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Jesus Jackson, by James Ryan Daley

jesusTitle:  Jesus Jackson
Genre:  Young Adult Mystery
Author: James Ryan Daley
Website: www.jamesryandaley.com
Publisher:  The Poisoned Pencil

The Poisoned Pen / Amazon Barnes & Noble

Jonathan Stiles is a 14-year-old atheist who is coping with his first day of ninth grade at the fervently religious St. Soren’s Academy when his idolized older brother Ryan is found dead at the bottom of a ravine behind the school. As his world crumbles, Jonathan meets an eccentric stranger who bears an uncanny resemblance to the Son of God (except for his white linen leisure suit and sparkling gold chains). Jesus Jackson, as he calls himself, offers to find a faith that Jonathan can believe in—with a money-back guarantee. He also encourages Jonathan in his belief that Ryan’s death may not have been an accident. Jonathan teams up with Henry, his new best friend at St. Soren’s, to investigate. The boys find footprints leading to the ravine that match Ryan’s sneakers. They are warned off their investigation by Ryan’s football friend, Alistair, but they find an ally in Ryan’s grieving girlfriend, Tristan, who also thinks the accident theory is bunk. The police, however, will not listen. But Jonathan knows something the police do not: Shortly before his death, Ryan was doing cocaine with Alistair, not far from the ravine where his body was found. An inspired Jonathan battles sanctimonious school psychologists, overzealous administrators, and a cavalry of Christian classmates on his quest to discover the truth about Ryan’s death—and about God, high school, and the meaning of life, while he’s at it. But he keeps getting distracted by Cassie, Alistair’s quirky younger sister, who holds the keys to the answers Jonathan is searching for, but who also makes him wonder if he should be searching for them at all.

Chapter 1

When I first saw Jesus, he was standing like a statue on the fifty-yard line of the high school football field, one arm pointed at the goalpost and the other cocked back—fingers curled around an imaginary pigskin, locked at the ready for a pantomimed hail-Mary in the final seconds of a make believe bowl game. It was a glorious moment to behold…at least, that is, until an invisible opponent rushed his offensive line. Jesus had to fake right, spin left, and duck around a pretend tight end to make a harrowing dash for the touchdown. He hit a few straight-arm blocks, pulled some fancy footwork, and half a second later he was jogging across the goal line, spiking the ball, and moonwalking clear from one side of the end zone to the other.
Now I know what you’re thinking, but stop right there. And trust me: This guy was totally Jesus. The long, straw-brown hair, straggly beard, gaunt frame, and clear-bright eyes; he was a dead ringer for the son of God. The only difference, as far as I could tell, between the Jesus on the football field and the one hanging on the cross in the school auditorium, was his clothes. The latter wore nearly none, of course, while this one was done up all dapper in a white linen suit, patent leather loafers, and a wide-collared, pastel pink button-down disco shirt, opened just enough to reveal a tuft of flaxen hair and a sparkling gold chain.
But before I get too far into this story, I need to stop and explain a couple things to you. First, you need to know that this little run-in with the savior was happening on a cold and dewy Saturday morning, at about nine am. It was the first of September—about fifteen weeks after my fourteenth birthday, roughly three months since my last day of junior high, and exactly two hours after my big brother’s body was found, lifeless and broken, at the bottom of a sixty-foot ravine behind St. Soren’s. I don’t want to dwell on this detail too much at the moment (we’ll get into it all later, trust me), but I just thought you ought to know. For perspective.
Oh yeah, and another thing: I don’t actually believe in Jesus. Didn’t then, don’t now. Not even a little.
So anyway, I watched the old king-of-kings run a victory lap around the track—arms raised, hair streaming behind him in the wind—but just as I was about to wander off, he stopped again on the fifty-yard line, waved his left hand high over his head, and called out, “Hey, you!”
I looked behind me to see if he was referring to someone else, but no one was there. We met eyes and I pointed to my chest with a shrug.
“Yeah, you,” he yelled. “Come on down here, would ya?”
I didn’t have anything else to do at the moment (the cops and paramedics wouldn’t let me near the ravine), and to tell you the truth, I was happy for the distraction. So I put my hands in my pockets and strolled all the way down the aisle, through the bleachers, and onto the field.
Jesus just stood there, grinning at me more like a salesman than a savior, waiting for me to reach him. And as soon as I stepped onto the grass, he hopped back and began bouncing on his toes, his hands cradling another imaginary football.
“All right,” he said, staring down the field. “Go long.”
“Excuse me?”
“Go long.”
“Why?”
He started bobbing, weaving, dodging pretend defensemen. “It’s the fourth quarter. We’ve got twelve seconds, and we’re down by five. Now go long.”
“But you don’t have a real ball.”
He shook his head, unimpressed with my logic. “And you aren’t a real wide receiver and this isn’t the real Super Bowl, and I’m not about to get sacked by areal defensive lineman named the Arkansas Annihilator. Don’t be so concerned with reality all the time. Just go long!”
I realized that I was not about to beat this guy in an argument. And seeing as how my current options were to go long with Jesus or go back to the crowd of cops and detectives and school administrators and weeping parents and one very dead older brother in a ravine behind the school, I decided on the former.
“Fine,” I said. “Fine.” And I ran.
I didn’t run very fast, but it felt good to put my body into action, to pump some blood back through all the numbness. I’d been so still and so frozen since the morning, when I first found my mother in the kitchen surrounded by pancakes and bacon and fruit salad and coffee and pastries and juice (she likes to cook when she’s upset), and learned that Ryan had apparently fallen while taking a jog after football practice the previous afternoon. But right then, on that field, I could feel my body begin to warm, the sensation returning (just a little) to my limbs.
The funny thing is, Jesus must have been hiding a real ball somewhere (though I can’t imagine where) because when I finally made it down around the ten-yard line and turned to make the imaginary catch, I got smacked clear off my feet by a solid, real, and perfectly spiraling football.
The pass hit me right beneath the rib cage, knocking the wind out of me. I fell hard and gasped for air. My eyes shut while I struggled to catch my breath and when I finally opened them, there was Jesus, standing straight over me, reaching a hand down to help me up.
“Sorry about that,” he said, hoisting me to my feet. “I was just trying to make a point.”
I rubbed my chest and winced. “I get it. You’ve got one hell of an arm. You could go pro.”
“That wasn’t exactly my point.” He extended his right hand. “I’m Jesus.”
I shook it. “I figured. It’s a good look for you. You really pull it off.”
Jesus tugged at his lapel. “Well, thank you.”
“Aren’t you supposed to wear, like…robes, though? And sandals? And, you know, do things more holy then mess around on a football field?”
“No,” he chuckled, pulling a business card from his pocket. “You’ve got me mixed up. I’m not that Jesus. I’m Jesus Jackson.”
He handed me the card. I looked it over. It read:
Jesus Jackson: Spiritual Contractor
100% faith guaranteed!
Call for a FREE ESTIMATE!
Strangely, there was no phone number on the card.
“So, are you going to try to sell me something?”
His face contorted into what can only be described as a very poor attempt at sincerity. “I’d never sell you anything you don’t need, of course. And even then, before you paid a dime I’d provide you with a—”
“Free estimate. Yeah, I got that much.” In the distance I could hear a siren making its way around the far side of the school. “So what exactly do you do?”
“I’m a contractor. I build things for people, depending on their needs…just not physical things.”
“If not physical, then what?”
“Metaphysical, of course.”
“Hmm…”
“Gods, to be precise.”
“You build gods?”
“Well, not actual gods, of course—that would be terribly difficult, and possibly illegal. I build the belief in a god. I construct faith.” Jesus Jackson put his hand on my shoulder, turning me toward the far side of the field, where a groundskeeper was laying a piece of sod over some fresh dirt. “Take this guy, Nino Taglione. I’m scouting him as possible client. Nino is fifty-seven years old, and has been working here at St. Soren’s Academy since he was twenty-five. He’s been married for thirty-five years, and just found out that his wife has been having an affair with Joe Shannon, the custodian for the athletic building, for the past twenty-eight. Obviously, this news has shaken his faith in his wife, but more importantly, it has destroyed his faith in God. After all, how could the same god he’s been praying to for fifty-seven years have let him be a such a chump for so long? Right?”
“Um…right.”
“Well, that’s where I come in.”
“You’re going to restore his faith in God?”
He shook his head. “Not exactly, that’s what priests do…or rabbis, ministers, or what-have-you…. Restoration is difficult, messy work. I’m going to give him faith in a new one.”
“A new…god?”
“Or something like a god anyway. He has lots of options.”
I was intrigued. “What kind of…options?”
“Oh, they’re endless. It could be a Pantheon of demigods, or a Divine Force, or a belief in karma and the cycle of reincarnation. He can have a warrior spirit guide, an ancestral apparition, a guardian angel…he can have a giant bunny named Harvey with twelve arms and a third eye, if he wants one…so long as he’ll have a little faith in it.”
I thought this over for a moment. “But will he ever see the god you give him faith in?”
“Ha!” Jesus laughed. “No, no. Alas, that’s the thing about gods, they tend to stay out of sight.”
“Well if he can’t see it, how will he know he’s got it?”
Jesus pointed a finger at my nose and flashed his widest salesman’s smile. “Well, you see, I guarantee—”
“One hundred percent faith. Got it.”
“Or your money back, no questions asked.”
Right then, the siren I heard before came screaming past the stadium. An image of Ryan in the back of that ambulance—ghost-white, bruised, bloody, covered in a sheet—snapped into my head. A wave of dizziness overcame me, and I struggled to keep my balance. I said, “You know, well…that all sounds…really great.”
Jesus touched his hand to my arm, steadying me. He spoke softly, “So can I interest you in a free estimate?”
And then—right at that moment, right there, right when Jesus Jackson touched my arm—it all just became too much: Jesus and Nino and free estimates for invisible gods and a dead brother and a magic football and the first real day of high school just three days away…. “No, no, I don’t think I need any god right now…I’m sort of an atheist, anyway. But…um…thanks….” And before I even knew what I was doing, I turned and stumbled toward the sirens and the screams and the crowd and the cold, hard, welcoming seat of my dad’s car.

