Selfie

Time is balance and dreams we try to remember.

A warm yes and a cold no, the uncertain in between: Somehow all the same.

Pulling nails alone will not reveal truth.

The plaster must be smashed.

The veneer broken and crumbled to the ground.

The wall must be demolished, its false shield violated,

layers of time like coats of paint scraped away.

Strip away the coverings: This is what you’ll find of me.

Dress the bones how you see fit.

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Another 5-Star review for ‘The Weight of Living.’ Thanks from a grateful author

HOT NEW REVIEW: ★★★★★ The Weight of Living “Intrigue at its finest!”

February 12, 2019

I picked this book to read from a recommendation of a friend. By accident, I started with book 3 of the Frank Nagler Mystery series. I was not disappointed as the book was a fantastic stand-alone for a series and I immediately read the first two, after. This story was set in a typical American small city/town. The scenes were set and believable to the point I thought I was working with the protagonist as I continued reading to try and solve the twisting story. Corruption exploited the scores of many locations and scenarios. The girl was a great addition to the story and made me want to find out more. I highly recommend this read and the full series. Kudos to the author.

 

My great thanks to the reviewer of this stunning review of “The Weight of Living.”

Who is “The girl?”

She opens the book:

“She seemed hollow, the girl did. Breathing, hearing, touching, but absent. Small, dark dots sunk into an ashen blank face, eyes impossibly dull for someone so young, eyes that stared straight ahead at the faded green wall; hard, eyes so hard that did not seem to register the color of the wall, the brown of the tabletop, the light bulb above her head or the presence of anyone else. Robotic. From the police car to the police station and into the back office she walked with slow, short steps, and once in the room without being told, she slipped sideways into the green vinyl chair with the tear in the seat that exposed the white cotton batting inside; the chair that engulfed her, hips too small to fill the worn indentation in the center of the seat as she faced the wall, folded her hands on the table and sat upright.

Her eyes held no light; expressionless, passages not to a dark soul, but to one seemingly hidden or removed; spaces missing life. Eyes not filled with pain, but absence.

Her hair was raggedly cut and filthy, as was her thin, damaged body. Grime lived in her skin folds, under her fingernails, on and in her skin so deeply its color changed from white to brown-gray; dirt so thick her skin shed water like plastic.

 

Later, Leonard, Detective Frank Nagler’s blind bookstore owning friend says this:

 

“I was thinking about the little girl, what she must be going through. I tried to speak to her when we were kidnapped” — he laughed — “trying to reassure her. She was so withdrawn; I could feel it in her hands when we talked. I told her I was blind, and the only way I would know she was still there was if I held her hand. Sometimes the pressure was tight, hard, like she was holding onto this world, and other times light and playful. When she held my hands tightly, I think she was fighting against her protective instinct to slide deep within herself.” He leaned forward and rested his cheeks on his balled fists. “I wanted at times to figuratively reach inside her soul, to free it, but I could not. Someone must, Frank, or she will be lost. We are so much alike, she and I, so apart from this world.” He wiped his eyes, now tearing. “I didn’t even have a name I could call her. Who has no name, Frank?”

 

“The Weight of Living” (2017) was awarded FIRST PLACE for Mysteries in the 2017 Royal Dragonfly Book Contest;

Named a NOTABLE 100 Book in the 2018 Shelf Unbound Indie Book Contest;

Named a DISTINGUISHED FAVORITE in the 2018 Independent Press Awards,

Named a DISTINGUISHED FAVORITE in the 2018 Big NYC Book Contest.

 

The Nagler books are available in ebook and paperback at:

https://www.amazon.com/Michael-Stephen-Daigle/e/B00P5WBOQC/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1548863995&sr=1-1

 

An anthology edition, containing  all three Nagler books and a bonus short story, “Who Shot the Smart Guy  at the Blackboard?”  is available in ebook, paperback and hardcover at:

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=The+Frank+Nagler+Mysteries%3A+An+Anthology

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-nagler-mysteries-michael-stephen-daigle/1129938809?ean=9781944653125

An audio version of “The Swamps of Jersey” is available at: https://www.amazon.com/The-Swamps-of-Jersey/dp/B07BT8WHM3/ref=tmm_aud_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

 

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5-Star review of ‘The Weight of Living’ : ‘A stunning and engrossing meditation on grief and survival’ (Thank you!)

Thanks to this reviewer for their reading of “The Weight of Living.”

Coming soon, “The Red Hand,” the prequel that tells you all you wanted to know about Frank Nagler and Ironton, N.J.

The review:

5 STARS. HOW DEEP DOES THE POISON GO?

January 26, 2019

“THE WEIGHT OF LIVING by Michael Stephen Daigle balances its thriller tenets with solid characters, razor-sharp dialogue, and a breathless plot that careens from one realistic scenario to another. The narrative is a stunning and engrossing meditation on grief and survival that examines the insular world of Ironton, New Jersey whose past is clouded by everything from a devastating flood, to the near extinction of viable business opportunities to slimy politicians.
Frank Nagler, an investigator with the local police department has seen it all. His latest foray to the dark underbelly of Ironton involves a young girl discovered standing shoeless in a dumpster clad only in a tank top and shorts. The weather is freezing and the girl isn’t talking, either because she is unable to or chooses not to.
The tale unfolds as several characters ranging from our stalwart protagonist to an array of complex characters who each adds insight and ultimate resolution into the intricate and deeply troubling mystery.
Daigle has provided an engrossing portrait of a town and its residents that examines the pain inflicted by long buried secrets as he couples these with tension and a pensive sadness that hooks the reader and never lets up.”

“The Weight of Living” (2017) was awarded FIRST PLACE for Mysteries in the 2017 Royal Dragonfly Book Contest;

Named a NOTABLE 100 Book in the 2018 Shelf Unbound Indie Book Contest;

Named a DISTINGUISHED FAVORITE in the 2018 Independent Press Awards,

Named a DISTINGUISHED FAVORITE in the 2018 Big NYC Book Contest.

 

The Nagler books are available in ebook and paperback at:

https://www.amazon.com/Michael-Stephen-Daigle/e/B00P5WBOQC/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1548863995&sr=1-1

 

An anthology edition, containing  all three Nagler books and a bonus short story, “Who Shot the Smart Guy  at the Blackboard?”  is available in ebook, paperback and hardcover at:

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=The+Frank+Nagler+Mysteries%3A+An+Anthology

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-nagler-mysteries-michael-stephen-daigle/1129938809?ean=9781944653125

An audio version of “The Swamps of Jersey” is available at: https://www.amazon.com/The-Swamps-of-Jersey/dp/B07BT8WHM3/ref=tmm_aud_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

 

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Nagler Book Four: ‘The Red Hand’ accepted for publishing

Among the favorite words an author likes to hear are: “I really liked your book.”

The other favorite words are: “Your book has been accepted for publication.”

So, I am pleased to announce that the fourth in the award-winning Frank Nagler Mystery series, “The Red Hand,” has been accepted for publication by Imzadi Publishing of Tulsa.

Thanks to Janice and Anita for their hard work to get to this point.

I mean, fours book in the series. I know there are authors who have written dozens of books, and good for them.

But I have written four (so far).

The Nagler mysteries take place in a purposely closed setting – Ironton, New Jersey – a town that has seen better days rife with dirty politics and the scourges of urban America.

The reluctant hero is all this is Detective  Frank Nagler, broken hearted, mildly depressed and yet, by the  third book, “The Weight of Living,”  confident enough to take on the most evil and despicable villain he had seen.

“The Red Hand,” is a prequel to the other three books, “The Swamps of Jersey,” “A Game Called Dead,” and “The Weight of Living.”

It is set 20 or so years before “Swamps,” and details the start of Nagler’s career as a detective and his marriage to the love of his life, Martha Shannon Nagler.

The story throws him into one of the most terrifying cases in the history of  Ironton —  the deaths of nine women – and for Nagler it is sink or swim.

I’ll post more about “The Red Hand,” as then yet-to-be determined publishing date draws closer.”

The Nagler books are available in ebook and paperback at:

https://www.amazon.com/Michael-Stephen-Daigle/e/B00P5WBOQC/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1548863995&sr=1-1

 

An anthology edition, containing  all three Nagler books and a bonus short story, “Who Shot the Smart Guy  at the Blackboard?”  is available in ebook, paperback and hardcover at:

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=The+Frank+Nagler+Mysteries%3A+An+Anthology

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-nagler-mysteries-michael-stephen-daigle/1129938809?ean=9781944653125

An audio version of “The Swamps of Jersey” is available at: https://www.amazon.com/The-Swamps-of-Jersey/dp/B07BT8WHM3/ref=tmm_aud_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

A quick sample from “The Red Hand”:

“Of course they were red, the hand prints. The color of blood, red; the color of life, dripping between the hollow cracks of the siding. Leaking, crimson, chosen carefully. I’m here, the killer said, bragging. Try to find me. – Jimmy Dawson.

For Nagler, staring at the red mark on the hotel had been the door that had cracked open, exposing a dark and sinister place, but the call that a body had been found near the downtown train station was the moment that his new job became real.

He’d been a detective for a month following another round of police department layoffs. He had investigated a burglary or two, a potential arson that destroyed an empty house, and broken up a few husband-wife fights, but he felt was running just to keep up, slogging through the everyday stuff of what he didn’t know, what he couldn’t imagine, one hand outstretched to feel the fog.

And now, ready or not, he was learning the awful lessons of murder first hand.

“Where is she?” he asked a patrolman standing sentry at the dark edge of the train station.

“Half-way down,” the patrolman replied, his voice a drip in a tin can echo. He tipped his head to the left. “It’s bad, Detective. Just sayin’.”

“Thanks,” Nagler replied, trying to sound confident. How bad?

Dispatch had said she was carried or dragged to the train station.

Nagler winced.

And then, if there wasn’t enough for Nagler to absorb, Medical Examiner Walter Mulligan forcefully said this: “Someone is experimenting in death,” while leaning over the body of the latest victim.

That’s when Nagler felt the ground shift and a tiny hollow spot opened in his heart. We’re supposed to be dispassionate, professional, he reminded himself. Try as he might, that hole never closed.

He ran a shaky hand through his sweat-soaked hair and squinted into a golden haze of a rooftop spotlight across the railroad tracks from where the body was found, and then nodded to Mulligan, trying to appear that he knew what that meant. My first murder case, and it’s an experiment in death.

 

One is random, or an accident.

Two makes you wonder.

Three becomes heavy.

Four brings fear.

 

It is more than just a cloud that settled over this city. It is a cancer, a disease that we suck in with each breath. It flows through our lungs, stops behind our eyes so they darken with suspicion; then it settles in our veins, in our blood, replacing love with pain, leaving us with only the darkness. – Jimmy Dawson.”

 

 

 

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New format for ‘The Frank Nagler Anthology’

I am glad to announce new formats for the Frank Nagler Anthology, a collection of the first three Frank Nagler Mysteries. Thanks for my publisher, Imzadi Publishing. 

It was first issued as a hardcover, but is now available on Amazon as a paperback and Kindle ebook.

Here are the link:

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=The+Frank+Nagler+Mysteries%3A+An+Anthology

 

What’s in this anthology:

“The Swamps of Jersey,” (2014).

 

“Beautiful writing with a dark plot: murder and dirty politics in a down and out city in New Jersey. Detective Frank Nagler, native son of this city, is a worn down, gritty character with a deeply buried sensitive side.”

“Characters are immediately human, complex and draw the reader into the decaying city they call home. The author has a way with infusing the prose with metaphors and similes that bring a scene to life and work on several levels. If you enjoy literary mysteries with well-crafted plots, this book is for you.”

 

 “A Game Called Dead,” (2016) was named a Runner-Up in the Shelf Unbound 2016 Indie Book Contest.

 

“What a great story! Not the typical mystery since there were pretty obvious hints from the beginning. The characters were well developed and the book created an emotional connection too.”

 

“Set in the down-but-not-out city of Ironton, New Jersey, this rather hard-boiled cop story also examines the topics of violence on college campuses and nepotism within city departments. This is the second in the Frank Nagler series and shows the growth of the writer; it’s an enjoyable novel with a good ending.”

 

 “The Weight of Living” (2017) was awarded FIRST PLACE for Mysteries in the 2017 Royal Dragonfly Book Contest; was named a NOTABLE 100 Book in the 2018 Shelf Unbound Indie Book Contest; was named a DISTINGUISHED FAVORITE in the 2018 Independent Press Awards, and a DISTINGUISHED FAVORITE in the 2018 Big NYC Book Contest.

The fourth Nagler book, a prequel called “The Red Hand,” should be available in the Spring 2019.

 

“The Weight of Living didn’t disappoint. It presents a mystery that kept me guessing until the very end. The crime involves stones that many influential people would like to see unturned, stones that have kept secrets buried for generations. Despite grave opposition and at personal cost, Nagler, driven by his moral code, compassion, and commitment to help the helpless, keeps digging until his and his worthy cohorts have uncovered the truth.”

 

“Daigle hits his stride in this third Frank Nagler Mystery. The characters are strong and convincing, and the plot is unpredictable, with sudden twists that take even a careful reader by surprise. The setting is dark, unsettling and gritty, a northern NJ city caught up in the aftermath of decades-long political corruption and financial hardships. Detective Frank Nagler is the last honest man in this city, the white knight who defends the weak and downtrodden. Of the three books in the series, this is the one that pulls out all the stops …  (it’s through) this juxtaposition of the dark and light that the exquisite tension of the story builds.”

 

As a bonus, included is the fun, quirky short story, “Who Shot the Smart Guy at the Blackboard,” which a reviewer called, “One of the best short stories I’ve read.”

 

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‘The Weight of Living’ free for five days

Here’s a chance to jump into the award-winning Frank Nagler Mystery series.

For the next five days, Jan 10 to 14, the third  Frank Nagler Mystery, “The Weight of Living,” will be available as a free download on Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited at https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00P5WBOQC.

Thanks to my publisher, Imzadi Publishing, for the promotion.

Please download a copy, (IT’S FREE) and if you do, please leave a review. Each one helps. Thank you in advance.

 

“The Weight of Living:” A young girl is found in a grocery store Dumpster on a cold March night wearing just shorts and a tank top. She does not speak to either Detective Frank Nagler, the social worker called to the scene, or later to a nun, who is an old friend of Nagler’s.

What appears to be a routine search for the girl’s family turns into a generational hell that drags Nagler into an examination of a decades old death of a young girl, and the multi-state crime enterprise of the shadow ringmaster, named “Tank” by Nagler.

The deeper Nagler looks, the more he and his companions are endangered, until the shocking climax that leaves Nagler questioning his actions to both solve the crimes and heal his damaged soul.

The story is entangled, deeply involving and holds an emotional grip.

 

“The Weight of Living” (2017) was awarded FIRST PLACE for Mysteries in the 2017 Royal Dragonfly Book Contest; was named a NOTABLE 100 Book in the 2018 Shelf Unbound Indie Book Contest; was named a DISTINGUISHED FAVORITE in the 2018 Independent Press Awards, and a DISTINGUISHED FAVORITE in the 2018 Big NYC Book Contest.

 

A reviewer noted the exquisite tension between good and evil. Character Del Williams says, “You see how deep the poison goes, how strong is the  wrong in what they doin’ and your soul cries out for justice and you just wanna bring ‘em down.”

 

Kirkus Review said: “Daigle has done an admirable job of portraying the evolutions of Frank (Nagler) and the hometown that he loves and protects. An involving thriller with a memorable protagonist.”

 

The Nagler books:

 “The Swamps of Jersey” (2014) is a broad and wide story about political corruption and murder.

Nagler is called out on stormy night to investigate the report of a dead woman in the Old Iron Bog. It is the first in a chain of events that set the hard-luck city of Ironton, N.J. on edge. Besides the possible murder, the city was flooded when a week-long storm settled in and wrecked homes, businesses, and streets, and Nagler is trying to make sense of a series of letters that claim to expose theft of city funds, except they are so incomplete he wonders if it is really so.

Then there is Lauren Fox, a woman sent to Ironton to jump-start economic development. She and Nagler are attracted to one another and begin to become serious just before she leaves town without an explanation. Nagler was an emotional recluse following the death of his wife years before. They had been childhood sweethearts, and her death crushed Nagler.

“The Swamps of Jersey” is available as an audio book at:

https://www.amazon.com/The-Swamps-of-Jersey/dp/B07BT8WHM3/ref=tmm_aud_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

and at iTunes.com.

The book was read and produced by Lee Alan, a 35-year professional voice actor, artist, writer, composer, producer and published author.

According to his website, he is a Peabody Award Nominee, winner of 14 Silver Microphone Awards and a former ABC Radio and Television performer, program executive.

His site: http://www.leealancreative.com/.

 

The story of Frank Nagler picks up two years after “Swamps”  in “A Game Called Dead” (2016)

 

Ironton, N.J., is still a city struggling with its economic and rebuilding troubles, but new heroes emerge. Meanwhile a break-in at the local college leaves two women badly beaten, and one later dies. Following a series of criminal acts in the city, claimed by mystery man #ARMAGEDDON, including several that damage the book store owned by Leonard, Nagler’s friend, the story takes on a sinister twist.  The title comes from the students’ name for a video game that has taken on a real-world life. They call it “A Game Called Dead.”

The story is tense and propulsive.

“A Game Called Dead,” (2016) was named a Runner-Up in the Shelf Unbound 2016 Indie Book Contest.

 

 

 

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Two interviews. Thanks

I’ve had the privilege of being interviewed on two blog sites in the  past week.

 

Thanks to Claire Jennison and Kris Wampler for including me.

Here’s the links:

 

https://penningandplanning.com/2019/01/04/authors-40-series-michael-daigle/

 

https://kriswampler.com/2018/12/29/michael-stephen-daigle/  

For more information visit: https://www.authorbookings.com/members/michael-daigle

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One last Christmas pilgrimage

The kid in the ski cap pulled off the jumper cables and shook his head.

“It’s dead, man. Sorry.”

The old man slumped behind the steering wheel. “One more try?”

A cloud of frost filled the kid’s face and he let out one long breath. He glanced around. The parking lot at the highway rest stop was nearly empty. Christmas morning, don’t ya know, he thought.

“Okay, let me rev my car for a minute. Maybe that will kick up a charge.

After he reconnected the cables the kid leaned into his Mazda and with his right foot, pressed the accelerator. The car was warm and the kid shook off the cold as the heat rose through the open door.

“Okay, try it.”

The old man turned the key. A click or two, but no juice. He tried again. Nothing.

The kid reached over and unhooked the cables

“Sorry, man,” the kid said as he shut the hood to the Mazda. “Ya got Triple A?”

The old man stared at the dead engine to his 1963 Ford Galaxie 500 XL. One head light was offline because of an accident. The tires were bald and the engine sputtered on bad spark plugs.

“Hey, look son. Thanks.”

The kid sighed. “Where are you going? Maybe I could get you closer, then you could call someone.”

The old man smiled. “Where you headed?”
“North.”
“Thanks, kid, I’m heading west.”

They shook hands. “Merry Christmas,” the old man said.

“You, too. Sorry about the car.”

The kid slipped into the front seat, shut the door, nodded and backed the car away.

The old man shut the Ford’s hood and patted the metal.

He had driven what seemed like a million miles in that car. All over the country. Highway, backroads. What a car. Big block V-8 convertible, dual exhaust. Brought smiles in parking lots.  A rocket on the road. Top-down trips left him sunburned and stiff-haired. And for some months, his home.

And now like him, past its time.

He shook off the hollowness and scrounged for a piece of paper so he could leave a note on the dash. He just wrote his name and the town where he was headed. It wasn’t his home, but was a destination. Maybe they’d understand.

He gathered his backpack and the package, paused a second, then put the car key in the ignition and closed the door.

The yellow-gold parking lot lights fought off the early morning sunlight starting to squeeze through a gap in the leaden sky; snow would follow.

Inside, he bought a cup of coffee and sat near the window as the weight of it all crashed.

The warmth of the room set his nose to running and wiped it on his sleeve.  Outside, the sparkling of the first few snowflakes glittered the air.

He topped off the coffee and left, standing for a moment as undecided as the day, wanting hope and cheer, but offering gloom.

He watched the steaming big rigs angled into parking spots. Maybe there’s a ride, he thought, then backed off begging.

But he had to get to her.

A voice behind him asked, “Need a ride, man?”

He turned to see a middle-aged guy in a red Mack Truck cap and black vest. “I saw you trying to start that car. Dead huh?”

“Yeah. Have to leave it.” The old man shrugged. “Heading west?”

The driver smiled. “I’ve got to be in Buffalo by six. If I stay ahead of the snow I’ll make it.”

“Thanks. You don’t mind?”

“Can’t leave you here, friend. Did you eat?”

The old man shrugged  no.

“I’ll grab us something to go,” the driver said.

The old man crawled into the extended cab and stretched out.
“Crash if you need to,” the driver said. “I’ll wake you up when we get to your stop.”

The old man rolled in and out of sleep; in between CB chatter, the trucker sang along to the music that softly dulled the highway sounds.

He had left her. Job change, fired. Pulled back into himself to move on,  but she hung on at the edge of his memory, her eyes dark and soft, both inviting and sad, her lips tender and body exciting.

He had loved her but never told her. It’s like that. That whirlwind of loss and regret, pride and defense that slips into stubbornness, and then a sour absence.

He felt a hand on his shoulder and shook himself awake.

“We’re here.”

Then old man rubbed the steam off the window and glanced into the street.

What?  “You didn’t need…”

“Yeah, I did,” the driver said. “No traffic, so I’m an hour ahead. Drop this load and be home for dinner.”

Standing in the cold street, the old man nodded one last thanks.

“Thanks.”

“No worry, friend. We’re all travelers.  We all have a pilgrimage to make. Peace, man.” And he mounted the cab and drove away.

The roses he had left before had browned and stiffened. Dead petals littered the ground; he brushed them away, and then pushed away the grey snow and oak leaves that attached themselves.

He had finally found her and for a moment that brief reunion had brought them both joy.  But there had been too much time between.

He had stood in the back of the church and watched her weeping family bewail her life taken too soon. He had followed the procession, but watched the service from the street, too shamed by his absence to participate. He didn’t want to explain who  he was or why he was there, still wrapped in his uncertainty.

He came alone, later, just at the edge of darkness.

And then came back again every year.

He placed the fresh roses on the grave and the laminated letter and ran his fingers over the letters of her name. One last time. He smiled sourly. All the things I never said. For all those years, and he knew it was never enough.

That’s what her smile said, what her voice said. It was not your fault, she had told him that last time. I knew where you were, but never reached out. Running we were, in different directions, coming back to each other, but it took too long. No one is to blame.

He coughed and felt as the pain in his lungs grabbed his heart. Weeks, they said.  

Running still, he thought. One last turn.

 

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Limited edition hardcover Frank Nagler Anthology available online at Barnes and Noble

Barnes and Noble (www.barnesandnoble.com) has issued the hardcover copy of the Frank Nagler Anthology, containing the first three Frank Nagler Mysteries, and a short story bonus.

Coming soon will be a paperback edition and an ebook version. Detail to follow.

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-nagler-mysteries-michael-stephen-daigle/1129938809?ean=9781944653125

What is in this anthology:

The award-winning Frank Nagler Mysteries.

A reader from Deptford, N.J., who said she read the books one after the other without a break,  wrote:  “Excellent writing! It grabs you attention and holds you. You’re right up there with Stephen King. Thank you for your writing gift.” (Thank you!)

These books are set in a fictional Morris County, N.J., town called Ironton, which has along history of iron manufacturing.

Frank Nagler, the cop/hero is a native of the town, whose father was an ironworker and his grandfather was an iron miner.

The stories use as a backdrop the rich iron mining history of the region, and refer to many actual spots in the area. The rise and fall of the industry is part of the setting of the stories. That history includes the Morris Canal and the industrialization of the region.

Detective Frank Nagler is a broken-hearted, depressed cop who is determined to solve serious crimes and find a way to heal

 

 

“The Swamps of Jersey” (2014) is about political corruption and murder, and I attempted to write it in real time, that is to say, reflecting some of the activities that mark our present lives that carry some universal meaning, but use them in a story that is broad and wide, and with luck, filled with the lives of characters struggling to make sense of troubled times. The central character is Frank Nagler, a cop, whose troubled heart is ever present.

Nagler is called out on stormy night to investigate the report of a dead woman in the Old Iron Bog. It is the first event in a chain of events that set the hard-luck city of Ironton, N.J. on edge. Besides the possible murder, the city was flooded when a week-long storm settled in and wrecked homes, businesses, and streets, and Nagler is trying to make sense of a series of letters that claim to expose theft of city funds, except they are so incomplete he wonders if it is really so.

Then there is Lauren Fox, a woman sent to Ironton to jump-start economic development. She and Nagler are attracted to one another and begin to become serious when she leaves town without an explanation. Nagler was an emotional recluse following the death of his wife years before. They had been childhood sweethearts, and her death crushed Nagler.

 

The story of Frank Nagler picks up two years after “Swamps”  in “A Game Called Dead” (2016)

A GAME CALLED DEAD was named a Runner-Up in the 2016 Shelf Unbound Indie Book Contest.

 

Ironton, N.J., is still a city struggling with its economic and rebuilding troubles, but new heroes emerge. Meanwhile a break-in at the local college leaves two women badly beaten, and one later dies. Following a series of criminal acts in the city, including several that damage the book store owned by Leonard, Nagler’s friend, the story takes on a sinister twist.  The title comes from the students’ name for a video game that has taken on a real-world life. They call it “A Game Called Dead.”

The story is tense and propulsive.

 

“The Weight of Living” (2017) brings Frank Nagler face-to-face with a soulless, manipulative killer whose crimes stretch back decades.

THE WEIGHT OF LIVING IS A MULTIPLE AWARD WINNER:

2017: First Place in the Royal Dragonfly Book Awards

2018: Named a Notable 100 Book in the Shelf Unbound Indie Book Contest

2018: Named a Distinguished Favorite in the Independent Press Awards contest.

2018: Named a Distinguished Favorite in the BYC Big Book Award Contest.

 

Kirkus Reviews said: “Daigle’s narrative is well-paced, and it leads to a melancholy, but satisfying conclusion. An involving thriller with a memorable protagonist.”

 

The full review: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/michael-stephen-daigle/weight-living/

 

A young girl is found in a grocery store Dumpster on a cold March night wearing just shorts and a tank top. She does not speak to either Detective Frank Nagler, the social worker called to the scene, or later to a nun, who is an old friend of Nagler’s.

What appears to be a routine search for the girl’s family turns into a generational hell that drags Nagler into an examination of a decades old death of a young girl, and the multi-state crime enterprise of the shadow ringmaster.

The deeper Nagler looks, the more he and his companions are endangered, until the shocking climax that leaves Nagler questioning his actions to both solve the crimes and heal his damaged soul.

The story is entangled, deeply involving and holds an emotional grip.

As a bonus, we included the smart, funny, surprising short story, “Who Shot the Smart Guy at the Blackboard?”

It was just another summer political fund-raiser, until it wasn’t.

The books may be purchased individually in paperback and ebook versions at:

Amazon: http://goo.gl/hVQIII

Kobo: https://goo.gl/bgLH6v

NOOK: http://goo.gl/WnQjtr

An audio book version of “The Swamps of Jersey,” read and produced by  Lee Alan, is available at: Amazon. com and at https://www.audible.com/author/Michael-Stephen-Daigle/B00P5WBOQC

 

 

Posted in BooksNJ2017, Fiction, Greater Lehigh Valley Writer's Group, Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, http://www.sallyember.com, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, Mystery Writers of America, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why writing a first draft is like performing stand-up with hecklers

“She…”

Who’s that?

What?

Who’s she?

The woman in the story. I don’t know. I haven’t named her yet.

How are we supposed to like her if she hasn’t got a name?

How do you know you’re supposed to like her? Maybe she’s a thief.

Is she going to be a thief?

Possibly. Maybe I want to save that detail as a surprise to the reader.

Readers don’t like surprises.

Um, “Marylyn…”

That’s a weird spelling.

“Alright. “Marilyn…”

No. Too Marilyn Monroe-ish.

What?

You’ll need a male character who looks like Clark Gable.

I’m not writing a 1950s black-and-white movie.

Nice hyphens.

Look, I’ll call her George or Bill. It disguises her sexuality.

Oh, how au currant.

Could I just write something?!

Sure. Go head. We’ll wait.

Alright. “She banged her head…”

Name!

“George banged her head on the locked front door glass when she realized she had left her keys on the counter near the sink. She could see the bundle of keys through the glass.”

Why is the front door glass locked?

What?

That’s what you said… “the locked front door glass.”

“George banged her head on the locked front door when she saw the keys inside on the counter near the kitchen sink.”

How did she see the keys. You took out the window.

It’s a small window. “She slipped off her shoes…”

What kind of shoes?

High heels.

What color?

Red.

How red?

“Her two-thousand dollar Italian high heels the color of the deepest roses of summer…”

They could be yellow roses …

“The color of deepest red roses of summer…”

Seems excessive.

It’s actually pointless. This is probably a mystery, not “Waiting for Godot,” and her shoes are just foot coverings, so I could just say at this point they were red, not symbols of a deeply damaged world dripping in the blood of a thousand generations.

Touchy.

May I continue?  “George knew that the window above the sink would be open.

She walked around the house. The damp, newly mown grass cooled her feet but  left them covered with clippings. The chair that was usually placed in the shaded corner of the house was missing. She found instead a small stump of a tree that had been cut down the previous summer….

 

Okay?

I’m still here.

 

Oh, good. I’m excited.

“She slung her purse over her shoulder and dragged the stump to the window. It wobbled as she stood on it. She slipped the screen up to uncover the open window, then with her hands on the inside window sill she hoisted herself half way into the space. Her open blouse caught the handle of the mechanical window opener and she found herself half in the window and far enough off the stump that she could not boost herself up any more. She reached back for the long strap of her purse and dragged it off her arm. When she tried to throw it into the kitchen the strap grabbed the single tall sink faucet and turned on the water, the purse itself lodging against the handle of the spray hose. With water splashing her face, she wrenched her shoulders through the window ripping her blouse. The force of her effort propelled her toward the sink, but her hands were wet and she slipped forward to the floor, where she found herself face to face with the body of a man who had been stabbed to death.”

Does that cover it?”

Was the water hot or cold?

 

Posted in BooksNJ2017, Fiction, Greater Lehigh Valley Writer's Group, Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, Mystery Writers of America, Sally Ember, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments