Spotlight & Author Interview: Dark Ride Deception, by Mark S. Bacon

dark ride deception

dark ride deception

Dark Ride Deception
Nostalgia City Mysteries
by Mark S. Bacon

The entire $22 billion US theme park industry is about to be eclipsed by breathtaking new technology. The Perception Deception Effect will rocket Arizona’s Nostalgia City theme park decades ahead of the competition—and possibly alter the way we view what is real and what isn’t. But the secret technology is missing. And so is its scientist creator. Is he dead? On the run?

An FBI agent theorizes the People’s Republic of China is responsible for the disappearance. The Nostalgia City CEO, however, is convinced a rival theme park is behind the theft. He drafts ex-cop turned theme park cab driver Lyle Deming to fly to Florida to find the missing computer scientist and recover his secrets.

Does this have anything to do with the severed human finger Lyle finds in his cab?

Back at Nostalgia City, a sprawling re-creation of an entire small town from the 1970s, a movie company is shooting a Vietnam era crime story. It’s a welcome distraction from the tech theft until the film company announces its last-minute replacement star is Cory “Psycho” Sievers, fresh out of rehab and aching to exact revenge on Hollywood. When another actor is found dead, park executive Kate Sorensen, a 6’ 2 ½” former college basketball star, is persuaded to investigate.

Shrugging off jet lag, Florida humidity and chronic anxiety Lyle goes undercover using a parade of false identities—from attorney to maintenance worker—to snoop behind the scenes at other theme parks. Although he’s generally tech savvy, he’s flummoxed by Perception Deception science. He gets help from a Nostalgia City engineer who speaks the jargon, but Lyle must rein in his assistant’s enthusiasm for corporate espionage.

In the meantime, Kate confronts the mentally unstable actor. But she may be forced to give up the murder case—Lyle’s in trouble.

Kate and Lyle have little time to explore their relationship as both their investigations turn deadly, threatening them and the future of Nostalgia City.

**Even though this is the fourth book in the series, it can be read as a stand-a-lone**

Goodreads / Amazon


Excerpt:

Lyle talked to himself as he headed to the park’s transport center. The evening’s sideshow of passengers crowded out
his brain’s frequent worry cycle. For that he was thankful. After a few minutes, he pulled into the taxicab wash facility.

Tomás, the friendly young guy who washed the cabs, opened the taxi’s back door and looked inside. “One of your
fares puke, huh?”

“It’s pretty foul. A woman was sick.” Lyle got out and set his hat on the front seat. He pushed his wavy brown hair
off his forehead and grabbed a plastic dustpan from a nearby rack. He opened the cab’s left rear door. In the enclosed carport, Lyle’s taxi smelled like a frat house bathroom after a freshman party. He scooped at some of the vomit with the dustpan but had to back out as his gag reflex threatened to kick in. Sensitivity had been one of his liabilities in his former profession.

“I’ll clean it out with this,” said the attendant, now wearing a mask and wielding the wand of a wet-dry vac. Standing at the back door, he shoved the nozzle under the front seat and worked toward the rear. The noise of the muck being slurped up sounded little different from when it was deposited. After a moment, Tomás leaned back out of the car.

“I see why this person threw up,” he said. “Look what she ate.”

Lyle glanced inside the car. On the floor, amid a slurry of bile and partially digested food, he saw a human finger.


Author Interview:

1. What inspired you to write this book?

Writing theme park mysteries was inspired by actually working at a theme park!

Early in my career I worked for Knott’s Berry Farm, the theme park just down the freeway from Disneyland.  Although I spent most of my time in an office writing ads and commercials, I occasionally worked in the park for special events. I got a behind-the-scenes view of a theme park during the day and at night.  From that time on, I thought a theme park would be a great locale for a murder mystery.

So I invented Nostalgia City theme park as the setting for my mystery novels.

  1. What, if anything, did you learn writing the book?

I spent many hours researching criminal cases involving corporate espionage and talking to corporate security experts. Criminal activity impacts companies and corporations in many ways. I learned much about what companies do to protect their facilities and their industry secrets. In Dark Ride Deception I include some of the secrets of protecting secrets.

