Three Strikes: Ross Klavan, Tim O’Mara and Charles Salzburg
I Take Care of Myself: Ross Klavan
A story told through two separate viewpoints as Ross Klavan starts us off with I take care of myself in dreamland where we meet Barton whose now in the hands of two mobsters and whose telling us about why whores are the ones doing great business as the driver of the car relates his encounter with this young girl but let’s us know that this handsome man is scarred burned and mentally unstable trying to decide where is life belongs, deal with rejection and the journey he encountered in the army bringing him later back to the present.
Bartok’s truck exploded and his body was severely burned and after long term hospital care his prognosis was not great but he was alive but permanently scarred in more ways than one. Red river is how he recalls or calls the incident and plays it over many times within this story and hopes to somehow relive it.
Acceptance and the need to feel wanted are what Bartok wants and needs but throughout the story he meets obstacles, harsh words and difficulties coping with life in general. Different hookers provide different perspectives of what they see when approached by him and each time he’s foiled because their primary goal is fleecing the mark for money. So, why such a tragic figure and why does he give in to their wants?
Bartok meets a hooker and gets into with her boyfriend since he was set up then confronted by an old man whom he confesses that he’s out of his mind. Yet reminding each person and readers he wants to relive Red river bringing him to the present leaving the homer house and to another bar where the driver relates more as Bartok meets another hooker where we learn his final goal.
We get to know him in depth each time he comes in contact with another hooker or even a person relating his goal to take his own life thinking he’s done and has nowhere to go. No one seems inclined to try and talk him out of it either disbelieving him or ambivalent. Each person has his/ her agenda or goal including Bartok. He’s a tragic character caught within his own rationalization of how his life has gone, where he is and why other then going to recreate red river there’s nothing else.
The final reveal for Bartok is heartbreaking and sad as his journey in life cane to halt when he experience red river and found was you decide.
Turmoil within himself and incidents that happen with other hookers and their marks and deaths that appears to follow or did they? Is he imagining theses things or are they real?
Read Bartok’s journey and learn the final revelation and you decide what is fact or fiction.
Jammed: Tim O’Mara
Aggies Stop did not yield the right results and now he’s told that his life depends on what happens next. Aggie is told he has to drive over 40 hours and back with a special load of “molasses” and cannot stop unless the guy in front of him says so. Threats are mad and he’s sort of a slave this owner because of a serious mess up with his last job. What he did not expect was a 15-year-old girl hiding out in the cab of the truck and surprising him. The daughter of the owner hitching a ride to New York to meet a boy she met online. Not too bright as you hear her rationale and thinking. Aggie has no choice but to take her and things get interesting from this point.
Things get tense and we learn more about Charlene the young teen claiming to have a boyfriend coming to New York to meet her but as we learn more it seems that she’s not very astute and might wind up alone on the street s of New York and what’s going to happen if they learn she’s with Aggie?
Charlene is the daughter of the owner and she’s bent on going to New York to be with her boyfriend that she’s never met. Not very streetwise and when her parents realize she lied about where she was staying they contact the Cornell and Aggie realizes he might have a delicate situation to handle. This girl is not too bright and definitely naïve.
The situation boils when Charlene’s friend Missy goes missing and turns up in Cornell’s truck. The situation is right out of Laurel and Hardy movie as Aggie plays tough guy when Moe the boyfriend shows up and the author shares his real purpose for wanting Charlene. Naive and a friend that is off the wall these two don’t understand human trafficking and the players increase, her father is in the mix and cargos need to be unloaded or brought for sale. A standoff and a situation that becomes tense as author Tim O’Mara teaches parents and teens the dangers of running away and parents not monitoring their teens. The ending will surprise readers and definitely endear you to Aggie. Jammed in more ways than one. So, what is the final outcome and where will the two girls wind up? What about Aggie and his final encounter with the boss and will he and Cornell survive?
The Maybrick Affair: Charles Salzburg
Jake Harper begins his narrative at a town meeting that get interesting and a bidding war that provides some sort of nepotism in granting the job. But, he’s assigned a human-interest story next where an elderly reclusive woman is found dead and because she’s considered a nobody her death spears no great concern to solve. But, looking into her death he learns those years before she was convicted of murdering her husband in a well-publicized trial. But, there’s much more to this women’s past.
