Dane Petersen’s reading of THE RED HAND: Wow

I have been asked why I don’t record audio versions of my own Frank Nagler Mysteries.

It’s because of people like Dane Petersen. https://danepetersen.com/

Dane read and produced the newly released Audiobook of THE RED HAND, the fourth Frank Nagler Mystery.

Here’s the ACX  link: https://www.amazon.com/Red-Hand-Nagler-Mystery-Mysteries/dp/B089DN6RG6/ref=tmm_aud_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Here’s the iTunes link: https://books.apple.com/us/audiobook/red-hand-frank-nagler-mystery-frank-nagler-mysteries/id1516916718

Years ago in a series of interviews we did for a voice-over showcase produced by Xe Sands https://www.xesands.com/, my friend Diane Havens https://soundcloud.com/diane-havens said that the key to voice acting is the acting – taking the words and drawing out the character within.

That is not a skill I possess.

I can write the words, imagine the conflicts, develop the plots and create the scenes, but the words of the characters in my mouth are flat and uninspiring. You would not want to hear much of it.

Dane’s version of THE RED HAND is similar to a song writer who after producing a version of their own song, hears a new artist working in another style of music sand off the rough edges and polish the tune and lyrics to a crystal perfection that stops you in your tracks.

Don’t get me wrong – and I’m not supposed to do this as an author, but what the hell – THE RED HAND is a hell of a story and a damn good book about a damaged town, a damaged man and yet the story comes out the other side offering some hope.

But as I was listening to Dane’s reading I was stopped because his performance was spot on.

A listener can not help but smile when Manny Calabrese, an old Italian jeweler whose voice never lost the old country, calls out to “Franky” Nagler. And his ethnic characterizations are both subtle and respectful.

But it’s at the story’s big moments that Dane’s reading excels: Reporter Jimmy Dawson’s four paragraph summary of the state of Ironton; the moments when Frank Nagler walks the dark city pondering the crime spree he is investigating and his own life with his sick wife Martha; the street fights and the crowd scenes that illustrate the rising tension in the city; and the continued edgy conflict between Nagler and Police Chief Inspector Chris Foley.

And then Martha. She is smart, funny, brave, adventurous and challenging and loves Frank Nagler to death. Any scene she is in sparkles, and at the end, when she and Frank deal with the consequences of her illness, the ache and anguish is palpable. Dane’s reading will stop you.

Anyway, why do all this? It’s not about being immodest. It’s about celebrating the talent that helps brings all artistic endeavors to light. It’s never just the work of one person.

 

The audiobook version of THE SWAMPS OF JERSEY is available here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNSW8Ls8Y64&list=UUhsP65gzzjDU1nYTmw2jOvQ&index=9&t=0s

https://books.apple.com/us/audiobook/the-swamps-of-jersey-unabridged/id1367196859

 

Posted in Bergen County Cooperative Library System, Fiction, Greater Lehigh Valley Writer's Group, Hackettstown Public Library, Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, http://www.sallyember.com, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, Paramus Public Library, Parsippany Public Library, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The shriek

The shriek tore open the void

Like lightening rips a dark sky

Like a million souls unleashing the scream of a thousand years

That carries the wounded rage of us.

Did you see them?

The faces.

Eyes teared and bloody

Both soft and angry with the weight of all these sorrows

And searing with weariness.

Searing with weariness that the rising must come again.

Who will place an ear to your lips to welcome the whisper?

Whose hand to reach for yours?

Who will stand?

Who will witness?

Who will hear?

Who will speak?

The rising must come again.

Posted in Hackettstown Public Library, Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, Paramus Public Library, Parsippany Public Library, Sally Ember, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Leave a comment

THE RED HAND now available as Audiobook

The Audiobook version of THE RED HAND is finally available.

Thanks to Imzadi Publishing for, shall we say, reminding ACX (Amazon) that the book should be released.

Thanks also to Dane Peterson for recording and producing this version.

Here’s the link: https://www.amazon.com/Red-Hand-Nagler-Mystery-Mysteries/dp/B089DN6RG6/ref=tmm_aud_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

The audiobook version of THE SWAMPS OF JERSEY is available here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNSW8Ls8Y64&list=UUhsP65gzzjDU1nYTmw2jOvQ&index=9&t=0s

 Both are also available on iTunes. 

THE RED HAND: It’s the time of pay phones, fax machines and piles of paperwork.

And in Ironton, N.J., nine women have been killed, their deaths played out over months as fear grows in the city.

Into this scenario is newly-minted Detective Frank Nagler, eager to take on the task of finding the killer, but daunted by the description supplied by the medical examiner: “What we have here is an experiment in death.”

“The Red Hand” is a prequel to the award-winning Frank Nagler Mystery series. Among the characters we meet are Charlie Adams, a teenage hoodlum and Martha Nagler, Frank’s wife, whose love carries him through the bad times ahead.

Can an old-style detective story capture a modern audience?

It can if it is filled with characters that resonate, has a love story for the ages, settings that carry weight and is layered with issues that raise the story above the everyday.

It’s gritty, moving, probably confounding, but it resonates.

Women are missing. Missing would imply a willingness to leave.

Women are not missing: They were taken.

Kirkus Review featured a profile:

From the profile, written by Rhett Morgan: “Daigle paints such a convincing picture because in all the small cities where he worked, he saw former economic powerhouses slowly fading and corrupt developers and local politicians using the situation to their own advantage. It inspired him to create a character that wasn’t just a detective, but also a hopeful figure who could stand up to the powerful elements that were allowing crime to take root. “Somebody needed to stand up and say this is wrong,” Daigle says.

Nagler isn’t the only character with strong moral fiber, though. Daigle’s books feature a slew of strong women that challenge and push the protagonist through each case, including the savvy Lauren Fox, who’s heading up a project to revitalize downtown Ironton, and tough police officer Maria Ramirez. “I didn’t want any of them to be just pretty faces,” he says. “In the newspaper business, some of the best people I worked with were women reporters. They’re very brave, and they’re very smart.” The most important woman in Nagler’s world, though, is his late wife, Martha, whose untimely death provides him with a complex motivation—to recapture the era when she was alive and Ironton hadn’t yet fallen apart.”

The link: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/news-and-features/articles/michael-stephen-daigle/.

From the Kirkus Review of THE RED HAND: “This dense, engrossing prequel illuminates why Frank embraces Ironton before economic decline and corruption totally savaged the town. Ironton is a character that Daigle (The Frank Nagler Mysteries: An Anthology, 2018, etc.) brings to atmospheric life in his work: “The sun had squeezed out of the mud the greasy mix of rotten plants, moldy, sweating trash, motor oil that had leaked from dismembered, rusted cars parts, and the musk of dead animals, and then compacted it.”

The author’s pacing is immaculate in this gruesome thriller, as he ratchets up the tension as each additional body is found. He also captures a portrait of a once-thriving community in chaos as fear sweeps through Ironton. While the fledgling detective often finds himself adrift while investigating the case, Frank’s moral compass never wavers, even when the town and its officials are ready to lynch an unlikely suspect. This makes him almost a lone voice in the wilderness but his gut proves right in the end. What results is a taut look back at the birth of a memorable character.

A winning origin story for one of modern fiction’s expertly drawn detectives.”

 

The full Kirkus Review is found at this link: THE RED HAND.

 

“The Red Hand” was named a Distinguished Favorite in the 2019 Big NYC Book Contest

Named Second Place winner for mysteries in the 2019 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards

Named a Notable 100 Book in the 2019 Shelf Unbound Indie Book Awards

Named a Distinguished Favorite in the 2020 Independent Press Awards

A Nominee in the 2020 TopShelf Book Awards

 

Posted in Bergen County Cooperative Library System, Fiction, Greater Lehigh Valley Writer's Group, Hackettstown Public Library, Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, http://www.sallyember.com, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, Mystery Writers of America, Paramus Public Library, Parsippany Public Library, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chains

We locked ourselves up; always have.

In ships, in ghettos, in little boxes.

Small spaces in which we can not breathe

Spaces in which we die.

Divided by faces and beliefs, voices and dances.

My people would not do that.

 

Oh, but you. But you.

You’re from over there.

I see what you’ve done,

I know what you want:

You want what I have.

My people would not do that.

 

There is a line.

Someone drew it.

Rattle that fence all you want.

Whack it with that chain.

See who comes.

See who cares.

My people would not do that.

 

We are always looking skyward

Seeking freedom.

We always want what is better, newer, some thing that is ours.

But reaching is hard when we are always standing in the fetid soil

That we have diseased:

Weighted, loaded, oppressed, shared

Blamed, hated.

All of us.

Distained, ignored, diminished,

Pushed in to corners, inside fences,

Killed with gas and bullets and hate.

My people would not do that.

 

Wrapped in chains.

All of us.

 

(Photo by Stephen Hickman, via Upsplash)

 

Posted in BooksNJ2017, Greater Lehigh Valley Writer's Group, Hackettstown Public Library, Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, Paramus Public Library, Parsippany Public Library, Sally Ember | Tagged , | Leave a comment

New 5-star review for THE RED HAND–Many thanks!

The prose is crisp and delectable and the overall writing featuring descriptions that pull readers into a dark wave sweeping through a city. The chilling story is fast-paced, twisty, and with the potential to hold readers awake throughout the night. — Bertin Drizller

 

 

5 STARS: A serial killer on the loose, a city on edge, and a rookie, not your run-of-the-mill detective still learning the trade in the most ruthless of manners are elements that set The Red Hand by Michael Stephen Daigle apart, a fourth entry into the Frank Nagler Mysteries.

Ironton, N.J.is terrified by the bodies that pile up, counting nine bodies over several months. There is no clear M.O. for the murders and the diversity in the style of killing makes it even more difficult to determine if they are orchestrated by the same person. But there is so much more to that: the victims are people with different backgrounds — and Nagler has to establish the connection between them and solve the mystery. But how?

It is a far-from- a-burner kind of book to read, and the author creates a compelling character for a protagonist, a rookie detective with personal and family issues. His wife’s health is declining and in spite of all he has to worry about, his first case is a complicated one and he finds himself pithed against an unpredictable and savage murderer. The vulnerability of the protagonist and the inhumanity written into his personality attract the sympathy of the reader instantly. Michael Stephen Daigle is deft with the developmental arc, allowing readers to watch as the characters evolve through the conflict, learning to walk straighter from their initial, sluggish steps.

The Red Hand is the first novel I am reading from this author, and while it is part of a series, it reads perfectly as a standalone novel. The prose is crisp and delectable and the overall writing featuring descriptions that pull readers into a dark wave sweeping through a city. The chilling story is fast-paced, twisty, and with the potential to hold readers awake throughout the night.

 

https://thebookcommentary.com/index.php?view=Book_Detail&Book_id=192&reviewID=75

 

“The Red Hand” was named a Distinguished Favorite in the 2019 Big NYC Book Contest

Named Second Place winner for mysteries in the 2019 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards

Named a Notable 100 Book in the 2019 Shelf Unbound Indie Book Awards

Named a Distinguished Favorite in the 2020 Indepndent Press Awards

A Nominee in the 2020 TopShelf Book Awards

 

Available At: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00P5WBOQC)

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-red-hand-michael-stephen-daigle/1132368097

kobo.com and walkmart.com

 

Audio version of THE SWAMPS OF JERSEY at audible and itunes.com

Coming soon: Audio version of THE RED HAND, read and produced by Dane Peterson.

Here’s a sample: https://www.facebook.com/imzadipublishing/videos/215441556340654/

 

 

 

Posted in Bergen County Cooperative Library System, BooksNJ2017, Fiction, Greater Lehigh Valley Writer's Group, Hackettstown Public Library, Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, Mystery Writers of America, Paramus Public Library, Parsippany Public Library, Sally Ember, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A newspaper life

I miss the newspaper business. I spent half my life there.

So when a story as big as Covid-19 shows up, I want to be in on the reporting.

I want to be leaning over a desk with three or four colleagues throwing around ideas for stories, places to go and people to speak with; I want to hear what they had learned about the heartbreak or scandal they found.

I was always in awe of my colleagues, reporters, editors and photographers, and remain so to this day. Their work changed lives.

One of the main characters in my Frank Nagler Mysteries (https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00P5WBOQC) is reporter Jimmy Dawson. He first appeared in an early draft of what eventually became the second published book in the series, A GAME CALLED DEAD. I wrote that draft in my early 20s, a decade before I got into the newspaper business. He is a character of imagination. Over time he has taken on the qualities of my colleagues and is one way I can show appreciation for their work.

We were at the end of the shoe-leather era of newspapering. No Internet. No email, no cell phones, Twitter, Google. Jump into your car, run out of the office, work the phones, get a story.

Here’s a few on my favorite stories.

In 1981 I walked into the office of the Fairhaven, Mass. Advocate, a tiny weekly newspaper and knew I was home. We had one computer for the typesetter, so we cut and pasted press releases. It was basically a start-up, so we took on any topic that sparked our fancy. It was a fun introduction to covering towns, politics and life in a varied, lively place like Greater New Bedford.

We learned we had gotten under the skin of the editor of the big daily, New Bedford Standard-Times, and after they copied a promotional ad we had created, there as a summit meeting between our owner and the ST’s editor.

A friend at the ST was the reporter who broke the story of a bar rape that was made into a film that starred, Jodie Foster, “The Accused.”

Two years later I was the editor and general manager of a weekly newspaper in Skowhegan, Maine, The Somerset Reporter. When he hired me the owner gave me six months to turn around a paper that had been losing money for 20 years.

Two years later when I left to take a job at the Waterville, Maine Morning Sentinel, our circulation had increased by 50 percent and our income had doubled.

We had to do better: I had given my three full-timers, each a raise of $50 a week; for my office manager it meant that her take-home pay finally topped $100 a week.

We redesigned the paper, carved it into three sections — news, sports, and community – and tried to connect the paper back with its communities. The Somerset Reporter was founded in 1840. On its pages had appeared the Civil War, the opening of the great woods, fires and floods, log drives, the creation of industry, births and deaths and a showcase of decades of Central Maine life.

Scared me to death. I didn’t want to be the person who killed off such an important part of the region’s history.

The community section allowed us to showcase the chatty news and gossip that occurred in the dozen or so tiny towns we covered. In a town of 300, it would be big news when the head selectman and his daughter toured colleges in Boston.

We also experimented with such features as the star of the week for high school sports and a town of the week when we sent a reporter to one town for a couple of days. Those features later showed up at larger daily newspapers I worked at.

The impact of all this showed up in two ways.

First, the owner of a local insurance company whose family once owned vast acres of woodlands which set the family fortune in place, told me in my second year that he knew the paper had improved because it took two visits to the bathroom to read the whole thing.

Second, after we had covered the story of a schools superintendent who was accused of soliciting sex from teen-aged boys, and subsequently quit, the parent of the boy who was the first victim approached me at a restaurant and thanked me for our coverage.

At the Waterville Sentinel I found myself at one of the state’s premiere small newspapers, and I can say with pride that at one point we were the best newspaper in Maine. We covered our sprawling territory superbly. Our reporters took chances that turned into big stories, and our editors backed them up.

Too many stories: A 500-year flood that announced its presence in a police scanner call: “Downtown Farmington is under water;” two years of labor strife that centered on a nasty strike at local paper mills; the night when Martin Scorsese’s
Last Temptation of Christ” opened to religious protests while an earthquake stuck Waterville. A year later, one of the women we interviewed because her home had been damaged became a victim in a short killing spree.

A protest in Skowhegan about a play that we updated in a series of phone calls and jammed into the paper at deadline after the school board took a five minute break before the vote; the murder of a woman by her husband who shot her in front of witnesses at a local hospital (another on deadline story). He escaped jail because they were rebuilding his wing, and a year later was caught in Boston when he applied for a driver’s license under his own name. A jury convicted him in 45 minutes.

Then, at last, New Jersey. Twenty-one years at the Courier-News and Daily Record, learning to rise to the occasion of covering news in a fast-paced, no-holds-barred place.

It was here I was immersed in the non-profit world as agencies from Flemington to Dover and Morristown retooled to meet the needs of poor, underserved clients, the homeless, hungry and battered. Here I watched towns rebuild and move forward; walked through waist-deep water with a photographer during a tropical storm to reach people who chose to stay in their homes; wrote a story about 100 Randolph teen-agers getting busted in Vermont for underage drinking during an annual post-prom ritual.

There were stories that changed outcomes in communities. One night a man came into the Dover office where I was alone and said that something wrong was going on at a local Hispanic run non-profit. I directed him to the county and state agencies that oversaw the local group. And then wrote stories, including one about a meeting that took place in Spanish where I, as a non speaker, had the discussion translated to me live. Months later the management of the agency was replaced, a new charter was drawn up and the agency thrives today.

Another: I took a call from a doctor who had just left a meeting with the management of Dover General Hospital. He said they had announced the hospital was going to close. That led to a year’s-worth of stories by myself and two other reporters about the public outcry and an examination of state law that governed hospitals. In the end changes were made at Dover General, but it remained open, in part, the state said, because of the public outcry.

Then 9/11. Not so much the event and spending time in the Dover train station talking to fleeing survivors, or speaking with school officials who had to put in place a system to hold students until a parent or guardian could pick them up, knowing that some of those children would not see their parents again.

Not so much that, but the aftermath. Standing at the memorial placed by Morris County and absorbing the heavy silence, witnessing the grief expressed in tokens of life left on the memorial, silent cries, prayers, wishes; staring at the damaged steel columns that once could be seen in the sunny horizon to the east, carrying that sorrow.

Finally, Sgt. Ryan Doltz. A tip from a colleague from his hometown sent me to Mine Hill and into the silence that would build for weeks. Watching the town and larger community celebrate his life at a memorial service, and another at Arlington Memorial Cemetery where someone asked, after seeing the crowd of mourners gathered that day, if they were there to honor a general, only to be told it was a funeral for a Sergeant.

I wrote that story in the back seat of my F-150 parked off Route 95 in Maryland in a drenching rain storm with my computer plugged into the cigarette lighter. It was a highway exit in transition. Behind me were empty warehouses and next to me was an Arby’s and a Holiday Inn, from where I sent the story.

A few year later I wrote a story about a veterans service day at the Morristown Armory where the unit of Doltz and the three others killed in Iraq on that day was headquartered. I spoke with a Sergeant who was there to provide services, and who was fully aware what that building meant, a building filled with ghosts.

So today colleagues are still at it, even in a hugely diminished industry. They write stories that have helped a Roxbury family heal when Oklahoma authorities reopened a murder case and got a conviction, and others than bring clarity to the whirlwind that is Washington, D.C.

Read their stuff. You’ll be better for it.

 

Posted in Bergen County Cooperative Library System, Greater Lehigh Valley Writer's Group, Hackettstown Public Library, Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, Paramus Public Library, Parsippany Public Library, Sally Ember, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

THE RED HAND: Distinguished Favorite in 2020 Independent Press Awards

When we writers sit down to compose a story, we hope we will write the best story possible with the material at hand. Then we hope other people like it. Sometimes that notice comes in the form of awards.

So I am pleased and remarkably humbled to say that THE RED HAND, Frank Nagler Mystery No. 4, has been named a DISTINGUISHED FAVORITE in the 2020 Independent Press Awards.

Thank you to the contest runners and the judges.

What is especially important about this award is that it recognizes the work of small, independent publishers. So this award is as much for THE RED HAND, as it is for my publisher IMZADI PUBLISHING, www.imzadipublishing.com.

Thanks guys. You gave me that chance.

I also like that this award is run by a New Jersey company. Thanks.

Here’s the announcement: “We are thrilled to announce the winners and distinguished favorites in our annual 2020 INDEPENDENT PRESS AWARD.  This year included a myriad of excellent independently published books.  It is clear that independents are prospering in every corner of the earth.  We are so proud to be highlighting key titles representing global independent publishing.” said awards sponsor Gabrielle Olczak.

In 2020, the INDEPENDENT PRESS AWARD had entries worldwide.  Participating authors and publishers reside in countries such as Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, India, Ireland, Portugal, Sweden, and others.  Books submitted included writers located in cities such as Austin to Memphis to Santa Cruz; from Copenhagen to Mumbai; from Albuquerque to Staten Island; from Boise to Honolulu, and others.

2020 WINNERS:

https://www.independentpressaward.com/2020winners

2020 DISTINGUISHED FAVORITES:

https://www.independentpressaward.com/2020distinguishedfavorites

 

Kirkus Reviews: “A winning origin story for one of modern fiction’s expertly drawn detectives.”

 

The full Kirkus Review is found at this link: THE RED HAND.

 

THE RED HAND, the fourth Frank Nagler Mystery is a nominee for the 2020 Top Shelf Books Awards.

The multi-award winning book has been named: Distinguished Favorite in the 2019 Big NYC Book Contest; Second Place winner for mysteries in the 2019 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards; a Notable 100 in the 2019 Shelf Unbound Indie Book Awards; Finalist in the 2019 Book Excellence Awards.

My publisher, Imzadi Publishing, is also offering special pricing for its enter catalogue of ebooks from fine authors. Info: http://www.imzadipublishing.com.

The ebook versions of the Frank Nagler Mysteries are available for .99 each. https://www.amazon.com/Michael-Stephen-Daigle/e/B00P5WBOQC

Also coming soon is the Audiobook version of THE RED HAND, read and produced by Dane Peterson.

Here’s a sample: https://www.facebook.com/imzadipublishing/videos/215441556340654/

The audiobook version of THE SWAMPS OF JERSEY is available here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNSW8Ls8Y64&list=UUhsP65gzzjDU1nYTmw2jOvQ&index=9&t=0s

 

 

Posted in Bergen County Cooperative Library System, Fiction, Greater Lehigh Valley Writer's Group, Hackettstown Public Library, Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, http://www.sallyember.com, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, Mystery Writers of America, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

THE RED HAND a 2020 Top Shelf Book Awards nominee

THE RED HAND, the fourth Frank Nagler Mystery is a nominee for the 2020 Top Shelf Books Awards.

The multi-award winning book has been named: Distinguished Favorite in the 2019 Big NYC Book Contest; Second Place winner for mysteries in the 2019 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards; a Notable 100 in the 2019 Shelf Unbound Indie Book Awards; Finalist in the 2019 Book Excellence Awards.

My publisher, Imzadi Publishing, is also offering special pricing for its enter catalogue of ebooks from fine authors. Info: http://www.imzadipublishing.com.

The ebook versions of the Frank Nagler Mysteries are available for .99 each. https://www.amazon.com/Michael-Stephen-Daigle/e/B00P5WBOQC

Also coming soon is the Audiobook version of THE RED HAND, read and produced by Dane Peterson.

Here’s a sample: https://www.facebook.com/imzadipublishing/videos/215441556340654/

The audiobook version of THE SWAMPS OF JERSEY is available here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNSW8Ls8Y64&list=UUhsP65gzzjDU1nYTmw2jOvQ&index=9&t=0s

 

Kirkus Review is also featuring a profile:

From the profile, written by Rhett Morgan: “Daigle paints such a convincing picture because in all the small cities where he worked, he saw former economic powerhouses slowly fading and corrupt developers and local politicians using the situation to their own advantage. It inspired him to create a character that wasn’t just a detective, but also a hopeful figure who could stand up to the powerful elements that were allowing crime to take root. “Somebody needed to stand up and say this is wrong,” Daigle says.

Nagler isn’t the only character with strong moral fiber, though. Daigle’s books feature a slew of strong women that challenge and push the protagonist through each case, including the savvy Lauren Fox, who’s heading up a project to revitalize downtown Ironton, and tough police officer Maria Ramirez. “I didn’t want any of them to be just pretty faces,” he says. “In the newspaper business, some of the best people I worked with were women reporters. They’re very brave, and they’re very smart.” The most important woman in Nagler’s world, though, is his late wife, Martha, whose untimely death provides him with a complex motivation—to recapture the era when she was alive and Ironton hadn’t yet fallen apart.”

The link: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/news-and-features/articles/michael-stephen-daigle/.

 

 

From the Kirkus Review of THE RED HAND: “This dense, engrossing prequel illuminates why Frank embraces Ironton before economic decline and corruption totally savaged the town. Ironton is a character that Daigle (The Frank Nagler Mysteries: An Anthology, 2018, etc.) brings to atmospheric life in his work: “The sun had squeezed out of the mud the greasy mix of rotten plants, moldy, sweating trash, motor oil that had leaked from dismembered, rusted cars parts, and the musk of dead animals, and then compacted it.”

The author’s pacing is immaculate in this gruesome thriller, as he ratchets up the tension as each additional body is found. He also captures a portrait of a once-thriving community in chaos as fear sweeps through Ironton. While the fledgling detective often finds himself adrift while investigating the case, Frank’s moral compass never wavers, even when the town and its officials are ready to lynch an unlikely suspect. This makes him almost a lone voice in the wilderness but his gut proves right in the end. What results is a taut look back at the birth of a memorable character.

A winning origin story for one of modern fiction’s expertly drawn detectives.”

 

The full Kirkus Review is found at this link: THE RED HAND.

 

Posted in Bergen County Cooperative Library System, BooksNJ2017, Fiction, Greater Lehigh Valley Writer's Group, Hackettstown Public Library, Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, Paramus Public Library, Parsippany Public Library, Sally Ember, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Great Emptying aftermath. WIP: ‘Mount Jensen’

The injured voices will always fill the night, the child will always need succor. Who among us will harden their hearts when the cry comes? Whose will soften? There will come a time when your answer stares back at you. What you reply will be the measure of your soul.

The deacon’s diary after he and townfolk visit a troubled settlement.

The Great Emptying  https://wp.me/p1mc2c-Ii

Oct 5, 65. Skies so deeply dark, as are my thoughts. Warmth drenched away by a third day of heavy rain. The village ceased but for a stray farmer’s wagon. This is not God’s salvation. This is not our baptism. It’s as if we are drowning. We will not emerge clean and reborn, I foremost. This chill will penetrate us as people, as a village. There was a question before us that we failed to answer.

For these three days I have sat in the dark of my shelter, refusing those calling at my door. I have nothing to say to them and I do not want their good cheer to sway me from my thoughts, dark though they be.

Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

I had sunk from the world as the flames destroyed the frames of building in that closed valley. My companions said, good enough, our job is done. Bless their souls. But I saw we burned away their existence, wiped them from this region. The woods will creep in, the critters reclaim. But we could not burn away the smell, the consuming sourness of life gone awry.

The first night I dreamed of the fire , the skeletal outlines dark against the orange flames, like creatures moving in a dance, some unholy celebration, a purging, not of the evil of the place, but of the goodness of hearts that might have saved those who sought refuge there.

I recalled my first visit and how my heart was filled briefly with hope that we could offer those people sustenance and brotherhood that could tide them through them, first hard days.

That hope burned in the flames and I felt the coldness settle. Who is so brazen to challenge so carelessly the ways God put afore them? Who so selfish they believed that time and the seasons bend only to them?

I watched the rain from my window for three days, barely moving even to spark the fire. I did not deserve the warmth, and could not reconcile my comfort with the restlessness of my darkening soul.

 

Oct. 7, 65. Sun at last. Three of our rescue number with their teams were filling a deep crack in the road worn by the heavy rain. Nearby was a load of stone and in the hole two men were laying the start of an arch that would carry the water beneath the road into the lake.

Ralph Mannix leaned in to say that a teamster who slept in his barn for two days because of the rain said he came across a straggling group out in the Mercer Bog. In real bad shape but they refused his help to establish a small dwelling. Sounds about like the valley folks. Refusing needed help. Don’t mean to be unchristian, Deacon, but they shoulda took it. Not mean, but there’s time ya get what’s ya ask for. Foreigners, that what they be. Come prepared. Or stay home, I say. We’re not here to save you.

 

Oct 9, 65. In the days after the rain the talk was all about contagion. The flooded streets and streams birthed fears that Mount Jensen might become that cursed valley. Some had heard repeated Dr. Shaw’s concerns and turned them real. Not even the destruction of the settlement by fire, or the closing of the road calmed them. “By our own hand,” they writ. Was that self destruction or the awakening that their grand experiment had brought on their end?

 

Oct. 12, 65. The members must have thought my sermon odd. It had no scripture, no lessons, just questions: Who among us will seek the voice crying in the night, or stop to assist the driver of a broken rig, or feed the stranger, warm the crying child or relieve the suffering of an injured animal? The injured voices will always fill the night, the child will always need succor. Who among us will harden their hearts when the cry comes? Whose will soften? There will come a time when your answer stares back at you. What you reply will be the measure of your soul.

Surprisingly my voice was a firm and friendly. They did not hear the breaking of my heart or the wracking of my soul. There is work in the northern woods and I desire for a time absence from my fellow man and to breathe the deep silence of the forest.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Bergen County Cooperative Library System, BooksNJ2017, Greater Lehigh Valley Writer's Group, Hackettstown Public Library, Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, Sally Ember, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

In honor of Shakespeare Day: Romeo and Juliet, Bennie Garza, and Martha Nagler: From THE RED HAND

“Do you remember the first time we came here?” Martha asked as

she picked another rose, this one freshly petaled, and inhaled its soft

scent. Then she offered it to him, and he buried his nose in the flower

before kissing her hand.

“It was seventh grade, after you played Juliet, opposite, what was his

name?”

“Bennie Garza,” she smiled. “Bennie, Bennie, where for art thou,

Bennie? He was always trying to tongue me when we kissed. But I had

braces, and he’d jam his tongue against them. I almost laughed in the

death scene.”

She threw an arm across her breasts. “I pointed at you in the front

row when I said, ‘Where for art thou, Romeo.’”

“I remember. I felt there wasn’t anyone else in that auditorium but

you and me.”

He leaned over to kiss her but stopped and pulled down her lower lip.

“Nope. No braces.”

She smiled and bit his finger. “And then you were mad at me the

entire time we were here because you had just wanted to make out in

the bushes and all I had wanted to do was recite Shakespeare, I loved

the language so much,” she laughed, then rolled sideways to kiss him. “I

was still high from the performance. Even with Bennie Garza as Romeo,

it was such fun.”

She held up the rose.

“What is this rose, dear one, what are its charms…”

“Oh, here we go.”

Martha just smiled, and then comically cleared her throat.

“Does it not blush, as do I, at the mention of your name, at the touch

of your hand?” She brushed the flower across his cheek and he smiled

deeply at her performance. “Does it not pulse with life when brushed

with pollen, drink in the dew?” She pulled off a petal. “And is it not

so frail?” She pulled off another petal and let it drop gently from her

fingers to Nagler’s chest. Her voice softened and trembled. “Its time is

so brief, its beauty so rare.” She jerked off the remaining petals, leaving

a bald stalk. Her voice harsh and firm. “It is time that I want, time with

you, sweet rose, before the petals fade; time I do not have. Time no one

can give me.”

She threw the rose stalk away and rolled into Nagler’s arms, closed

her eyes and signed deeply.

“How was that?” she whispered. “I liked acting a lot. I wish I hadn’t

gotten sick when I did. I would have loved the chance to act in college.”

Nagler lay down on his back beside her. That had been the shock

and the great test, he knew. Leukemia at nineteen. And two years of

treatment, then two more of recovering her strength and watching her

parents’ worried faces sag, the voices crack, the distant stares.

“I would have been a better Juliet in college, you know, in case you

were wondering,” Martha said to the sky after she had rolled onto her

back. “By then it was more than words. I knew about the loss, the pain,

facing death and had already experienced the great love” —she touched

his face— “and felt the poetry flow through me, the words of a soul’s

awakening coursing in my blood, bursting through the brain’s barrier,

throwing open the world.” A soft, teasing laugh.

She rolled to her side and faced Nagler, gently touching his face with

a single finger and kissing his eyes, cheeks, and mouth.

“That’s what that…that damned disease nearly took from me, Frank,”

her voice now hard. “That chance. You were my Romeo, dear Frank.

And for a moment I thought I would lose you.”

“No.” Words were trapped in his throat, unable to move. “Never,” he

coughed. “Maybe that chance comes again.”

She kissed him, holding his damp face in both hands.

“Could be,” she said, her voice distant. “I had already lived that death

scene. Had already known the poison in my veins, felt the dragging pain

of disease and how it felt to fade away. I knew how it felt to have limbs

stiffen, breath slow, colors fade, to see a descending haze and have no

way to cry out. To see the hovering outline of a dark companion.” She

covered her mouth with her hands and stared at the ground, eyes moist.

“I knew the loss,” her voice soft and shallow. “It would have been easy

to act it out on a stage, when I had already lived it. To die and then

recover. The hope of finding my love at my side. The tears on my face

at that moment would have been real.” She paused and caught a breath.

“Then my eyes opened, and it was Bennie Garza. Oh, why Lord?”

Posted in Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment