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Friday, March 15, 2013

Blood on the Cards by David W. Huffstetler

Series:  A Jack Harden Mystery
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Wild Child Publishing
Release Date: October 1 2012
A brotherhood of powerful men, a self-proclaimed prophet, and an ancient goddess hover over a series of murders that start with a game of Texas Hold-em. Are they to blame, or is it the embittered Comanche outcast set on revenge against Jack Harden for the death of his niece? Elsie and Jack try to salvage what’s left of their relationship, as a canvas of death unfurls around them.

Can they stop it?
Educated in Dallas, North Carolina, David Huffstetler holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He has worked in the area of human relations and spent fourteen years weaving through the maze that is politics, including participating in a Federal Law suit with a sitting governor. David has served on Boards of Directors for numerous professional organizations and has advised governors and legislators on matters of public policy and legislation. 

David’s work as a senior manager with a major industrial concern took him to international venues and exposures that helped feed his urge to write Disposable People, a dramatic expose of the working conditions and politics that engulf undocumented workers. Disposable People is a top-ten “Suggested Book” at Tufts University in Boston, MA.

He turned the frustrations and rejection that plagues thousands of yet-to-be-published authors into the heralded mystery/thriller Blood on the Pen, with a serial killer disposing of literary agents. David’s passion for history led him to write Dead in Utah, the story of Joe Hill, the controversial musician and union organizer accused of a double murder in 1914. Blood on the Cards follows his tradition of thrillers, and it stands on its own merit as a novel with a hint of the paranormal.

His books receive praise from mystery readers across the globe.

“David W. Huffstetler crafts gripping crime thrillers that can only be described as a riveting roller coaster ride from its ‘okay, you’ve got my attention’, beginning, to the suspenseful ‘I’ve now chewed my nails to the quick’, conclusion.”   -Book Lovers, Inc.

As an editor, public speaker, and seasoned professional, David has appeared on television and radio, and has lectured on the East Coast, California, Canada and Mexico. David currently lives in Lexington, South Carolina with his wife, Trudy.

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Excerpts – Blood on the Cards
* * * *

Jack passed Millburn’s Store doing seventy-five miles per hour. He saw the dirt road to his father’s house, and he saw the back of a yellow, Jeep pickup vanishing around a curve in the distance. “It’s him, Mose.”
“Yeah, the son of a bitch.” His heart was torn between the Ranger who wanted to give chase and the son who was afraid for his father. Dust and bits of gravel flew from his tires as Jack slid his truck to a stop at the steps. He dashed onto the porch and called back to Browner, “Check the shed.” Harden burst into the living room, knocked over a chair, and clamored into the kitchen. “Pop!” Nothing. The hall and the bedroom were as empty as the rest of the house. He ran onto the porch, leapt over the railing, and hurried toward the shed.
A sliver of sunlight lay across the floor of the shed and onto the post where Moses stood, holding his handkerchief against Jim Harden’s neck. “He nailed him to a post. We need help.” He tossed the cell phone to Jack and said, “Call EMS and tell them how to get here. I’ll keep pressure on the wound.”
Jack saw an empty look in his father’s eyes. “Moses, is he . . .”
“He’s alive. That’s all I can tell you. Now, make the call.”