When Jake is handed a sure fire story from someone at the meeting he’s angry that it’s given to someone hired on the newspaper food chain. Elizabeth Chandler is the woman found dead in her home also called the cat lady. Interviewing the fire chief leads Jake to learn about the students in the school in the past that helped her with her grocery purchases. But, finding an old album and articles in her house he realizes that she might be connected to a woman named Florence Maybrick and that Elizabeth Chandler might have killed her husband. So, with his girlfriend, Maggie, Jake heads to New York to do some research but first paying a visit to her attorney who does not shed much light on the situation but does not deny that she might be Florence.
Delving into her life he learns about her husband who liked to medicate himself with arsenic but Florence was accused and arrested for his murder and served many years in different prisons. But, when Jake returns to Milford someone broke into his room and John Tudor tells him he’s being followed and winds up dead in a strange place and way. Why doesn’t anyone take his death as more than an accident? Author Charles Salzburg creates a veil of conspiracy and deceit from the past and the present events until the final reveal.
Things take on a dangerous turn as he delves into the reason why Tudor was murdered and it stems to a business deal that he realizes is corrupt. Learning more about Florence Maybrick he’s approached by a relative that claims his uncle James was married to Florence and hopes that Jake won’t publish the story about Florence and who John, her husband might be that would change the course of history and place us in a bad position with Britain. But, Pearl Harbor is attacked and the attention to that event is paramount and the final reveal of what he writes is confidential and you the reader will decide what is fact/fiction and if what Jake Harper found would make a difference as to who a serial killer really was. Charles Salzburg gives us much pause for thought as we learn about the contract behind building the Philbin Brass Works, the death of the guard, the break-in of his room and the murders that follow. This is one story that makes you wonder if any of it besides Pearl Harbor is true.
Each story told by a narrator and each story’s main character in need of recognition, hope, and working his way up but when you meet Bartok and then Aggie you wonder how they wound up so desolate and so indebted to others and their fates different thinking that Aggie might have another chapter that might be delivered by Tim O’Mara and possibly Jake might return as a more respected reporter.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine/MJ Network
Questions for this interview
How did you come to collaborate on this book?
The title: speaks for itself explain how you chose it and relate it to your main characters
Bartok is the first character we meet in the first story Tell us why he was placed in the back of that car and how he came to be in this dangerous situation and why?
What happened to him in the past in the army that plagued him in the present?
In the second story we meet Aggie and he is also in trouble with his boss not completing a shipment that was supposed to be delivered: How did that happened and why is he treated as a slave? Tell us more about him and what he’ now asked to do and why?
In the third story we meet Jake Harper a young reporter who does not receive the respect and stories he deserves: after attending a council meeting he learns something from someone there that might lead to a big story: why give it to someone else? Why didn’t this person look closer?
Getting to know Bartok even more he talks about returning to Red River: What’s that? What do whores have to do with his fate and why does he feel he needs them to make him feel wanted and loved?
What is wrong with him that turns many of them off and how does he react?
Who are the many women that we meet in this book?
In the second story Aggie is driving to New York and what happens that creates a serious problem for him and how does he handle it?
Who is Charlene and why is she in the back of this truck? What does she say is her purpose and how do we know that she’s not too smart?
In the third story we learn more about Elizabeth Chandler which is the story that Jake has to write about her death. Why does he look into it even more and when he gets into her house what changes it all? Why?
Tell us more about Regular Guy and why Bartok takes his frustration out on him? Who else receives his wrath? Does he even realize what he’s doing?
Why does he constantly ask if he’s returning to Red River and what do most think that means and why?
Where does this story take place and why does Bartok have problems with getting work?
Who is Florette? Who is Mr. Polotoon?
What happens that changes his fate each time he gets angry and reminds us of the army?
Why does he seem hopeless and delusional?
In story 2 Aggie seems to get along with Charlene but problems arise when Missy shows up: What were they planning to do and why is Missy’s life so pathetic? Why don’t her parents care about her and even speak to her on the phone?
When Jake realizes what he learns about Elizabeth what will happen if he writes the story and how would it affect our relationship with Britain?
What is in the diary that he finds and why are so many people trying to stop him from telling the story? How would this change history if what he learned was really true?
How did you decide on the theme or storyline for your short story?
Will you make any of your characters part of a series or another story?
If Bartok could speak what would he tell readers about his journey and his life?
What about Aggie has he learn anything about himself that might change the way others see him and how he sees himself?
What about Jake: What kind of reporter does he want to be and will he and Maggie have a future?
Where can we learn about all of you and your work?
What is next for each one of you?