Heather Murray – Among Friends Travels in Cuba

 

Know anybody curious about Cuba?

Among Friends: Travels in Cuba describes a tourist’s discovery of Cuba as the country eases into the post-Castro era. With an eye for the telling details of Cuban life, Murray first explores Havana and then other provinces to the west and east in visits spread over a period of eight years. We sightsee with Julian, her Cuban friend, live with Magdalena, landlady and untiring critic of the regime, and travel with resourceful taxi driver Ernesto, observing North American tourists, restaurant-running peasants, octogenarian salsa dancers and perspiring bicycle-taxi drivers on the way. Besides showing us the Cuban people, Murray’s explorations highlight the unique scenery of Cuba from the elegant center of old Havana to the strange rock formations of the Vinales valley, and from the pristine beaches of the northern keys to historic Trinidad and the Escambray mountains, with their lakes, waterfalls and jungle. The book is accompanied by a website of illustrative photographs

Review

This is a very good book. … Through the author’s eyes we get to see the strange contradictions of freedom and repression, old technology and modern demands, subsidised lifestyles and tourist privilege. … Exploring on her own and with friends made over several visits, the author takes us on a personal, often behind-the-scenes view of life in Cuba. There are tempting snippets of historical information and daily life, personal tragedies and triumphs, humour and inspiration. … Travels In Cuba is a wonderful, warm-hearted view of a much neglected and sometimes maligned nation – its countryside, its architecture, its institutions, but mostly its people. It is very clear the author has an ongoing love affair with Cuba and, after reading her book, I understand why.

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Anita Dickason – A U 7 9

Awards

2018 Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards’ Bronze Medal for Thriller/Intrigue genre
Literary Titan Gold Book Award.

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Synopsis

What links the two largest Texas Universities to the disappearance of Laredo ATF agent, Stuart Dyson? When the investigation stalls, FBI Tracker Adrian Dillard is sent to Texas to find out why. He’s not greeted with open arms.
Plagued by resentment from local agents, his uncanny intuition kicks into high gear when every lead ends with a dead body. Who knows more than they are telling? Is the missing agent an unwitting victim, or a deadly mastermind? And who is staying a step ahead of him?
Dyson’s fiancée, Homicide Detective Tracy Harlowe, may have the answers, but she’s not talking. The secrets the impetuous detective is hiding could very well get her killed.
A chilling discovery puts Homeland Security on high alert. Pressure mounts as the President demands answers. When Tracy disappears, Adrian knows he’s running out of time. There’s only one question left. Who dies next?
While the plot of A u 7 9 is fictional, it is based on fact. In 2015, the State of Texas approved a new bill that set-in motion a series of events that served as the foundation for the novel. At the end of A u 7 9, Anita provides the Story Behind the Fiction with a quote from the Governor of Texas.

Bio

Anita Dickason is a retired police officer with twenty-seven years of experience, twenty-two with the Dallas Police Department. She served in patrol, undercover narcotics, accident investigation and tactical officer and first female sniper on the Dallas SWAT team.
Her fictional works are suspense/thrillers. Anita uses her extensive law enforcement knowledge and experience to create her plots and characters. Many of the incidents portrayed in her FBI Tracker crime novels are based on actual events.

