Raymond Hunter, a retired Mafia assassin, has been living a quiet life for fifteen years with his adored wife Brenda, daughter and son, when the son of his old boss comes calling, wanting one last job done. Ray’s in no position to refuse when his family is threatened.
What ensues is gripping, gritty and compelling suspense. The police are on Ray’s trail almost from the start, the FBI becomes involved and a Mafia internal power play draws them all in.
I can’t remember the last time I read a story in which I found myself rooting for the assassin, but in this one I did.
The author’s knowledge of crime and weaponry adds to the atmospherics as does the writing style. I’ll say it again: gritty.
The reason I’ve given it a four star rating rather than a five is because Ray’s wife and daughter get a minimal point of view airing. I think the story would have benefitted from either staying exclusively with the main characters or giving the women in his life more page space.
There was just one more deficiency for me. Towards the end of the story Brenda’s past and a possible part in the crime is alluded to without being explained. It left me wondering. If there is to be a sequel, then I understand, because it may be explained at some point. If there isn’t a sequel, then it’s left me hanging.
The prompt was a problem with the blog sharing capabilities of my old website. That raised it’s very annoying head just two weeks before I was due to renew my website registration for another year or two.
It was obviously a sign from above to move on. So I did. To WordPress. Boy, was that ever a steep learning curve!
Incredibly annoyingly—at least in the short term—was the fact that I was unable to transfer my existing data. I therefore had to start from scratch.
That turned out to be a good thing because it made me analyse what my old site had offered and whether I wanted to replicate it.
I decided I didn’t.
I thought about what I, as a reader, like to see on author pages.
Information about their books, yes, but also information about them. I like to know something about the lives of the authors I read. Not nosy stuff, definitely not. But where they live, what interests them and what they occasionally get up to.
And here’s the result.
I’ve completely overhauled my book pages to include the story behind the story and location pics. I’ve also gone the extra mile and chosen the Australian actors I’d love to play my lead characters if the books were to be made into movies. Come check them out. Here are a few. imbroglio stars | automaton stars
Elisabeth, it’s lovely to finally meet you. I’ve been wanting to talk to you ever since the revelations that came out during Russell Montgomery’s trial. I thought we could tackle it by starting at the beginning and working our way from there.
Elisabeth: Sounds good to me.
What prompted you to move from Sydney to Canberra?
Elisabeth: I love Sydney but not to put too fine a point on it I felt I had to leave. Work and life there were no longer tenable.
You were with Legal Aid and you moved to the Canberra Legal Aid office. So it wasn’t Legal Aid as such that you wanted to move away from?
Elisabeth: No. It was more that I kept running into someone I wanted nothing to do with.
Would that be Thierry Richards QC?
Elisabeth: Look … regardless of how I feel about that person I don’t want to … would you mind if we moved on.
Okay, let’s talk about when you arrived in Canberra. You jumped in at the deep end with the Russell Montgomery case.
Elisabeth: I’m really sorry… but do you mind if we don’t talk about that either. It’s still very raw.
Not a problem. I understand. Let’s take a step back. Describe yourself to me. How do you see yourself?
Elisabeth: Okay. Let me attempt a bit of objectivity. Short spiky red hair. I used to be able to sit on it but had it cut before coming to Canberra. Typical redhead’s colouring … white, no freckles because I’ve never been a sunlover, size 10, 5’7” in bare feet, and I’m 34. How’s that? Oh, and shall I tell you what Robert said about my eyes? Green as deep ocean on a sunbright day. I was speechless when he said it. No-one’s ever described them quite like that before. So now you’d know me in a crowd, yes?
Yes, I believe I would. Next question: What do you hope to achieve in life?
Elisabeth: That a big question. Many things I suppose, but happiness has to be at the top. Nothing’s worth it if you’re not happy.
And are you? Happy, that is.
Elisabeth: I’m working on it.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Elisabeth: I’m a walker. For the exercise but also because I love it. Getting out and exploring and letting my mind wander. Never fails to refresh and re-invigorate.
Your friend Honey Milton was often a walking companion I believe. What is she to you?
Elisabeth: My best friend. Always will be. She’s gorgeous. I adore her. I miss her like crazy now that I’m in Canberra. We used to see each other all the time because her man travels a lot. He’s an actor and tours with his company. And as you say, we both liked walking. Not so often together nowadays, given we now live in different cities.
What about Robert Murphy?
Elisabeth: Robert? I liked him the moment I met him. He’s straightforward, sincere, good at his job. What’s not to like? The fact that he’s very attractive is a plus … . He stuck with me from the start despite the fact I couldn’t have been very likeable. I had my reasons, but he didn’t know that. But I count him among my good friends now. I hope he feels the same way about me.
As much as I’d like to explore that further I know you don’t want to, so let’s turn to the trial. What was it about the Stavros family that irked you so much?
Elisabeth: Every single one of them was lying and I knew it. But proving it was almost impossible because of Russell’s amnesia. Thank God for Robert and Joe Gaudry. In spite of me being no help they kept pushing. It was entirely because of them we got to the truth.
Let’s finish with what’s made you the woman you are today?
Elisabeth: Mmm. That may be a question better put to others. But I’ll have a go at it. On a personal level I was very young when I made the decision that altered my life. At the time I felt it was the only choice I could make, I believed I was too young to do anything else. I still believe that. But I feel the weight of condemnation from some people. I try not to let it bother me. On a professional level, law was something that always interested me. When I started university I began a Bachelor of Arts, but the law components really gripped me so I changed and ended up doing a combined Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Economics. I still like law. But that’s not to say I wouldn’t be happy doing something else … if something else came along.
Elisabeth, thanks, I know you weren’t looking forward to this and what I might have been planning to ask you. How about we go for a drink. My shout.
Elisabeth: It’s Friday night so why not. Great idea. Just so you know though. Anything I say under the influence is not for public consumption.
Fair enough. Grab your bag then. There’s a new bar opened up in Garema Place. I thought we could see if it’s any good.
You can find Elisabeth and get to know her story in AUTOMATON
My guest today is Rebecca Dahlke, better known as RP Dahlke to her fans. I’ve just read the 4th book in her DEAD RED mystery series and it might be true to say that with the series Rebecca took to heart the advice given to many authors starting out, and that is to write what you know. I say that because the first three books at least centre on the crop dusting business and, like her heroine Lalla Bains, Rebecca worked in it herself.
Alana: Welcome Rebecca. First of all, do you prefer Rebecca or RP?
Rebecca: Rebecca is just fine!
Alana: You grew up in Modesto, California, but escaped to the city after running your father’s crop-dusting business for two years. Whereabouts is home nowadays? Any particular reason you chose it?
Rebecca: We were leaving our sailboat in Mexico every summer, going back to the states to annoy our adult children, which can be very entertaining if you count how much fun it is to leave the towels on their bathroom floor and stand in front of an open fridge and ask, “What’s for dinner?”
Rebecca’s father RA Phillips and the first of the Stearman’s he used for the aero ag business.
Rebecca’s son John (on right) and a mate in front of their aero ag plane.
Alana: Wow, you’re game. We’ve never been brave enough to push those boundaries!
Rebecca: Well, hijinks of that sort only go so far, so we figured it was time to buy a summer home, something close enough to drive to and from the Mexican Marina where we kept our boat. Of course, when my husband suggested a condo or apartment, I suggested he get realistic! I’d gotten used to wide open spaces, so we compromised on 4 acres and a nice house south of Tucson. The scenic shot is a picture of our back yard.
Alana: That’s some back yard! My husband John and I owned a 46ft catamaran for a few years and I pretended to be a sailor but never got out of the sheltered waters of the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland. Tell us a bit about your experience. What was or is your craft, how long have you been sailing and where? Have you retired from the sea or do you still sail?
