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R. Barri Flowers is an award winning criminologist and internationally bestselling author of more than sixty books–including thriller and suspense fiction, relationship fiction, young adult mysteries, true crime, and criminology titles.

Bestselling mystery and thriller fiction, including SEDUCED TO KILL IN KAUAI, MURDER IN MAUI, MURDER IN HONOLULU, KILLER IN THE WOODS, DARK STREETS OF WHITECHAPEL, STATE’S EVIDENCE, PERSUASIVE EVIDENCE, and JUSTICE SERVED.

Author Photo R Barri FlowersOther novels by the author include the bestselling relationship novel, FOREVER SWEETHEARTS, and young adult novels, COUNT DRACULA’S TEENAGE DAUGHTER, GHOST GIRL IN SHADOW BAY, and DANGER IN TIME.

Flowers has also written a number of bestselling true crime books, including THE SEX SLAVE MURDERS, THE PICKAXE KILLERS, SERIAL KILLER COUPLES and MASS MURDER IN THE SKY. He was editor as well of the bestselling anthology, MASTERS OF TRUE CRIME.

The author has been interviewed on the Biography Channel and Investigation Discovery.

Official Website: http://www.rbarriflowers.com/

Q: Tell us why readers should buy BEFORE HE KILLS AGAIN: A Veronica Vasquez Thriller.

A: BEFORE HE KILLS AGAIN is a crime thriller written by an award winning criminologist and bestselling author of such true crime books as THE SEX SLAVE MURDERS and thriller fiction, including MURDER IN MAUI and DARK STREETS OF WHITECHAPEL.

This book is about an FBI profiler and criminal psychologist who returns to her hometown of Portland, Oregon, to assist the police in tracking down a serial killer, who murders beautiful women in pairs.

As someone who has written extensively about real life serial killers, BEFORE HE KILLS AGAIN brings verisimilitude to the perpetrator and his psyche as he pushes the boundaries in handpicking his victims.

For readers who love thriller fiction where the villain is a frightening serial killer who matches wits with the beautiful protagonist and homicide detectives on the case—or are fans of TV series such as Criminal Minds, Dexter, and Hannibal-– this is a novel you are sure to enjoy.

Q: What makes a good thriller novel?

A: A good thriller novel is one in which there is a constant sense of danger and a suspenseful whodunit, with three dimensional characters who bring you along for the ride as they converge for a heart pounding conclusion.

Within this regard, the thriller should also convey a strong plot with smart twists and turns and deft pacing that will allow the story to play itself out while keeping the reader thoroughly engaged.

Some great thrillers that come to mind include Robert Ludlum’s The Aquitaine Progression and John Grisham’s The Pelican Brief. I believe that BEFORE HE STRIKES AGAIN also fits in this category.

Q: What is a regular writing day like for you?

A: A regular writing day for me involves getting up at 6 a.m. and heading to my computer at 7 a.m. (after an hour of working out and having breakfast)—where I spend the next five hours writing and rewriting my latest book.

After a noontime lunch and chores, I am back at it by 1 p.m., where I go at it on computer till 5 p.m. (sometimes 6 p.m., if really on a roll), typing away in faithfully sticking to the plot in my head.

I call it quits for the night after that and am back in the grind the next day.

This is a routine I follow seven days a week. I am the type of writer who is not easily distracted by other things—understanding that I get out as much as I put in as an author.

Q: What do you find most rewarding about being an author?

A:  What is most rewarding to me as an author is being able to successfully write in multiple genres (thriller, true crime, young adult mysteries, and criminology). As such, I have fans in these different genes, giving me a good reason to try and keep up with them in bringing out fresh material they can take pleasure in reading.

Aside from that, I enjoy the camaraderie with other authors, having found some great friends over the years to seek advice and words of wisdom from while returning in kind.

Q: What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received that you’d like to pass to other authors?

A: That’s a great question. Hmm… I’d have to say that the best writing advice I’ve ever received and have passed along to other authors came from a bestselling crime writer who told me when I first got started: “The thing that separates serious writers from those who aren’t in it for the long haul is the ability to shake off rejections and look at as constructive criticism rather than personal attacks—making yourself a better writer in the process with each rejection letter.”

Definitely words to live by for any writer willing to work at it to hone your craft till you get where you’re going in finding success in the business.

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Before He Kills Again_Cover

Book Description:

From R. Barri Flowers, award winning crime writer and international bestselling author of Dark Streets of Whitechapel and Killer in The Woods, comes a gripping new psychological thriller, Before He Kills Again: A Veronica Vasquez Thriller.

FBI psychologist and criminal profiler Veronica Vasquez returns to her hometown of Portland, Oregon to assist police in apprehending a ruthless serial killer dubbed “The Rose Killer,” who kills beautiful women in pairs, leaving a rose on top of each corpse.

Heading the investigation is homicide Detective Sergeant Bryan Waldicott. Veronica must win him over, along with the entire task force, and prove herself worthy of the job. Since losing her husband three years ago, Veronica had been focused on her work to escape the pain of loneliness and separation. A romance with Waldicott, who has issues of his own, complicates things for them both as they try to stop a serial murderer before he kills again.

When she begins to suspect that the new husband of her estranged sister Alexandra could be the killer, Veronica pursues that delicate angle and, in the process, becomes a target herself.

Before He Kills Again is tense thriller that will keep readers on edge till the very end.

 Purchase:

Amazon Trade Paperback / Kindle /Kindle UK / Kindle CA / Barnes and Noble Nook eBook / Smashwords / Kobo

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Before He Kills Again_CoverBook Description:

From R. Barri Flowers, award winning crime writer and international bestselling author of Dark Streets of Whitechapel and Killer in The Woods, comes a gripping new psychological thriller, Before He Kills Again: A Veronica Vasquez Thriller.

FBI psychologist and criminal profiler Veronica Vasquez returns to her hometown of Portland, Oregon to assist police in apprehending a ruthless serial killer dubbed “The Rose Killer,” who kills beautiful women in pairs, leaving a rose on top of each corpse.

Heading the investigation is homicide Detective Sergeant Bryan Waldicott. Veronica must win him over, along with the entire task force, and prove herself worthy of the job. Since losing her husband three years ago, Veronica had been focused on her work to escape the pain of loneliness and separation. A romance with Waldicott, who has issues of his own, complicates things for them both as they try to stop a serial murderer before he kills again.

When she begins to suspect that the new husband of her estranged sister Alexandra could be the killer, Veronica pursues that delicate angle and, in the process, becomes a target herself.

Before He Kills Again is tense thriller that will keep readers on edge till the very end.

My thoughts:

Before He Kills Again is indeed  a very entertaining read, one of those suspense thrillers that will keep you turning pages late into the night. At least, this was my case. I finished it in 2-3 days, as I couldn’t put it down. The heroine, criminal psychologist and FBI profiler Veronica Vasquez, is a sympathetic character, smart and independent but with a gentle side. I found all the information about serial killers fascinating, and thoroughly enjoyed all the setups, twists and red herrings devised by the author. Just when you think you know who the killer is, something happens to deter you from suspecting. The love story between Veronica and Homicide detective Bryan Waldicott  adds some spice without getting in the way of the mystery. The novel does have some graphic violent scenes, so if you’re squeamish about this sort of thing, be warned.

If you’re a fan of thrillers about serial killers, you should pick this one up!

Purchase:

Amazon Trade Paperback / Kindle /Kindle UK / Kindle CA / Barnes and Noble Nook eBook / Smashwords / Kobo

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A native of Washington D.C., Ed Lynskey is the author of the crime fiction novels The Dirt-Brown Derby, The Blue Cheer, and Pelham Fell Here, all three featuring private investigator Frank Johnson. His work has appeared on major publications such as The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times, Washington Post, and San Francisco Chronicle. In this interview, Lynskey talks about his crime novels, and writing and inspiration.

Tell us a bit about your latest book, Pelham Fell Here. What inspired you to write it?

Pelham Fell Here is a prequel written later, in this case as the third book, of my P.I. Frank Johnson mystery series. In other words, Pelham is the first book but has been published as my third. This came about due to two different publishers and slipping release dates.

Actually I believe it has worked out better in some ways. I had the advantage of knowing the character when I wrote the back story, sort of reverse engineering. Anyway reviewers and readers have written and told me Pelham Fell Here is the most complex and fulfilling title to date in the series. That’s gratifying to hear, but I probably like it the least. So go figure.

The premise behind Pelham Fell Here is to relate just how Frank Johnson falls into the crazy private detective trade. I’ve read a number of P.I. series by vintage and contemporary authors, and I don’t know of one where that’s been previously done. Pelham is a story of self-discovery, too.

Frank returns home from his Army M.P. service, and his old assumptions of the place and the people he thought he knew are jarred. Frank prefers to view his native town its old cozy way. But all that goes out the window when his cousin Cody Chapman is found murdered.

Were you an avid reader as a child? What type of books did you enjoy reading?

Avid is the perfect adjective, too. When I was four, my family migrated from the Virginia suburbs in Washington, D.C. to the sticks near a small town. Back then I was bummed, but I’m nothing but glad these days. We lived on the corner lot carved off what was once a giant plantation (growing corn and wheat, I was told) and no other kids lived near us.

So, I sought alternative forms of entertainment. Reading supplied one big solution. First-rate genre stuff: mysteries, westerns, espionage, adventure, YA, and anything that told a good yarn. For instance, Alfred Hitchcock’s The Three Investigators was a gas. Now I’ve find myself like when I was a kid and reading just for the fun of it.

Who is your target audience?

I’ve mulled over this question throughout my writing the P.I. Frank Johnson mystery series. My target audience, I believe, has widened as the series has progressed. The Dirt-Brown Derby was a straight male detective story. There’s a murder and Frank is sent to solve it. No larger concerns really emerge from the narrative. Frank carries the burden of the dramatic role without even a sidekick. The back story is kept to a minimum.

Then The Blue Cheer came. Frank moves to West Virginia and is forced to rely on his friends. More back story is introduced. So, I hope Blue Cheer will appeal to a wider spectrum of readers.

In Pelham Fell Here, my current book, Frank involves his pals again, but he also finds himself entangled in a couple romances, including a dark and sinister one. Reviewers have written Pelham is the best of the series titles, it being more “complex” and “intriguing”. So, I see Pelham as appealing even more to readers. For instance, YA libraries are now buying my P.I. Frank Johnson mysteries.

What type of writer are you—the one who experiences before writing, like Hemingway, or the one who mostly daydreams and fantasizes?

My life is pretty dull fare, so I definitely fall in the latter camp. Pelham was inspired by my sense of a place, the rough equivalent of the small town where I grew up. The mental snapshots I had weren’t manufactured in a fantasy or daydream but from distant memories. I guess in that way the plot does spring from my life experiences. Then I embellished and dovetailed the setting to suit the storyline.

The climax occurring on Uncle Sam’s satellite farm also derives from an actual place. Our egg lady (yes, we bought our eggs from an old lady who raised hens and sold eggs) lived next to a sprawling complex surrounded by a chain link fence. These different sizes and shapes of satellite dishes and towers filled the field. The vista I gawked at was something out of a pulp science fiction. What all went on there I don’t know. Something to do with the Cold War or UFOs, I suppose. Anyway, I knew the satellite farm was a ripe place to stage a noir’s mayhem and nastiness.

Agatha Christie got her best ideas while eating green apples in the bathtub. Steven Spielberg says he gets his best ideas while driving on the highway. When do you get your best ideas and why do you think this is?

When does the Muse bite? What a great question. You know, I’m about halfway through the first draft of my W-I-P. I can see there are plot holes in the narrative arc. I can see I have several options to go with creating the bad guy. But right this instance I don’t know which way to go. So all I can do is trust the creative process and keep the faith that ideas will come tomorrow, or the next day. So, it’s the daily process.

My analog brain doesn’t experience too many Eureka moments. My solutions come when I’m sitting and working on the current project. Daydreaming is bad for me. I might fall off the roof while cleaning the gutters. Or I’ll mow off my toes while mowing the lawn. Or I’ll rear end another motorist while I’m out driving. My thinking process, I’ve come to see, requires the discipline and focus to work on the task at hand which for me is writing and editing my long fiction.

What is your opinion about critique groups? What words of advice would you offer a novice writer who is joining one? Do you think the wrong critique group can ‘crush’ a fledgling writer?

I guess critique groups and partners are useful for starting out of the gate. After that, I don’t know. Larry Block in his fiction-writing primer Telling Lies for Fun & Profit includes a semi-prayer. He basically gives thanks for his talent and asks for guidance in doing his own work and not to be concerned with what and how other writers are doing. I like that. Look, this is a solitary gig. You’ve got to be cool in your own skin. You’ve got to be content with your output. That means forgetting all the blogs, twitters, agents, MFAs, coaches, editors, and the all the rest of the hue. You just do it.

What will the reader learn after reading your book?

I think today’s readers want to learn about stuff. I mean look at the avalanche of self-help books and huge nonfiction market. Readers want to feel like it’s worth their time to invest in your book. Telling a good story makes for a distraction and entertainment for some readers. But other readers want more than that. Dan Brown writing about The Da Vinci Code makes that point.

My work is rich in historical details such as the title to Pelham Fell Here suggests. Pelham was a famed Southern artillerist from the American Civil War. Since Frank is an ex-MP and a detective, I use investigative techniques and police work. Frank Johnson is a gunsmith by trade, so I include details about firearms, not so much about calibers and ballistics, but how they’re made. Years ago I worked for the late Sam Cummings, the international arms merchant.

What type of scenes gives you the most trouble to write?

For a time, I had difficulty writing the scenes set in large cities. To me, cities all look alike. You’ve got the same streets, shopping malls, and Starbucks. What else is there to see? But I’ve lived just outside of Washington, D.C. for the past ten years, and I go downtown frequently to catch sporting events and to see shows and exhibits. Ten years is a long time for residing in a transient city like D.C. Life experience, then, has taught me what makes a city — at least this one — really tick.

Writing love and romance scenes that ring true are tough for me. I just wrote and rewrote the scenes, striving to make them sound natural and credible. I’ve gotten better at it. But relationships are the glue to fiction so I want to write them well.

Thanks for stopping, Ed, and good luck with your book.

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Separate Worlds
By Nancy Minnis Damato
Wings e-Press, Inc.
Copyright 2007
General Fiction/Historical
Series (Book III)

Available on Amazon

The story of the Taylor family saga continues in this the third and final installment, Separate Worlds. Under the skillful pen of talented author Nancy Minnis Damato, the tale reaches a heart-wrenching and fully satisfying conclusion.

Willful and red-headed beauty Taylor is about to come face to face with the most difficult moment of her life—indeed, the most difficult moment for any mother—losing her beloved daughter. For those of you who have read the previous books, the event is not surprising, as you all are familiar with Taylor’s handsome yet incredibly cruel and merciless ex-lover, a charismatic Italian count who is now set on revenge. Since he cannot have her, he will go to extremes to make Taylor suffer. In this case, he decides to abduct his own daughter with Taylor. Needless to say, the struggle and pain she goes through are unimaginable—hunger, poverty, even being kept prisoner in jail. But Taylor will go through anything in order to save her daughter and re-unite with her—especially now that her daughter is under the clutches of the Count’s wife, who’s set on revenge no matter what.

Though the mother-daughter line is the main plot, there are many subplots that revolve around the First World War taking place in Europe. Taylor’s son is away as a soldier, and so is the Count himself. With yet other characters in other parts of Europe, the reader cannot help but wonder… will the family ever unite? Will the pain and struggle go away so they can become a happy, united family after so much darkness and betrayal?

It is impossible to fully enjoy this novel without having read the first two books in the series first. I strongly advice readers to do so in order to understand the characters and their dark legacy. The novel seems to be extremely well researched, grabbing the reader into an imaginary world. The characters are compelling and the storyline interesting. The book also has some intriguing twists and turns. What really stands out, however, is Taylor’s struggle as she goes in search of her young daughter. Some passages were so poignant they really brought tears to my eyes. Heart-wrenching, stirring and thoroughly enjoyable, Separate Worlds is a story fans of historical fiction will devour.

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Judgement Fire
By Marilyn Meredith
Mundania Press
ISBN: 1-59426-484-8
Copyright 2007
Trade Paperback, 140 pages, $10.00

Judgement Fire is a sharp little mystery that will keep readers guessing until the end for the culprits.

In the small town of Bear Creek, a mountain community in the southern Sierra, a battered woman is murdered. Is the killer her abusive husband? Or maybe her own son, who publicly claimed he hated her?
Or perhaps her nosy and suspicious-looking neighbor, who supposedly used to be the woman’s high-school ‘enemy’? Or was the whole thing a mistake, and it was her husband the meant target?

As Tempe Crabtree, a young and level-headed police officer with a long black tress down her back, sets out to hunt the killer, she is simultaneously drawn back to her own origins and Native American heritage and uses her roots as a way to help her memory and find the killer.

The prose is crystal clear and the author doesn’t waste time with unnecessary internal dialogues or descriptions. No word is wasted; there’s no clutter, no melodrama. The pace moves quickly and the ‘spiritual’ segments don’t slow down the story. On the contrary, I found that they make the protagonist quite unique. This is a short, enjoyable novel and one that I gobbled up overnight. This is the latest Tempe Crabtree mystery from award-winning author Marilyn Meredith.

–Mayra Calvani

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