EskieMama & Dragon Lady Reads New Release Spotlight w/Giveaway: Inquistion by Jennifer Carole Lewis



Welcome to EskieMama & Dragon Lady Reads
New Release Spotlight!

Today we are spotlighting Jennifer Carole Lewis's
New Release
Inquisition!

Enter below for a chance to win a $20.00 Amazon Gift plus 
a set of ebooks of the Lalassu Series


Jennifer Carole Lewis's 
New Release 
Book Three of The Lalassu series
Inquisition!




Police detective Joe Cabrera used to have a pretty good life. Promising career, plenty of flirtations, and he never once needed to question the nature of his reality. All of that changed when he discovered the truth of the lalassu. Suddenly, he fell deep into a rabbit hole of paranormal powers, shadowy conspiracies and millennia-old secrets. Now, his old no-nonsense approach to his job just doesn’t work any longer. If he wants to stop his old enemy, André Dalhard, from hurting anyone else, Joe will need to find a more flexible option.

A master of disguise, Cali has assumed so many identities over the years that remembering who she was born to be is impossible. Abandoned on the streets as a child, she was rescued by André Dalhard. She’s served him loyally for many years, using her shape-shifting abilities to take on new personas in the blink of an eye, such as Boomerang, the master thief. To save Mr. Dalhard from prison, she becomes Colleen Avila, a meek and mild personal secretary.

Joe initially planned to use Colleen as a confidential informant, but wasn’t prepared for the intensity of his feelings for her. When he meets the arrogant and brash Boomerang and the determined and fearless Cali, he finds himself torn between the three women. For Cali, she knows she must inevitably either break Joe’s heart or turn against the man who saved her from a life of uncertainty and poverty.

As Joe and Cali work together, they discover an even greater threat to the lalassu, one that could send everyone tumbling down into a new rabbit hole. If their fears are realized, neither their friends nor their enemies will be able to escape.



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Q & A with Jennifer Carole Lewis about Inquisition!

Tell us about Inquistion.

Inquisition is the third book in the lalassu series, which is about a secret society of superheroes living among us. It focuses on Detective Joe Cabrera, who was in the first two books, and introduces Cali, a metamorph who is able to shape-shift into different appearances. Cali has many different disguises, including Boomerang, a master thief with a heart of gold, and Colleen, who is the meek administrative assistant to the series villain, Andre Dalhard.

What initially inspired you to write Inquistion?

There were a couple of different inspirations for Inquistion. The first was wanting to explore how people react to major changes in their world view. In the first book, Joe learns that superpowers are real but can’t tell anyone because, if people didn’t see it for themselves, they’d think he was crazy. I knew that for a character who was really devoted to helping and protecting others, this would be a real challenge.

The second inspiration actually comes from my childhood, and the television series, Jem and the Holograms. In that series, the main character’s boyfriend is dating both of her personas, not realizing they are the same person. That frustrated me as a kid. I thought she should kick his cheating butt to the curb in both personas. So I wanted to do a story where the hero falls in love with different aspects of the same woman, not realizing it’s the same woman, but still treating her with respect. Cali’s abilities to shapeshift offered an opportunity I couldn’t resist.

And last but not least, I was inspired by the idea that the villain is always the hero of his or her own story. It’s all a matter of perspective. I wanted to share the story of someone who saw my villain, Andre Dalhard, as a hero. He rescued Cali form her life on the streets, maybe because he wanted to use her but maybe because he genuinely wanted to help. The readers will have to look between the lines to decide for themselves.

Tell us little about the characters in Inquistion.

There are two main characters, Joe and Cali. Joe is a no-nonsense police detective from a big Mexican-American family. He’s very much rooted in what he can see and touch, so it throws him for a real loop when he discovers that not all psychics are frauds and that there are people out there with gifts that could match any special effects artist’s dreams. But he’s also very dedicated to protecting those around him, ready to step up and put himself at risk if it will save someone else. His family plays a big part in his life, with relatives always offering advice and food, but also giving him a space where he doesn’t have to be the protector.

Cali was raised more in the streets, living on her own from a very early age. She was rescued by Andre Dalhard and began to work for him as a corporate spy. She doesn’t trust other people, preferring to rely on herself. But she’s not completely cynical. She tries to help the underdogs however she can, whether it’s street kids or a neighbor trying to escape an abusive relationship. She is a compulsive contingency planner, always ready with a plan B, C, and D for any situation.