Rebecca: We’re from the bay area of San Francisco, California. We both learned to sail on this bay—which really was a lot of fun, if you don’t mind dodging freighters barreling down on you at warp speed. We started with a 27ft water ballasted trailerable boat, then upsized to a Hylas 47. Interesting that you had a catamaran as we tried out a few with charters, and even considered purchasing one before opting to stick with the mono-hull. A 46 ft. cat is like a 65 ft. monohull, and a dream to sail, or so I’ve heard.
Alana: We sold some years ago, but our memories are of the fun we had. I understand you wrote your mystery sailing trilogy while sailing. I can imagine it would have been very conducive to getting the creative juices flowing. I haven’t read it, so would you tell us a bit about it? Does it follow a principal character?
Rebecca: The two books in my sailing trilogy are based around one small 32 ft Westsail and two sisters who inherited it from their father. They both learned to sail it on the San Francisco bay and loved it.
Alana: So you were writing from experience again.
Rebecca: I was, and am. In the first book, A DANGEROUS HARBOR, Katrina Hunter is a S.F. police detective on leave after shooting her sister’s stalker. She single hands the boat to Mexico only to find a floater, an old flame with a secret that could undo her career, a bald parrot and the man who could either become the love of her life or her undoing.
Alana: And the second?
Rebecca: The second book, HURRICANE HOLE, features the sister, Leila Hunter Standiford, queen of daytime drama. When she admires a beautiful vintage Alden and its handsome captain she doesn’t realize that the boat will soon burn to the water line, or that a dead body will be found below, or that the captain has been targeted as the sacrificial diver.
Alana: Lalla Bains, the heroine of the DEAD RED series, is very likeable. I dropped in on her in the 4th book in the series and at some point I’m going to have to go back and read about her earlier exploits. She reminded me of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum, although she’s most definitely her own person. I imagine I’m not the first person to make favourable comparisons.
Rebecca: I’ve been absolutely floored that so many readers have commented that this series reminds them of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series! I write what I like to read and, of course, Janet Evanovich is the queen of humorous mysteries.
Alana: I have to admit to becoming a bit tired of Stephanie by the time the books got to double figures.
Rebecca: Well, I can tell you there a lot of really entertaining authors who can also tickle the funny bone while writing a really good mystery. Try Heather Haven or Cindy Sample, or AJ Lape or Kaye George. Want to get all of these authors, myself included in a boxed set? Get WHAT’S SO FUNNY ABOUT MURDER?and enjoy seven complete humorous novels for only 99 cents.
Alana: Thanks, I’ve just taken you up on that☺. About time I found myself some more authors in the genre. But getting back to you, do you have more stories in either or both of the series planned?
Rebecca: I’m writing #5 in the DEAD RED mystery series. This one is titled A DEAD RED MIRACLE and it’s again based in Wishbone, Arizona. I’m so enjoying writing about this area. Did you know that South East Arizona is where Geronimo and Cochise lived? These two Chirachauhua Apache Indians were famous for side-stepping American efforts to corral them, or their people.
Alana: Cowboys and Indians was one of the favourite games when I was growing up. I remember the girls always had to be the Indians and the cowboys always had to win. Things would be different if kids played it nowadays I think! But again, let’s get back to you. You produce a newsletter too, I’ve heard.
Rebecca: I do, three times a week and they feature the best in mystery/suspense and thrillers with DIRT CHEAP MYSTERY READS.
Alana: Are there new books envisaged for the future that take you away from the two current series and perhaps into a new genre?
Rebecca: oh, boy—that’s a loaded question. I so want to write a book that I’ve had in my head for several years, but the DEAD RED series is starting to pick up more and more readers, so much so that I can’t see how to stop writing the next and the next just to indulge my fantasy of something completely different.
Alana: Well, I look forward to reading it when you do. Rebecca, thank you so much for talking with me.
Rebecca: It has been my pleasure! Thank you for having me!