Thursday, May 6, 2021

Status-6 by W Craig Reed Blog Tour and Giveaway


by W. Craig Reed

May 1 - 31, 2021 Tour


Deep beneath the Arctic Ocean, a covert team of Chinese operatives uses stolen U.S. technology to capture Russia’s newest attack submarine. Loaded with 100-megaton nuclear torpedoes, the sub is headed west. The Americans want to sink her, the Russians want her back, and the Chinese claim they’re not responsible.

NCIS agent Jon Shay is a former SEAL Team Two operator. Still shattered by the murder of his wife a year earlier, he places the barrel of a revolver against his temple, spins the cylinder, and squeezes the trigger. He hears only a click—and the chime of his phone. Activated for a mission in the Arctic, Jon pairs with British scientist Kate Barrett to battle a ticking clock, trained operatives, and top government officials. Together, they must find and stop the world’s most lethal submarine. The stakes are raised when they learn that the Russian sub is controlled by an infected AI system bent on completing its mission to create a nuclear winter.

Praise for Status-6:

"W. Craig Reed's Status-6 is my vote for Thriller of the Year. The protagonist is Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan meets Lee Child's Jack Reacher." -- Grant Blackwood, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Tom Clancy's "Under Fire"

"W. Craig Reed's latest novel, Status-6, is the best book I've read this year—a ripped-from-the-headlines military technothriller that literally left me awake at night, fearful of where we're headed as a nation and a species. What's next after the nightmare coronavirus pandemic? Don't miss this first book in the NCIS Special Ops series that promises to shatter the thriller genre." -- James Rollins, #1 New York Times bestselling author of "The Demon Crown (Sigma Force)"

"W. Craig Reed's Status-6 grabs you from page one and doesn't let you go. The global security crisis revealed in this book is all-too-real and could well be tomorrow's headlines. The characters are well-nuanced and provide a powerful urge to root for or against them. Don't read this thriller before going to bed—you'll be awake all night!" -- George Gladorisi, New York Times bestselling author of the Tom Clancy Op Center series

My Review:

I enjoyed this thriller. I like the plot with a few highly trained but rather regular people pitted against a villain's nefarious plan. I like Reed's writing style, providing almost continuous action. I like the advanced submarine technology and cutting edge artificial intelligence. I like the thought provoking aspects of the novel such as government officials creating clandestine operations.

This is a great novel for readers who like special ops thrillers. The characters are well crafted and I found most of them, except the villains, engaging. The action is almost continuous. I did not understand all the military and technology terminology and I have no idea if the underwater vehicles can do all Reed devised, but I trust he got it right.

Put on an extra sweater and get yourself a hot beverage as you plunge beneath the frozen arctic to see if an ex-navy SEAL and a bright scientist can save the world from destruction. It looks like there might be another novel featuring these heroes. I will definitely by watching for it.

My rating: 5.5 stars.

Status-6 Book Details:

Genre: Military Thriller
Published by: Post Hill Press
Publication Date: April 13th 2021
Number of Pages: 256
ISBN: 1682619354 (ISBN13: 9781682619353)
Series: Status-6 is the first book in the NCIS Special Ops Thriller series.
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


Read an excerpt from Status-6:

With his legs sore and lungs burning from the cold, Jon arched his back and stretched when the group finally stopped marching thirty minutes later. To his right, about a quarter-mile distant, the bright blue stripes covering the mess tent signaled the location of the ICEX camp. Two holes, three feet in diameter, had been carved into the ice a few feet from where the group now stood. Jon surmised they were the spent practice torpedo holes drilled by Navy Divers. Liang and company must have parked the ASDS nearby and used the holes as infiltration points. Also, Liang must have had some inside help to deactivate the intruder detection system surrounding the holes. But who? Rinaldo? When would she have had access to that system? More unanswered questions.

Rinaldo approached and said, “Since you’re the former Navy SEAL, why don’t you help our female guest suit up?”

Jon crossed his arms. “This has gone far enough. Time for some answers, Rinaldo.”

Rinaldo pointed her M-16 at Kate’s head. “How’s this for an answer—she suits up or dies.”

Jon uncrossed his arms and fought to quell the ire-stoked coals in his chest. He turned toward Kate. “Are you a certified diver?”

Kate’s nose and cheeks were red. She shivered. “I hate water.”

“Drinking or swimming?” Jon said, hoping to diffuse Kate’s angst.

It didn’t work. Kate looked like a small child being forced to brave a dark alley. “I can’t do this.”

While donning a dry suit, Rinaldo cocked an ear. “What’s the problem?”

Kate stared at the hole in the ice. Frigid blue water lapped against the sides. She backed up and turned away.

“I think she has a water phobia,” Jon said.

“Get her over it,” Rinaldo said.

Jon bristled. The muscles in his face tightened. He grabbed Kate’s suit and brought it to her. Facing her back, he said, “Turn around.” Shaking, Kate remained facing away.

“Please, turn around.”

Kate turned.

“Good,” Jon said. “Now look at me.”

Kate’s eyes met his. Though full of fear, they were riveting, like a blue morning sky touching the edges of a Nebraska corn field. Jon felt his heart flutter. He tried to hold on to the feeling, but it refused to linger. A year had come and gone since he’d lost his wife, but the pain in his chest still held the high ground.

“I’m not setting a foot in that water,” Kate stammered. Her eyes burned with defiance.

“What about a toe?”

Kate crossed her arms and said nothing.

“Just put on the suit to keep the witch happy while I think of something,” Jon said.


“Yeah, something.”

“Like what, mate?”

Rinaldo called over from the other side of the ice hole. “Five minutes, Shay.”

Jon held up the suit. “Just put it on, please. I promise I’ll think of something.”

Kate rolled her eyes and held out her arms. “Fine, but you’d better not be lying to me.”

“Who’s your colleague?” Jon asked as he moved in close to help Kate don the dry suit.

“Bobby Ruppert. He’s a bit rough around the edges and goes into panic mode in stressful situations, but he’s a brilliant engineer.”

While Jon zipped up Kate’s dry suit, the scent of her perfume conjured a memory. He shivered.

“Now what?” Kate said. Her bottom lip quivered. Annelia had also done that when she was frightened.

Jon pulled on his suit. He stepped toward Kate and said, “Let’s just put on our SCUBA gear and then I’ll make my move.”

“Your move?” Kate shot back.

Jon said nothing as he helped Kate into a BC vest, saddled up her tank, and held a Kirby Morgan diving mask in her direction. “Put this on.”

Kate’s tone turned urgent as she grabbed the mask. “You said you’d think of something.”

“Just follow my lead.” Jon pulled on his tank and ran through a system check. The action felt like a visit from an old friend and reminded him of dozens of missions survived.

Kate shook her head in defiance as she sucked in a breath. The hiss of compressed air echoed off nearby shards of ice pushed skyward by Mother Nature.

One by one, Liang’s men entered the water. Jon watched Kate recoil with each splash.

Rinaldo approached. “Ready?”

Kate’s eyes widened. She held her palms up as if to say, “Something?”

Now fully suited, Jon led Kate toward the water. He had to drag her the last few feet. He turned toward her, lifted up his mask, and said, “I’ll hold your hand all the way. This will all be over in five minutes.”

Her eyes still wide, Kate tried to step backward but Jon held onto to her hands and gently kept her in place.

“Just follow me,” Jon said. “I’ve done this hundreds of times.”

Kate shook her head as she dug her heels into the ice.

Rinaldo slapped Jon’s back. The gesture did not feel friendly.

Jon slowly guided Kate toward the hole’s edge. She fought to pull away. He held on tight and looked into her eyes, assuring her in silence that she could do this. Tears streamed down Kate’s face and dripped onto the mask’s rubber lining. Her breathing was erratic. Jon’s heart ached with compassion and guilt. He felt like a jailor forcing an innocent victim into a torture chamber. The bitter taste of choler filled his mouth as he stole a glance at Rinaldo. The beast in his gut grumbled and demanded to be set loose. Jon closed his eyes and slowly breathed in and out to quell the angst.

