Thrillers, Chillers and Darn Good Books
Today’s spotlight is on C.L. Withers whose novel Castle Cape is an Alaskan thriller that hurtles you into suspense and adventure at warp speed. With a unique setting and Withers background as a former Detective with The Anchorage Police Department, this is one thriller that is a must have on your to read list. If you haven’t sampled his writing yet, this is your chance to get a sneak peak and discover a great new author.
Author Bio: I was born in Texas, however, my father was something of an adventurer and the family moved to Anchorage during the winter of 1955 when I was a year and a half old. Dad was a pilot and later flew the Alaskan bush as a professional big game guide for many years during the late ’50’s and ’60’s. The family even homesteaded a remote 160 acre parcel far north of Anchorage. Like many long-time residents, I continued to explore much of the 49th state as an avid hunter and sports fisherman in later years.
I began my law enforcement career with the Anchorage Police Department in 1980, the last thirteen years assigned to the Detective Division. During my years in the Patrol Division I was a FTO (Field Training Officer) for both new recruits and Reserve officers and a Uniformed Patrol Investigator. Later after moving to Detectives I came to specialize in more than one area of criminal enterprise and was a court-recognized expert in the field of Auto Theft Investigation. As a Fraud Investigator I had the opportunity to be trained by the U.S. Secret Service in the field of Questioned Documents.
I retired from law enforcement in late 2000, and honored a promise to my wife Sheila (who I have been married to for more than thirty years), to return her to Oregon where we now reside on the central Oregon coast just south of Newport along with our Bearded Collie Caesar and two extremely lazy cats.
Genre: I primarily write action thrillers and sci-fi/fantasy, although like everyone I can easily fall in love with a book from any genre. My older sister Karen taught me to enjoy reading at a very early age and I suspect that my love of mysteries grew out of her extensive collection of Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries. Later I discovered the distant worlds of Asimov, Poul Anderson and Robert A. Heinlein and to this day remain an ardent admirer of these and other writers from the Golden Age of science fiction. Even today, picking up a copy of I, Robot or The Imperial Stars is like returning to another time for me.
You have a continuing character in your novels. Give us a bit of background about him.
Well, CASTLE CAPE really has two continuing characters of note, the first being Detective Sheridan (Dan) McKenna, a veteran Anchorage Police detective nearing the exit of a lengthy police career. The other is McKenna’s aging ‘retired’ K-9 German shepherd named Nero. I liked the idea of another ‘character’ for my main protagonist to play off, also I just plain love dogs! It’s difficult to find another animal as faithful, fearless and heroic and provides plenty of angles to work into virtually any storyline I can imagine. This investigative duo will appear in at least three novels already roughed out or underway. A quick aside for those that might be interested, if you visit my website at clwithers.com, you can find a photo of the real Nero, a wolf-husky hybrid that was a family pet back in the early 60’s.
Tell us a little about your book.
Well, as the novel opens readers are introduced to Dan McKenna who is a divorced, veteran detective mired in the throes of severe depression following the accidental death of his ten year old son. McKenna lives in self-imposed isolation except for the companionship of his retired police K-9, a huge German shepherd from McKenna’s earlier years as a Patrol K-9 officer. An early morning call-out deeply involves the hero in the death of his old mentor, forcing McKenna’s reassessment of his life in order to solve the killing. Along the way McKenna finds a little romance and redeems himself along his crumbling career. I think what will surprise readers most is the direction the novel takes them. Despite my background I was determined not to write a police procedural, heavy with police jargon and forensics. Make no mistake, I love the authentic “cop’ elements often injected into a storyline as much as anyone, however, that wasn’t what I was shooting for with CASTLE CAPE. Likewise, you will find little in the way of ‘colorful’ language throughout the book. Again, not because I won’t utilize it myself, I was just trying for a different feel to the book. The plot is probably best described as ‘larger than life,’ and I frequently use the word adventure in describing it because while the story begins with cops, shooting and intrigue which continues throughout the book, it later undergoes a transformation into the adventure stage, with the Alaskan wilderness prominently featured. It’s a fast-paced, plot-driven action and adventure novel mixed with some historical elements. As one reader described it, the storyline is a mystery within a mystery. I very much wanted CASTLE CAPE to be one of those books that as the reader turns the last page he has that genuine feeling of satisfaction in the story and time spent reading it. I think I succeeded.
“They’re coming, Kirochka, run!”
Peter’s terse warning given between labored gasps for air spurred Kira into reckless flight. Her charade of stealth now forsaken, she ran blindly through the dark as though fear provided immunity to the white hot sting of branches and limbs flaying her body. To fall would spell doom for both of them as Peter would never abandon her.