Having the two of them fall into a partnership (and in love) with each other was really satisfying as an author. I think they might be my most opposites-attract couple so far.

I’d also like to give a shout out to my two favorite secondary characters from this book: Vincent and Mama. Vincent will be familiar to readers of the first and second book. He’s my inner sarcastic voice, always coming up with something witty for the occasion. And Mama was a delight to write, based on a real life firecracker of a mother and grandmother. The kind of woman who is certain any problem can be solved with enough food and a hug.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

The hardest part of writing any book for me is finding the time in front of a keyboard. I work full-time, plus have kids to manage and chauffeur. I’ve taught myself to write in short bursts, while I’m waiting for lessons to be over or while the kids are busy. It’s a slower process than I’d like but I’m getting faster at it.

For this particular book, I spent a lot of time researching. I wanted to make sure I got everything as right as humanly (and narratively) possible. For Joe, I researched police work and Mexican-American culture. For Cali, I worked with a professional magician to learn sleight of hand and talked with some kids who did grow up on the streets and manage to escape.

What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

I think my favorite scene to write was one that popped into my head right at the beginning of the writing process. Joe puts a set of cuffs on Cali (as Boomerang) preparing to arrest her and then a few minutes later, realizes the handcuffs are gone. When he challenges her, she replies, “These? I assumed they were for dramatic purposes. Would you like them back?”

I’m a fan of banter-flirtation and that scene still makes me smile when I read it. It shows Cali as a strong woman, one who isn’t waiting for anyone else to rescue her. She’s more than capable of turning the tables on anyone who thinks they have the upper hand. But it also shows her intelligence and humor.

What are your future project(s)?

I’m working on book 4 of the lalassu series, which will feature Martha, the mother of a special needs child (who also has the ability to talk to ghosts), and Lou, one of the Guardians who take care of those whose powers can’t be hidden. I have the series mapped out up until book 6.

Is there anything else you would like to tell the readers about this book/series?

I grew up on comics like The X-men, and Spider-man. At first, I just enjoyed the stories and the adventure, but then I started to realize how much those stories could share and make people think about the world around us. Speculative fiction has a way of illuminating a society’s blind spots, making it easier to connect with ideas that might otherwise be frightening or upsetting. I knew I wanted to tell those kinds of stories, with fantastical adventures over real issues.






Now an exciting excerpt from Inquisition!

“Hey, Detective Cabrera. Good catch today.”

The newbie’s words caught the attention of the other Perdition police officers bustling around the bull pen. The rustle of paperwork and murmur of conversations dropped, leaving an eager silence.

“Thanks…” Joe Cabrera let his voice trail off, unsure of the kid’s name. He knew he should walk away rather than risk tainting this kid’s career with his presence. The guy was so new he was practically quivering in his crisply pressed uniform and glistening shoes.

“Rob Salazar.” The rookie held out his hand. “If you have a minute, I’d like to talk about the case. How did you track down the firm that makes the weighted dice?” He’d probably read a book on how to introduce himself and create a presence at work. Joe’s own eager rookie days were too distant to dig up from his memory. After the last few months, he was too tired and cynical to even try.

“I just followed the leads.” Dammit, it was a good catch. But he didn’t dare brag about the work he’d done to track down the trio of scammers who’d been counting out cards and swapping out dice at the local casinos. He’d managed to catch them before the organized-crime family who ran the place caught up to them. “Nothing special.”

“How did you know that one guy would go back to his ex-girlfriend’s to hide out?”

The other cops in the precinct were starting to snicker. Joe shook the boy’s hand as quickly as he could. Time to bail. “Another time, Salazar.”

Joe turned and found himself blocked by a tall man whose girth ensured there would be no convenient retreat. Detective Dave Hampton carried a grudge stretching back to when Joe made detective first. Staring at the flecks of crumbs and lint dotting the man’s once-expensive wool trench coat, Joe reminded himself not to react and give Hampton the satisfaction of knowing his blows had struck home.

“Don’t waste your time, Salazar.” Hampton gave a broad grin, clearly eager to delve into old ground with a fresh audience. “Not unless you want a front-page story for the tabloids.”

“I don’t understand.” Salazar glanced between the two of them, eyes round and uncertain.

“Tell him what they call you.” Hampton smirked, his grin displaying yet more crumbs caught in his sandy-blond beard. Joe despised the man’s slovenliness, especially since it carried over to his police work. Hampton never bothered finding the right suspect if he could beat a convenient one into a confession.

“I wouldn’t dream of depriving you of the pleasure.” Joe gritted his teeth in a pleasant, professional smile. Don’t react. Don’t give him the satisfaction.

“Creepy Cabrera.” Hampton should be in charge of crowd control. He didn’t need a megaphone to project his voice. “Guy’s a regular X-file.”

Salazar shook his head, confused. Joe tried not to roll his eyes. The kid probably didn’t even remember The X-Files.

“Once they figured out you were loony tunes, they took away the Dalhard Industries investigation and gave it to a real detective.” Hampton puffed himself up, tucking his thumbs into the nonexistent gap between his paunch and his belt.

Joe pushed past the bully, not trusting his temper to remain under control much longer. Obedient chuckles echoed down the hall as Hampton proceeded to loudly explain the facts to Salazar. “Creepy Cabrera used to be a hotshot, but no one trusts him since he started spouting off about the little-green-men brigade.”

It was psychics, not aliens, you moron. Try to keep your prejudices straight at least. Joe’s jaw tightened, and he ground his teeth hard enough to squeak.

The elevator doors slid shut, and Joe let himself slump. If only he’d kept his mouth shut this winter. The ancient machinery whirred in the walls as the elevator ascended slowly, giving Joe plenty of time to brood about what went wrong.

He was open-minded, willing to believe that the universe still held plenty of surprises. Tía Agata was always babbling about positive and negative energy, blessings and curses. He didn’t put much stock in such things himself, but he didn’t dismiss them either. But what had happened went far beyond a mere surprise.

Seven months earlier, he’d discovered that there were people walking around with the sort of superpowers that belonged in comic books and movies. The discovery hadn’t just yanked the rug out from under him—it had shattered the bedrock of his beliefs about the nature of the universe. He’d been doing all right with it, managing to pick up the pieces and fit them back into some semblance of order, until his so-called friends dragged him out to Alaska to hunt down André Dalhard, a man who could control people by touching them. Dalhard had used his skills for murder, kidnapping, extortion, fraud, and any number of other crimes. None of which Joe could prove.

Why did they even bother? He knew the reason. They’d needed his help to track the man down, but then they’d expected him to turn his back while they took care of the problem. Instead, Joe had insisted that even a man like Dalhard deserved due process, and he’d brought him back and put him on trial.

That was when the trouble started. Other officers could mock the tin-foil-hat crowd, but Joe knew that at least some of those dangers were real. He’d begged for enhanced security precautions to keep Dalhard in jail. But he hadn’t been able to come up with a rational explanation for why staff should avoid all skin-to-skin contact with the prisoner. Joe had gotten frustrated one day, and it all came spilling out. Two minutes of babbling had ruined ten years of his career and reputation.

His sergeant insisted on Joe seeing a psychologist. He’d gone, and he’d made all the right noises, claiming stress, bad medication, and whatever he thought might make a difference. Of course he understood that psychics weren’t real, and he’d been tired and had made a little slip while joking. No big deal.

His verbal footwork had kept his badge safe but hit his pride hard. Cops were worse than frat boys for holding on to an embarrassing joke. At least frats only lasted through college, though. He’d be Creepy Cabrera until the day he retired. Especially with Hampton stirring the pot at every opportunity.

Even worse was the knowledge that his brothers in blue were walking out there, ignorant of the dangers that Joe now knew existed. Keeping it to himself made him feel like a traitor, but how could he convince them of the truth if they hadn’t seen it for themselves? Joe’s eyes had been forced open, and slipping back into the shadows of ignorance wasn’t an option any longer.

The elevator doors dinged as they began to close, and Joe realized he’d been standing there, staring into space like a shell-shocked trooper from World War I. Grabbing the door to keep it open, he gratefully realized no one seemed to have noticed. I need to go home and start working on the end table for Mamá and try to forget that I’m the only one who knows we’re balancing on the verge of some kind of superpowered apocalypse.

