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The Ashes

Title: THE ASHES
Author: Vincent Zandri
Publisher: Bear Media
Pages: 277
Genre: Thriller/Horror/Romantic Suspense

HORROR IN THE DARK WOODS

It’s been eight years since artist and single mom, Rebecca Underhill, was abducted and left to die in an old broken down house located in the middle of the dark woods. But even if her abductor, Joseph William Whalen, has since been killed, another, more insidious evil is once more out to get her in the form of the Skinner. The son of an abusive butcher, Skinner intends on finishing the job Whalen started but failed at.

How is he going to get to Rebecca?

He’s going to do it through her children, by luring them into the cornfield behind the old farmhouse they live in.

HORROR IN THE DEPTHS

Now, armed with the knowledge that the Skinner has escaped incarceration at a downstate facility for the criminally insane, Rebecca must face the most horrifying challenge of her adult life: Rescuing the children not from a house in the woods, but from the abandoned tunnels that run underneath her property.

But the Skinner is watching Rebecca’s every move.

Horrifying question is, will she live long enough to save the children?

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Amazon

The Ashes teaser

First Chapter

October 2016Albany, NY

“How long have you been hearing the voices coming from the cornfield, Mike?”

The man speaking is a child psychologist by the name of Dr. Robert Cuther, an aging, semi-retired child psychiatrist who’s come highly recommended to me by my best friend, housemate, and blonde bombshell co-conspirator at the The School of Art, Robyn Painter (her real name, no pun). So the story goes, Cuther has been conducting therapy on Robyn’s eight year old daughter, Molly (named after my late twin sister), after we found her hiding in a second floor closet of the farmhouse that our two half-families share. The little blonde-haired, blue eyed clone of her mom had convinced herself the Boogeyman lived in our basement (he doesn’t, we checked) and that any day now he was going to abduct her and drag her down into his underground lair.

Truth is, I’m not sure what to expect from the man who, with his thick, curly gray hair, short stature, wrinkly pale face, and old wool suit over black turtleneck, looks more like an over-the-hill Einstein than Freud. But I’m beginning to worry more and more about Michael Jr. and the voices he claims to be hearing, and speaking to Dr. Cuther seems like the reasonable solution. He’s also agreed to see us on a quiet Sunday morning so as not to interrupt school and work schedules, which makes him not only reasonable, but convenient.

“Go ahead and answer the Doctor, Boo,” I say, sitting across from the perch he occupies on a long leather couch. “Dr. Cuther is our friend.”

Little Mike peers at me with his smooth round face, little pug nose, thick head of dark brown hair that even at eight year’s old sports a lock that hangs down over his long forehead, just like his late dad. Sometimes, when he looks directly into my eyes with his big brown pools, I feel like I’m not only seeing his father, but that I’m once more looking into my ex-husband’s soul.

“He’s not gonna give me any shots, is he, Ma?” Mike says, his short blue-jeaned legs hanging off the couch, his blue Converse sneakered feet in constant motion, like he’s jogging in place.

Cuther laughs. It’s a genuine laugh. The kind of laugh a grandfather would make after a little boy made a joke about his gray hair or about the strange way his lips don’t move much when he talks. As though at his age, it takes a grand effort to make facial expressions.

“No shots here, young man,” Cuther says. “When you come here, you do only fun stuff.”

“Oh yeah?” Mike says, folding his hands in his lap. “Like what?”

“Well, for one,” Cuther goes on, “your mom tells me you are already quite the accomplished artist. That you can even hand draw a person’s face without having to trace it. That’s quite the rare talent you have there.” Then, his eyes shifting to me. “You must take after your mom.”

“Michael Senior…that’s my dad…he’s a writer,” Mike says.

Cuther’s forehead scrunches. “And who is Michael Senior?”

“I just told you, silly. He’s my dad. He’s dead.”

The mere mention of my ex-husband, Michael, and the word dead still throws a cold jolt up and down my spine. It also makes my stomach cramp, even more so than it has been of late.