He opened his eyes, lifted his mask again, and focused on Kate. Softening his voice, he said, “Close your eyes.”

Kate stared at him through her mask. Jon could tell she wanted to trust him, but fear remained her master. He had seen this kind of panic before on the faces of green wannabe SEALs learning how to dive the Navy way. None of them had ever made it through training. For sure, none of them would have survived a dive in Arctic waters.

“Close your eyes and trust me,” Jon said. “Don’t open them until we’re out of the water.”

Trembling, Kate closed her eyes. Jon pulled on her fins and helped her into a seated position with her legs dangling into the water. He did all this with slow movements so as not to make a splash. Rinaldo stood by and watched with impatient indifference. Jon slipped into the hole…


Excerpt from Status-6 by W. Craig Reed. Copyright 2021 by W. Craig Reed. Reproduced with permission from W. Craig Reed. All rights reserved.


Author Bio:

William Craig Reed is the New York Times bestselling author of thrillers and non-fiction military and business books including Spies of the Deep: The Untold Story of the Most Terrifying Incident in Submarine Naval History and How Putin Used The Tragedy To Ignite a New Cold War and the critically acclaimed Red November (HarperCollins). Also, The Seven Secrets of Neuron-Leadership (Wiley), an award-winning business book, and Tarzan, My Father (ECW) co-written with the late Johnny Weissmuller, Jr.

Reed served as a U.S. Navy submariner and diver during the Cold War and earned commendations for completing secret missions, some in concert with SEAL Team One. Reed’s military experience and inside contacts help infuse his writing with intrigue and realism, and inspired his next non-fiction book, Also, this novel: STATUS-6 about a former SEAL Team Two operator turned NCIS agent that teams with a British female scientist to stop a Russian submarine controlled by an infected artificial intelligence.

Reed holds an MBA in Marketing and was a former vice president and board director for the Silicon Valley American Marketing Association. Reed is the co-founder of Us4Warriors, an award-winning Veterans Non-Profit and serves on the Board of Aretanium, a wellness firm that leverages the neuroscience he wrote about in his leadership book to provide personalized wellness and professional development programs to accelerate brains, careers, and relationships.

Catch Up With W. Craig Reed:
BookBub: @wc14
Instagram: @wcraigreed
Twitter: @wcraigreed
Facebook: @wcraigreed


Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

Click here to view Status-6 by W. Craig Reed Participants.


Enter the Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for William Craig Reed. There will be ONE (1) winner who will receive TWO (2) physical William Craig Reed books (including The 7 Secrets of Neuron Leadership AND Spies of the Deep). The giveaway begins May 1, 2021 and ends on June 1, 2021. This giveaway is available only for shipping addresses located in the US, UK, and Canada. Void where prohibited.

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Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

I received a complimentary egalley of this book through Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Right Cross by Andrew Huff

About the Book:

First he left the CIA. Then he left pastoral ministry. Now John Cross has been imprisoned in one of Great Britain's most infamous prisons. Has he reached the end of his rope? Or is this another move in a dangerous spy game?

Christine Lewis, United News Network's rising star television anchor, is determined to find out. But in her pursuit of answers, Christine finds herself at the center of a cyberterrorist plot to alter the balance of power in the world. From the English coastline to the Rocky Mountains, John must partner with the CIA and MI6 in a race against the clock to stop the threat of nuclear war and save the lives of everyone he holds dear.

The concluding story in the Shepherd Suspense trilogy is a globe-trotting, action-packed adventure with threads of biblical truth woven in. Fans of high-octane thrillers will be on the edge of their seats with Right Cross.

My Review:

I have enjoyed this series featuring John Cross. His character is really unique. He's been a CIA operative but then got saved. He has all the expertise from his CIA training so he can outwit the smartest and worst of the villains. He also has the moral character of a Christian so he refuses to kill anyone. This makes for some tense confrontations.

Huff gives readers a good balance of action and character development. The action revolves around a top hacker who has the evil desire to control some nuclear warheads. This villain has a group of well trained military style men and many advanced offensive devises. John has to be at the top of his abilities to prevent disaster.

