Create, Pitch, Sell

Smoke On The Water

The first book in the Hellfire Trilogy mystery set is on sale for only 99cents. [Click for larger view]

In SMOKE ON THE WATER, a sheriff tracks a psychopath targeting members of a retired mariner’s family.

The gruesome discovery of a woman's corpse in the small tourist resort of Point Jove, Missouri draws Sheriff Josh Wolfe, a widower who enjoys tinkering with his award winning hot rod, into the most perilous case of his career. Hounded by the townsfolk and media, Wolfe exhausts every conventional method for solving the crime. The investigation comes to a standstill.

Then, four more residents disappear. Everyone is convinced Rhone County is harboring a serial kidnapper who chooses his victims by chance. Wolfe believes the people are not only related to one another but are somehow tied to the last surviving member of the county's namesake.

Time is not only running out for Sheriff Wolfe but for his lover, dissatisfied wife of a homebuilder, held against her will at the Rhone family's abandoned sawmill where spilled gasoline awaits a lighted match.

Excerpt from Chapter One:
It was her uncanny likeness to Adele, his adoptive sister, that made him stare at her. She sat to one side of a barstool with an arm propped on the padded edge, nice legs crossed beneath a short denim skirt. She sipped a margarita; checked out the Saturday night crowd in the intimate saloon setting. Smiled and waved at anyone she knew.

Jim took a seat at the end of the bar. He slid a pack of Morilos out of his shirt pocket. One by one, the single men honed in on her only to get shot down. He lit a cigarette to curb a satisfied smile. The slow moving couples on the dance floor reminded him of his brief stint as a deckhand on a cargo ship and the way the vessel rocked side to side on the rolling sea in advance of a storm. He loved it, even when he was almost swept overboard by a crashing wave.

When a barman with ERIC on his nametag approached, he ordered a shot of off-brand bourbon. A rock glass was plunked down in front of him. Jim paid for the drink with cash. He flicked ashes into an empty peanut bowl. Downed the cheap whiskey that displeased his palate.

Tilting a hat back on his head, he cast a furtive glance in her direction. The lights winked at her auburn hair when she tossed her head back to knock long strands from her shoulder. She looked at him, her eyes twinkling with carefree interest. Glossy red lips beckoned him with a playful smile.

He stood. An older man staggered toward her. Jim realized the effort to go unnoticed so he could keep coming back was about to end.

“Hey, sugarbritches. How ‘bout a dance?” The man wobbled on his heels, trying to remain upright.

“No thanks.” She tried to ignore him.

“Aww, c’mon now, don’t be that way.” He danced a silly jig. Failing to make her smile, he took hold of her jean jacket and pulled her close. “Give us a little kiss, then.”

Jim shoved the man. He stumbled sideways, tripped and fell. The bouncer yanked the intoxicated fool up off the floor, and escorted him to the manager’s office.

Eric poured a shot of the good stuff. “On the house,” he told Jim.

A hat tip. Jim turned his attention to the woman. Ever so slowly, his smoldering gaze took in her petite physique. He thought he saw her shiver. Lowering his eyelids he smiled into his drink. Swallowed hard. Dragged a thumb and forefinger down the sides of his mustache.

“My hero,” she gushed, jokingly.

“Are you okay?” he asked, his voice low and husky in tone.

“Yeah. Wanna dance?”

“Sure.” He lifted the black felt cowboy hat long enough to rake his fingers through dark wavy hair. Extended a hand to help her step down off the stool. “What’s your name?”

“Vera. You...?”

He frowned; somewhat disappointed it wasn’t the answer he expected. Nerve endings tingled. He squeezed his eyes shut, just as fast reopened them.


Her impatience amused him. He took her to the dance floor. They swayed to a mournful country western song. Her breathing went deeper, grew warmer. Had he been searching for a woman only for sex she would’ve—

His eyelids flew open.