“Tell me something, young man,” Cuther goes on. “Why do you call him by his real name, and why do you refer to him in the present tense?”

My boy turns to me. “What’s peasant tents mean, mom?”

Me, giggling, but somehow feeling the effects of anxiety kicking in. Aren’t I here to relieve anxiety?

“It means, Boo, that you refer to your dad like he’s still alive…still with us.”

I sometimes refer to Mike as Boo, just to differentiate him from his father, and not to remind myself of my long gone ex every time I utter his name.

“But he is,” Mike says. “Sort of, anyway. I just saw him out by the cornfield this morning.”

My son’s admission hits me upside the head. I’m well aware of the voices he hears coming from the cornfield. Voices I can only assume he’s making up with his overactive imagination. But seeing his father out by the cornfield is a new one on me.

A few beats pass before Cuther once more raises the question: “Mike, my boy, when did you first start hearing the voices?”

“It’s not voices really,” he says.

“Not voices?”

“Well, I guess it’s voices. Or, like a voice anyway.”

“Can you explain more for me?” Cuther goes on, his deep brown eyes shifting from Mike to me and back again.

“It’s music, Dr. Cuther. It comes to me thorough the corn.”

The psychiatrist shoots me another quick glance.

“Can you tell your mom and me what this music sounds like, Mike?”

He nods. “I don’t have a very good voice. But I can try singing it.”

“You’re very brave, Mike,” Cuther says.

“Okay, here goes.” The boy sits up straight, his legs and feet suddenly very stiff and very still. “Ring around the Rosie, a pocket full of posies, ashes, ashes, we all fall down.”

Yet another glance from Cuther.

He says, “Is this the first time you’ve ever heard that song before, Mike?”

The boy shakes his head, starts moving those legs again.

“Nah,” he says. “We used to sing it in kindergarten. It was a game. The teacher would make us kids make a circle. We’d sing the song about ringing around Rosie, and then as soon as we said the last word–”

“—Down!” Dr. Cuther interjects, his voice booming, despite those stiff lips.

“That’s right,” Mike says with a smile, delighted to have something in common with Dr. Cuther. “Did you play this game too, Doctor?”

The psychiatrist nods. “Of course. Believe it or not, young man, I was a boy once myself. A long, long time ago. Before cable television even.”

My son steals a moment to digest this information, like it’s impossible for him to imagine the short, gray-haired, old man has been anything other than what he is at this very moment in time.

“Well, as soon as we sing the last word, down,” Mike continues, “the last person to fall down was punished.”

Another cold jolt shoots up and down my spine. “What do you mean punished, Boo?”

He giggles. “Oh nothing bad, mom. Mrs. Carter…that was my teacher…would make us do an arithmetic problem on the board. Or maybe spell a word. We were all it after a while. It was a lot of fun. You know, for school anyway.”

Cuther nods.

“Mike,” he says, “I promised you we’d have some fun also. So how about you draw me a picture of what you see out by the cornfield. Can you do that? In the meantime, I’ll have a talk with mom.”

Mike slips off the couch. “Sure, swell.”

Dr. Cuther leads my son to smaller room located off his office that’s outfitted with art supplies and kid-sized tables. He sets Mike up with some construction paper and crayons, then closes the door, just a little. When he comes back inside, he sits back down behind his desk and sighs heavily.

“Ms. Underhill,” he says. “I think we need to have a serious conversation about your boy.”