The character development comes from previous novels as John is ready to finally allow his growing love for Christine be evident. Just when I thought there would be a lengthy passage of character interaction between the two, bad guys arrive and suspense ensues.

Besides top suspense and touching character interaction, the real strength of this series is the reality of the Christian life John and Christine portray. They think and act and pray like real Christians do. Huff's characterization of Christians is perhaps the most realist in fiction I have seen.

This is a good novel for readers who like international suspense. It is the third and final novel in this series yet reads very well on its own. You can read my reviews of the previous novels: Cross to Kill, Cross Shadow.

You can read and excerpt here and watch the book trailer here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author:

Andrew Huff is the product director at Igniter Media, one of the largest church media companies in the nation. He has also spent ten years in church ministry as both a youth pastor and creative arts pastor.

He is a two-time finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Genesis Contest for unpublished authors (2014, 2017) and also won the best screenplay award at the 2015 48 Hour Film Festival in Richmond, VA.

Huff holds a bachelor of science in religion degree from Liberty University and a master of arts in Christian education from Dallas Theological Seminary. He resides in Plano, TX, with his beautiful wife, Jae, and their two boys. Learn more at

Kregel Publications, 272 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by the publisher.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Never Miss by Melissa Koslin

About the Book:

Former CIA sniper Kadance Tolle possesses a special set of skills and a rare pedigree. She comes from a family of assassins, and by saving Lyndon Vaille's life she risks being found by them. Despite the danger, Kadance feels compelled to help Lyndon discover who is after him – and his research that seems to prove that the Ebola virus was manmade and is about to be weaponized.

With shadowy figures pursuing them and a Mastermind watching their every move, Kadance and Lyndon must scramble to stop an impending bioattack at the State of the Union address. But their warnings fall on deaf ears, and it becomes increasingly clear that there's no one they can trust – except perhaps each other.

My Review:

I expected this to be a suspense novel but it was not. Most of the novel was character revelation and dialog about character revelation. There might be a scene of suspenseful action and then what seemed like pages and pages of Kadance or Lyndon trying to pry family or career information out of the other. Granted, Lyndon's family background has a great deal to do with the impending bioattack. But rather than a few revealing back story sections, the back story for both characters seemed to be the major element of the whole book.

I found it hard to become engaged with the characters. Kadance, an accomplished sniper, seemed to quickly latch onto Lyndon after the opening where she spotted a sniper and saved his life. Lyndon is an unusual character. He had an eidetic memory, three doctorates, a brain that has issues with focusing causing him headaches, yet is muscular and can fight like the best of them. He can also hack into any computer system since one of his doctorates is in cyber security. His personality revelation was almost painful to read.

I did appreciate the apologetics exploration as Lyndon explains how he can be a dedicated scientist and still believe in God. There is also sort of a gospel message included as one of the characters come to accept God's existence.

This is Koslin's debut novel in the inspirational romantic suspense genre. The suspense was periodic and the romance was very different with the emphasis on the characters prying information out of each other. This is a novel for readers who like an emphasis on revealing character personal history and its effects on current actions. Preventing the bioattack is almost a side issue.

You can read an excerpt here.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

About the Author:

Melissa Koslin is a fourth-degree black belt in and a certified instructor of Songham Taekwondo. She is a commercial property manager. She and her husband live in Jacksonville, Florida. You can find out more at

Revell, 352 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by the publisher.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Seven Perfect Things by Catherine Ryan Hyde

I thoroughly enjoyed this touching novel featuring Katie, a tenderhearted thirteen year old. She sees a man stop his car on a bridge, toss a heavy bag into the river and speed off. She notes parts of the bag are moving. There is something alive inside. A member of her school's swim team, she jumps in braving the cold water and swift current. Grabbing the bag and reaching shore, she rips it open. Out pops the head of a coughing and sputtering puppy. And then another and another. Seven bedraggled puppies in all.

Katie knows her mean father would never allow her to keep them. Her attempt to leave them at the full animal pound fails. The only other option is the abandoned cabin up the mountain from her home. Her plan to save the rescued puppies becomes complicated when the owner of the cabin shows up. Elliot hadn't been to the cabin in years. He's only done so now to clear his mind after the long illness and subsequent death of his wife. Can an unlikely friendship form between a grieving middle aged man and a tender hearted girl with seven puppies to take care of?

Hyde covers some serious issues in this novel. On the one hand is a recent widower dealing with the loss of his his wife from a wonderful marriage. On the other hand is a troubled marriage with Katie and her mom harshly controlled by an abusive man. Hyde has done well to contrast the two situations. When is it right to flee? How can a woman ever feel worthy of respect and love after being so mistreated? And how could one teenage girl ever take care of seven rambunctious puppies?

Hyde's writing style is a pleasure to experience. I found the novel so engaging I zipped through it in two days, all the time rooting for Katie. I hoped so much she would find lasting happiness. It was she who gave us food for thought:

“It's impossible to not be happy with seven puppies climbing all over you.” (960/4427)

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the New York Times bestselling author of forty books (and counting). She is an avid traveler, equestrian, and amateur photographer. Her novel Pay It Forward was adapted into a major motion picture. Man of her novels have won or been finalists for awards. Over fifty of her short stories have been published in journals and have won or been nominated for awards. She is the founder and former president of the Pay It Forward Foundation and still serves on its board. She is a popular professional speaker as well. You can find out more at

Lake Union Publishing, 320 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Monday, May 3, 2021

Day Hikes in Washington State by Don J Scarmuzzi

This is a good collection of a number of hikes in (mostly) western Washington State that vary in length and difficulty. It contains good topographical maps and good trail details. Information is given about the elevation gain, the distance, time needed and difficulty level. There are directions to the trailheads too as well as information about permits or passes required.

Most of the trails are in the central or south western Washington and Olympic Peninsula. Living on an island in the Salish Sea, I have not gone on most of these hikes so cannot verify the information. I can verify the details are correct on the few hikes in the book I have been on.

There are hundreds of hiking trails in western Washington so this book covers only a few of them. It is a good addition to a library of hiking books. Some of my most favorite scenic hikes are in the North Cascades and Mt. Baker area. While a couple from that are are included in the book, there are scores that are not. Also missing are hikes on islands, including Whidbey and Deception Pass, the most visited state park in Washington. As an avid photographer, I was disappointed the book does not rate the most scenic hikes for photographers.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

In case you are not familiar with the beauty of Western Washington State, I have included a few of my own photos. The first photo is of Mt. Rainier from Sunrise. Several hikes at Rainier are included in this book. The next photo is Rainy Lake, a two mile round trip, wheel chair accessible and very busy hike off the North Cascade Highway. The last photo is a view of Mt. Baker from a short hike at Artist Point. There are limited hikes on the North Cascade Highway included in the book and none from the Mt. Baker Highway and Mt. Baker ski area and Artist Point.

Don J. Scarmuzzi is the author of several hiking guidebooks, including Telluride Trails, Day Hikes in the Columbia River Gorge, and Day Hikes in the Pacific Northwest. An avid hiker and passionate photographer, Don has lived and hiked in the Pacific Northwest for several years now. He currently lives in Portland, Oregon.

West Margin Press, 292 pages.

I received an egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an honest and independent review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Eruption by Steve Olson

Like many in the Pacific Northwest, I remember exactly where I was on May 18, 1980 a little after 8:30 when I heard a pop. Living near a military base, noise was frequent and I assumed it was something happening there. It was not until after church I turned on the car radio and realized I had heard a volcano erupt about 150 miles away.

It has been over 40 years ago and it was good to revisit the experience through Olson's book. He explores much more than just the eruption. He looks at the logging industry and how the industry impacted who was and was not near the volcano that morning. He reviews the geologists and how they studied what was the most active volcano in the U.S. over the last four millennia. He writes about the people living close to the mountain and the attempts to keep them in areas deemed safe as the volcano rumbled to activity. He recounts the experiences of those caught in the deadly blast and the recovery of those who survived.

