NOTE: Due to time constraints, I am currently taking on Cover Reveal & Book Blitz Assignments only.

Thursday, 5 December 2019

#CoverReveal :: Saved by Love by @shilpaauthor

~ Cover Reveal ~
Saved by Love 
by Shilpa Suraj


About the Book:

They meet under impossible circumstances.

She is kidnapped by terrorists blackmailing her father, a Supreme Court Judge. He leads the team sent to rescue her. 

Trekking to safety through Ladakh... They are in danger of falling in love. But, Lt. Col. Arjun Rathod knows that Naina Ahuja, engaged to politics' rising star, is not meant for him.

Forever changed by her trauma, Naina walks out of her controlling family and forges a new life.

And then, she meets Arjun again. But this time, he is engaged to someone else.

Can they save their love or is it too late?


About the Author:

Shilpa Suraj wears many hats - corporate drone, homemaker, mother to a fabulous toddler and author.
An avid reader with an overactive imagination, Shilpa has weaved stories in her head since she was a child. Her previous stints at Google, in an ad agency and as an entrepreneur provide colour to her present day stories, both fiction and non-fiction.





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Saturday, 30 November 2019

#CoverReveal :: The Mahāsiddha Field by @DwaiLahiri

~ Cover Reveal ~ 
The Mahāsiddha Field
by Dwai Lahiri


About the Book:
Cover Design by Merril Anil
The world of Asuras and Dévas is considered mythological. Indian mythology is replete with tales of Dévas battling the Asuras constantly. The interesting thing to note is that whether it is a God or an incarnation of a deity in human form, aka an Avatār, there was also a human element involved in these stories. The teachers of the Dévas (gods) and the Asuras were human sages, known as Rishis.

Find out what happens when seemingly unconnected individuals get drawn into a world of suspense and action, as mythology collides with their world in the book 'The Mahāsiddha Field', the first in a new sci-fi/fantasy series!

An elderly wandering mendicant in South India, two young Indian-American men, two soldiers from the Indian Army and a mysterious sage from high up in the Himalayas are thrown together in an adventure unlike any other; as a most unlikely adversary leaps out of the world of Indian Mythology to challenge their beliefs, their sanity and their courage.


About the Author:
Dwai is a long time practitioner of the Daoist internal arts with a focus on Taijiquan. He is also an eager student and practitioner of Advaita Vedānta, Kashmir Shaivism and Yoga. He enjoys being part of the artistic process in various forms - as a writer, musician and a martial artist. The Arts are an excellent medium for spiritual practice and he has dedicated more than two decades of his life in the quest for spiritual clarity.

He started writing in the early 2000s in the public domain, under the pen name ‘Rudra’ for ‘sulekha.com’, which then was the preeminent online literary portal for the Indian Diaspora.  In 2007 he started the online journal ‘The Medha Journal’ where over 1000 articles---the compiled work of 96 authors including himself are available for readers today, on various topics ranging from Indic studies, philosophy to poetry and fiction.

In the worldly domain, he is a software engineer for a Silicon Valley software company, and an engineer by training. He likes to think of himself as humble bridge between many disparate worlds-- science and spirituality, art and technology, Eastern and Western cultures.

 He lives in the suburbs of Chicago in Illinois, USA with his wife, daughter and two dogs.

Contact the Author:
Blog * Twitter * LinkedIn * Quora





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Sunday, 24 November 2019

#CoverReveal :: The Pearl of Immortality by @nishichandermun

~ Cover Reveal ~
The Pearl of Immortality
by Nishi Chandermun




A world exists that is dominated by the forces of Light and Dark magic. A world where The Sands of Time comes to life, a unique and compelling fantasy.

Xerxes discovers an ancient golden Lamp in a shop of magical artefacts and his simple life is immediately altered, propelling him into a brand-new world inhabited by powerful alien races.