Excerpt

Chapter One

Texas

He hated undercover assignments. Most could be defined with one word—sleazy. Despite its ominous purpose, this one wasn’t any different. The bar stank. Smoke from the grills hung in the air, adding another layer of grime to the windows filled with flashing beer signs. Grease and dirt, and probably a good bit of blood mixed in, stained the wood floor. A rank odor of sweat rose from the bikers that edged the bar and grouped at the tables. Their attention was riveted on the action that flashed across the large TV screens mounted on the walls. An occasional cheer would resound when a touchdown was scored.
FBI Tracker Adrian Dillard leaned back in his chair, his long legs outstretched under a table tucked in a dark corner of the room. One arm rested on the scarred wood near a long-necked beer bottle. The other was on his leg within easy reach of the gun concealed by a grungy leather jacket.
He took a sip. His gaze wandered around the room, then back to the TV screen. While outwardly relaxed, his every instinct was alert. His neck tingled with a familiar sense of danger. Despite the rough stubble of whiskers and hair that brushed his collar, several of the bruisers in the place had already cast suspicious looks his way.
Would the informant show? He hoped the promise of the hundred-dollar bills in his pocket would be enough. An ATF agent, Stuart Dyson, was missing, and this might be his only shot at finding his whereabouts, or to learn if the agent was alive.
He glanced at the wall clock. Damn! The man should have been here by now. A whisper echoed in the tiny receiver in his ear. “Biker just pulled into the parking lot. He’s wearing a red bandana. May be our guy.”
Fellow Tracker Cat Morgan had the entrance covered from her position in a vehicle parked across the street. As he watched the door, Adrian shifted in his chair. His fingers inched closer to the gun.
When it opened, a burly man dressed in a black leather vest, t-shirt, jeans, and black motorcycle boots strode toward the bar. Tattoos covered his arms. A scraggly beard hung down his chest, and mousy-brown hair was tied in a ponytail. Wrapped around his neck was the red bandana.
With one foot propped on the rail, he leaned on the bar, and his eyes skimmed the tables until he spotted Adrian in the corner. His glance lingered on the black ball cap with the red and orange entwined circles before he turned to greet the bartender.
Adrian lifted the bottle to cover his lips, and whispered, “This is our man. He recognized my cap.” When Adrian set up the meet, the recognition signals were the cap and bandana.
Cat said, “I got a picture of his face. I’m sending it to Nicki.”
Adrian knew if anyone could do a fast turnaround on identifying the man, it was the unit’s research guru, Nicki Allison.
The biker watched the TV while he waited for the bartender to hand him a beer, then crossed the room to Adrian’s table. He turned a chair, straddled it, and laid his arms on top of the wooden back. After another quick look at Adrian’s battered ball cap, he asked, “You the one looking for information?”
“Yeah.”
“Where’s the woman?”
After a sardonic flick of his eyes around the room, Adrian said, “I decided the atmosphere was unhealthy.” Cat’s snort echoed in his ear. She was listening to the conversation through his open mic.
The biker’s lips peeled back in a leer. “Too bad. I heard she was a real looker. You got the money? If you don’t, I’m not saying anything.”
“Tell me what I want to know, and you’ll get it. Where’s Dyson?”
“Dead.” He grinned and took a swallow of beer.
Adrian’s expression didn’t change, though a sudden jab of anguish coiled in his gut. He pushed aside his bottle and leaned forward. “How do you know?”

Author Interview

1) Who is your favorite author?

Without a doubt, it is Sir Conan Doyle. I have read every Sherlock Holmes mystery he ever wrote. “Watson, the game is afoot.” As soon as you read those words, you knew. The story was headed into the depths of an improbable investigation with twists and turns designed to boggle the mind. Doyle was a master at the understated, subliminal hints and clues that Holmes always understood and left Watson in a muddle.

2) How did you come up with your idea for your Tracker novels?

I like the concept of a group of people that provides continuity from novel to novel. I created a new FBI Unit: Trackers. They are the elite of the elite, and only agents with unusual abilities are offered a position.

3) Are the Tracker novels a series? How many have you written?

No. Each novel is a standalone with a different agent taking center stage. Three novels have been published. Sentinels of the Night was the debut novel, followed by Going Gone! and the latest, A u 7 9.

4) How do you come up with the characters?

Some are pure imagination. Others are based on personal experience. Early in my law enforcement career, I crossed paths with a serial killer. He was convicted of fourteen counts of homicide and suspected in many others, but they couldn’t be proven. I have never forgot the dead look in his eyes. There was no feeling or emotion. That memory was used to create the serial killer in Sentinels of the Night.

5) How much of yourself is reflected in your books?

OMG—A whole lot. I have twenty-seven years of experience as a cop, twenty-two with the Dallas Police Department. I was a patrol officer, undercover narcotics officer, advanced accident investigator and was on the Dallas SWAT team. I was a unit sniper as well as on the entry team. Since I write about crime, it would be impossible to keep me out of the book.

The opening scene in Sentinels of the Night has FBI Tracker Cat Morgan and her partner chasing a killer in the middle of the night in a railroad yard. This happened, though, I wasn’t chasing a killer. A guy jumped out of a stolen car and decided the railroad yard was a good place to ditch the cops that were chasing him. I know how it felt to dodge around railroad cars and hop over tracks. In Going Gone!, the tactical operation was based on my actual experiences as a SWAT officer. I drew on my experience as an advanced accident investigator in A u 7 9. There are many such examples in all three of the Tracker novels.

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