I appreciate Olson's book. I understand more about volcanoes and the types of eruptions, such as phreatic, producing devastating clouds of ash. I realize the geologists, in their analysis of the activity of St. Helens, did not anticipate a lateral blast, low in probability but high in consequences. I appreciate the lessons learned because of the deadly blast.

Olson has a pleasant writing style. While some may not appreciate the pages spent on background information, I did. I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy reading about natural events and how they collide with humanity.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Steve Olson is the award winning author of several nonfiction books. Eruption was the winner of the Washington State Book Award. While generally a freelance writer and editor, he spent three years as a writer in the White House science office. He has had articles appear in many magazines. He lives in Seattle, WA. You can find out more at

W W Norton & Co., 336 pages.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Other People's Words by Seth M Siegel

Siegel began collecting quotations as a high school student. He visited a high school in an affluent area of Long Island unlike his own crowded one in a mostly Jewish and Black neighborhood. He noticed quotations on the wall of the social studies classroom. He found them motivating and inspiring and realized their power. He wrote down two on a scrap of paper. That experience was a catalyst and he kept adding notes of scribbled quotations to his collection.

While in college, Siegel began revisiting his quotations, recopying and organizing them. He realized their influence over him as he internalized the ideas. He incorporated them into his developing worldview. He used them as reminders of thought and action as he pursued a career and life after business. Now he shares with us the wise and insightful sayings of hundreds of people.

I appreciate the quotations being divided into sections. Each one relates to a part of our lives. There are quotes on relationships, creativity, leadership, politics and more.  Each quote can be a personal inspiration or a springboard for discussion in a group. They can be used to inspire others in a speech or across a cafĂ© table.

Here are a few of the many I found thought provoking:

  • “If you're not happy where you are, you won't be happy where you aren't.” (Morton Kondracke)
  • “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)
  • “An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.” (Henry David Thoreau)
  • “We see things as we are, not as they are.” (Leo Rosten)

Siegel encourages us to create our own collection of what he calls intellectual companions. Some will last but some will drift away and no longer play an essential role in life. This book gives you a good place to start.

You can read an excerpt here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Seth M Siegel is a lawyer, an activist, a serial entrepreneur and the author of the New York Times bestseller Let There Be Water. His writing has appeared in several leading publication in the U.S., Europe and Asia. He is married and lives in New York City. You can find out more at Photo (c) Talia Siegel.

St. Martin's Press, 256 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Beyond the Headlines by R G Belsky Blog Tour and Giveaway

Beyond The Headlines

by R.G. Belsky

May 1-31, 2021 Tour



She was a mega-celebrity—he was a billionaire businessman—now he’s dead—she’s in jail

Laurie Bateman was living the American dream. Since her arrival as an infant in the U.S. after the fall of Saigon, the pretty Vietnamese girl had gone on to become a supermodel, a successful actress, and, finally, the wife of one of the country’s top corporate dealmakers. That dream has now turned into a nightmare when she is arrested for the murder of her wealthy husband.

New York City TV journalist Clare Carlson does an emotional jailhouse interview in which Bateman proclaims her innocence—and becomes a cause celebre for women’s rights groups around the country.

At first sympathetic, then increasingly suspicious of Laurie Bateman and her story, Clare delves into a baffling mystery which has roots extending back nearly fifty years to the height of the Vietnam War.

Soon, there are more murders, more victims, and more questions as Clare struggles against dire evil forces to break the biggest story of her life..

My Review:

I have enjoyed this series revolving around the corporate life and actions of the news media. Clare is a great heroine. She is determined to get to the bottom of a story even if she makes mistakes along the way. She has tackled a tough one in this novel. There are so many twists and turns in the investigation as new material is revealed, I lost count. But Clare keeps digging for the truth, even when it takes her back to events in the Viet Nam war.

Belsky's experience in journalism is evident in this novel. We see how television news broadcasts are produced and what kind of quirky people are involved. Clare as an investigative journalist is developed well by Belsky. I don't like the repeated references to her many one night stands and sexual exploits, but other than that, she is a great sleuth. And Belsky's writing style is engaging.

This is a good novel for readers who like a complicated high profile murder case with a tough journalist determined to solve it.

While this novel can be read on its own, you can read my reviews of earlier ones in the series. Yesterday's News, Below the Fold, and The Last Scoop.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Published by: Oceanview Publishing
Publication Date: May 4th 2021
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN: 160809409X (ISBN13: 9781608094097)
Series: The Clare Carlson Mystery Series, 4 (This can be read as a stand alone mystery.)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:


“Do you know who Laurie Bateman is?” my friend Janet Wood asked me.

“I do,” I said. “I also know who Lady Gaga is. And Angelina Jolie. And Ivanka Trump. I’m in the media, remember? That’s what we do in the media, we cover famous people. It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it.”

“Laurie Bateman hired me.”

“As an attorney?”

“Yes, as an attorney. That’s what I do, Clare.”

We were sitting in my office at Channel 10 News, the TV station in New York City where I work as news director. I should have known something was going on as soon as Janet showed up there. We usually met at Janet’s law office which is big, with panoramic views of midtown Manhattan, and a lot nicer than mine.

Janet never comes to see me at Channel 10 unless she has a reason.

I figured I was about to find out that reason.

It was early December and outside it was snowing, the first real storm of the winter. The snow started falling during the night, and by now it was covering the city with a powdery white blanket. Pretty soon the car exhausts and trucks would turn it into brown slush, but for now it was gorgeous. From the window next to my desk, the city had an eerie, almost unreal quality. Like something from a Norman Rockwell painting.

My outfit for the day was perfect for the snowy weather, too. I’d walked in wearing a turtleneck sweater, heavy corduroy slacks, a blue down jacket with a parka hood and white earmuffs, scarf and mittens. The ski bunny look. I felt like I should have a cup of hot chocolate in my hand.

“Why does Laurie Bateman need you as an attorney?” I asked Janet.

She hesitated for what seemed to be an inordinately long amount of time before answering.

“Are we talking off the record here?”

“Whatever you want, Janet.”

“I need your word on that.”

“C’mon, it’s me. Clare Carlson, your best friend in the world.”

She nodded.

“Laurie Bateman wants me to represent her in divorce proceedings.”


“I thought you’d like that.”

“Is it too late to take back my ‘best friend in the world/ off-the-record’ promise?”

Janet smiled. Sort of.

“How much do you know about Laurie Bateman?” she asked me now.

I knew as much as the rest of the world, I suppose. Laurie Bateman seemed to have the American Dream going for her. Since coming to the U.S. as a baby with her family after the fall of Saigon in 1975, the pretty Vietnamese girl had grown up to become a top model, then a successful actress, and finally, the wife of one of the country’s top corporate deal makers. She had a fancy Manhattan townhouse, a limousine at her beck and call and her face had graced the covers of magazines like Vogue and People.

Her husband was Charles Hollister, who had become incredibly wealthy back in the ’70s as one of the pioneers of the burgeoning computer age. He was a kind of Steve Jobs of those early days, and he later expanded into all sorts of other industries—from media to pharmaceuticals to oil drilling and a lot more. He was listed as one of the ten wealthiest businessmen in America.

When Hollister married Laurie Bateman a few years ago, there were a lot of jokes about the big difference in age between the two—she was so much younger and so beautiful. Like the jokes people made about Rupert Murdoch with Wendy Deng and then Jerry Hall, his last two wives. People always assume that a younger and pretty woman like that is marrying for the money. But Laurie Bateman and Charles Hollister insisted they were in love, and they had consistently projected the public persona of a happily married couple in the media since their wedding.

Except it now appeared they weren’t so happily married.

“Is she trying to divorce him to get her hands on his money?” I asked.

“Actually, he’s trying to divorce her and stop her from getting her hands on any of his money.”

“So the bottom line here is this divorce is about money.”

“Always is.”

“Isn’t there a pre-nuptial agreement that would settle all this?”

“Yes and no.”

“Spoken like a true lawyer.”

“Yes, there is a pre-nup. But we don’t think it applies here. That’s because other factors in the marriage took place which could invalidate the terms of the pre-nup they agreed to and signed.”


I waited.

“Such as?” I asked finally.