* * * *
                Dusk settled outside the window, and Reverend Lu stood at the head of the table. He turned toward the front door and said, “Ah, Tim is here. Let’s get started.”
                Jackson smiled, nodded to the other ten men around the table, and took his seat. “Sorry to be late. We had a problem at one of the car lots.”
The men joined hands, bowed their heads, and Lu prayed. “Oh, Spirit of Truth, speak to us. Open our minds and our hearts that we may hear you, that we may yield to you. Amen.” Their hands slid off the table onto their laps and every eye was on Benjamin Lu. “Gentlemen, I asked you to come tonight for a special reason. You were twelve and now you are eleven. We had a traitor in our midst.” He took a Bible from a full bookcase and opened it. “Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, chapter five. ‘To deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh that the spirit may be saved.’ There are many books that speak to us of the truth, and this is one.” He closed the Bible and eased it back onto the shelf. “We have lost one of our number, but we have saved his soul. There is no greater sign of love than the shedding of blood. My brothers, only the strong and the pure can understand these teachings.”
                He looked at each of them, until he stopped at Jackson. “Tim, do you see the wisdom in what has been done?”
                Jackson swallowed hard, looked around, and said, “Yeah, I guess so.”
                “Look at me, Tim. We are the chosen, the elect. There has always been a remnant of true believers in an evil age, and you are part of that remnant. Do you understand that? Do you understand who you are--who we are?”
                “Yes, I’m with you. I wouldn’t have gone out there, if I hadn’t been. But, what happens if the police come around?”
                Lu pointed to Paul Thibadeuax and said, “Tell him, Paul. Tell us all.”
                Thibadeuax’s voice was calm and smooth. “We are not subject to their laws. We have been called to a greater purpose.”
                Lu smiled and said, “There are no truer words. Each of you was selected to be where you are. Samuel, you are a judge because it was your destiny. Robert, it is not simply coincidence that you sit in Congress. Every generation has a prophet. For some it was Moses, for others Confucius, and for yet others Joseph Smith. Each brought the same message, and I bring it to you.” He looked around the table and asked, “Do you believe in me?” They all nodded. Lu handed a metal medallion to Chet Watson. “Place it in the center of the table.”
                Watson leaned over the table and set the medallion on the polished oak. Lu lowered his left hand into his lap and pointed at the medallion with his right hand. He narrowed his eyes, put his finger to his forehead, and said, “Let it be so.” The medallion slowly moved down the table, passing by men with open mouths, until it stopped in front of him. A murmur rose around the table. Lu stood. “What you have seen here must not be discussed outside this room. It is a sign for you, not for the nonbelievers. Keep it in your hearts. Our time will come soon, but we must be one family. Tim is right. The enemy will come. I saw him in a dream. He was a young man with an old heart, and, when he comes, we must be strong. We must be of one mind.”

* * * *
                Elsie dressed in a haze of morning sunlight. She buttoned a red blouse over gray pants and left just a hint of cleavage. She saw him in the mirror, stretched out flat on the bed. Others might criticize his looks, but she found him ruggedly handsome. His broad, genuine smile warmed her every time she saw him. “You know I’ve got to go,” she said. “I don’t want to leave you, but I’m still a reporter, and I have to go to work. I need to see what they found out at the river. And, if I were you, I’d get moving. Neither of us wants Jack Harden to come home and find you in is bed.”
She sat on the edge of the bed, ran her fingers down his bare chest, and pressed her cheek against his. She wanted to crawl back in beside him, but she couldn’t. She bounded to her feet. She walked to the door, paused, and looked back into those deep, brown eyes. He slipped his tongue out the side of his mouth, wagged his tail, and fell back to sleep.
My Thoughts:
At the start of this book, Jack Harden receives a late night call.  He has a talk with two teenagers.  As an adult, you’ll love how he gives them a little tough love.  Elsie is a reporter who happens to have a thing for Jack.  But this is not a love story.  I’m one that usually only reads all things romance but I said that I’d give this book a try.  I’m glad that I made that decision – Jack had me hooked right from the first page.
One character to watch out for is Reverend Benjamin Lu.  He’s not like any religious man I’ve ever come into contact with.  He seems to be one of those characters that keep you riveted to the story.  You just have to see if you can figure him out.
Jack is a character that one minute you question his morals and then he turns around and redeems himself.   He’s also a man that cares about his family and friends.  He’s a man that I would want to have on my side.
David has either done a lot of research to get his scenes so perfect or he has a great imagination (or the perfect combination of both).  It would be interesting to know if he would like to see his book on the small or big screen.  And then it also has me wondering who he would cast as his characters.
This book is as good as any romance that I have read – I didn’t want to put it down.  It has a lot going on and it gets a little complicated but isn’t that what makes a good mystery.  If things got solved too early, what would be left to hold your attention?  At one point you think you have it all figured out and then you realize that you don’t.  The bigger mystery is if there is going to be a book three.  If you also like to read romances, you will get a teaser at the end.  The only disappointment I had was that I haven’t read book one.     


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