On this strange and distant planet, a world so unlike Earth, Xerxes soon discovers his new identity, one that names him Dragonheart.

Presented with his ancient dragon of more than five thousand years old, a dragon with indescribable magical abilities, he is compelled to accept his destiny as Dragon Rider. A destiny that drives him into the heart of threats shadowed over by the evil Naga race.

Can Xerxes shoulder the responsibilities of a true Dragonheart? When the significance of the Lamp comes to the fore, it becomes evident that the fate of the planet lies entirely in his strength.


About the Author:
I was born and raised in the city of Durban, one of the sunniest places of South Africa, where I live with my husband and three kids. However, home away from home is the magnificent Cape Town, a serene laidback city where the heart and spirit of the ancient Table Mountain beckons one to return again and again.

I graduated with a Bachelor of Law degree, cum laude and went on to study psychology thereafter, both careers which held my avid interest. However, my greatest passion was always in writing, something I have been doing for as long as I can recall. So, it’s no wonder that I finally surrendered all else to become a professional writer.

I have previously written middle grade fiction as well as illustrated books for little children. The Sands of Time series is my first venture for young adults, a project that I have been arduously researching and working on for several years. If there’s a single belief I live by, it would be this:

Masterpieces are not created overnight. All that is truly remarkable requires a magical moment of growth.




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Monday, 18 November 2019

#BlogTour :: The Treasure Syndicate by @jatinkuberkar


The Treasure Syndicate by Jatin Kuberkar

~ Book Tour ~

18th to 20th November




About the Book:
It happened at the dawn of Kaliyug when demon Kali resolved to enter Aryavarta and encountered the last Pandav king. A curse, followed by a blissful enlightenment gave the world its first ‘Nidhi-Palak’ or The Guardian of Treasure Troves in the form of Lord Kuber’s mortal son, Suta. The lineage of Suta has expanded with time and the Guardians have spread all over the world.
Children born under the Guardian lineage possess extraordinary talents. They are deeply connected with the universe and have special abilities to identify treasure trove. They often live a normal life but behind the scenes, they work as catalysts in the gargantuan task of Lok-Kalyan by excavating treasures. Acharya Neelkanth Agnihotri is a committed Guardian. To the world, he is an astrologer, but that is only a garb under which he searches for hidden treasures.
Bound by a complicated framework of coincidence, destiny and fate, the Treasure Syndicate is always a team of five; A destined personification of Knowledge, Wealth, Luck, Skill and Balance. Mahesh is a doctor by profession but he secretly finances missions for Acharya, Kumar is a taxi driver but he seems to be unusually ‘lucky’, Jabbar belongs to a family of legendary diggers and Srikanth is just a common man.
Real time treasure hunting is not a cake walk. There are no keys, no pointers, no maps or puzzles to solve, yet the conditions are never favorable. The trove in question is located under a century old house at a locality called Patthar Galli which has recently become a political hotpot. The syndicate’s record itself is filled with failures and a haunting past is their biggest enemy.
In a mysterious turn of events, Acharya, Jabbar and Kumar are jailed, and the said treasure is GONE!


Book Links:
Goodreads * Amazon

Book Trailer:


About the Author:

For the mortal world, I pretend to be a Software Engineer who works hard (or hardly?) in the hours of a day. I am the guy next door, a hard core Harry Potter fan and a movie buff. I literally ‘live’ every movie, I have strong opinions about its content and I hate it when a movie based on an interesting concept is messed up for the sake of commercial value. I enjoy watching cartoon shows (doremon, dora and Choota Bheem) with my son. I never get bored of listen to the endless chatter of my wife. When I’m not writing, I make toys for children.
But beyond the boundaries of this ‘cholesterol rich’ coil, I am a rider of rapturous thoughts. I am a thinker, a philosopher, a seeker, a story-teller, a writer, a wanderer and every other thing that a thought can be. At times some of these figments fire out of my thoughtful bowl and command me to write, muse, create, recreate, destroy…EXPRESS!
Who Am I? I have been asking this question to myself since 33 years, and I got a different answer always. Sometimes I get confused and think, am I asking the right question to seek the correct answer? or may be that am I missing the  whole fantastic universal drama around me while I am busy finding an answer to an irrelevant question?
Does the answer even matter?

Contact the Author:
Blog * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Goodreads



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Tuesday, 12 November 2019

#ReleaseDayBlitz :: The Sinners by @sourabhm_ofcl

The Sinners by Sourabh Mukherjee

~ Release Day Blitz ~

12th November


The Sinners by Sourabh Mukherjee


About the Book:

Vikram Oberoi is found dead in his penthouse. A few hours ago, his involvement in a sex scandal in NexGen Technologies made headlines across the world.

Who is behind the sinister conspiracy that destroyed Vikram Oberoi, the philandering India Head of NexGen? Rivals within and outside the firm? One of his many jilted lovers or the miffed wife? A mysterious conspirator laying out honey traps to sabotage his plans? Or, is it the ghost of a sinful past that continues to haunt the Oberois?

The Sinners is a fast-paced thriller with a shocking twist that unravels against the backdrop of corporate warfare, illicit relationships and ruthless seduction games.




Book Links:

Read an Excerpt:

The noise on the road was deafening with cars honking and people shouting. Photographers and reporters jostled for space behind the police barricade, everyone vying for juicy titbits of the breaking news of the night. The cops, blinded by flashlights, were having a tough time managing the crowd. The drizzle did not help. There was frenzied clicking of all kinds of cameras, from the long-nosed ones of press photographers to the mobile cameras of curious onlookers. They stopped on their way and clicked away everything they laid their eyes on– the police vans, the unruly crowd on the street, the thirty-storeyed Prestige Apartments in Bandra; one of the plushest addresses in Mumbai, its entrance presently sealed off.

The television channels had already broken the news. The road was packed with vans with satellite dishes on their roofs, as journalists spoke animatedly into cameras, conjuring up all kinds of speculations. Death and the myriad possibilities around it always meant good business for news channels.

“...he was found inside his penthouse apartment, his wrist slashed...”
“...we don’t know yet if he was alone when he died...”
“...forensic experts are inside his apartment...”

Vikram Oberoi, Vice President and Head of India Operations of NexGen Technologies, had been found dead inside his penthouse in the topmost floor of Prestige Apartments earlier that evening. The police had broken in and had found him in the living room, sprawled on the sofa, his wrist slashed, and the volume of the television inside the room turned up. An empty glass of whiskey and a bottle more than half empty were in front of him. The kitchen knife with blood all over its blade had been found lying on the carpet.

About the Author:
Sourabh is the author of two psychological thriller novels The Colours of Passion: Unravelling Dark Secrets behind the Limelight (Readomania) and  In the Shadows of Death: A Detective Agni Mitra Thriller (Srishti Publishers and Distributors); Romance Shorts, a collection of dark-romance short stories; a 2-part series Beyond 22 Yards (Srishti Publishers and Distributors) on stories of Love and Crime from the world of cricket and a 7-part series of short stories titled It’s All About Love (Srishti Publishers and Distributors). The titles in the series are The Gift, The Cookery Show and a Love Story, A Special Day, Masks, An Autumn Turmoil, The Hunt, The Death Wish.

A keen observer of human behaviour and cultural diversities, Sourabh loves travelling and has travelled widely across five continents. An avid reader of fiction, Sourabh is equally passionate about photography, movies and music.

Connect with the Author:


Giveaway:
A Paperback Copy of The Sinners by Sourabh Mukherjee.
Open till 25th November, 2019
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Monday, 11 November 2019

#BookTour - The Speaking Stone by @RatnadipAcharya

The Speaking Stone by Ratnadip Acharya

~ Book Tour ~

11th to 17th November



About the Book:
Mumbai, December 2016: 
A young man found an ancient-looking piece of stone with strange images and Sanskrit inscriptions. A quest to know the origin of the stone brought him to the distant part of the country. 