“For one thing, Charles Hollister has a mistress. A younger woman he’s been seeing.”

“Younger than Laurie Bateman?”

“Much younger. In her twenties.”

“Jeez! Hollister’s such an old man I have trouble imagining him being able to have sex with his wife, much less getting it up for a second woman on the side.”

“Her discovery that he was cheating on her, along with a lot of other reasons, have turned Laurie Bateman’s life into a nightmare—a living hell—behind the walls of the beautiful homes they live in. She’s kept quiet about it so far, protecting the happy couple image they’ve put on for the media. But now she wants to let the world know the truth. That’s where you come in, Clare.”

Aha, I thought to myself.

Now we’re getting down to it.

I was about to find out the real reason Janet was here.

“Laurie Bateman wants to go public with all this,” Janet said. “She wants to tell her story in the media. The true story of her marriage to Charles Hollister. We know Hollister is going to use his clout to try and smear her and make her look bad, so that’s why we want to get her version out quickly. What I’m talking about here is an exclusive interview with Laurie Bateman about all of this. Her talking about the divorce, the cheating—everything. And she wants you to do the interview with her.”

“Why me?”

“What do you mean?”

“Why not Gayle King? Or Savannah Guthrie? Or Barbara Walters or Katie Couric or Diane Sawyer or another big media name? I’m just the news director of a local TV station here.”

“She wants you, Clare. In fact, I think that’s the reason she hired me for her lawyer. She found out you and I were friends—and she’s hoping I can deliver you to her to do this interview on air with her.”

“I still don’t know why she wouldn’t want to go with someone really famous . . .”

“You’re famous too, Clare. You know that as well as I do. And that’s why she wants you. You’re as famous as any woman on the air right now.”

Janet was right about that.

I was famous.

It could have gone either way—I could have wound up being either famous or infamous because of what I did—but in the end I’d wound up as a media superstar all over again.

Just like I’d been when I won a Pulitzer Prize nearly twenty years ago for telling the story of legendary missing child Lucy Devlin—even though I didn’t tell the whole story then.

“Laurie Bateman’s life with Charles Hollister is a big lie,” Janet said to me. “Now she wants to tell the truth on air about all those lies she’s been hiding behind. Like you did when you finally told the truth on air about you and Lucy Devlin. That’s why she wants you to be the one who interviews her.”

I still wasn’t sure how I felt about all this new found fame I’d gotten from my Lucy Devlin story, but there was no question that if it got me this Laurie Bateman story . . . well, that would be a huge exclusive for me and the station.

“When can I meet her?” I asked Janet.


Excerpt from Beyond The Headlines by R.G. Belsky. Copyright 2021 by R.G. Belsky. Reproduced with permission from R.G. Belsky. All rights reserved.


Author Bio:

R. G. Belsky is an author of crime fiction and a journalist in New York City.

His new mystery, BEYOND THE HEADLINES, will be published in May 2021. It is the fourth in a series featuring Clare Carlson, the news director for a New York City TV station – and follows THE LAST SCOOP, published in 2020. The first Clare Carlson book, YESTERDAY’S NEWS, won the David Award at Deadly Ink for Best Mystery of 2018. The second Clare Carlson book, BELOW THE FOLD, was named Best Mystery 0f 2019 in the Foreword INDIES Awards.

He also is the author of two thrillers written under the pen name of Dana Perry – THE SILENT VICTIM (2019), THE GOLDEN GIRL (June, 2020) and HER OCEAN GRAVE (June 2021 - Bookouture).

Belsky previously wrote the Gil Malloy series – THE KENNEDY CONNECTION, SHOOTING FOR THE STARS and BLONDE ICE – about a newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News.
Belsky himself is a former managing editor at the Daily News and writes about the media from an extensive background in newspapers, magazines and TV/digital news. He has also been a top editor at the New York Post, Star magazine and NBC News.

His previous suspense/thriller novels include LOVERBOY and PLAYING DEAD. Belsky lives in New York City.

Catch Up With R.G. Belsky:
BookBub - @dickb79983
Instagram - @dickbelsky
Twitter - @DickBel
Facebook - @RGBelsky


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