“Detective Cabrera!” his sergeant, Fran Modnik, called out before he could escape, her blond ponytail swinging like a hangman’s noose as she stalked across the lobby.

Shitshitshit. “Sergeant,” he replied politely.

“We need your help on something.” Modnik passed him, her sensible flats squeaking softly against the linoleum. She didn’t bother looking back to see if he would follow her as she made her way to the tech department without a single wasted step. A great believer in efficiency, Modnik didn’t use makeup or wear fashionable clothes or indulge in idle chitchat. Dark slacks and a department T-shirt were her uniform unless she was forced into something else by political necessity. Some cops didn’t like working for her, finding her cold and unforgiving. But Cabrera was impressed by her Sherlock-worthy detective skills and hoped the department would continue to recognize her incredible potential.

I was almost home free. He kept a discreet distance behind the sergeant. As they opened the door, the temperature rose—too many machines and too little air conditioning. The sheer number of storage units, tables, and monitors made Joe twitchy. They blocked his lines of sight and could potentially hide a half dozen intruders.

“You’ve heard about the series of break-ins at data-storage facilities across the state?” Modnik logged into the main terminal, powering up the large central screen.

“It was in the morning briefing,” Joe said cautiously. The higher levels were frustrated and spreading a wide net, asking local cops to keep an eye out for anything that might be connected.

Modnik nodded. “Lockbox here in Perdition got hit yesterday. The thief is a pro—set the cameras on a loop, disabled the alarms. The only thing she tripped was a routine maintenance alert, which noticed the missing file.”

“She?” Joe’s interest perked its ears. His sergeant didn’t drop details like that by accident.

“Thanks to the alert, we knew the file was removed at 2:13 a.m. The security cameras at Lockbox were affected but not the street cameras.” Modnik delivered the news with grim satisfaction. She always told her officers to be patient, because criminals were invariably sloppy. They made mistakes, and then the cops could reel them in.

“A big oversight for a pro to make.” Joe frowned. After the last few months, what others called “easy” smelled more like a trap to him.

“She didn’t know about the red-light camera at the intersection of Roosevelt and Third. Tourist blew through the light at 2:16, and look what we found.” Modnik pointed at the high-resolution traffic photo. The prominent feature was a grey sedan midway through the intersection, but Joe focused on the area behind the car.

The steel doors to Lockbox had the company name and logo clearly stenciled on them. A woman wearing a long, cream-colored designer coat over a grey business suit held them open. The photo resolution was sharp enough that Joe could see a flash of coral pink on her painted nails and the heavy stitching on her slim leather briefcase.

“Any chance she’s an employee working late?” Joe asked.

Modnik shook her head, a smirk curving her pale lips. “Nope. Checked the employee records, and there’s no match. And no record of anyone in the building either. That’s our thief.”

“It’s a nice clear shot of her face.” Joe leaned in. She’d be easy to identify. She looked more like a model or actress than a criminal. Her makeup and dark hair were even done up like one of those fifties pin-up girls, emphasizing big eyes, pouting lips, and sharp cheekbones. “Were we able to track her movements?”

“The bank on Roosevelt has twenty-four-hour coverage of the street. Same with the drugstore on New Orleans Ave.” Modnik began typing again.

“Then we’ve got her.” Joe started to warm up to his sergeant’s enthusiasm. The two streets were a block apart and close enough to Third to have partial coverage of the area in front of Lockbox, although they were at the wrong angle to see the actual building.

“You’d think so.” She split the screen into two views, one from the bank and one from the drugstore. As the timestamp crawled from 2:10 to 2:25, the streets remained deserted except for the grey sedan roaring through the light and a homeless couple, both bundled so heavily against the cold that their features were impossible to pick up. The man was definitely African American, with a worn knit cap pulled low over his forehead. The woman was dark skinned as well, possibly Latina, with filthy bleached-blond hair. They meandered over to the dumpster in the alley across from the drugstore and picked through it. Modnik paused the playback. “They go through the dumpster for another half hour and then wander off. No sign of our Jane Doe.”

“How?” Joe’s mind began to click through possibilities. “She’d have to pass at least one of the cameras. Could the feeds have been tampered with?”

“No. The sedan confirms the recording isn’t from a previous night. I’m still having tech go through it to make sure, but it looks clean. Our mystery lady simply vanished into thin air.” Modnik clicked off the screen and faced her detective. “That’s where you come in.”

“Me?” Joe tried to keep his voice nonchalant while his heart sank deep below his belt. Another weird case for Creepy Cabrera.

“Too many cops get focused on what they expect to see. You keep an open mind and follow the evidence. I don’t need someone screaming ghosts or conspiracies. I need someone to find out what happened. The truth, no matter how strange.”

His reluctance seeped through his professional mask. “I’m not sure I’m the best choice.”

“Because they call you Creepy Cabrera?” Modnik hit the nail with a blunt-force sledgehammer. “I don’t care about a bunch of status-happy idiots poking at you because they haven’t heard a good joke in a while. You’re a good detective, Cabrera. You find the connections—you find the bad guys.”

“And what about the other stuff? This isn’t going to help my reputation, Sergeant.” Joe decided to be equally blunt.

“Trust me. You want this case.” Modnik paused, glancing around the room to make sure they were alone. “The data firms that have been hit all have a client in common: Dalhard Industries.”

Joe’s head snapped up. He wanted to ask if the sergeant was sure, but she’d take it as an insult. Careful. Dalhard’s lawyers had already slapped Joe with a police-harassment suit.

“I see I’ve piqued your interest,” Modnik said dryly.

“Hampton is the lead officer for the Dalhard investigation.” Joe forced his shoulders down, trying to appear relaxed.

“Officially, that’s not going to change.” She held up one finger to forestall any reply from Joe. “I’ve known you long enough to trust your gut instincts. This is too big a coincidence to leave unchecked, and I’m offering you a chance to prove what you’ve been saying. Find this thief, and you might find your evidence against Dalhard.” She offered him the slim file.

“Find a thief who disappears without a trace. Easy. And what should I do after lunch?” Joe accepted the file.

Modnik smiled briefly, and the weary sergeant morphed into an attractive woman. “Could be worse. The department is also asking for someone to look into that shapeshifting viral video.”

No need to ask for details. Joe suppressed a wince. He’d caught the live version of the event during his trip to Alaska. “It’s fake. Probably a publicity stunt for some movie.”

“It’s caught the attention of some very prominent people. All sorts of experts are insisting the footage hasn’t been tampered with. Now I’m having to field ridiculous calls asking what I plan to do if we catch a suspect with unusual abilities.” She rolled her eyes. “If they find out about our mystery thief, I could end up having to handle a crackpot task force. So don’t thank me yet.”

“So you need me to keep this quiet.” Could their target be one of the lalassu? Was invisibility one of the possible powers? Joe made a mental note to get in touch with his best friend, Michael, to ask. After years of bringing Joe useful tips, Michael had found the secret society of people with an astonishing variety of supernatural gifts, and he’d dragged Joe down the rabbit hole after him.

Modnik nodded. “Whatever you find, you bring to me. And one more thing—stay away from Otisville.”

That was the prison where Dalhard currently lived. “Understood.”

“I mean it, Cabrera. This is your one chance, and you have no margin for bullshit. You don’t talk to Dalhard again until you have enough to hang him with.” Modnik delivered her final orders and stalked into the hall, ready to take out her irritation on the next hapless victim who crossed her.

Enough to hang him with. Only a figure of speech, but the words echoed what the other lalassu had suggested for Dalhard back in Alaska: a summary execution. Joe had stopped them, but lately, he wondered if his ethics had trapped him into making a fatal mistake.




Author Bio:

I am a full time writer, full time admin person and a full time mother (which is at least two more times than I actually have but somehow I'm making it work while still finding time to watch TV and read).

I've always loved stories: watching them, reading them, or telling them. I've recently self-published my first novel and I'm very excited to see about making my dreams come true.

I like alternate realities, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, superpowers, alternative history and secret societies. That's what inspires my work.
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Jennifer Carole Lewis Spotlight Giveaway

Comments

  1. I really enjoyed the excerpt. Very intriguing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Your research sounds exciting Jennifer!

    ReplyDelete
  3. The book sounds interesting, thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for the great giveaway!
    The book looks amazing! I would really like to read it!

    ReplyDelete

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