Chandannagar, December 2016: 
A young vivacious historian woman read an old book on a century-old secret story about a little known part of the country. Her curiosity got the better of her as the book disappeared mysteriously before she could complete it. She reached a sleepy quaint state of the country to satiate her curiosity. 

Eventually they both met and their search began from the city museum to a far-flung rock mountain which revealed a century-old story of a seductive danseuse, her enigmatic lover, a string of her admirers, a painter with a photographic memory, a bird that could speak in many voices, a benevolent king and a gruesome conspiracy. And the most important clue to decode the final secret was with the missing part of The Speaking Stone. But in the process of unearthing old secrets their lives were also in danger… 

Book Links:


Read an Excerpt:

Prologue

A pigeon fluttered its wings impatiently as if to give a signal to its beloved that the setting sun would soon glide down and disappear somewhere behind the western rim of the sky. That soon a diluted darkness would envelop the place where they had made their home for a long time; that soon the full moon would sail up in the sky, unhurriedly, transporting the little world around them into a magical land.

She was happily perching on the tall branch of a tree because from up there it could easily say goodbye to the last shaft of sunlight in its own way. It fluttered its wings again after a while but on this occasion not to invite her mate but in an effort to puff up the layers of her feathers for she knew that the approaching evening would bring another guest with it. It was fog. The darkness of the night
encouraged it to descend more vigorously upon the earth. Once she puffed herself up it helped her ward off the chilling cold of the night considerably.

She looked around, moving her nimble neck gracefully. But her mate, the other pigeon, was nowhere in the immediate vicinity. She looked at the moon now. The pale full moon of the late afternoon was slowly gaining its full glow as sunlight had already dimmed.

Suddenly another pigeon came flying and settled on the same branch beside her. This pigeon was slightly larger in size and its feathers white with occasional light brownish patches whereas the other pigeon, smaller in size, possessed spotlessly white feathers which accentuated its immaculate beauty. The larger pigeon now rubbed its neck against the smaller one and both the pigeons closed their eyes as a feeling of pure ecstasy filled them.

An inaudible moan escaped the smaller pigeon now. It was her way to tell her beloved that the entire night was left at their disposal for love-making and that for now, they must witness the beauty and calmness of the rising full moon.

Her mate must have been well-versed in understanding the words of her heart from just a little shift of her head or her muffled squeak. It also looked at the direction she was gazing.

And there, in the distant sky, the full moon of the foggy evening was rising up. As the moonlight became a little more intense it manoeuvred through the mist and reached the forest, the trees, the pigeons and the gigantic rocks of the mountain right behind the tree where the birds perched. There was a pleasant nip in the gentle wind, blowing almost in silence. The leaves of the trees were shaking languidly; they were longing to be covered with a layer of mist; something they felt they deserved after being scorched by the sunlight throughout the day.

The entire mountain was peacefully silent. All one could hear was a pastoral music that issued from the deep ravine a little ahead of the lines of trees when the wind blew through it. But this enchanting music had no effect on the mighty mountain and its rocks and stones, standing motionless, expressionless and silent, weathering the elements, wearing a stoic look for time infinity. A thick growth of vegetation made its way from different cracks of the rocks. Yet there were many large rocks, standing speck-less for eternity. On those rocks, many strange images were carved. Hundreds of large-sized stones were also found lying scattered around and the images of gods and goddesses were carved on many of them, too. No matter how desperately the thickets and vegetation around tried to cover those images on the rocks and stones, some mysterious force always foiled their effort as though those images cut on the rocks and stones must not be obscured by bushes or obliterated by time.

The moon glided a little up in the sky. Its tender light penetrated the fog, girdling the mysterious mountain in its bosom, and touched the rocks and stones softly. Its magic touch made the images on the stones and rocks alive in a strange way.

The pair of pigeons could never discern as to why they loved to feast their eyes on those rocks of the mountain where so many unusual images were engraved. They would spend no less than an hour on every full moon night, watching the play between light and life on those rocks and stones. And then they would return to their nest in silence as peace stole their heart.

Now a pleasant quietness and stillness descended upon the mountain before a mild footfall broke its sublime tranquillity. Suddenly appeared there an old monk with long flowing white beard, clad in two pieces of thin saffron cloth; one was his loincloth and the other one he wrapped around his chest and upper arms. The chill of the winter night seemed to have no effect on him. There were prominent wrinkles under his eyes and on his forehead, his hair snow-white, but yet his agile movement and backbone, as straight as a ramrod, didn’t qualify any visitor to the mountain of rocks to hazard a guess at his age. To be on the safer side they all called him ‘Ageless Saint’.

However, there was a certain reason behind it. The visitors to this mountain of rocks claimed that for decades they hadn’t witnessed any change in his look or stature. They were actually pilgrims to the mountain of rocks. In spite of the repeated efforts of many of them, nobody could ever make him speak. All he would do as a response to their questions was to reward them with a benign smile and an assuring nod of his head. Some of them even doubted that he was speech-impaired. It was not easy to meet him either. Apart from a few auspicious days never did he visit the mountain during the daytime. They claimed that he visited the mountain only when darkness fell and no one was around. It was also rumoured that he worshipped and meditated in front of the largest image on the rock at midnight.

It was a 40 feet tall image of the head of Lord Shiva. Here it was widely known as Kaal Bhairava. Like all other images of the rock mountain, it was also a low relief type of sculpture with a ten-foot-high embroidered headdress. It had a prominent third eye and its earlobes were decorated with circular earrings. On his headgear, small images of celestial figures were carved out and looking carefully at the image of Kaal Bhairava one might feel that those tiny celestial bodies were desperate to be one with Kaal Bhairava. Kaal Bhairava was a fierce manifestation of Lord Shiva associated with annihilation. The deity was called upon as a protector as he guarded the eight directions of the universe. Bhairava was also described as the protector of the timid.

All that they knew about ‘Ageless Saint’ was that he lived in a small hut, deep in the valley, near a stream, far from human habitat and didn’t encourage any visitor to his place. They considered themselves lucky if they bumped into him on an auspicious day in the mountain of rocks for it was an open secret that as soon as pilgrims started thronging in the mountain, he disappeared in silence. But the more elusive Ageless Saint became the more curious the natives were to know about him. Yet none of them dared to invade the shroud of mysterious silence about him. It was whispered that there was some secret treasure hidden in those majestic rocks, those rock-cut and stone carved images of gods and goddesses which was only known to him.

Ageless Saint walked ahead slowly, taking in everything around him. He searched for those two pigeons. They had disappeared for the night. The remembrance of the pigeons brought a small smile to his lips. There was something common between those pigeons and him. Though long back he had stopped counting his age and years, he was pretty certain that this pair of pigeons had been here for many many years. Probably he was a young boy when he had seen the pair of pigeons for the first time.

Their unusually long life didn’t astound him and he had accepted them as a part of the mountain and rocks as the mountain had accepted him as a part of it, with the fullest trust, unquestioningly, with the love of its caring touch for the last many decades.

Ageless Saint reached near the rock where a gigantic image of Kaal Bhairava was carved. He touched the rock. It was cold to touch. Involuntarily his eyes closed when he felt a kind of calmness, serenity and peace from the rock filling his body.

He sat cross-legged on a piece of stone in front of Kaal Bhairava and meditated for long hours. Once he opened his eyes the night was about to end. The darkness was slightly liquid. He passed a long glance at the huge rocks and stones scattered around him. They were in hundreds. The images of many gods and goddesses were engraved on them. But the images of Lord Shiva monopolized, followed by those of Parvati, Lord Ganesha, Nandi Bull and a few more. Joining his hands, Ageless Saint gave a respectful pranam to all the images.