  1. What surprised you the most in writing it?

Writing a 83,000-word novel requires days, weeks, months of virtual isolation staring at a computer screen and pounding the keys.  It calls for research, editing and concentration.  This is what I’ve done for all my mysteries, but this time the isolation was compounded by a pandemic quarantine and creating Dark Ride Deception, got me through it.

  1. If it’s not a spoiler, what does the title mean?

A dark ride is theme park jargon for an indoor attraction, like Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean. A dark ride can be in a boat, car, train or other transportation.

My story involves a software engineer who creates the ultimate dark ride technology called the Perception Deception Effect.  It’s so advanced it could alter people’s sense of what is real and what isn’t.  But before the mind-bending tech could be developed into a ride, it’s stolen. And the engineer disappears, too.

  1. Were any of the characters inspired by real people? If so, do they know?

I have two protagonists.  Kate is a combination of two people, one is my younger daughter who was a basketball star in college.  The other is someone I used to work with and from whom I learned a lot about dealing with people.  Lyle, the other main character, has a little bit of me and a little of several other characters in real life and fiction. Only my daughter knows she’s part of the book.

  1. Do you consider the book to have a lesson or moral?

Many of the renown detectives of fiction, Marlowe, Spade, Archer, Holmes and others had a moral code. My ex-cop detective, Lyle Deming, has a code, a way of determining right from wrong, and you see it at work here and there. The book, however, is not about teaching readers lessons. It’s more about sorting through clues and following Lyle and Kate through their adventures.

  1. What is your favorite part of the book?

Some of my favorite parts are chapters 1, 3, 17, 32, 34, 36, 37, 46. Great numbers, right?  These chapters include good examples of the suspense, clues and humor throughout the book.

  1. Which character was most challenging to create? Why?

Since several of the characters are continuing ones from the series, I’d say the most challenging new person for this book was movie star Cory Sievers.  His background is a mixture of Hollywood success and, lets say, disappointments. His fame means he’s recognized by everyone who sees him and that might not be an advantage.

  1. What are your immediate future plans?

I’m planning the next Nostalgia City mystery which will include a little noir-ish style. In the meantime, I’m working on crime short stories.


About the Author:

Mark S. Bacon began his career as a Southern California newspaper police reporter, one of his crime stories becoming key evidence in a murder case that spanned decades.

He is the author of the Nostalgia City mystery series that began with Death in Nostalgia City.  The first book introduced ex-cop turned cab driver Lyle Deming and PR executive Kate Sorensen, a 6’2½”  former college basketball star.  Death in Nostalgia City was recommended for book clubs by the American Library Association. His second mystery, Desert Kill Switch, earned the top fiction award in the 2018 Great Southwest Book Festival and was a Top Shelf Magazine Indie Award nominee.

After working for two newspapers, Bacon moved to advertising and marketing.  He wrote nonfiction business books including Do-It-Yourself Direct Marketing, printed in four languages and three editions and named best business book of the year by the Library Journal.  His articles have appeared in the Washington Post, Cleveland Plain Dealer, San Antonio Express News, Orange County Register, Denver Post, and many other publications.  Most recently he was a correspondent for the San Francisco Chronicle.

He earned an MA in mass media from UNLV and a BA in journalism from Fresno State.  He gets many of his ideas when he’s walking his dog.

marc s bacon

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Book Blitz & Excerpt: Dead Cat, Run + Giveaway

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Dead Cat, Run
by Annabelle Lewis
Publication date: February 21st 2021
Genres: Adult, Mystery, Thriller

You’re where you’re meant to be. Run, if you can.

High school senior Jenny Gallagher’s psychic abilities have made life in her small New England town rocky. Her premonitions and déjà vu have given her a reputation, one she’s not happy with. Tragedy is about to strike, however, and oddly, this time, she doesn’t see it coming. Is her gift betraying her?