He kissed her, tasting lime and candy apple. Breathed in the musky scent of her perfume. “Why don’t we go someplace quieter Adele, er, Vera?” He murmured sweet nothings in her ear. Followed the curve of her neck with his tongue, gently nibbled on her earlobe. He cupped her ass and pressed her body closer to his. She moaned, too loud for comfort.

He wrapped an arm around her shoulders and guided her toward the exit. Both bartenders had their backs turned. The sound of Jim’s Western boots slapping the wooden floor echoed through the hallway. He rushed her past the restrooms. Pushed in a metal rail and unlocked the self-closing rear door.

He clasped her hand in his, led her to an old black van parked at the edge of the woods on the opposite side of a gravel driveway beyond the reach of the security light. She smiled up at him. He tightened his grip. They walked to the sliding door on the side, crunching leaves blown into their path by a strong gust.

The sharp tip of a small branch steadily scraped the top of the vehicle. Jim grabbed the twig and broke it. Before he could get the door open she locked her arms around him. The strength of her kiss momentarily crippled him. He pulled her arms from his neck and stepped away. He swiped a hand down his face, felt embarrassed by his erection. Opening the door, he leaned in and grabbed a sleeping bag.

“Oooo, hurry baby,” she murmured, with a dizzying sense of anticipation. She nimbly scratched his shoulder with red acrylic fingernails.

Unrolling the bag he spread it wide, rather pleased he’d removed the back seats a long time ago. His hands shook. He worked faster at smoothing out the material to quell his own excitement, which was different from hers.

She latched onto him the moment they climbed in.

He tried to close the door. She clung to his shirt and continued to put little wet kisses on the side of his face. He shrugged her off of him. Hooked his fingers around the handle and slammed the door shut. An apology poised on his lips, he was surprised to find she had removed her jacket and skirt by the time he turned around.

Oblivious of his slight tantrum, she peeled off the rest of her clothing. Gripped the front of his shirt with both hands and ripped the snaps apart. She kissed and caressed him all over.

Without a sound he forced her onto her back.

In mere seconds, the dirty deed was done.

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The mystery continues with FIRE FLICKS

Determined to protect the natural beauty of Eagle Rock Lake from homebuilders, while also protecting his lucrative meth lab and pot farm, Stan Barstow sets fire to newly built lakeview homes to scare away prospective buyers. To gain fortune and fame, he films the wanton destruction with the intention of making a docudrama to sell to Hollywood.

Kyle Barstow very much wants to relocate to Chicago, and become a part of a forensics task force as a crime scene photographer. He offers to make a recording of the burning buildings in order to hone his skills in film and digital photography. To finance the expensive move to Illinois, he becomes involved in Stan's drug business, without his knowledge or consent.

When one of the brothers is shot and killed, the other moves quickly to think up a new get-rich-quick scheme, unaware that someone knows his secrets.

The mystery concludes with ASHES OF VENGEANCE

After his brother is murdered, Kyle Barstow comes up with a new get-rich-quick scheme so he can leave Missouri forever. He starts by convincing Shelby Adair to help him extort one million dollars from her wealthy parents. The plan is simple. Make believe she's been buried alive. Send the first set of GPS coordinates and a ransom note to the Point Jove Sheriff's Department. Instead of risking capture from collecting the money, they would break into the Adair's safe that Shelby assured Kyle contained more than a million dollars. While the authorities are busy stumbling around in the dark searching for a kidnapped victim that does not exist, he and Shelby would quietly disappear.

Their plan begins to unravel when a severe thunderstorm rips through Rhone County causing major damage and confusion. The capped PVC pipe containing the final clue is swept away in rising floodwaters.

Rusty Nichols grows suspicious when there's no further contact from the kidnapper. He then learns that not only is his girlfriend, Shelby, missing but also her ex-boyfriend, Kyle Barstow.

In a senseless act of backwoods justice someone is shot, then set on fire. Betrayal and revenge become an obsession. A shooting in a motel room leaves one person bleeding to death on the floor, and another fleeing to Mexico with stolen money.