This month’s featured self-published novel is Dark Harbors by J.K. Dark — a mystery set in the warm waters of the Florida Keys and the Carribean. The central character, Jack Cross, is a hard-talking, beer-drinking, cigarette smoking ex-rock star whose band, The Pirates of Rock, was famous (according to Jack) not for being talented musicians, but for the ability to deliver hard-core loud and wild stadium performances with elaborate sets.
Sex, drugs & rock and roll, baby.
The aging rock star’s second phase of life is quite unlike his first — he lives a calmer existence as the captain of a boat that operates charters out of the Keys. Calmer, that is, until an epidemic of violent pirate attacks threaten to victimize all those who sail on the high seas.
Jack is that guy we all know, or think we know — the cynical guy a bit haunted by his past who does as he pleases and doesn’t care who minds, unabashedly cusses like a truck driver while chain smoking … and you just can’t help being magnetically drawn to him.
“Once underway and in open water, I went to the galley and filled my coffee mug. It would be a battle of Xanax and caffeine for my soul today.”
I love this guy. He keeps the pages turning, as does the plot — the short chapters make it very hard to put down. And oh yeah, did I forget to tell you? There’s pirates.
But perhaps what I loved best about Dark Harbors was the sensory experience of being out on the high seas with Jack Cross. I’m a water person, so I’m one of those people who would love to ditch my urban condo for a boat and just stare at the ocean and the horizon beyond all day every day. I could hear the Bob Marley music, taste the “soothing comfort of the beer as we ran at twenty knots” and feel the salty, warm breeze and the warm sun reflecting off calm turquoise waters.
Dark Harbors is a fun adventure with charismatic characters and I really enjoyed reading it. And I wish J.K. Dark the very best of luck, and look forward to his upcoming works! Thank you for being a part of our Indie Spotlight, J.K.
July’s pick is another mystery that I’m hoping will prove to be another great summer pick — A View to Die For by Richard Houston. Mr. Houston has also graciously agreed to be interviewed about how his marketing efforts have propelled this book to the top of the bestselling mysteries list. So be sure to pick up a copy, read along and come back!
An excerpt from A View to Die For:
Outsourced software engineer Jacob Martin is trying to make the best of a divorce and mid-life crisis when he gets a call at two o’clock Sunday morning from his mother. His sister has been arrested for murder, and his father is near death. Thus begins an adventure that takes Jake and his golden retriever from their Colorado retreat to a backwater town in the Missouri Ozarks where he gets on the wrong side of a sheriff deputy after hiring a crafty lawyer who gets Megan released on a technicality over a suicide note. Then, just as Jake is ready to go back home, she drops a bombshell with a story straight from a Louis L’Amour novel. Protagonist Jake Martin (nickname Porky) is a McDonalds regular who gets by on odd jobs, drinks an enormous amount of beer, and suffers from a shrinking bladder and failing eyesight. He’s generous, well-mannered, an aspiring novelist, and obviously smart–not exactly the hard-boiled sleuth one might expect in a mystery. He does not work alone. Always with him is Fred, his beloved golden retriever, the smartest dog since Lassie, who serves as a sort of assistant detective, early warning system, clue-finder, and ice-breaker. In the course of his investigation Jake is stalked, run off the road, hospitalized, and loses his vehicle, money, and Visa card. The murder motive is connected with the Jesse James lost fortune myth. His investigative techniques include surveillance camera sabotage, illegal entry, computer hacking, and violation of federal laws concerning personal privacy. Jake’s job is to put together all the pieces. The writing is humorous and proficient, the relationships well-defined and enjoyable. The mystery itself is illusive until the very end, and so it is hard to put down for any length of time.