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Thriller, Historic Thriller, Historic Fiction
A country at war. A man on the run. A woman left behind. Can an innocent man ever go home?
Guilty of a crime he didn’t commit, IRA soldier Frank Kelleher flees through the streets of war-torn Ireland with both the British and the Irish Republican Army trying to put a bullet in his head. He makes his way to America under an assumed name and with a forged passport, as the war in Ireland rages on. Settling in a new land, he finds he can’t let go of his past. Haunted by the fiancée he was forced to leave behind, by the deaths of three friends at his own hand, and by the country he was forced to abandon, Frank struggles to make his way in 1920s New York.
As much as he can’t let go of Ireland, he finds that Ireland can’t let go of him—and his past has a way of finding him, thousands of miles and an ocean away. He dreams of going home, but knows that it could get him killed. Then an anonymous letter brings news about his fiancée Kathleen and he realizes that he no longer has a choice. A cease-fire is declared and Frank sails home with dreams of finding Kathleen, putting his past behind him, and starting a new life.
When he arrives, he learns that the Ireland he was hoping to find—a united people finally free—was only a dream. With British soldiers withdrawing, long-standing feuds resurface, and Ireland is pushed to the brink of civil war. As tensions mount, he also learns that his sins will not be easily forgiven, and that he and Kathleen will never be safe until he clears his name.
If the looming war doesn’t kill him, trying to right the wrongs of his past just might.
It’s like Ken Follett and Steve Berry joined forces. If you want a thrilling ride through Irish history, you’ll love this book!
Best Selling Author L.D. Beyer delivers a suspenseful drama that will “…push him to the top of the heap of contemporary thriller/historic fiction writers.
Free on Kindle Unlimited!
County Limerick, Ireland
It was such an odd thought for a man about to die, but, still, it filled my head. Will I hear the gun? Will I feel the bullet? I stared at the floor of the barn, the dirt soaked with my own blood. The earth was cold against my cheek, and I could hear the pitter-patter of rain on the roof. God pissin’ on us again. Only in Ireland. The light of the oil lamps danced a waltz across the wall and, in the flickering light, I saw a pair of boots, then trousers. Nothing more, but I knew it was Billy. One of my eyes was already swollen shut, and I couldn’t lift my head from the dirt to see the rest of him. I didn’t have to; those were Billy’s boots.
I raised my hand, as if that would stop him, but still the boot slammed into my ribs. I heard a cry, no longer sure if it was me lying on the ground or if I was a spectator watching some poor soul being beaten. Choking, I spit out more blood and tried to catch my breath, but the boot came again. Through one eye, I saw the feet, the legs, dancing with the light, then the flash of Billy’s boot striking me in the chest, the stomach, the arms. I heard the thuds, felt my body jump, each kick like a bolt of lightning, agonizing bolts of pain coursing through my body. Unseen hands began to pull me down into the darkness. Yet still I wondered. Will I hear the gun? Will I feel it? Probably not, I thought. A bright flash then, what? Nothing? Blackness? I sighed and waited for the bullet, wondering how I would know when it finally came.
There would be no Jesus waiting for me on the other side, that was for sure. No Mary, no saints, no choir of angels. Good Irish Catholic lad that I was, I had done enough in my short life to know that heaven wasn’t in the cards. Not for me, anyway. My head exploded in a flash of colors, and the darkness beckoned me. Probably just the darkness, I decided. Maybe that wasn’t so bad.
It was strange, but I wasn’t afraid anymore. Not of death, certainly. Billy had beaten that out of me. I wasn’t afraid of hell either. Despite all that I had done—and what happened two days ago was sure to seal my fate—I wasn’t sure I believed in the Church’s view of hell. Seven hundred years of oppression under the British was hell enough. Eternal damnation, I suspected, was in the here and now, in the pains and tragedies of everyday life. And, surely, I was in pain. Billy had seen to that. Pain and regret were all I felt now.
