Monday, June 22, 2015

Release Date for Five Secrets

The next installment in the Lupa Schwartz Mystery Series, Five Secrets, will be released to the public in electronic formats as well as paperback on July 18. The introductory book in the series, Extreme Unction, is FREE in electronic formats at all of the major retailers, and all of the other books (including Five Secrets when it comes out) are currently each selling in eBook format for $2.99 until September, when they will return to their regular price. Extreme Unction is also now available in a much cheaper 2nd edition paperback. Here's the book description:

   After surviving a vicious attack, magazine reporter Cattleya Hoskin learns that her ex-boyfriend, Ulric, has gone missing having left only a coded message the police cannot decipher. Digging deeper, she learns that he'd been working with the man who got her injured on the last story she covered, Pittsburgh PI Lupa Schwartz. The two men had been trying to covertly unravel a centuries-old scheme, but the conspirators found him out and drove Ulric underground. To complicate matters, a mystery woman arrives with a tale of peril linking her to the same nefarious plot. 
   In order to protect this client and Ulric, Cattleya and Schwartz delve into the mysteries of sacred geometry and a genetic line that traces back to Charlemagne and beyond. Now the pair must work together to expose an ancient secret before being thwarted by the agents of a shadow government which has been secretly operating since Mesopotamia. 
   If they succeed, they just might topple an empire. If they fail, there may be no place for them in the New World Order -- or anywhere else.

Now here's a brief excerpt to whet your appetites...


“The God I realized I believe in is hidden for a very different reason,” I said from my hospital bed. I’d been recovering from a stab wound for several weeks. It was touch and go for a while. The knife had nicked my spleen and lacerated my liver. I’d gotten a secondary infection after surgery, and my fever had spiked several times; but I was recovering nicely now, and Mia had come to visit from the house that she and I shared with her boss who was my  - well, I don’t know what I’d call him. Lupa Schwartz was not my boss, and he wasn’t exactly my friend after the way he’d used me as bait to lure a murderer. But I needed to stay where I was in order to chronicle his cases for the magazine I worked for.
I had come to Pittsburgh almost a year before in an attempt to simply score an interview with the man who, working as an independent contractor, had successfully resolved more unsolved murders in the tri-state area than any two official police investigators combined. However, what began as a hoped-for interview had snowballed into a living arrangement and a working partnership between Lupa Schwartz and myself.
Mia pulled her fingers like a comb through my hair as she spoke in comforting tones. “What reason is that?” she asked genuinely curious. Mia was a Catholic, the same as our other roommate, Beverly Seanesy, Schwartz’s housekeeper. Well, maybe not the same as Beverly. Beverly’s Catholicism was the devout variety that did rosaries and went to confession. Mia’s was the nominal variety that wore a crucifix and only spoke about sex in whispers, but who nonetheless actually had sex, although probably with the crucifix still on. All of which was in stark contrast to the man of the house, who was a vocal and outspoken atheist; the kind that fundamentalists called “militant” despite his never having actually declared his intention to shoot anybody for their refusal to denounce faith.
“That way we can find Him when we need Him,” I said answering her question about why I thought God was hidden. The question had come up as part of a discussion about why I had called things off with my most recent beau. I had been dating Schwartz’s friend, Ulric, a rabbi and a somewhat older man. Ulric was sweet and kind and handsome and charming; but he’d been too paternal; and I don’t think that was because of our age difference. I think that was just who Ulric was. Oddly, I’d seen Schwartz behave in much the same way with Beverly; and there was no secret that Beverly was madly in love with Schwartz.
“Well,” Mia said, “I hope you let him down gently.”
“I hope I did too,” I said. “I tried to.”
“Has he called you since the break up?” Mia asked still tugging at my shaggy mane. It had grown-in more than I normally liked in the weeks since I’d been bed-ridden.
“No,” I said, “I haven’t heard from him.”
“Does your doctor still plan to release you tomorrow?” Mia asked mercifully changing the subject.
The ride home from the hospital had been quiet and awkward. Schwartz knew that I was furious with him, but I had the feeling that there was something more to it. There was something I was not being told. He and I had worked more than a few cases by this time. I knew his body language cues. I’d made it a point to learn them. Not only were they an insight into his character – which I needed to understand so I could write about him; they were an insight into his thought processes – which I wanted to understand so I could help him in his investigations. My father had been a gumshoe. I was instinctively drawn to that life.
As we finally climbed to the top of Murray Avenue, I could see that there were several Pittsburgh police department cars parked on Hazelwood Avenue, and I knew that something was definitely going on. Schwartz pushed the button on his key-fob signaling the garage door to open, and as he pulled his Jensen into the drive that led to his private parking complex, I could see that standing outside one of the cruisers was Detective Trevor Johns. Something off was definitely going on.
   By the time Schwartz had returned the keys to Mia, off-loaded my bags, and we had climbed the stairs out of the subterranean car park to enter the main hall of Schwartz’s large Victorian home; Trevor had already rang the doorbell, and Beverly was already welcoming him into the residence along with two uniformed cops and a skinny guy with a laptop.
“What’s going on?” I asked Schwartz as the door to the garage level shut behind me. He ignored me, and moved forward to greet Trevor, dropping my bags in the open foyer.
Beverly retrieved the discarded luggage. “We didn’t want to tell you while you were in hospital,” she said as Schwartz and Trevor entered the office, “but Ulric has gone missing.”
“Missing?” I said as I stormed past the uniform and entered the office before the door was fully closed. I stood slumped in the doorway, expecting to be rebuffed and told to leave.
“Ah,” Schwartz said from his place behind his desk, “Ms. Hoskin, please have a seat. You look uncomfortable.” He directed me to sit across from him in the far seat of the two that faced his desk.
“What’s this I hear about Ulric gone missing?” I demanded.
“Cattleya,” Trevor said as he took the seat beside mine, “relax. It’s only been a few days.”
“Is that why Mia was asking me so many questions about Ulric yesterday?”
“We’re still trying to piece together the whole picture,” Trevor said. “I asked her to find out if Ulric had been in contact with you.”
“Next time you want to grill me,” I said with a sarcastically curled lip and a wink, “do it yourself. Don’t be sending your girlfriend in to do your dirty work.” I sighed and shook my head, but sloughed it off. “You don’t think he hurt himself because of our breakup, do you?” I asked.
“No,” Trevor said quickly. “I mean, at first we weren’t sure, but today we found this where Lupa said we should look for it, so now we need his help to decipher it.” Trevor was holding a flash drive in a plastic zip-lock baggie. “It was inside a puzzle box in his enigma room.”
I’d been in that room. Ulric was a collector with two passions, maps and puzzles. His enigma room was filled wall-to-wall with every kind of brainteaser imaginable. If he’d taken the time to secret a flash drive in one of the many puzzle boxes he owned, I could understand why they’d come to Lupa Schwartz for help. Whatever information it contained would be cleverly encrypted, and it would take a sleuth of Schwartz’s abilities to decipher it.
“It’s a code of some sort,” Trevor said. “There’s only one thing on it; a document in Word format. The entire document consists of three lines of text. Each is a long string of numbers. Do you think you can decipher it?”
“Of course I do,” Schwartz said. “May I see it please?”
“Do not copy the file or in any way alter it,” Trevor said. “It’s potential evidence.” My throat closed.
Trevor handed the memory stick to Schwartz who slipped it into the port on the front of his computer tower. Momentarily he had the document open on his computer screen. It was just as Trevor had described it; three lines of numbers and nothing more. As Schwartz was loading the file, Trevor had invited the computer tech into the office. “Have a seat there,” Schwartz said indicating the couch just inside the entry beneath the fern. “Please open a notepad window and type the numbers as I call them out. Before typing, please press down on the alt-key and the plus-key on the numbers pad simultaneously, and hold them down as you strike the numerals I call-out. After each fourth number I call out, please release all of the keys.”
“That would be for Unicode,” the tech said.
“That’s right,” Schwartz said. “Actually, it’s technically ASCI in this particular circumstance.”
“The numbers are not ASCI or Unicode,” the tech insisted.
Schwartz pushed back from his position behind his keyboard. “Do you have a copy of the file saved on your laptop?” he asked. The tech indicated that he had. “Open it for a moment.” The tech opened his copy of the file. “Please read off the first line of numbers.” The tech read aloud the string of seemingly random numerals; 07314611835712936009786886337287914361559187311
0884111160872617100105622871149. As he read, Schwartz leaned in to read along. From his vantage, Trevor could see neither screen, and I was sitting too far away to be able to follow along from the monitor. However, I was not so far away that I didn’t notice a brief flash on Schwartz’s display. For a brief moment, extra characters had appeared and then vanished.
As he finished reading the string of numbers, the tech said, “That’s not ACSI code. I tried it, and it comes up gibberish.”
“It is if we put a zero at the front of every three digits,” Schwartz said. “Please type this into the notepad window: zero zero seven three.”
“That’s a capital letter I,” the tech said.
“Zero one four six,” Schwartz continued.
“An apostrophe,” the tech announced. Minutes later the tech was reading the first line of text. “I’ve had to go into hiding.” Before long, we had the entire message:
I’ve had to go into hiding. My life is in danger. Tell Schwartz you’ll find me on Washington, his and Herrs.
“It’s another puzzle,” Trevor said in clear annoyance.
“He’s on Washington’s Landing,” Schwartz announced confidently.
“It could mean that,” Trevor agreed. “Or it could mean Mount Washington or Little Washington.”
     Schwartz shook his head. “Prior to 1987, Washington’s Landing was known as Herrs Island,” Schwartz said. “It was spelled without an apostrophe, just like in the coded message. That wasn’t an oversight. Earlier in the message Ulric used the apostrophe in the word ‘I’ve.’ If he was using a possessive he’d have used it again. The word ‘his’ references Washington, and the word ‘Herrs’ references the alternate name. His and Herrs means Washinton’s and Herrs. Ulric Devacki is on Washington’s Landing in the Allegheny River, and he’s in hiding because he feels his life is in danger.”


Get more information on where to get the book here at this link.

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