one suspect in a murder case, but having a dangerous side doesn’t mean she killed the librarian. Now Anna must prove her innocence before she’s arrested and loses her prestigious role as Symphony Conductor. Dark Family Secrets Inside a Louisiana Coven The spring celebration of Imbolc seems the perfect opportunity for Lorna and her husband to celebrate the news of her pregnancy. First she must tell him her greatest regret—killing his brother. Train with Witches in the Bermuda Triangle Penny is training to be a Royal Guard in the Bermuda Triangle. Everything was going great until Liam came along to confess his feelings for her. A Surprise Attack on a Faery Court Aine’s Day should be a time for celebration with family. But when the Unseelie dark fae launch a surprise attack, Galen will have to forego the festivities and fight to protect the Court of the Forest and the woman he loves. Escape a Stolen Moon to Flee to the Stars Jàden’s on the run from Enforcers with only one shot to flee to the stars with the man she loves. But between the surface of the moon and starship Hàlon lies a predator on the hunt.


The Long Nights by Tom Mock

2021 INDIES TODAY AWARDS: RUNNER-UP IN HORROR A cry of pain, hard and desperate, tore through Carthage City one night … The Nightwalker Killings: bodies drained and tucked away in the abandoned corners of Carthage City Oldtown. The oddity of their stalled decay was a mystery … until the latest victim woke in a fury of teeth and claws. Joe Kellerman, a young telepath working with a group of occult “Specialists,” finds himself face to face with the vampire known as the Nightwalker—at least, what’s left of him. To stop the vampire's contagion of death from spreading, Joe searches the killer’s memories to find his missing victims before any more wake to feed. But as an alluring photojournalist with a history of blackmail starts to suspect his involvement in the Nightwalker case, Joe is stretched thin between past mistakes and his search for the missing, where every face he sees is a life seemingly doomed to a bad end. Maybe that's why he keeps having visions of a girl in yellow sneakers from the killer's past—the fleeting hope that someone made it out alive. Is there anyone left to save, or has Joe finally gone too far into the dark to find his way out again?


The Zero Day Proposal by Fabrina Glitchlace

Daniqua was just a regular single woman; hungry, horny, and trying to make it on her own in the world. But her past came calling and now her weekend plans are FUBAR. Will she play her role, prevent nuclear annihilation, and win financial freedom? What will be her answer to The Zero Day Proposal?


The Clarity of Cold Steel by Kevin Wright

The kid disappeared two days ago. Missing. Abducted. Murdered. What have you... Just another in an endless line of indigent kids wrung from the dregs of the Machine City. And it’s my job to find him. Me. Avinash Shakteel, detective extraordinaire. Probably you ain’t heard of me. Not if you run the straight and narrow and ply the right side of the tracks. Cause me? I ply the other. Two days missing… Two long days in the Machine City, last bastion of mankind in all its fallen glory. Where the sum total of life’s cheaper than in part. I hope I find the kid. By God, I do. But if I can’t find all of him, I pray I find none. Join Detective Shakteel in this gritty steampunk thriller sure to set your blood to boil.


El Jefe by Tiffany Christina Lewis

In this third installment of the series, Detective Michael Taylor of the Oakland PD has a decision to make: Should he begin an investigation against his corrupt lieutenant? After being given a file of evidence against him, Michael is expected to act. He knows that after multiple attempts on his own life, opening this investigation would put himself, all of his loved ones and his partner Det. Alex Jamison in danger. As Michael contemplates the case, he and Jamison get a late-night call to the residence of Mia McDowell, who is found assaulted and murdered. Although it initially looks like a breaking and entering, Michael can sense something isn’t right. Just as his momentum rises, Lt. Bruce Vega, the corrupt supervisor in question, arrives on the scene. As the two come head to head, Michael removes himself from the situation only to find that he has fueled Lt. Vega’s fire, and he is now under a month’s suspension. Now Michael has to make some choices: will he investigate Lt. Vega and risk everything or will he do nothing and risk losing himself?


Stitches by Tiffany Christina Lewis

Oakland Police Detective Michael Taylor is faced with another gruesome case: a dead man with no eyes and lips sewn shut. After catching a grisly Bay Area serial killer, Michael is hit on all sides by change. He starts his investigation with a rookie detective for a partner, his love life is in turmoil, and the pressure at the PD is mounting as the newly minted partners receive a second case that is being pressed as a priority. Michael, the consummate loner, has to manage all of his new relationships, keep his wits and juggle the demands of the PD as he tries to get justice for his victim. Just as the tag team start to hit a stride, the murder attempts start to pile up and Michael is in the crosshairs. The duo must work fast to defend their victim and save Michael’s life.


Inside Out by Tiffany Christina Lewis

Detective Michael Taylor, of the Oakland PD, is the lead on a horrific serial killer case. For six weeks, he has been cleaning up mounds of the killer’s mess. Bodies of men have been found chopped up and left, skin down, for display. Michael, mysterious to many in his department, is desperate to solve this case. Michael’s only form of stress relief, Candy, a stripper employed at a San Francisco club, begins to show genuine interest in him and they form a relationship amidst all the chaos that is Michael’s life. Between interviews and police reports, Michael makes time for her. Candy, more commonly known as Vanessa, gets tangled in Michael's case as things unfold. A killer’s desire for retribution leaves her a victim of crime. Vanessa has to use her wit and charm to keep a killer at bay as she leaves bread crumbs for Michael to follow. The lovers must survive a serial killer's plot for vengeance while practicing trust and loyalty throughout.


Rusted Lies, a Dalton Rust P.I. Novel by Jacob Klop

You'd think being a detective is a pretty good gig, but when Dalton Rust gets roped into his newest case he can't help but wonder why he ever got into the business. The Royals are looking for blood, the Harpers won't stop badgering him, and even his own cat, Thatch, keeps tripping him up. The news doesn't get any better when Rust discovers a cybermancer who's capable of turning invisible and tossing people around like paper plates is protecting the document he needs to retrieve. But it's not all bad. His coffee maker still works like a dream. Now if only Rust could figure out why a bunch of high powered families from the Hill are so interested in an average crank like him...but no one wants to talk, and time is running short.


Public Parts by Joel W. Harris

A failed escape? Or a Mob hit arranged by crime boss Meyer Lansky to silence him and save Lepke Buchalter, Bugsy Siegel and Albert Anastasia from the electric chair? Either way, Murder Incorporated hit man turned major crime snitch Abe "Kid Twist" Reles, "the pigeon who could sing but not fly," encountered the one law he could not evade: The Law of Gravity. Thirty years later in the early 1970s, Larry Levine takes over at PUBLIC AUTO PARTS, in Brownsville, Brooklyn, when his father is forced into abrupt retirement in Florida to avoid questions about the demise of his old friend, Reles. Someone is talking. Larry knows a little of his fathers link to the Mob, but not nearly enough, as he is left to face a relentless police detective, John Mannion, who wants answers and an equally relentless Mob boss, Carmine, who wants cooperation. While trying to protect his father, end Mob sway at Public Parts, deal with Laurie, his dissatisfied wife, and Ann Riordan, his new, beautiful, and enigmatic young assistant, the business burns to the ground. Indicted for arson and other charges, he is defended by Brownsville's own Harvard trained Bernie the Attorney, once a renowned Mob mouthpiece, now turned Orthodox Rabbi, whose time has long past. Ultimately, Larrys fate is in the hands of his assistant, whose reluctant testimony about the extent of their relationship and where they were on the night of the fire could save Larry from prison but could also destroy her engagement and his marriage. PUBLIC PARTS is a black comedy of corruption and error cloaking a classic tale of love and betrayal, death and redemption; a might-be-true legend of its time and place, and Larry is the last man able to tell the tale.


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