Not far from Jenny, Wellesley Professor Maximus Dyer also has a gift—a painful and useless one. His ability to see the past has brought him insight into history, but otherwise, he’s never known what to make of it. The psychic shocks he receives through his unprotected hands have made any genuine human relationships beyond his grasp. Then someone who doesn’t trigger a vision enters his life—a dog?

Sidrah Keeling runs determinedly optimistic throughout her life, trying hard not to ask the big questions about why. Her foresight, her ability to see glimpses of the future in her dreams, often drives her to follow a path she doesn’t understand. Alert and listening, with the guardrails of security she’s erected in place, she’s forced again to follow her dreams. This time to a man. Who is he?

Lurking deep in his sensory deprivation tank, Turner Black sees it all. Born out of the great chaos of time, he once again feels the forces of good gathering to move against him. Not in this life. This time, his darkness will reign supreme. The hunt for his antithesis will begin again now. He can’t wait to feel his opponent in destiny bleed.

A fast-paced contemporary mystery thriller with a supernatural hierarchy, Dead Cat, Run will keep you up all night, glued to your seat.

Goodreads / Amazon

Dead Cat Run

EXCERPT:

Max humped his way through the Wellesley College campus center, yanking his backpack onto his shoulder when it began to slide. Hungry—no, scratch that, ravenous—he snarled in frustration that he couldn’t jump in line at the pizza stand and grab a slice. He’d need to wait until he got home. He frowned, remembering he had no ready food there either. As he rounded past the heavenly smells from the greasy Chinese buffet, someone called his name, and he slowed.

“Professor Dyer,” a girl said.

Inwardly, he rolled his eyes but stopped, forcing a look of tolerance onto his face. He didn’t recognize the student, but then, he usually didn’t. It was better to avoid eye contact with the nubile freshmen. Many young girls throughout his career had presumed there was something other than scholarly interest lurking there. He tried everything he could to discourage them.

Now, though, forced to a standstill in their territory, he could have almost predicted what would happen next. Once he stopped, not one, but several young, eager smiling faces peered up at him with their batting lashes and flirty looks. It was exhausting.

“What is it?” he practically barked.

“Oh, sorry,” the one who’d spoken said.

“Office hours are posted online,” he said roughly. Regrettably, he only saw looming interest and blushing cheeks. The heat rising around the group was practically tangible. He had to get out of there. He began walking away, but out of guilt, he turned his head back. “Make an appointment. I’ll speak to you then.”

Did he hear giggles? For God’s sake. Don’t look back again. He wondered for the thousandth time if working at a women’s liberal arts college was a bad idea.

He cleared the union without further intrusions and got out into the street. He put his head down as he walked across campus, then grabbed a beanie out of his coat pocket and shoved it on. No need to bother with the gloves. He wouldn’t be touching anyone.

Looking forward to getting home, he rounded the corner of a busy street near his parking lot and ran into a group of men in suits. His backpack fell to the ground, which caused some of his items to spill out. He cursed softly as one of the men knelt to help him retrieve his gear. But then, out of nowhere, a large reddish dog shot between them, grabbed a pair of his gloves, and took off.

“Hey!” Max stood and then ran after the dog. Not more than a few long strides later, the game of chase stopped. He stared with horror as the dog ran into the street, mindless of the oncoming traffic.

“No!” He threw up his hand and yelled. His heart in his mouth, he watched in slow motion as a car slammed into the dog. He dropped his pack on the sidewalk, ran into the street, and screamed at the traffic. Everywhere cars came to a screeching halt.

His pulse raced, tears choking him as he reached the dog, hesitating only a second before he laid his hands—uncovered—without thinking, onto the soft fur. The gloves the dog had been carrying lay near her front leg, which was bent at an odd angle. Blood, too, was coming from somewhere.

“My God,” Max cried. His hands, his uncovered hands, ran down the dog’s body—without receiving a vision. Marveling at the empty sensation, he gently touched the dog’s face. The beautiful beast looked at him and released a small, pitiful whimper. She licked Max’s hand softly and closed her eyes.

Max closed his eyes, and momentarily dropped his head back with the wonder of the moment before he regained his senses and began to scream at the driver, who had been hovering nearby. He gently stroked the dog, cooing to her with tender words. Where are her tags? Where had she come from?

The only answer he had was that no one nearby came running to claim her for their own. From that moment on, Max took charge, yelling instructions. He’d see that the dog got help. Nothing in the world was more important.

Author Bio:

Annabelle Lewis—a pseudonym for the author—lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Regrettably? Perhaps. She still believes she’s a Texan even though the math no longer supports that. Nor her birthplace. Nor her residence. No offense, Minnesota. You’ve got your good points too, but only about six months of the year.

In her youth, Annabelle was a complete failure. Ask anyone who knew her. Any of her teachers and family would tell you this. High school graduation was a sad day for all when Annabelle walked proudly off the high school stage, her thoughts consumed with boys, beer, and after-parties, and later into the arms of her parents. Her father’s laughter and singular remark? “I didn’t think you’d make it. Get a job at the post office, they have a good retirement plan.”

A high bar and words to live by, but Annabelle wanted more. She needed to flunk out of college too. But damn, she sure did have a good time. Trivial arrest records not-withstanding, it was a growth period for our girl. And if you look closely, you’ll see a bit of what was to come when she majored in criminal justice. Her lifelong aspiration was to become a judge. Hmm.

For better or worse, Annabelle didn’t graduate from college but did find gainful employment and a fulfilling career. This path ended when she became a mom. Married to her wonderful George, who to this day can hardly remember an actual proposal, Annabelle finally became a mother. She didn’t have a clue how hard she would need to work to keep those self-imposed requirements of Downey-fresh, iron-pressed sheets, home-baked meals, and mom-of-the-year awards arriving. She composed a small self-affirmation song and made her children sing it to her for money. She was a very good mom.

After clearing the largest hurdles of motherhood and regrettably, begrudgingly, and not-without-tears, launching her children onto the world, she looked around and realized she had a lot to say. Picking up a laptop, she got to work.

Annabelle spends her days continuing to tackle the challenges of motherhood, for both her humans and canines. She also writes. And reads. And cleans. And cooks. And bakes. And cleans again. She also supports her husband, George, in an administrative capacity for their small business. She’s in charge of payroll and cuts George’s checks. This leads to no marital acrimony.

In the beginning, with the blank page staring at her and possibly in a hostile mood after being literally mauled by a dog and by the world in general, she had an idea. What if she could wield a force of good upon unsuspecting evil-doers? What if she had the resources to get the job done without dealing with committee and anyone else’s whiney-ass opinions?

It was gold. It took off. Annabelle sat down and began to write and couldn’t stop. To date, having written over a million words in the Carrows Family Chronicles and her second series on the Boston Clairvoyants, several items have become quite clear. Annabelle had a lot to say. Annabelle really enjoys writing. And although she hates all things technology, she begrudgingly pounds her head on her desk daily as obstacles are thrown in her path. Almost a hero.

Since entering her world of make-believe, she has rebelled against all intrusion of real-world responsibilities. Her house is a mess, but she tries. Her family is fed, but more often than not, on takeout. She vows to shower every day, but no, it’s a vow she’ll never keep. Her friends are neglected, but not in her heart.

Read her mordacious blog! Read her books! Follow her on social platforms! Sign up for her newsletter! These are all good things. What are you waiting for? Jump into bed with Annabelle. She’s having a swell time. You should join her.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

 

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Book Blitz: Better Than Suicide + Excerpt

better than suicide

BOOK BLAST

Book Title:  The Yakuza Path: Better Than Suicide

Author: Amy Tasukada

Publisher: ‎ Macarons & Tea Publishing

Release Date: May 15, 2017

Genre: Gay thriller, NOT A ROMANCE

Tropes: Bad boys, tragic hero

Theme: Mafia,  

Heat Rating:  1 flame    

Length: 353 pages

It is the second book in The Yakuza Path series. It can be read as a standalone but it’s better if you read it as part of the series. It does not end on a cliffhanger.

 Goodreads 

 

Buy Links 

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK

Kobo  |  Google Play  |  Apple Books

Barnes and Noble  |  Books 2 Read

 

A stash of drugs. A twisted cop. A mob on the verge of self-destruction…

 

Blurb 

Nao Murata is the new godfather of the Matsukawa syndicate. When Detective Yamada confronts Nao over a dead drug dealer, Nao knows his organization isn’t responsible. The Matsukawa doesn’t deal drugs… or does it?

When Nao discovers drugs in a locker owned by his syndicate, he no longer knows who to trust. With the police bearing down on the Matsukawa, Nao must make unlikely allies to find out the truth. Can he discover who is betraying him before time runs out, or will everyone suffer for a crime he didn’t commit?

Better Than Suicide is the second book in a Japanese mafia thriller series. If you like complex plots, gripping suspense, and a splash of romance, then you’ll love the next installment in Amy Tasukada’s Yakuza Path series.

 Buy Better Than Suicide to start the race against the clock today! 

 

The Yakuza Path Series

BOOK 1 – Blood Stained Tea

BOOK 2 – Better Than Suicide

BOOK 3 – One Thousand Cranes

BOOK 4 – The Deafening Silence

BOOK 5 – Flowers of Flesh and Blood

BOOK 6 – Releasing in November

 

 

Excerpt 

 If Nao’s father had kept the drug key in his office desk, what horrors would Nao find once he stepped foot into his father’s home? Nao would rather keep them buried for as long as possible.

Kurosawa knotted the gauze wraps with a tight jerk of his wrist. “The least you could do is not fuck a new recruit at headquarters. It makes it uncomfortable for everyone.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Last night with Hisona.”

“Hisona?” Nao blinked.

“You don’t even know his name? The whole house could hear you screw him all night.”

Hisona was much too forceful of a name and didn’t match Aki’s personality at all. So of course he’d forget it.  Apparently Aki could act enough to keep the whole household convinced. With only four days left before jail time, Nao was bound to need Aki’s acting skills again.

Nao grinned. “Aki really knew how to take it. Those recruits are so eager to please.”

“If you want to fuck one, take them to a hotel.”

Nao tried not to laugh at Kurosawa’s reddening face. If it was out of embarrassment or anger, Nao didn’t know, but either way he enjoyed it.

“Taking the time to go to a hotel would’ve killed the mood.” Nao trailed a hand down his own neck to his collarbone. “Have you ever been with a man, Kurosawa? They know exactly what to do during a blowjob.”

Kurosawa puffed out his cheeks. “Couldn’t you go back to the brothel?”

“I thought you’d enjoy me staying in for once. Besides, you’re not in a position to talk to me this way.”

Kurosawa gritted his teeth. “What I’m doing is for the good of the Matsukawa as a whole.”

“You should respect me more as the godfather of this syndicate.”

“Someone has to tell you what everyone is thinking.”  

“Good thing they’re not speaking it because I’d punch them in the face. With you, I’m satisfied seeing you get demoted to cutting up dead bodies and burning the Matsukawa furnace once you’re replaced.”

“I’ll be more than happy to do any task that benefits the family.”

Nao laughed and grabbed his phone. He frowned; there were still no new messages from Kohta, which didn’t put him any closer to finding the dealer.

“Fujimoto called last night about a disturbance in his ward.” Nao grinned. “I was in the middle of getting a blowjob, so I told him to handle it. I want to make sure Fujimoto wasn’t an idiot.” 

 

About the Author 

 

International best-selling author Amy Tasukada writes thrilling times of crime, love, and gore. Readers who crave diverse characters, unique settings, and edge-of-your-seat action will devour her Yakuza Path series. Readers who seek less blood and more love will swoon over the Yakuza Path Romance and Would it Be Okay to Love You? Series. Amy is an atheist, queer author who enjoys drinking tea, Japanese street fashion and visual kei music.  Her calico cat, O’Hara, is never far from her side. Amy lives in North Texas, but is always planning her next trip to Japan.

 

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