Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Company of Demons NBtM

The brutal murder of a friend leaves lawyer John Coleman stunned and sends shock waves through the city of Cleveland. The technique of the killing recalls memories of the Torso Murderer, who dismembered at least twelve people decades ago and vanished--eluding even the legendary Eliot Ness. Jennifer, the victim's beautiful daughter, hires John to handle her father's estate, and romantic feelings for her soon complicate his already troubled marriage. When John finds himself entangled with a cold-blooded biker gang, an ex-cop with a fuzzy past, and the drug-addicted son of the dead man, he struggles to make sense of it all. But he cannot escape a growing sense of dread.

There was never any trouble at the Tam O’Shanter, even on a rocking weekend night, even when one of the Tribe smacked a homer for a go-ahead run. Tim and Karen ran a tight joint, the perfect hideaway to lounge beneath faded posters of ‘70s rock bands and sip a cold one. So when Karen screamed from the seedy alley behind the bar, our little oasis was shattered. Tim bolted for the back door.

I rushed after him and squinted in the bright sunlight. Tim was cradling his wife in his arms. She stared at me vacantly, then broke away and retched. Huddled over the rough asphalt, in her thin T-shirt and faded jeans, Karen reminded me of a fragile little girl. The wastebasket she’d intended to empty lay near her, paper napkins and discared receipts fluttering in the humid breeze. Tim waved a hand toward a Dumpster, its lid flung open, wedged tight against the crumbling brick wall. “Don’t look.”

But I did.

The sight of a naked body, sprawled across plastic, garbage bags, was impossible to miss. Or part of a body, really, because the head was gone. So was everything below the waist. The hairy torso had been split down the middle, and I didn’t need to be a pathologist to know that someone had scooped out the guts and the lungs and the heart. Flies droned incessantly and, in the summer heat, the stench of rancid meat wafted to me. I backed away.

Excerpt Two:
A deep breath helped to calm me. Oyster’s death had brought an ugly past alive. Just as I’d been assuring everyone, though, there was nothing wrong. My main task for the day was to pick Molly up after school and hope that she wouldn’t be too disappointed when she learned that we wouldn’t be visiting the skateboard park. We would head straight home for a quiet, uneventful spaghetti dinner. Cathy would have polished and set the oaken table. We would talk of things other than serial killers. She would remind me of her upcoming birthday dinner, with her sister and brother-in-law. Her parents would stare down at us from faded color photographs arranged in thin wooden frames on checkered blue-and-white wallpaper. There were photographs of my mom, too, with her tight-lipped smile.

One photo of my father, handsome in a blue uniform, hung on the wall. Whenever Cathy said grace, my eyes would wander to the particular picture, and I would recall games of catch, walleye fishing on the lake, our hikes through the Metroparks. We’d wander the trails there most Saturday mornings, just my dad and me. Afterward, he’d take me to Pete’s Hotdogs on Lorain, and we’d gorge on dogs stuffed into steamed buns and topped with local Stadium mustard and greasy fried onions. Those were the memories I’d try to focus on.

But I could never, ever block out the rest.

In crafting a work of historical fiction, it is always tempting to include too much detail. After all, you’ve no doubt worked diligently to know how people dressed in 1938, so why not include a description of every last button? As with any other story, it is important to keep in mind that the reader will fill in the blanks. The focus must remain on the characters, and it helps if the reader can visualize their reaction to things or events that will help establish a time and place.

“Jason gripped the rough handles of the plow and braced himself for another day spent staring at the ass of a mule. 1930, and they still didn’t have a damn tractor.”

“Janet folded the newspaper and concealed the headline: Peace is at Hand. She nestled into the soft cushion and swung her legs onto the sofa. American Pie blared from the tinny eight track. Her eyes wandered to the mantle and the framed picture of Robert, handsome in his crisp dress blues.”

Although the Internet is great for quick searches of specific items—what did people wear in 1917?—it doesn’t place anything in context. Far more helpful are newspapers and magazines of the period, which will give you a quick overview of the events of the day. Culture, politics, murders, wars, famines, diseases, sports, ads etc. Interweaving all of these into your settings and dialogue will help create the realistic atmosphere that you want.

Of course, the farther back in time you go, the less source material will exist. There are, however, great non-fiction works that describe “A Day in the Life of [Barbarian, Pirate, Merchant, Roman Soldier].” It will not be difficult to find the facts you will need to tell your story. The challenge is in remembering that you are telling a story, not writing a history lesson. Let the reader see the world through the eyes of your characters and the pages will keep turning.    

Don't forget to visit the other stops on the tour.

Author Bio and Links:
Michael Jordan obtained his undergraduate degree from Ohio Wesleyan University, with highest honors, and his law degree from George Washington University, where he was a member of the Law Review. A trial lawyer and arbitrator for over three decades, he has been recognized as an Ohio Super Lawyer and named to Best Lawyers in America. A member of the International Association of Crime Writers, The Company of Demons is his first novel.

An avid traveler, Michael has climbed Mt. Fuji, swam in The Devil’s Pool on the cusp of Victoria Falls, trekked a glacier in Patagonia, and visited numerous other countries. Yes—an international thriller lies in the future! He has also acted in several theatrical productions and his experience on stage is helpful in creating characters for his novels. He is currently working on his next book, a thriller set during the closing stages of WWII.

A native of Saginaw, Michigan, Michael and his wife, Linda Gross Brown, a soft pastel artist, divide their time between homes in Rocky River, Ohio, and Longboat Key, Florida. They enjoy traveling, pleasure boating, and very cold martinis.

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Buy links:
Amazon    |    B&N    |    Indiebound    |    BAM     |    800 CEOREAD


  1. Thank you for hosting and thank you to Goddess Fish Promotions! I will be checking in throughout the course of the day and replying to comments. Happy Halloween to all! Mike

  2. Which book would you like to see a sequel to? Congrats on the release. Bernie Wallace BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com

  3. Hmmm...I haven't read a lot of Louis L'Amour, but found his thriller Last of the Breed gripping. A sequel featuring his hero, Joe Mack, would be a book that I'd pick up in a heartbeat.

  4. Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed reading the post! :)

  5. I appreciate you taking the time to give us a great book description and giveaway as well. Thank you so much!

  6. Trick or treat starts soon in our neighborhood, so I may not be able to check back for a while. Will respond to all comments, promise! Happy Halloween! Mike

  7. Thank you for hosting, and to all of you who commented! Mike

  8. Do you have plans for a sequel to the book? Congrats on the release. Bernie Wallace BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com

  9. I do, Bernie. That was not my plan originally, but several readers have requested a sequel. My wife wants one as well, and if she wants a sequel, there will be a sequel!

  10. The book sounds very intriguing, thank you for the reveal!