Rapid Reads

  • Keno is twenty-three, a high-school dropout working as a rent collector for a slum landlord. Apart from hitting on the office secretary, Cass, his life is bleak. His job takes him into sad, mean places where kids wail, drunks fight and women get beaten up. He works his territory with Jaco, who's tougher and shiftier than any of the folks they're sent to shake rent out of.
    One night Keno and Jaco finally catch up to one of their targets. But she'll never pay. She's dead. Battered almost beyond recognition. But they recognize her killer, and Jaco comes up with a scheme to blackmail him.
    Now Keno has to decide who he is-bill collector or blackmailer. Or could he even be the good guy? Will he run or will he stay? In the end, will trusting himself help him outmaneuver a psychopathic killer?

  • A murder at the Blue Dragon, a small apartment building in San Francisco's Chinatown, prompts the absentee owner to hire Chinese American Peter Strand to calm the anxious tenants. But Strand isn't exactly what he appears to be. Neither are the tenants, who on the surface seem to be regular people going about their lives. Strand, a forensic accountant by trade, doesn't intend to investigate the murder, but he soon realizes that this isn't a gang-related killing, as the police believe. The murder was committed by one of the tenants. Finding out which one exposes the secrets of the Blue Dragon and brings Strand face-to-face with a few ghosts of his own.

  • Small-town journalist Claire Abbott has a sixth sense, what the fire chief calls a "radar for crime." When a string of suspicious fires breaks out in town, Claire thinks she knows who the firebug is. Or does she? She finds there is much more to the story than she imagined. Worse, no one will believe her. The firebug is getting bolder, and the fires he sets more dangerous. Claire is now in a race against time to catch the arsonist in the act before he takes a life.
    Playing with Fire is the second in a series of mysteries featuring journalist and sleuth Claire Abbott.

  • In The Goddaughter Caper, Gina Gallo finds herself embroiled in her family's shady dealings when a body turns up at her uncle's restaurant. But it's just the beginning of her problems. Strange things keep happening in Steeltown. A body shows up in the trunk of Gina's car. Another is mistakenly shipped to her cousin Nico's new store. And then Gina and Nico stumble across a stash of empty coffins! Worse, everything mysteriously points to her own retired relatives from the Holy Cannoli Retirement Home.
    Gina is determined to get to the bottom of it. But she'll have to act fast, because the police are right behind her.
    This is the fourth in a series featuring Gina Gallo, who wants nothing more than to run her little jewelry store but, try as she might to escape it, somehow Gina gets drawn into the family business, with hilarious consequences.

  • When the daughter of the most powerful Mafia don in New York goes missing, the don's right-hand man comes to Gulliver Dowd for help. Problem is, the right-hand man and Dowd despise each other. Plus, the don knows who murdered Dowd's sister, Keisha, but refuses to share that knowledge with Gulliver. Still, Dowd makes a devil's deal and hunts for the girl. Old secrets and lies boil to the surface, threatening to destroy the lives of everyone involved. But who has the girl? An eccentric art professor, or one of the don's many enemies? Will Gulliver find her, or will their fates dissolve in a corrosive stew of love and fear?

  • Kat is a tough, independent woman who makes her living as a professional poker player. She is single, childless and happy about it. But when her best friend, Josie, commits suicide, she names Kat as the temporary guardian of her ten-year-old son, David, until his father can come for him. In the few weeks that David is with her, Kat finds herself changed in ways she had never thought imaginable. With the old poker adage "bet with your head, not your heart" ringing in her head like a warning bell, Kat nevertheless finds that all the money and success in the world don't mean a thing unless you have someone to share it with...and that maybe there is more to life than winning after all.

  • Vancouver Post gossip columnist Nicole Charles is only slightly put out when she discovers she's been downsized. She figures she's lucky to still have a job. It just means she needs to get a desk so she can work out of her apartment. But the desk she buys at auction proves to have more history than she'd anticipated, and the cache she finds in a secret compartment in that desk has links to a money-laundering ring, and an old school-mate. Will this be the story that lands Nicole a job on the news desk? Even while she struggles to solve the case, she wonders if she'll ever get the recognition she figures she deserves.
    When Blood Lies is the second novel in a series of mysteries featuring rookie reporter Nicole Charles.

  • Piano tuner and jazz musician Frank Ryan is in Japan teaching bored housewives how to play piano. Then he gets a gig in a trendy underground bar and ends up ensnared with a young woman with a grudge and the crime boss who owns the bar. Drawn into Tokyo Girl's vendetta, Frank stumbles into an underworld where transgressions are paid for by the flash of a razor-sharp cleaver. And for a pianist, that's not a good thing.
    Tokyo Girl is the follow-up to Beethoven's Tenth, featuring reluctant sleuth Frank Ryan.

  • Small-town reporter Claire Abbott wakes from a nightmare, convinced a bomb will go off in the local school. And then, strangely enough, there really is a bomb scare. After the school is cleared by police and their sniffer dog, Claire is certain the threat isn't over. People are behaving strangely. Claire believes a bomber will attack the school. But when? And who is the bomber? Claire must track down the culprit and stop him before the bomb goes off.
    Race Against Time is the third novel in a series of mysteries featuring journalist and sleuth Claire Abbott.

  • Escaping the pressures of big-city policing, Maxine Benson is happy to be appointed police chief in the resort town of Port Ainslie. Max's biggest challenge is to overcome skepticism at her ability to deal with major crimes-like the murder of Billy Ray Edwards.
    Few people mourn Billy Ray's passing. He was a bully and was also intent on derailing the biggest development project in the town's history. But murder's murder, and Max is ready to solve it on her own and prove her worth to the townspeople. And maybe even to herself.

  • Toronto homicide detectives Pratt and Ellis are brought in to investigate a series of hit-and-runs. Someone seems to be trying to kill random people using stolen cars. The detectives try to find any connections between the victims that might indicate something else at work. What they discover is beyond their wildest imagining.

  • As Gina gets ready for her Christmas wedding, all is quiet in Steeltown. Then she's robbed, cousin Jimmy has a heart attack, and someone in the city has hijacked a transport truck full of booze. But who? And why? Gina knows bootlegging used to be a family business, but they stopped that in the '30s. Didn't they?
    Gina and Nico work feverishly to keep the latest bungled family matter under wraps, but the police are closing in. And, once again, everything points to the Holy Cannoli Retirement Home.
    The Bootlegger's Goddaughter is the fifth book in the Gina Gallo Mystery series.

  • Peter Strand is half Chinese and half Cherokee and was adopted by an elderly white couple from Phoenix. Now he's a forensic accountant in San Francisco, where he's struggling with his identity.
    When his employer asks him to investigate a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization, Strand meets a cast of quirky characters who all seem to be hiding a secret. Peter soon finds evidence of a probable fraud, but when fraud leads to murder, he's drawn deeper into a murky mystery.
    The Black Tortoise is the second book in the Peter Strand Mystery series.

  • Sixteen-year-old Rasheed is smart, tough and a survivor. In his neighborhood, he has to be. The streets are run by a gang called the E Street Locals, and they've been trying to jump him in since he was a child. So far, he's managed to escape their clutches. But the gang is not his only problem. Rasheed's sister, Daneeka, was paralyzed in a drive-by shooting, and now she's confined to a wheelchair, mentally frozen at the age of nine. His mother is an addict. His father hasn't been heard from in years. High school is no safer than the streets, so Rasheed seeks solace at the local university campus. There he meets a young woman named Lanaia who takes an interest in him. He also bumps up against a police officer who he thinks at first is hassling him just because he's black. But eventually Rasheed realizes that the officer is only pushing him to become a better person. Though he can't escape his home life, or the gang, as easily as he'd like, Rasheed does learn some valuable lessons in his struggles: you and you alone are accountable for the decisions you make in life; even though the world is not a fair place, you can still accomplish whatever you set your mind to; and we all become stronger when we admit we need someone to lean on.

  • RCMP Sergeant Ray Robertson is in the Turks and Caicos Islands, enjoying two weeks of leave from his job training police in Haiti with the UN. On an early-morning jog along famed Grace Bay Beach he discovers a dead man in the surf. Ray is shocked to recognize the body as that of one of his Haitian police recruits. To his wife's increasing dismay, Ray is compelled to follow the dead man's trail and finds himself plunged into the world of human trafficking and the problems of a tiny country struggling to cope with a desperate wave washing up on its shores.
    This timely story is the third in the Sergeant Ray Robertson series.

  • It's Father's Day weekend—a tough time for Charlie D, host of a late-night radio call-in show that offers supportive advice to troubled listeners. For years Charlie has been alienated from his father—a retired politician who was always too busy for his son when Charlie was growing up. The trouble is, his dad has chosen this weekend to attempt to reconcile with his son. Charlie is not keen to forgive. But Charlie's personal issues suddenly seem mundane when an email arrives from a young listener that outlines his very specific plans to kill not just his father but his entire family. The deeply troubled boy could be anywhere, and Charlie has just two hours to discover his identity and stop him from murder.

  • Nicole Patterson is a young, green and very eager probationary constable with the Ontario Provincial Police. Although she spends much of her time breaking up bar fights, giving out traffic tickets and finding lost kids, she dreams of one day becoming a detective.
    Late one bitterly cold winter night, she comes across the body of a young woman lying on the edge of a snow-covered field on the outskirts of town. The girl appears to have been strangled. Nicole recognizes the victim as a local high school student with a somewhat sullied reputation, the daughter of the town drunk. Though both under-qualified and unauthorized, Nicole feels compelled to throw herself into the murder investigation.
    Was the murdered girl really as promiscuous as her classmates described or the victim of bullying? What was her relationship with the star of the football team? And what is the significance of the ring with the large blue stone found near her body?
    Is Nicole Patterson herself heading for trouble by pretending to be a detective?

