Thursday, December 7, 2023

Blurb Blitz: Method to Madness by Thomas Grant Bruso

Method to Madness

by Thomas Grant Bruso


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Mystery, LGBT


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Five years ago, Jack Ballinger was a police officer.

He has since moved from the small upstate New York town of Black Falls for greener pastures and a peaceful life alone in the Green Mountain State. Time has changed Jack -- he is no longer the man he used to be. A significant challenge for him has been the heartbreaking loss of his boyfriend, companion, and one true love, Steve.

Now alone, Jack has yet to deal rationally with the immediate changes of his new life. After losing his partner, Jack drank heavily to numb the pain and forget his life-changing loss. Now, he must find a way to move forward without Steve and the life he built for himself. Joining an Alcoholics Anonymous group helps quiet the voices that still keep him awake at night. But something much darker has followed him to his life in the quiet corners of Vermont.

When Jack thinks he has buried the scars of his past, a new nightmare emerges. How far will Jack go to end the imminent evil in his life and kill it for good?

Trigger warning: this story addresses suicide and suicidal ideation.


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EXCERPT:


My work boots clipped across the newly polished floor, squeaking with each determined step toward the security guard’s office in the back of the mall. I didn’t usually get frightened, but after the week’s events of Jacob Adler’s murder and my recurring hallucinations, I was on guard twenty-four-seven. The wall I’d built after Steve died sent me into a tailspin. I lost my self-confidence to “live on -- move on,” as Steve had put it. Getting out of bed was the most challenging part of the day, getting started. But not as difficult as being a suspect in somebody else’s murder.

I locked up in the office, hung my jacket on the wall peg along with my badge, fastened my uniform hat on top of my coat, and secured the building. I walked around the side of the shopping center to get to my truck, which was parked near the auto shop garage in the adjacent lot. My keys clanged against the side of my uniform work belt.

There was a crispness to the air as it gusted across my face.

When I reached my truck, I stopped and glanced at the imposing three-floor structure of the Rushford Shopping Mall. It had been a game-changer, I told myself. When my life was at its lowest, the job as mall security had saved me. Moving from upstate New York to Vermont and being hired at a stone’s throw distance from where everything had bottomed out of my life, life could not be better. I had to keep reminding myself that I was lucky. This was meant to be.

I was living. No – I was surviving the best way I knew how. The sharp gust of wind filled my eyes with a deep sadness.

I slipped my key into the driver’s side door. I jumped inside, cranking the station to a country song I knew Steve would roll his eyes at, but his enthusiastic expression brightened my mood. I sat in the quiet interior of my truck, my head falling against the headrest, my eyes closing to the welcoming solitude. I drummed my hands on the bottom of the steering wheel.

Then screeching tires peeled around the sharp curve of the parking lot where the lot met the edge of the road, and a song about lost love faded from memory. I opened my eyes and raised my head to tires squealing. In the rearview mirror, I glimpsed a vehicle idling behind me. I didn’t notice it at first, but the car blocked me. I adjusted my seat and stared out the rear windshield at the obscure figure behind the wheel. I couldn’t see their face, but the figure looked reedy and reached an arm out the open window, pointing at me.



I thought of the ginger-haired boy from earlier, recalling the incident on the escalator and in the restroom. Had he waited for me after hours, lurking in the parking lot, ready to scare me? My mind skipped over the events playing from earlier in the day. The incident in the men’s restroom, the smartass young man apologizing for his careless behavior, making wisecracking excuses for his friends, and blaming his actions on being an idiot. “I’m sorry, man. Really -- we didn’t mean anything by it. We were being dumb sixteen-year-olds.” I remembered the sound of his laugh, a meaningless, sarcastic attempt at a reassuring apology.

I stared out into the night. The only light in the area illuminated from a lamppost wavering back and forth in the stirring wind. The mysterious driver’s gray hoodie concealed most of their face.

“You got a problem?” I yelled out the window.

A big, meaty palm rose in the air like a warning, a middle finger miming the shape of a gun, as in a caution or scare tactic.

“Prick.” I turned the key in the ignition, shifted my truck in reverse, and floored it.

The driver didn’t have much time to register my sudden actions, but he -- or she -- managed to switch pedals. The vehicle sped off, tires shrieking, seconds before I came a hair-fracture away from nicking the driver’s side door.

In the middle of the road, I shifted into DRIVE, and followed the vehicle at an unsafe speed. I was close behind him, noticing him reaching into the passenger side for something.



Racing through the parking lot, the driver took me on a twisty ride, swerving and taking sharp curves. I followed him for a few minutes through the winding lanes, leading around the mall’s perimeter to a larger parking area on the other side of the building.

I didn’t have time to register the events, my mind feeling scrambled and numbed from the chaotic commotion. I gripped the steering wheel and turned it sharply, the back tires screeching as I rounded the sharp bend, nearly smacking against the guardrail on my right.

I heard a gun going off. The driver was firing a round of shots out his window.


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Thomas Grant Bruso knew he wanted to be a writer at an early age. He has been a voracious reader of genre fiction since childhood.

His literary inspirations are Ray Bradbury, Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Jim Grimsley, Karin Fossum, and Joyce Carol Oates.

Bruso loves animals, reading books, and writing fiction, and prefers Sudoku to crossword puzzles.

In another life, he was a freelance writer and wrote for magazines and newspapers. In college, he won the Hermon H. Doh Sonnet Competition. Now, he writes and publishes fiction and reviews books for his hometown newspaper, The Press-Republican.

He lives in upstate New York.


Links:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/thomgrantbruso?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thomasgrantbrusoauthor/?hl=en

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8591689.Thomas_Grant_Bruso

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thomasgrantbruso/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Method-Madness-Thomas-Grant-Bruso-ebook/dp/B0CLKJD64Y?ref_=ast_author_dp 


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GIVEAWAY


Thomas Grant Bruso will be awarding $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for featuring my new mystery. Readers: Enter to win a $10.00 Amazon gift card. Good luck. Happy reading. -- Thomas Grant Bruso

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you so much for featuring this book today.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Replies
    1. Hi, Marcy. It was challenging to write. I hope you get a chance to read this twisty suspense tale. Thomas Grant Bruso

      Delete

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