Even though no one knew who made those images, how and when those images had come into existence, Ageless Saint found himself deeply connected to them. He was thankful that visitors here were few and far between, barring on a few auspicious days. He had heard that no more was the princely state, whose part this mighty mountain was, ruled by kings. A few years after the independence of India this tiny state joined the independent India.

But it made little difference to him and the rock mountain. Only a handful of people knew about the mountain of rocks; probably, because it belonged to the most neglected part of India.

As the first shaft of light of dawn touched the mountain Ageless Saint retraced his steps towards his cottage, a few kilometres away from the mountain, when the chirping birds and whispering trees reclaimed the rocks and the mountain.

One of the strangest things in life is that the secrets and treasures of the world open their arms to embrace you only when no secrets matter to you anymore and the treasure you have found within yourself is more precious than any other worldly treasure, a thought passed through Ageless Saint’s mind. A pair of birds squeaked from a tree nearby as though they were seconding his thought.


About the Author:


Ratnadip Acharya is the author of two successful novels, Life is Always Aimless... Unless you love it and Paradise Lost & Regained. He is a columnist for the Speaking Tree in The Times of India. He contributed many write-ups in different collections of Chicken Soup for the Soul. He lives in Mumbai with his wife, Sophia and son, Akash.




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Friday, 13 September 2019

#BookTour :: Justice Gone by N. Lombardi Jr.



About the Book:
When a homeless war veteran is beaten to death by the police, stormy protests ensue, engulfing a small New Jersey town. Soon after, three cops are gunned down.
A multi-state manhunt is underway for a cop killer on the loose. And Dr. Tessa Thorpe, a veteran's counselor, is caught up in the chase.
Donald Darfield, an African-American Iraqi war vet, war-time buddy of the beaten man, and one of Tessa's patients, is holed up in a mountain cabin. Tessa, acting on instinct, sets off to find him, but the swarm of law enforcement officers gets there first, leading to Darfield's dramatic capture.
Now, the only people separating him from the lethal needle of state justice are Tessa and ageing blind lawyer, Nathaniel Bodine. Can they untangle the web tightening around Darfield in time, when the press and the justice system are baying for revenge?

Book Links:
Goodreads * Amazon


  

Winner of Three Awards:
2019 American Fiction Award
National Indie Excellency Award - Best Legal Thriller of 2019
Silver Medal Winner 2019 - Readers' Favorites Awards
Chosen by Wiki.ezvid.com among their list of 10 Gripping and Intelligent Legal Thrillers


Reviews for Justice Gone:
The courtroom scenes are wonderfully written...the characters are well described and the author paints a picture of each in the mind of the reader...Strong plot, strong characters and a strong writing style that I really enjoyed. This one is a definite "thumbs-up." Strongly recommend! I look forward to reading additional works by N. Lombardi, Jr.
Kim M Aalaie, Author's Den

One of my favorite suspense novels of the year. It will make you question the legal system.
The Eclectic Review

The courtroom action is excellent, trimmed to the most gripping parts of the trial, with plenty of emotional impact...a fairly realistic portrayal of the way small-town US society works...a fast-moving story with plenty of dramatic moments, and a big twist in the final pages.
Crime Review 

Read an Excerpt:


Next, just as Emily had predicted, came a member of the Crime Scene Investigation Unit from the New Jersey State Patrol; however, she had been wrong about the photos because this was the time that Fiske had been planning to introduce them. They were given to the jury to pass around among themselves, and naturally the shock value was not wasted on them, most of the members displaying expressions of disgust as they looked at the graphic pictures.
The witness, a tall man in his forties with his soft brown
hair parted classically on his left side, and wearing tortoiseshell glasses, confirmed what Cavaluzzi had previously testified to regarding the evidence gathered. The prosecution took a risk by emphasizing the shoe print found in the woods outside Puente’s house, comparing it to the prints they had cast from the combat boots Darfield was wearing when he was captured. For this, the witness was allowed to get out of the witness stand and enter the “well, that empty, sacrosanct space between the bench and the jury, a space that can only be entered with permission.
As you can see, the expert said, pointing to a projected image on a screen next to the court reporters table, “If we compare the casts, were struck by the extraordinary match in patterns. They are no doubt the same type of boot, the standard issue military boots used in the Marines.”
“Thank you, Dr. Robert.”
Dr. Robert put down his pointer on the prosecution’s table and returned to his seat in the witness box.
“Cross?”
Bodine stood up, having already made the decision to go into his Stevie Wonder–Ray Charles routine of looking off into odd angles. He started by turning his head toward the upper left, rather than the expected straight ahead, a move that practically assures throwing the witness off-balance, a shady trick Bodine learned early on in his career. “Dr. Robert, do you know exactly the date and approximate time that this shoe print was made?” he asked, looking up at the left corner of the ceiling.
“No, of course not. That’s a ridiculous question.”
Bodine swiveled his head to face straight ahead and raised his eyebrows above his dark sunglasses. “Oh, is it? I thought perhaps it would be important to know when that print was made. Wouldn’t you?”
Dr. Robert remained quiet for a few seconds, regretting his rash reply.Yes, of course.”
Now Bodine aimed his head toward the right corner of the ceiling. You have any means of determining that? Chemical tests?”
“No, not exactly…we rely on…” “Radioactive dating?”
Once again the witness was lockjawed, a tightly shut angry expression on his face. Are you trying to make a mockery of forensics work, Mr. Bodine?”
Now Bodine snapped his head back to face where he knew the witness box was, his black sunglasses focused intently on Dr. Robert. I don’t think you know the rules here. I ask the questions, you answer them. Answer the question!”
“Objection!”
“Overruled. Witness will answer.” “No. No such testing exists.”
“What kind of soil was the shoe print found in?” “Clay-type soil.”
I should think it was dry at the time you examined the shoe print, yes?”
“In most places, yes.”
“But it was a good print though, wasn’t it? I mean in terms of depth into the soil and the details of the sole markings?”
Yes, it was an excellent sample.”
“Is clay a good material for holding shoe print samples for a length of time, let’s say, as opposed to sand?”
“Under most circumstances, I would say that is true, clay is an excellent preserver of prints.”
“But, of course, the clay would have to be wet when the print was made, yes?”
Yes, of course.”
“When it’s dry, it’s difficult to leave a good print, is that correct?’
“Correct.”
“So, whoever made that print, made it when the ground was wet?
“That’s a fair assumption.”
Emily handed her father a sheet of paper, which Bodine then held up in the air. Your Honor, this is a copy of Defense Exhibit 1, which the State has already received during the discovery phase. I ask permission for the witness to examine it.”
The bailiff came, took the sheet of paper, and handed it over to the witness.
Bodine, now ceasing his blind celebrity pantomime, focused his head right at Dr. Robert. “That is the record of rain days obtained from the New Jersey meteorological department. I’m sure you recall that we had a very bad drought last summer; the record you are looking at shows that the last day it rained before those men were killed was thirty-three days prior. In other words, according to the discussion we just had about wet clay, the print could only have been made about a month before those men were killed. Is that the conclusion that you would reach?”
Dr. Robert squirmed in the witness chair. “Not necessarily. If there was a constant shade it might remain moist.”
“When you say constant, you mean throughout the day, from sunrise to sunset, yes?”
Dr. Robert hesitated for a second, before admitting, Yes.” “Was that the case here?”
“When I examined the print and made the cast, there was some shade, yes.”
And what time of the day was that?” “I have to refer to my notes.”
“Just tell us approximately.” About seven o’clock.”
“That’s nearly sunset for late August, isn’t it?” “I suppose so.”
“So you can’t be sure if there’s any shade there during the heat of the day?”
“No.”
“Thank you. Now let’s talk about the pattern of the print you found. Do you know the brand name or model of the boots Mr. Darfield was wearing when he was arrested, based on the pattern?”
“Danner USMC, RAT, Hot Weather.” “RAT, rat?”
“Rugged All Terrain. The model is the most common one worn by our men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s a unisex boot. He smiled lamely, as if he just made a joke.
Tell me, Dr. Robert, these military boots, are they available in retail stores, say, what they call, Army-Navy shops?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
Gotcha, you silly liar! Are you sure?”
“Objection, Your Honor,Fiske shouted, “the witness has already answered the question.”
“Sustained.”
“Sorry,Bodine said in mock apology, I just want to be clear on this, and an I don’t think so is not enough. So let me put it in another way. Dr. Robert, are you telling me that I myself, an ordinary person, could not purchase these shoes at a retail outlet, even on the internet?”
I think they would be hard to find.”
Bodine turned and, right on cue, Emily handed him a pair of combat boots, his right hand instinctively receiving them, as if this were a practiced act, but then dropping them to remind the jury of his blindness, which was made more emphatic when Emily went underneath the table to retrieve them and tenderly put them in his wavering hands.
“Dr. Robert, I want you to examine these shoes. Permission to approach the witness.”
“Denied. Hand them to the bailiff.”
The bailiff took the shoes and gave them to Dr. Robert. “Tell me, are these boots similar?”
Dr. Robert took each shoe in turn, examining the soles while doing a lot of squinting. I would say, similar, yes, but not exact.”
“How similar?”
“Objection, Your Honor. He’s asking a vague question that can only have a vague reply, causing the witness to speculate.”
The judge scratched his chin. “Speculate? No, I don’t think so. Overruled. Witness, answer the question.”
Very similar.”
Bodine made a slight turn to face in a direction he intuitively knew was where the judge was perched. Your Honor, if it pleases the court, I would like to admit these as Defense Exhibit
2. I would further request that a cast be made of the soles for comparison with State’s exhibits 2A and B, so that the jury can examine for themselves. The bailiff took the shoes and placed them on the exhibit table.
“Objection! These items should have been disclosed during discovery!”
“My investigator just bought them last evening, Bodine said snidely. “I’m admitting the receipt as well, from Sullivan’s Fish and Game Shop in Scranton, with yesterday’s date recorded.”
Fiske snarled, but said nothing. In his head though, a little voice said, Sneaky bastard, he arranged the purchase weeks ago, with the understanding of picking them up today and asking for the receipt.
“No more questions, Your Honor.” “Witness, you are excused.”
Dr. Robert got out of the witness box, crossed the well, opened the little gate of the bar, and exited the courtroom with a briskness that displayed his foul mood.
The judge addressed the courtroom. “I’m going to order a recess for lunch. Court adjourns until one o’clock. He banged his gavel and everyone made a move to leave.


About the Author:
N. Lombardi Jr, the N for Nicholas, has spent over half his life in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, working as a groundwater geologist. Nick can speak five languages: Swahili, Thai, Lao, Chinese, and Khmer (Cambodian).
In 1997, while visiting Lao People's Democratic Republic, he witnessed the remnants of a secret war that had been waged for nine years, among which were children wounded from leftover cluster bombs. Driven by what he saw, he worked on The Plain of Jars for the next eight years.
Nick maintains a website with content that spans most aspects of the novel: The Secret War, Laotian culture, Buddhism etc.
His second novel, Journey Towards a Falling Sun, is set in the wild frontier of northern Kenya.
His latest novel, Justice Gone was inspired by the fatal beating of a homeless man by police.
Nick now lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Follow the Author:
Website * Goodreads * Amazon




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