  • Rosario Gomez gave up gang life after his brother was killed in a street fight. Now all he wants to do is finish night school, be a good father and work hard enough at his job at the supermarket to get promoted. But when an old friend shows up to ask him why he left the gang, Rosario realizes he was fooling himself if he thought his violent past would just go away. When his pregnant girlfriend is hit in a drive-by shooting, Rosario has to make some hard choices. Revenge means a return to his old ways, something he swore he would never do. But unless he takes action, his enemies will not rest until they've settled the score against him.

  • Cree Thunderboy wants nothing less than to be the next great blues man. But, playing to tiny audiences in shabby rooms like Shelly's Crab Shack, his career is stalled. Then at the race track he meets Win Hardy, a seemingly charming rogue who spots Cree's knack for picking winning horses. He offers to record his first CD and send him on tour, as long as Cree can keep coming up with the hot tips at the track.
    Things are looking good for Cree until he discovers Win's connections to the mob and his violent response to anything that doesn't go his way. And when things inevitably go bad, Cree discovers that in life and in gambling there is never really the next sure thing.

  • December 20, 1943. Two Canadian infantry battalions and a tank regiment stand poised on the outskirts of a small Italian port town. They expect to take Ortona quickly. But the German 1st Parachute Division has other ideas. For reasons unknown, Hitler has ordered Ortona held to the last man. Houses, churches and other buildings are dynamited, clogging the streets with rubble. Germans with machine guns lie in ambush. Snipers slip from one rooftop to another. The Canadians seem to have walked into a death trap. This is a battle fought at close range, often hand to hand. Casualties on both sides are heavy. In the end, raw courage and ingenuity save the Canadians.
    Ortona Street Fight is a riveting telling of what is considered one of the most epic battles that Canadian soldiers have ever fought.

  • For his Valentine's night call-in show, host Charlie D plans to offer his listeners two hours on the topic of "satisfaction." His in-studio guest is twenty-five-year-old Misty de Vol Burgh, formerly the highest-paid escort in the city but now happily married to eighty-three-year-old billionaire Henry Burgh.
    It's all good fun until Charlie receives a chilling message: "It's take-out-the-garbage night. Time to kill all the hookers and wash the streets with blood." When Charlie is directed to a website that allows viewers to watch the murder of a prostitute in real time and promises that another killing will be broadcast live within the hour, the hunt is on. But The World According to Charlie D. has an audience of over a million listeners. The murderer could be anyone, anywhere. Charlie and his team have less than two hours to find and stop the killer.

  • Nicole Charles didn't go to journalism school to become a gossip columnist, but the job fell into her lap right out of school and her immigrant work ethic just won't let her quit to find something she'd like better. It's a good job, but she struggles with the stigma attached to her position by other reporters. More than anything, she wants to be a real reporter, but it looks like she's never going to get a chance.
    Then one night while covering a gallery opening, she discovers a dead body in a dark alley. An upand- coming artist has been stabbed in the throat with an antique icepick. Nicole is right in the middle of the biggest story of the year. It's the chance of a lifetime. Too bad someone had to die to make it happen.
    If It Bleeds is the first novel in a series of mysteries featuring rookie reporter Nicole Charles.

  • Mother Anqelique runs a shelter for homeless mothers and their children in a run-down inner-city area, where drug addiction, prostitution and random acts of violence are facts of life. One day, newly orphaned Jamal and his sister Chantay arrive at the shelter, hungry and scared. As Angelique tries to find a new home for them, she develops a fascination with seven-year-old Jamal, who seems to inhabit a world of his own. Jamal tells her fantastic stories of a man named Jacky Wacky, who protects the poor children of the city and punishes the adults who harm them. A God-fearing woman, Angelique doesn't believe his stories at first. But strange things begin to happen whenever Jamal is around, and Mother Angelique is forced to admit that the world may contain stranger truths than her faith can explain.

  • Twenty-four-year-old Stephanie manages a clothing store and lives with her mother in the townhouse where she grew up. Her life isn't in a rut exactly, but it's not headed where she'd like it to be. At her mother's suggestion, she joins a community choir. Soon she's singing rock songs in four-part harmony and has met a completely new group of people, including Anna Rai, a local TV personality. When Anna's private journal goes missing, she confides in Stephanie that she feels terribly vulnerable. What if the notebook falls into the wrong hands and her secrets are made public? She hints that such revelations could be devastating to her and other public figures. When a blackmailer demands cash in exchange for the notebook, the two women lay a trap to snare the crook. But will Stephanie use or abuse the information she now has?

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