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Alex and Katija: High and Mighty by Gordon Hooper

 

A&KABOUT ALEX AND KATIJA: HIGH AND MIGHTY

Alex and Katija are quite the pair. Selfish, cruel, greedy, sleazy and violent—why, the negative adjectives could easily fill a small volume of their own. Over the top, always offensive and never politically correct—their sole redeeming quality is, they are not child molesters.

Alex is heir and owner of the Holstein Private Investigation Agency, located in Stockholm, Sweden. While he is the agency’s brains, Katija provides the brawn, as resident henchwoman. Their setup is sweet, with a never-ending supply of clients appearing at their doorstep and asking for help, only to be swindled out of their money, robbed, or beaten, and then sent on their way. Except some who, wrapped in chains, are dumped into the murky waters of nearby Nybro Viken.

Alex and Katija fight the natural as well as the supernatural—the only thing they really dread is the horrors of gainful employment. This threat is ever present as their finances are chronically atrocious, usually due to the black vacuum of the weekend, with all its powders and pills.

Their cases take them across the globe—so beware! There is NOWHERE to hide.

PURCHASE:

AMAZON

—————————————————————-

 

Gordon HooperABOUT GORDON HOOPER

Gordon Hooper is the author of “Alex and Katija, High and Mighty.” It was published on Amazon.com, November 6 2012, courtesy of Seattle publisher New Libri Press.

One could tell his life’s story with a poem:

Born by gypsies
Raised by wolves
Schooled by fools
Employed by cretins
Scooped up by Libri

Highly inaccurate and somewhat irrelevant prose, yes yes I know – what are you, my mother?
But when has truth, that dull ignoramus, ever been able to measure up to a well-crafted lie?
Most of his work is created solely to make people laugh, or at the very least smile. He tries to be offensive as often as humanly possible.
When not – then he is most likely being semi-blackmailed by his publisher, who has a hell of a job in keeping us all out of jail and preventing the premises of New Libri Press from being torched.
Contrary to his wishes he currently resides in the depressing little freeze box of Stockholm, Sweden.
He was born on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain in 1977, but was imported to the frigid shores of Sweden at the tender age of two.
He is currently working on the sequel “Alex and Katija, The terrible Two.”
For more warping of morals, bending of truths and breaking of laws – enter the electronic vortex via the portal below.

Alex and Katja is his first published book. You can visit Gordon Hooper’s website atwww.gordon-hooper.com.

WEBSITE

 

 

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Book Spotlight: BUYING TIME by Pamela Samuels Young

Buying Time Virtual Book Tour November and December’10

Title: Buying Time
Author: Pamela Samuels Young
Paperback: 370 pages
Publisher: Goldman House Publishing (November 1, 2009)
Publication Date: November 1, 2009
ISBN: 098156271X
Genre: Legal Thriller

PURCHASE HERE!

Buying Time is a scandalous tale of blackmail, murder and betrayal, evoking John Grisham with a dash of Terry McMillan.

Waverly Sloan is a down-on-his-luck lawyer. But just when he’s about to hit rock bottom, he stumbles upon a business with the potential to solve all of his problems.

In Waverly’s new line of work, he comes to the aid of people in desperate need of cash. But there’s a catch. His clients must be terminally ill and willing to sign over rights to their life insurance policies before they can collect a dime. Waverly then finds investors eager to advance them thousands of dollars—including a hefty broker’s fee for himself—in exchange for a significant return on their investment once the clients take their last breath.

The stakes get higher when Waverly brokers the policy of the cancer-stricken wife of Lawrence Erickson, a high-powered lawyer who’s bucking to become the next U.S. Attorney General. When Waverly’s clients start dying sooner than they should, both Waverly and Erickson—who has some skeletons of his own to hide—are unwittingly drawn into a perilous web of greed, blackmail and murder.

Soon, a determined federal prosecutor is hot on Waverly’s trail. But when the prosecutor’s own life begins to unravel, she finds herself on the run—with Waverly at her side.

EXCERPT:
PROLOGUE

Veronika Myers tried to convince them, but no one would listen. Her suspicions, they said, were simply a byproduct of her grief.

Each time she broached the subject with her brother, Jason, he walked out of the room. Darlene, her best friend, suggested a girls’ night out with some heavy drinking. Aunt Flo urged her to spend more time in prayer.

Veronika knew she was wasting her time with this woman, too, but couldn’t help herself.

“My mother was murdered,” Veronika told the funeral home attendant. “But nobody believes it.”

The plump redhead with too much eye shadow glanced down at the papers on her desk, then looked up. “It says here that your mother died in the hospital. From brain cancer.”

“That’s not true,” Veronika snapped, her response a little too sharp and a tad too loud.

Yes, her mother had brain cancer, but she wasn’t on her deathbed. Not yet. They had just spent a long afternoon together, laughing and talking and watching All My Children. Veronika could not, and would not accept that the most important person in her life had suddenly died. She knew what everyone else refused to believe. Her mother had been murdered.

“Did they conduct an autopsy?” the woman asked.

Veronika sighed and looked away. There had been no autopsy because everyone dismissed her as a grief-stricken lunatic. When she reported the murder to the police, a disinterested cop dutifully took her statement, but she could tell that nothing would come of it. Without any solid evidence, she was wasting everyone’s time, including her own.

“No,” Veronika said. “There wasn’t an autopsy.”

The funeral home attendant smiled sympathetically.

Veronika let out a long, exasperated breath, overwhelmed by the futility of what she was trying to prove. “Never mind,” she said. “What else do you need me to sign?”

* * *
Later that night, Veronika lay in bed, drained from another marathon crying session. She rummaged through the nightstand, retrieved a bottle of sleeping pills and popped two into her mouth. She tried to swallow them dry, but her throat was too sore from all the crying.

Tears pooled in her eyes as she headed to the kitchen for a glass of water. “Don’t worry, Mama,” Veronika sniffed. “I won’t let them get away with it.”

Just as she reached the end of the hallway, a heavy gloved hand clamped down hard across her mouth as her arms were pinned behind her back. Panic instantly hurled her into action. Veronika tried to scream, but the big hand reduced her shriek to a mere muffle. She frantically kicked and wrestled and twisted her body, but her attacker’s grip would not yield.

When she felt her body being lifted off the ground and carried back down the hallway, she realized there were two of them and her terror level intensified. But so did her survival instinct. She continued to wildly swing her legs backward and forward, up and down, right and left, eventually striking what felt like a leg, then a stomach.

As they crossed the threshold of her bedroom, she heard a loud, painful moan that told her she had likely connected with the groin of one of her assailants.

“Cut it out!” said a husky, male voice. “Grab her legs!” he ordered his partner. “Hurry up!”

The men dumped her face down onto the bed, her arms still restrained behind her back. The big hand slipped from her mouth and Veronika’s first cry escaped, but was quickly muted when a much heavier hand gripped the back of her neck and pressed her face into the comforter.

Fearing her attackers were going to rape, then kill her, Veronika defiantly arched her back and tried to roll her body into a tight ball. At only 130 pounds, she was no physical match for her assailants. They easily overpowered her, forcing her back into a prone position. As one man sat on her upper legs, strapping her left arm to her side, the other man bent her right arm at the elbow and guided her hand up toward her forehead.

During the deepest period of her grief, Veronika had longed to join her mother. But now that she was face-to-face with the possibility of death, she fought valiantly for life.

That changed, however, the second Veronika felt something cold and hard connect with her right temple. She stiffened as one of the men grabbed her fingers and wrapped them around the butt of a gun. At that precise instant, Veronika knew with certainty that her suspicions were indeed fact. Her mother had been murdered and now the same killers had come to silence her before she could expose the truth. And just like her mother’s death, her own murder would go undetected, dismissed as the suicide of a grieving daughter. A conclusion no one would question.

As the man placed his hand on top of hers and prepared to pull the trigger, a miraculous, power-infused sensation snuffed out what was left of Veronika’s fear, causing her body to go limp. The heavy pounding of her heart slowed and she felt light enough to float away.

Completely relaxed now, Veronika closed her eyes, said a short prayer, and waited for a glorious reunion with her mother.

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PREACHING TO THE CORPSE by Roberta Isleib

Title of Book: Preaching to the Corpse
Genre: Murder Mystery
Author: Roberta Isleib
Publisher: Berkley Prime
Date of Release: Dec. 2007
ISBN: 978-0425218372
 

Summary:  

The holidays have arrived in postcard-perfect Guilford, CT, but someone’s taking the joy out of the season… Psychologist/advice columnist Dr. Rebecca Butterman gets a call in the middle of the night from the minister at her church begging for her help. He’s in custody after going to a fellow parishioner’s home and finding her dead. The murdered matron was the leader of a search committee charged with finding a new assistant pastor after the previous assistant left in a rush. Rebecca learns that the committee was divided–has someone tried to eliminate the competition? Rebecca puts her analytical skills to work to do her own search–for a killer–all while resisting the urge to break the seventh commandment with a very married detective, and praying she’s not the next victim.   

Why did you take up writing mysteries, Roberta?

I’ve always read and loved mysteries, starting with the Bobbsey twins, Nancy Drew, and Cherry Ames, the nurse detective. I prefer to read a series where I can return to visit with the same characters many times. So this genre seemed a natural choice when I was thinking about trying to write a novel. It also happens that crime fiction fits well with my other profession, psychotherapy (I’m a clinical psychologist by trade). Both the detective and the therapist star with a problem and follow clues until they unravel its solution. I enjoy the puzzle aspect of mysteries and seeing the bad guys get their due—doesn’t always happen in real life!

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