I suppose any man about to die has regrets, and I had my share. A sudden sadness overwhelmed me. I would never see Kathleen again.
I don’t know how long I lay there with Billy kicking me, cursing me, calling me a spy, a traitor. It didn’t matter what I said; he would never believe me. At some point I stopped feeling the kicks, stopped feeling the pain, and surrendered to the darkness. Maybe I was already dead and didn’t know it.
Then from the shadows, I felt a hand on my face, surprisingly gentle, brushing the hair out of my eyes. Kathleen? Then a hiss.
“Oh Jesus, Frank! What has he done to you?”
Hands grabbed me below the arms and lifted me up. I heard a grunt, then a curse—Liam’s voice. My head spinning, I tried to stand but couldn’t. It took a moment to realize that my hands and feet were still strapped to the chair. I felt something pulling then pushing, hands on my sides again—Liam? A jolt of pain shot through me. Shaking with spasms, I hissed and coughed up more blood. Surely, I thought, I had a few broken ribs thanks to Billy’s boot. I squinted through the tears and blood; there was Liam, his own eyes wet. What was he doing here? Had they sent him—my closest friend—to put the bullet in me?
My head hung limp, then I felt Liam’s gentle hands on my chin. Through one eye, I watched as he dipped the cloth in the pail and began to wipe my face. I gasped when he got to my nose. Liam pulled the cloth away, stared at it for a second, his own face a grimace. In the flickering light, the cloth was dark red, stained by my own blood. Liam shook his head and dropped it in the pail.
“Do you want some water, Frank?”
Not waiting for an answer, he held the cup to my cracked and swollen lips. I coughed again and most of the water ran down my neck to join the blood on my shirt. The little I drank tasted of copper.
“Jesus, Liam,” I hissed. “Is it a bath you’re giving me or a drink?”
Liam just shook his head.
“I thought you were one of us, Frank.”
I coughed again and squinted through the pain. “I am, Liam.” I coughed once more, my voice hoarse. “I am.”
He shook his head again, and I could see the pain in his eyes.
“That’s not what they’re saying, Frank. Three of our boys dead…” His voice trailed off, his eyes telling me what he couldn’t say. How could you do it, Frank?
“And now the British have our names,” he continued, choking on the words. He sighed and wiped his eyes. “They’ll hunt us down. Is that what you want?” His eyes pleaded with me, and I knew what he wanted to say but couldn’t. Do you want to see me with a bullet in my head too, Frank?
“Liam…” I coughed again—a spasm—bright, hot pain slicing through me.
He shook his head sadly. “You were one of us, Frank.” There was a hurt in his eyes that matched my own. How could you betray me? his eyes seemed to ask. He sighed, dipped the cloth in the pail, then wiped my nose again. “I thought you were one of us…”
He leaned close and whispered in my ear. “For the love of God, Frank! He’s going to kill you anyway. You know that. Why don’t you tell him what he wants?” He sniffed then turned away and wiped his eyes. “I can’t watch this anymore.”
“I didn’t do it, Liam.”
He stared at me for a moment then leaned close again. “Ah, Jesus, Frank. Don’t you see? It doesn’t matter. You know that. If they suspect you’re an informant, you’re an informant.”
He was right, but still I protested.
“I swear on my father’s grave, I didn’t do it, Liam.”
“But you’re the only one still alive.”
A small doubt, but his eyes, like his words, told me it was hopeless. If Liam didn’t believe me, Billy and the others surely wouldn’t. And why should they? It was supposed to be a simple operation. But something had gone wrong—terribly wrong—and now here I was, waiting for the bullet. Better that it would be coming from one of my own than from the fuckin’ British. For some reason, that made me feel better.
“I know, Liam,” I wheezed. “I know. But I didn’t do it.”
Liam shook his head, unsure what to do.
“Did you write your letter?” he finally asked, choking on the words.
My letter. My last chance to speak to Kathleen, to tell her in my own words what had happened. Billy hadn’t given me the chance, though.