Meet the Author

Vincent Zandri

Winner of the 2015 PWA Shamus Award and the 2015 ITW Thriller Award for Best Original Paperback Novel, Vincent Zandri is the NEW YORK TIMES, USA TODAY, and AMAZON KINDLE No.1 bestselling author of more than 25 novels including THE REMAINS, MOONLIGHT WEEPS, EVERYTHING BURNS, and ORCHARD GROVE. He is also the author of numerous Amazon bestselling digital shorts, PATHOLOGICAL, TRUE STORIES and MOONLIGHT MAFIA among them. Harlan Coben has described THE INNOCENT (formerly As Catch Can) as “…gritty, fast-paced, lyrical and haunting,” while the New York Post called it “Sensational…Masterful…Brilliant!” Zandri’s list of domestic publishers include Delacorte, Dell, Down & Out Books, Thomas & Mercer and Polis Books, while his foreign publisher is Meme Publishers of Milan and Paris. An MFA in Writing graduate of Vermont College, Zandri’s work is translated in the Dutch, Russian, French, Italian, and Japanese. Recently, Zandri was the subject of a major feature by the New York Times. He has also made appearances on Bloomberg TV and FOX news. In December 2014, Suspense Magazine named Zandri’s, THE SHROUD KEY, as one of the “Best Books of 2014.” Recently, Suspense Magazine selected WHEN SHADOWS COME as one of the “Best Books of 2016”. A freelance photo-journalist and the author of the popular “lit blog,” The Vincent Zandri Vox, Zandri has written for Living Ready Magazine, RT, New York Newsday, Hudson Valley Magazine, The Times Union (Albany), Game & Fish Magazine, and many more. He lives in New York and Florence, Italy.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

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Ernestine Dail is a high school teacher and lives in Maryland. She has taught school for several years and enjoys the wonders and amazements she finds in being around children. The inspiration for writing her book comes from being surrounded with children and knowing their joys, likes, and dislikes. She is the author of two books—Dimples DoGood, and her latest, A Voice in the Night. She likes to read, write, travel and do crossword puzzles.

You can visit Ernestine Dail’s website at http://bookstop.wix.com/children-books.

A Voice in the Night About the Book:

Brian, Josh, and Thomas arrived at Blackstone Cabin with great expectations of fishing and having fun. Now in the midst of a raging storm, and a hooded stranger frantically knocking at their door, the boys desperately wished for Josh’s father, Mr.Joplin, to return to the cabin. Will he return in time to save the boys from danger, or will the boys open the door to the frantic knocking of the hooded stranger outside.

Purchase your copy:

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

Interview:

Would you call yourself a born writer?

No, I don’t call myself a born writer. Writing is what I learned over a period of time.

What was your inspiration for A Voice in the Night?

My inspiration for writing came from students. It’s a joy to see the younger students enjoy reading and exploring the pictures.  My high school students, after reading my first book, Dimples DoGood, asked me to write a mystery because that is what they liked. They purchased my first book to show support.I wrote A Voice in the Night because or them.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

I really like themes in which people help people and are generous and caring rather than selfish.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

It took me 3 months to complete it.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

I’m very much disciplined. When I make up my mind to do something, I do it and I work on it until it is completed and I am satisfied with it. A typical day is coming home from work, turning on my computer and working sometimes up to 11:30 pm. I usually get home from work around 1:00 in the afternoon. I eat before I get started and in between I have snacks, and take maybe 1-2 10 minute breaks. This works majority of the time with the exception of having writer’s block.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

The most challenging thing for me was ending one chapter and beginning another because the story had to flow and synchronize with previous scenes. That requires a lot of thought.

What do you love most about being an author?

I love being an author because I get to express my creativity, educate, influence, and help others in a positive way.

Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self-publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?

I decided to self-publish because it was less expensive, yet very professional in every way. I worked with Eric at Avid Readers Publishing Group.

He was very helpful and patient in answering all of my questions, and I received my product on time according to schedule. It is important to have someone who is understanding and will work you, especially if you are publishing a first book. I’m very happy with my decision.

Where can we find you on the web?

http://bookstop.wix.com/children-books

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Andrea Sisco is the co-founder of Armchair Interviews and the author of the forthcoming mystery novel A Deadly Habit, to be released from Five Star in 2009. Started in 2005, Armchair Interviews now has about 100 staff reviewers who review an average of 200 books a month. This popular review site receives about 2 million hits a year and has been named by Writer's Digest one of the Best 101 Websites for Writers for three years in a row. Armchair Interviews has a lot of offer authors and readers, from audio interviews, to audio blurbs, to contests, to ads, to a whole range of resources on books and writing. It also publishes a monthly newsletter. Sisco is always on the lookout for quality reviewers. Just drop her an email at Andrea@armchairinterviews.com and she'll get you started. Armchair Interviews reviews most type of books in about 43 genres, with the exception of ebooks. In this interview, Sisco talks about the challenges of running a big review site, and about her forthcoming novel, among other things.

Thank you very much for this interview, Andrea. Tell us a bit about Armchair Interviews.

Our knowledge of books and our excitement and passion for the idea of Armchair Interviews was the beginning of creating a great site. We placed ourselves in the able hands of Paul Larson of Creative Arc in Minneapolis and he patiently worked with Connie and me to design an attractive, user friendly site. We then began to add other things like audio and written interviews, contests, a reader's page, an author's page, etc. for our visitors.

But it's the reviewers. They're passionate about the written word. They're good writers, responsible people and oh so much fun. They work hard. They work with us, not for us and that's the difference I think. They are Armchair Interviews. And we've gained new friends from around the United States and the world through Armchair Interviews. They simply are the best. Check out our site and then other sites and you'll see what I mean.

What is the most challenging aspect of running a review site?  

Time. It's primarily two people (Connie and I) running Armchair Interviews with some help from Paul Larsen (our go-to guy for web help) and Jeff Foster who does some marketing for us. Connie has a business (that pays the bills) and must give that time. I am a writer, I travel a great deal with my husband, we live in MN and AZ (which is a time and logistic challenge) and we have numerous children and grandchildren I want to spend time with. Connie and I always want to do more and wonder where we'll get the time.  

But money is another important aspect. It takes money to create a good site and money to maintain and improve a site like ours. Authors often don't like paying for ads, interviews, etc. The problem is, if the site isn't paying for itself, it goes away. They don't understand the number of people we reach and what it costs to maintain a site like ours. Some authors are appalled that sites like ours would charge to promote their titles. Hey, think New York Times, People, USA Today… We may be small, but like them, we have to have revenue to survive. I can never understand why they don't blink an eye at the idea of a magazine, television or newspaper ad, but believe that the internet should be free.

Note: We don't charge to review a title.  

How should an author contact you about a review request? Do you review e-books as well?  

An author should go to www.armchairinterviews.com and click on our FAQ for review submissions and follow the directions. You'd be amazed how many people don't think the rules apply to them. Often though, they read? the directions and send me an email and a link to their web site so I can gather the necessary information myself. That will not get an author a review. Time is short; we have about 400 submissions a month and can't fill them all. It's easier to go with the people who follow the directions. So read the FAQ and follow the directions! How to get that review or interview is another Q & A interview and one every author should hear if they want review coverage. But that's for another time.

Do you think there’s a lot of ‘facile praise’ among many online review sites? What is your policy when it comes to negative reviews?

Criticism is okay. And we criticize books. But we will never, ever trash a book or an author. We want to celebrate authors and their work. If a book (and unfortunately it's almost always self-published) is so awful (poorly written, edited, etc.) we won't review it at all and inform the author of the issues. But we'd like authors to remember: A review is one person's opinion.

In your opinion, what defines a ‘legitimate’ reviewer?

I'm not sure I can give you a definitive answer. It's like art; I may not know what good art is, but I'll tell you when I see some. Peruse the sites. What do they look like? How many titles have they reviewed? Do they offer anything besides reviews (nice for building traffic and authors want traffic)? If you contact them do they respond in a timely manner and are they professional in their responses? Ask them how long they've been in business and what their stats are.

But the bottom line is: Print publication continues to reduce their coverage of books. Internet is the coming wave and is even now, becoming the place to go for learning about new books. If I had a small promotion budget, I know I'd get more bang for my buck with Armchair Interviews than with a magazine or newspaper. Why? Because other than USA Today, most newspapers are local or regional. And I could never afford USA Today. Magazines? Well most are out of the price range also. Television and Radio are usually local (budget restraints). That leaves the internet and it is huge!

What does your site offer readers?

Armchair Interviews offers readers well-written and comprehensive reviews in approximately 43 genres. What’s really nice is we have ‘experts’ reviewing for us. Authors, engineers, medical doctors, veterinarians, professors/teachers, you get the picture. So if we have a book that fits into a particular field, we can usually find someone who is ‘in the know’ about the subject matter. And for fiction, well, we have some well read, talented writers who can give a ‘spot on’ critique of the book. Without our reviewers, we couldn’t exist. They are simply the best in the business.

Armchair Interviews also provides readers with written and audio author interviews. We’re branching out in our interviews and including industry professionals such as publicists, editors, agents and the like. While contests and give aways are not a big part of the site, we also do a number of those yearly. We try and keep up with and report industry news and let people know who has won the various writers’ awards.

But most importantly, we have grown to a point where our site is filled with information for readers, but it’s also a great place for author’s to be seen, because our readership continues to grow.

What promotional opportunities does your site offer authors?

We offer ads, audio author interviews and written Q&A interviews. They are really reasonable in cost, given our audience. We can provide an author with tailored packages to fit their needs and pocketbook. Connie and I are very conscious to remember that most authors do not have a huge promotional budgets. Contact us for promotional information.

We have authors, publishing houses and publicists that regularly work with us to promote their authors. Oh, and sometimes, for fun and to help, we'll do a give away for an author we feel strongly about. That's a freebie in conjunction with the author or publishing house.

Tell us about your new 'Audio Blurbs'. What are they and how can they help authors and publishers?

Armchair Interviews wanted to do something different to help promote authors. After some thought, Connie Anderson and I decided to record audio ads. This is like a movie trailer, but with the audio only. They are approximately one minute in length and if the audio interests readers, they can click on the book cover icon and purchase the book.

It’s simple, fun and unique. We’ve just enlisted several professional actors to help with the voice work.

I understand you're also an author with a mystery novel coming out soon. Tell us about that and how you find the time to write while maintaining such a demanding review site.

Yes, my agent recently guided me through the first time novelist contract. I am so happy that is done. Now I’m in edits. And I’m happy to report they were miniscule, but still demanded time. A Deadly Habit will make its appearance in 2009 and will be published by Five Star (a part of Cengage Learning).

I don’t know how I find the time to do all that I do. Perhaps I’m overly organized. But let me tell you, living in two different parts of the United States, having a large number of children and grandchildren, traveling, running Armchair Interviews, writing a mystery series and now coauthoring a Young Adult Fantasy series with romantic comedy author, Kathleen Baldwin is like negotiating a mine field, time wise. Frankly, I do what I can and to the best of my ability.

There is one thing I know for sure; there will not be a second Penelope Santucci mystery published exactly one year from the publication to A Deadly Habit because I’m just plotting it now. I also think that it is helpful to have a supportive and understanding husband (Bob Pike). He is the author of 21 business books, a professional speaker, runs our family consulting business and is the chairman of a non-profit faith organization, so he knows what a full schedule is and he pitches in and helps when needed.

I also have some great kids and in-laws. They’re helping with the promotion of A Deadly Habit. My actor/screenwriter son, Guy Wegener is producing a video trailer of A Deadly Habit. Not the still shot videos one sees, but a real ‘movie’ video trailer. And my son-in-law, Alan Pranke is building my personal author web site, www.andreasisco.com. It will be up sometime in late summer of 2008.

And Connie Anderson, my best friend and co owner of Armchair Interviews feeds me info, helps out when I’m on a deadline and keeps me sane. I could go on, but you get the picture. I’m blessed to have wonderful people in my life who want me to succeed. Oh, and I don’t watch a great deal of television and I don’t sleep a lot. But at my age, I’ve heard we need less sleep. I love all the things that I do and they are so exciting. I don’t want to let any of them go. I might miss something.

Anything else you'd like to say to our readers?

We'd invite you to check us out. We've got almost 3000 reviews, numerous audio author interviews (they change all the time), contests and a lot of scrumptious information. And the newest thing is: We have a member's only site. For a very small amount of money monthly, we have a place where members can go for 'stuff' that's not on the regular site.

Thank you, Andrea! I appreciate your time!

 

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The Fountain Pen, April 2008

In this Issue…

From Mayra’s Desk
News
Articles

“Demystifying Virtual Book Tours,” by Mayra Calvani
Interviews
What Does Amazon’s Decision Really Mean?
Historical Novelist Catherine Delors
SF Author Phoebe Wray
SF Author Lee Denning
Romantic Suspense, NY Times Bestseller Author Lisa Jackson
Dark Fantasy Author Justin Gustainis
Illustrator K.C. Snider
Multi-genre Author Hill Kemp
Reviews
The Darkest Evening of the Year, by Dean Koontz (paranormal)
Monkey Trap, by Lee Denning (SF)
Jemma7729, by Phoebe Wray (SF)
Sleep Before Evening, by Magdalena Ball (mainstream)
Joey Gonzalez, Great American, by Tony Robles (picture book)
On the Go with Rooter and Snuffle, by Shari Lyle-Soffe (picture book)
Knowing Joseph, by Judith Mammay (middle grade)
Book Club
Resources

Read The Fountain Pen here.

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http://www.bottlecapbooks.com

Hundreds of books on writing are available on the market these days. I try to get my hands on any new writing book that comes out, even though most of them end up being repetitive in one way or the other. I was pleasantly surprised by Bessler's book because, while it touches on the same topics which other similar books touch upon, this one does it in more depth and detail. Definitely it's a 'heavier' book and a longer read than titles such as Writing Down the Bones. Furthermore, because of Bessler's more formal writing style, it is a harder book to read and one that would be better appreciated by nonfiction writers, especially by legal writers.

Writing for Life isn't a grammar book, though it stresses its importance and recommends titles on the subject. Using lots of interesting quotes from some of the great writers and offering helpful tips, the author meticulously discusses a long list of topics such as the importance of daily practice, perseverance, discipline, style, editing, polishing and revising, storytelling, and freewriting. He also writes about procrastination and writer's block–what it is and how to cure it. As I said, these are the same topics that pop out in any writing book, but the difference here is that Bessler goes much deeper and examines the issues in more detail. He's an attorney and it shows in the writing. I particularly enjoyed his insight into the elusive concept of 'style'. 

Writing for Life is a smart, insightful and sophisticated book. It is also well researched and would serve as a fine addition to any writer's reference bookshelf.

 

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Starting December 11th until the 23rd travel to a new blog for a Christmas story, recipe and prize giveaway. The prizes will range from print books to gift certificates to goodie baskets!

Here’s the schedule of the chica-lit stars:

12.11.07: Mary Castillo, author of Switchcraft

12.12.07: Berta Platas, author of Cinderella Lopez

12.13.07: Mayra Calvani, author of Dark Lullaby (That’s me and I’ll post my story here at The Dark Phantom!)

12.14.07: Caridad Pineiro, author of Holiday With a Vampire

12.15.07: Lara Rios, author of Becoming Americana

12.16.07: Caridad Ferrer, author of It’s Not About the Accent

12.17.07: Margo Candela, author of Life Over Easy

12.18.07: Kathy Cano Murillo, author of Crafty Chica’s Art de la Soul

12.19.07: Tracy Montoya, author of Telling Secrets

12.20.07: Jamie Martinez Wood, author of Latino Writers & Journalists and Rogelia’s House of Magic (coming summer 2008)

12.21.07: Misa Ramirez, author of Lola PI: Living the Vida Lola (January 2009 from St. Martin’s Press)

12.22.07: Sofia Quintero, author of Juicy Mangos

12.23.07: Toni Margarita Plummer, author and editor

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Today on The Dark Phantom is non-fiction author Dennis N. Griffin, whose latest book, Cullotta, is about the life of a controversial Chicago criminal. Leave a comment at the bottom of this post in order to be eligible to win a free copy of his book at the end f the month. To see his other stops, please visit the Pump UP Your Book Promotion Virtual Tours site

The Author:
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Dennis began writing in 1996, following a 20-year career in investigations and law enforcement in New York State. He currently has six fiction and three non-fiction books published. His non-fictions are about Las Vegas police and organized crime history. His latest release (July 1, 2007) is CULLOTTA – The Life of a Chicago Criminal, Las Vegas Mobster, and Government Witness.