Fortune granted one advantage over her pursuers. Kira had run down the narrow twisting path many times in her childhood with her blood pumping and heart pounding. It should have felt like an old familiar friend. Instead the overgrown trail reached out, clutching at her like an enemy. Ahead in the distance she saw lights from the village.
Oh God, she wondered, did she and Peter have a chance after all? Her faint hope gave way to despair as the trio of bright flashlights appeared to draw closer despite the swiftness of her flight. She tried to ignore the fatigue in her legs and the pounding heart that seemed ready to burst within her chest.
She risked another horrified glance over her shoulder and the momentary loss of concentration caused her to stagger off balance.
Kira hit the ground with enough force to drive all the air from her lungs, a pungent earthen taste mixing with the warm sweetness of blood in her mouth. Dazed by the force of impact and unable to rise she waved Peter on ahead. Despair filled her when she saw him stop, defiantly standing his ground as the brilliant flashlight beams arrived behind them. Pounding footsteps quickly faded into silence, broken only by the labored breathing of hunters and prey alike.
One shadowy figure behind the blinding lights moved closer.
“You should have kept running.” The man’s awkwardly spoken Russian held no emotion, only a terrifying tone of finality. Like the dream sequence from a horror film Kira watched a hand slide under the front of a thin nylon jacket and emerge again holding a wicked looking knife. Cold brilliance rippled along the length of a gracefully curved six inch blade patiently honed to a scalpel’s sharpness. She reacted with an animal sound deep in her throat, still gasping for breath.
“No, please, don’t hurt him, it was my idea to run.” Her voice broke under the stress becoming a plaintive cry. “Petrusha, tell him it was my idea, tell him!”
Even if Peter had wanted to offer his own plea it was too late. The man with the knife struck so quickly that she had no time to scream.
Peter tried to block the onrushing attack but his opponent was an expert with a blade, wielding the sharp edged steel like an extension of his body. The initial strike proved to be a feint, the real threat flashed in low to the inside of the groin. Razor sharp, the knife sliced with incredible ease and speed through Peter’s denim pants, down deep into skin and muscle. Thick warm arterial blood spurted briefly, inky black in the glare of the bright lights.
Kira gasped at the sight, mentally conjuring her own feeling of searing pain. Peter would not realize the warm, pulsating sensation on his inner thigh signaled the end of his life. Her friend threw another wild punch at the other man’s head that missed completely, his attacker escaping untouched.
Hatred of the man wielding the knife grew cold in her, beyond anything she had ever imagined. There was no mercy in the man’s face and she could feel the blood lust guiding his savage attack. With frightening, almost joyful rhythm the knife continued to flash, there under Peter’s right arm and then his left. Like a grotesquely choreographed dance the killer dodged and weaved, always emerging unscathed to return again and again.
The knife finally paused in its brutal work as the man holding it realized his victim was near collapse from the staggering loss of blood. Kira caught his swift glance at her, a strangely erotic flush suffusing his face. Horror filled the girl as she realized the savage performance was for her benefit.
With snake-like speed the man stepped in close for the first time, his left arm sliding around Peter’s torso like a lover’s embrace as the point of the knife found its target in the lower abdomen just above the waistline. The blade sliced upward with terrifying force, cleanly opening the abdominal cavity despite layers of muscle and sinew. The killer released his hold and stepped away, an act that allowed his victim to view his own entrails spilling out into numbed hands for a few brief seconds before death arrived. The terrible and ultimately predictable end to the horror came with the sound of Peter’s body hitting the ground.
What can your readers look forward to? Do you have an upcoming new release?
Yes, I’m currently working to finish editing a new Sci-fi/fantasy titled Justin Emrys and the Map of Ages, aimed at teen-to-young adults, although frankly I hope it has considerably broader appeal. The story features a sixteen year old boy, Justin Emrys and twin teenage sisters Erica and Emily Sheffield as the main protagonists. The plot is intended as a fresh new sendup of the Arthurian-based legend of the sorcerer Merlin, wrapped in up-to-date hard-core Sci-fi trappings.
And of course, I’ve broke ground on a new Sheridan McKenna & Nero novel, this one set on the Oregon Coast. I think readers will find it just as exciting and suspenseful as the first book, one also loosely tied to a fascinating historical event.
Where can readers learn more about you and your work?
Interested readers can visit my new website at clwithers.com, where besides information on new books, it has a few pictures and other personal data I expect to update periodically, including links to my Twitter, Facebook and email address. Like most authors, it’s always a treat to hear from a reader that likes what you’ve spent so much time creating. When someone writes me, I write back, guaranteed!
You purchase C.L. Withers books at the following retailers: