Spotlight & Excerpt: River of Wrath + Giveaway

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River of Wrath by Alexandrea Weis & Lucas Astor
  • Title: River of Wrath
  • Series: St. Benedict series, Book 2
  • By: Alexandrea Weis & Lucas Astor
  • Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Suspense/Horror
  • Published by: Vesuvian Books
  • Publication Date: January 2023
  • Number of Pages: 270
  • ISBN: 9781645480174

Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop.org | Goodreads | Vesuvian Media Group


More secrets are about to be uncovered, beginning with the arrival of a handsome stranger, and the discovery of bones long buried beneath the river …

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Leslie Moore is struggling to get through her last semester at St. Benedict High. Even her relationship with her boyfriend Derek is falling apart. But after receding floodwaters from the Bogue Falaya River expose the bones of a woman, Leslie becomes obsessed with tracking down the killer.

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Sightings of an apparition haunting The Abbey send Leslie and her friends back to the scene of the horrors from last Halloween, but no one is prepared for what they find.

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After a stranger—the handsome Luke Cross—arrives in town, another girl goes missing, and the sheriff suspects the newcomer is hiding something. Leslie believes the Devereaux family is connected to everything going wrong in St. Benedict. And she means to uncover the truth, no matter the cost.

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Not all secrets can be kept silent. Some eventually find their way home.

Read an excerpt:

“Come not within the measure of my wrath.”
~William Shakespeare

CHAPTER ONE

Sweat gathered under the brim of Kent Davis’s Stetson as he walked the sandy beach along the Bogue Falaya River. He didn’t feel the brisk January breeze or pay attention to the mutterings of the forensic team. The unease burning in his gut shut out all distractions. He rested his hand on his belt, brushing against his Louisiana sheriff’s badge. The rub of metal reminded him of the oath he’d sworn to protect and serve, but on days like this, he hated his job. Dispatch had initially deemed the early morning call from a frantic jogger a hoax. After an officer confirmed there was a body, Kent arrived at the scene to confront his worst nightmare—another murder. He already had three unsolved deaths weighing heavily on his department. Two high school students and a woman from out of town had died there in a matter of months. City leaders had been breathing down his neck for answers. Kent studied the black body bag the technicians carried. This was only going to make his job harder. His crew combed the beach, where receding floodwaters had exposed a young woman’s grave. From the looks of her bleached bones, partially covered in the remnants of a red dress, she’d been there for quite some time. He doubted they’d find anything admissible. There would be trace evidence, but no footprints, no debris, no blood, and no signs of struggle. He climbed the steep hill from the beach to the parking area, scanning for any clues. Everywhere was a potential crime scene. After years of being in law enforcement, he doubted he could see the world in any other way. “I don’t like this one bit, Bill,” Kent said, approaching the heavyset coroner waiting by the open doors of his van. “What’s there to like. We got a dead girl who’s been buried here a long time.” Dr. Bill Broussard removed a pair of black-framed glasses from his egg-shaped head. “You might find a lead in old missing persons reports.” “I’ll access the St. Tammany Parish database when I get to the station. Until then, she’s a Jane Doe.” Kent eyed the coroner’s van. “How long will it take to know something?” Bill cleaned his glasses and moved out of the way while a technician slammed the doors closed. He waited until the man climbed into the driver’s side before responding. “You realize workin’ with old bones makes it harder to identify the cause of death. Let me get her to the lab, then we’ll see.” “I got enough going on with Beau Devereaux, Dawn Moore, and Andrea Harrison.” Kent tipped back his hat. “This makes four bodies and no leads.” “As soon as people catch wind of this, the gossip mill will run wild.” Bill motioned to the van. “We already got enough rumors flying around about serial killers and rapists on the loose.” “But at least we know this isn’t a serial killer.” “Do we?” Bill flipped through a few pictures on his phone and showed Kent the screen. Kent looked at the bloody mess that had comprised the remains of Beau Devereaux. The golden boy of St. Benedict had been a football star and heir to the Devereaux fortune. The day Kent found his mutilated body along the river had been one of the worst of his career. Beau’s death, on the heels of the rape and grisly murder of Dawn Moore, had shattered his faith in their small town. He squinted at the picture. “What am I missing?” Bill pointed at Beau’s bruised and bloody neck. “Trachea isn’t midline. It’s in two pieces. In the autopsy, I discovered his neck had been broken.” Kent thought of the murder cases that cluttered his desk. “Same as the Harrison girl. Her neck was broken. Any chance wild dogs could have done this?” Bill’s meaty lips thinned into a line. “Harrison had no bite marks. Only Beau suffered extensive puncture wounds. For a dog to snap someone’s neck, it would have to be big and have impressive jaw strength. Until your men find me an animal like that, I’m leaving Beau’s death a homicide.” He wiped his damp brow. “What worries me is this woman’s bones show there might be a break in her neck, too. If that’s the case, someone around here could have a long history of murder.” Kent grew irate. He’d left the turmoil of working for the New Orleans Police Department to get away from the steady dose of homicides. Ten years ago, St. Benedict had been the answer to a prayer for him, his wife, and their two boys. He didn’t want to think such horror could have remained hidden for so long in the idyllic town. “Send me the preliminary results of the autopsy as soon as you get them.” Kent pinched the bridge of his nose, fighting off a headache. “I want it in my hand when I tell Gage Devereaux what we found. He might recall someone who went missing. He’s lived here all his life and is bound to have heard something.” Bill swatted at a passing fly. “He won’t be happy to hear about another body. You know how protective he is of St. Benedict.” “Yep. I expect this will piss him off.” The patriarch and owner of the biggest employer, Benedict Brewery, Gage oversaw everything in the town. Some called him a control freak—a trait many had seen in his son, Beau—but to Kent, Gage was thorough, detail-oriented, and would have made a great detective if he hadn’t taken over the family business. “He’s gonna ask you if this has anything to do with the investigation into Beau’s death.” Bill frowned. “What’re you gonna tell him?” Kent clenched his jaw. “We don’t know if any of these deaths are related.” “Yet,” Bill added. “Seems like an awfully big coincidence to me.” Kent pulled keys from the front pocket of his jeans. “There’re too many coincidences going on around here, and they all seem to center on this damned river. When can you get me a DNA report?” “Might take a while.” Bill scratched his head. “Budget constraints and the backlog of cases clogging the system have slowed everything down.” “How long are we talking? A week?” Bill snorted. “More like weeks. A long-dead Jane Doe isn’t exactly a priority. Otherwise, we could get a rush on it.” “Then we’ll just have to wait and see what we get back,” Kent grumbled. Bill went to the driver’s side of the van and spoke to the technician. He then waved at Kent before walking away. The sheriff waited as the van slowly eased onto the main road, with Bill’s black SUV following close behind. Alone, Kent removed his hat and gazed up at the tall pines rimming the parking lot. Cresting above the tallest of the trees was The Abbey’s single charred limestone spire—its twin lost in the fire. The serene place had witnessed so many atrocities—suicide, fire, and Dawn Moore’s murder. Kent would never understand what the Benedictine monks who founded the seminary ever saw in that cursed land. Legends about the abandoned abbey and its wild dogs had floated around the community for as long as anyone could remember. When the dogs appear, death is near. He’d never believed any of the stories until now. Kent feared there might be some truth to the legend, after all. And the worst was yet to come. *** Excerpt from River of Wrath by Alexandrea Weis & Lucas Astor. Copyright 2023 by Alexandrea Weis & Lucas Astor. Reproduced with permission from Alexandrea Weis & Lucas Astor. All rights reserved.
 

Author Bios:

Alexandrea Weis:

Author Alexandrea Weis, RN-CS, PhD, is an award-winning author, advanced practice registered nurse, and wildlife rehabber who was born and raised in the French Quarter. She has taught at major universities and worked with victims of sexual assault, abuse, and mental illness in a clinical setting at many New Orleans area hospitals. She is a member of the International Thriller Writers Organization and Horror Writers Association.

Catch Up With Alexandrea: stbenedictseries.com Goodreads BookBub – @AlexandreaWeis Instagram – @st.benedictseries Twitter – @alexandreaweis Facebook – @StBenedictSeries

 

Lucas Astor:

Co-author Lucas Astor is an award-winning author and poet with a penchant for telling stories that delve into the dark side of the human psyche. He likes to explore the evil that exists, not just in the world, but next door behind a smiling face. Astor currently lives outside of Nashville, TN.

Catch Up With Lucas: Instagram – @lucasastorauthor

 

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Book Blitz & Excerpt: The Greenleaf Murders + Giveaway

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The Greenleaf Murders by R.J. Koreto

The Greenleaf Murders

Series: Historic Homes Mysteries, #1

by R.J. Koreto

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Published by: Level Best Books

Publication Date: November 2022

Number of Pages: 264

ISBN: 9781685122089 

 Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop.org | Goodreads | Level Best Books


Young architect Wren Fontaine lands her dream job: restoring Greenleaf House, New York’s finest Gilded-Age mansion, to its glory days. But old homes have old secrets: Stephen Greenleaf-heir to what’s left of his family’s legacy-refuses to reveal what his plans are once the renovation is completed. And still living in a corner of the home is Stephen’s 90-year-old Aunt Agnes who’s lost in the past, brooding over a long-forgotten scandal while watching Wren with mistrust.  

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  Wren’s job becomes more complex when a shady developer who was trying to acquire Greenleaf House is found murdered. And after breaking into a sealed attic, Wren finds a skeleton stuffed in a trunk. She soon realizes the two deaths, a century apart, are strangely related. Meanwhile, a distraction of a different kind appears in the form of her client’s niece, the beautiful and seductive Hadley Vanderwerf. As Wren gingerly approaches a romance, she finds that Hadley has her own secrets.  

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  Then a third murder occurs, and the introverted architect is forced to think about people, and about how ill-fated love affairs and obsessions continue to haunt the Greenleafs. In the end, Wren risks her own life to uncover a pair of murderers, separated by a century but connected by motive. She reveals an odd twist in the family tree that forever changes the lives of the Greenleafs, the people who served them, the mansion they all called home-and even Wren herself.


Praise for The Greenleaf Murders:

“A delightful who-done-it in which the house is as engaging as the wonderful heroine. Readers will want to get lost in these rooms and these pages.”

Cate Holahan, USA Today bestselling author of Her Three Lives

“If you love houses and puzzles – which I do – you will be captivated by THE GREENLEAF MURDERS, the first in Richard Koreto’s new series. Equally sure-footed in the gilded age of the mansion’s heyday and the contemporary world of its decline, Koreto has woven a pretzel of a plot, introduced a charming new heroine, and whetted appetites for more grave deeds and grandeur.”

Catriona McPherson, multi-award-winning author of the Dandy Gilver series

The Greenleaf Murders mixes a modern suspense mystery with the love of old-world mansions and iconic High Society. Buried secrets threaten a family clinging to their former glory as two murders surface, a century apart. Koreto weaves a story that creates the perfect tension between the beauty of the golden era and the fear of a killer in plain sight.”

L.A. Chandlar, national best selling author of the Art Deco Mystery Series

“One would think that a murder mystery featuring old homes, architecture, and rich blue bloods would be a dull read, but that’s not the case with R.J. Koreto’s finely-written “The Greenleaf Murders.” Filled with twists and turns and sharply-drawn characters, this well-done novel is very much recommended.”

Brendan DuBois, award-wining and New York Times bestselling author

The Greenleaf Murders by R.J. Koreto Banner


Read an excerpt:

Last night, Wren had dreamt she went to Manderley again. When she was fifteen, her mother had given her a copy of Rebecca, saying it was one of her favorites. A voracious reader, Wren finished it in a few days, but her reaction was not what her mother had hoped for. “Rebecca was horrible, but Maxim was no prize either. And the second Mrs. De Winter—kind of wimpy.” “You didn’t like anyone in that book?” asked her exasperated mother. “I liked Mrs. Danvers. I know she was insane, but she really appreciated the house. If people had been nicer to her, maybe she wouldn’t have burned it down. The best part of the book was Manderley. I’d have liked to live there, in splendid isolation, and Mrs. Danvers would take care of things. She was the only one in the book who knew how to do something.” Her mother just stared. What teenaged girl talked about living by herself in an ivy-covered British mansion? She kissed her daughter on her forehead. “Wren, you really are an old soul.” But although Manderley was her first love, Wren proved fickle, and also fell in love with Holyrood House, Blenheim Palace, and Versailles. A succession of guidance counselors worried about Wren, although she gradually learned to make friends, and even go on dates. However, nothing could replace her love for houses, and it was a foregone conclusion by college that she would become an architect like her father and spend as much time as possible working with houses and not people. And not just any houses, but the kind no one had lived in for a long time. As Wren approached 30, her father made her a junior partner and told her if he could close the deal with Stephen Greenleaf, he’d let her take full responsibility for Greenleaf House. Once the proposal they had worked on so hard had been completed, Wren couldn’t think about anything beyond spending her days in that Gilded Age gem, one of the largest private residences ever built in New York City. Over the years, like the second Mrs. De Winter, she dreamed of Manderley, never more than when she was hoping for the Greenleaf job. She came home late one evening after visiting a job site and found her father in the study of the home they still shared. Living at home had become a temporary convenience while she was at graduate school, which turned into a habit, as they liked each other’s company. Not that either would admit it. She watched him sketch. Although the firm had an office in midtown Manhattan, her father preferred to work in the study of their Brooklyn townhouse. For normal work, she knew it was safe to interrupt him, but not while he did the sketches—his avocation, his passion, just him and his pencils, creating columns and cornices, chair railings, and gargoyles. The only light poured from the desk lamp, illuminating the fine paper and her father’s high-domed forehead. She wanted to know if he had heard anything—but had to wait patiently. Eventually, the scratching stopped, and he put his pencil down. “If you haven’t eaten yet, Ada left her spaghetti and meat sauce in the refrigerator. She’s a fine housekeeper, but that particular dish is a little common.” “Only you would describe a dish of pasta as ‘common.’” “You know what I mean. And if you don’t understand the context, you shouldn’t be an architect.” “Fine. But I think it’s delicious.” “Yes,” he said, with a touch of impatience. “I didn’t say it wasn’t delicious. I said it was common.” He swiveled in his chair and smiled. “But you’re really here to ask if I’ve heard from Greenleaf? I told him today that we couldn’t put aside our other projects indefinitely. And that Bobby Fiore was the only contractor we could trust, and we couldn’t ask him to postpone other jobs, so with a few arguments about the price, he agreed.” Wren laughed, did a little dance, and punched the air. Then she ran and hugged her father, which he tolerated. “I knew you’d convince him. You are the most wonderful father.” “Wren. Take a seat.” He said it in his even, measured tone, the one he used for serious discussions. Wren wiped the smile from her face, pulled up a chair, and tucked a rebellious lock of hair behind her ear. In the half-dark room, he took her hands in his. “I have no doubt that you have the technical skills for this job. My concern is the personal skills. These are the Greenleafs. They were a force in this city when it was still New Amsterdam. We see their house merely as an architectural jewel. The family sees it as a symbol of how tightly they are tied to the history of this city. They are different from other people.” “People are people,” she said. “First of all, no. People are different. And even if you were right, people are not your strong suit.” “I’ve worked well with our clients,” she said defensively. “You referred to one of our clients as ‘a pompous bourgeois vulgarian.’” Wren rolled her eyes. “Let’s not go there again. I didn’t say it to his face, just to you.” “Do you think you hid your feelings?” “You’ve said worse,” she countered. Then realized she had lost the argument when his eyes went up to the framed certificate on the wall—the Pritzker Prize, often called the Nobel Prize of architecture. I’ve earned my right to arrogance. You have a long way to go. “Just remember that these people pay our bills. I know we often work to protect them from their own worse instincts, but let’s try to be a little more politic. Your mother used to say you lived in your own special world. But you have to join the rest of humanity every now and then. And that brings me back to Greenleaf House. This is the very important symbol of what was once one of the most important families in this city. Keep that in mind when dealing with Stephen Greenleaf.” “We’ve already had several meetings, don’t forget. He didn’t seem that unusual to me—runs his own asset management firm. I’ve dealt with Wall Street types before. It won’t be a problem.” “Wren.” Again, heavy on her name—all her life, this had been the sign of a serious conversation. “The Greenleafs made their money before there was a Wall Street. People like this are unusually touchy about their families and histories. Now that you’re actually starting, his behavior may change. There could be some emotional repercussions. To make this a success, you will have to watch out for those feelings and manage them.” “And you’re about to say—again—that I understand houses but not people.” “Let’s just say it’s more of an effort for you. You can work with people. You just don’t like to. But I made you a partner. So you can’t just do the fun parts of your job. You have to do it all.” “Yes, father,” she said. He was serious, so there could be no more pushback from her. No verbal fencing. He wanted her to live up to his expectations. “It isn’t your father who’s asking you, Wren. It’s the senior partner of this firm, Ms. Fontaine.” She nodded. “I understand, Ezra.” And then he lightened his face with a smile. “But before we move on to the particulars, there is one more piece of advice, this time from your father. It may be hard to remember in any residence we work on, but especially in one with more than 70 rooms, it is not just a house. It’s someone’s home. It was Mr. Greenleaf’s childhood home, in fact, and his aunt has lived there her entire life. You’re not very sentimental Wren—and that’s fine. Neither am I. But please remember that—it’s not just a building. It’s a home.” *** Excerpt from The Greenleaf Murders by R.J. Koreto. Copyright 2022 by R.J. Koreto. Reproduced with permission from R.J. Koreto. All rights reserved.

 

 


Author Bio:

R.J. Koreto

R.J. Koreto is the author of the Historic Home mystery series, set in modern New York City; the Lady Frances Ffolkes mystery series, set in Edwardian England; and the Alice Roosevelt mystery series, set in turn-of-the-century New York. His short stories have been published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, as well as various anthologies. In his day job, he works as a business and financial journalist. Over the years, he’s been a magazine writer and editor, website manager, PR consultant, book author, and seaman in the U.S. Merchant Marine. Like his heroine, Lady Frances Ffolkes, he’s a graduate of Vassar College. With his wife and daughters, he divides his time between Rockland County, N.Y., and Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.

Catch Up With R.J. Koreto: RJKoreto.com Goodreads BookBub – @rkoreto1 Instagram – @rjkoreto Twitter – @RJKoreto Facebook – @RJKoreto

 

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