You can visit his website here.

The Blurb:
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From burglary to armed robbery and murder, infamous bad guy Frank Cullotta not only did it all, in Cullotta he admits to it—and in graphic detail. This no-holds-barred biography chronicles the life of a career criminal who started out as a thug on the streets of Chicago and became a trusted lieutenant in Tony Spilotro’s gang of organized lawbreakers in Las Vegas. Cullotta’s was a world of high-profile heists, street muscle, and information—lots of it—about many of the FBI’s most wanted. In the end, that information was his ticket out of crime, as he turned government witness and became one of a handful of mob insiders to enter the Witness Protection Program.

“Frank Cullotta is the real thing,” says Nicholas Pileggi in the book’s Foreword, and in these pages, Cullotta sets the record straight on organized crime, witness protection, and life and death in mobbed-up Las Vegas.

Excerpt:

Murder in Las Vegas

At approximately 4:30 a.m. on October 11, 1979, a dead man was found floating face down in the swimming pool of his residence at 2303 Rawhide Avenue in Las Vegas. He’d been shot in the head several times by a small-caliber handgun. The corpse was that of 46-year-old Sherwin “Jerry” Lisner. His wife Jeannie, a cocktail waitress at the Aladdin, found the body. She’d left work early after becoming concerned when her husband failed to answer her telephone calls and made the grisly discovery.

According to investigating police officers, Lisner had put up quite a fight. Bullet holes were discovered throughout the inside of the dwelling, and blood was found on the walls and floor leading from the garage, through the residence, and out to the pool. Although the house had been ransacked, the cops didn’t believe robbery or burglary was the motive. They declined to speculate on the reason Lisner was killed, but they did have a theory on how the murder went down. The killer, or killers, knocked on the garage door, surprising Lisner. When he answered the knock, the shooting started. Although wounded, the victim attempted to escape his assailant, running through his home, the would-be killer in close pursuit and bullets flying. After a valiant effort to survive, Lisner’s luck ran out when he reached the pool. No murder weapon was found and no suspect named.

But the police had their suspicions on the why and who of it. They knew that the dead man had mob connections and was in legal trouble. He’d been arrested by the FBI on July 11 and charged with interstate transportation of stolen property, aiding and abetting, grand larceny, and conspiracy. Free on $75 thousand bail, Lisner was scheduled to go on trial October 29 in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

Lisner was also believed to have been acquainted with Chicago Outfit enforcer and Las Vegas organized crime kingpin Tony Spilotro. And it was rumored that the deceased had been negotiating with the FBI to work out a deal in the cases pending against him in Washington. Could those negotiations have included providing incriminating information against Spilotro, one of the FBI’s prime targets?

Metro investigators knew all this and suspected that Spilotro might well be behind the killing. However, they couldn’t immediately prove their suspicions and kept their thoughts to themselves.

As it turned out the cops were pretty close to the truth in their idea of what occurred at Lisner’s house that night. But they were wrong in that Lisner had not been surprised by the arrival of his killer, he had been expecting him. And the victim had drawn his last breath in his living room, not outside by the pool.

There was no error in their belief that Tony Spilotro was behind the murder, however. When the soon-to-be dead man answered his door that evening he invited his murderer inside. In a matter of moments the visitor began to fire a total of ten bullets aimed at his host’s head, with several finding their mark. The assassin wasn’t Tony Spilotro himself, but he was there at Tony’s behest. The man was Spilotro’s trusted associate who ran a crew of burglars and robbers known as the Hole in the Wall Gang. His name? Frank Cullotta.

What reviewers are saying:

“Griffin’s flat, unemotional yet potent writing makes the bloodletting, murders and mayhem chilling and unnerving throughout.”
–Publisher’s Weekly

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