“Just tell Kathleen I love her.” I looked up into my friend’s eyes. “You’ll do that for me won’t you, Liam?”
He nodded slowly. “Aye.” He paused, his eyes telling me there was more. “And your mam?”
My mam. What could I say to a woman I hadn’t spoken to in three years. Would she even care?
Suddenly, there were shouts from outside, and I flinched at the sharp crack of a rifle. This was followed by two more, then shouting again. What was happening? I tried to piece it together. I knew what it was, I told myself, but the answer seemed to be lost in the clouds in my head. I stared up at Liam. Before I could ask, the clatter of a machine gun filled the air.
“Oh, Jesus!” Liam screamed. “It’s the Tans!”
The clouds suddenly vanished. The Black and Tans! The fear came flooding back, and I forgot about the pain of Billy’s boot. For the last year, the scourge of the British army, wearing their mismatched uniforms, had sacked and looted our towns and terrorized our people. Ex-servicemen, soldiers who had seen time on the Western front—and many who had seen the inside of a British jail—they had been sent to supplement the ranks of the Peelers, the Royal Irish Constabulary. These were war-hardened men, more than one of whom had been languishing in prison for one crime or another. And now, Britain had cleaned out their jails and sent their criminals to be our police. In April, they had gone on a rampage in Limerick; in December, they’d burnt the city of Cork.
“Liam!” I pleaded.
Before he could answer, bullets tore through the windows of the barn, chipping stone, ripping into the wood. The cows and sheep screeched, slamming into the cart and threatening to finish what Billy had started. I saw the flash above, heard the tinkle, shards of glass raining down on me. Seconds later the hay was on fire. One of the oil lamps had been hit, I realized. Liam slammed into me, and I howled in pain when I landed back on the blood-soaked dirt. He was screaming as he clawed at the ropes that bound my hands. The fire raged as chips and splinters flew. Soon the sparks hit the ceiling and the thatch began to smolder, the sheep and cows shrieking all the while.
“Come on, Frank!” Liam screamed as he struggled with the ropes that held me.
I felt his arms pulling, dragging me through the dirt to the cow door in the back. He kicked it open, peeked outside, then pulled me through.
“For fuck’s sake, Frank! I’ll not be dragging you the whole way! Get up! Run!”
I struggled to my feet, the emotion and adrenaline masking the pain. I limped after Liam across the field, scrambled over the stone wall, falling once and crying out in pain. But somehow, I got up and kept going. Behind me, the guns went silent, but the screech of the animals, the shouts and the sounds of motorcars carried across the fields. I lost sight of Liam, knowing he’d done his part in setting me free. I was on my own.
I stumbled but kept running, unsure where to go, just wanting to get away. But I couldn’t run all night, not with broken ribs and the life nearly beat out of me.
As the sounds died behind me, I stopped for a moment to catch my breath. Hands on my knees, I looked back across the field, expecting to see British soldiers, or worse, Billy. But in the darkness I saw nothing. I turned again then hesitated. As I debated what to do, where I could hide, I realized there was one thing I had to do first.
About the Author:
L.D. Beyer is a reformed corporate drone who, after twenty-five years of missed family events, one day rose up and reclaimed his soul. Before he escaped, his career primarily involved relocating his family every few years—so much so that his children began to secretly suspect that he was really in the Witness Protection Program. He has yet to set the record straight.
Beyer is the author of three novels, two of which are part of the Matthew Richter Thriller Series. His first book, In Sheep’s Clothing, was published in 2015 and reached the #1 spot on three separate Amazon bestseller lists. His third novel, The Devil’s Due, is a standalone novel, an historical thriller set in Ireland during the 1920’s.
Beyer is an avid reader and, although he primarily reads thrillers, his reading list is somewhat eclectic. You’re more likely to find him with his nose in a good book than sitting in front of the TV.
Beyer lives in Michigan with his wife and three children. In addition to writing and reading, he enjoys cooking, hiking, biking, working out, and the occasional glass of wine.
To get an email whenever the author releases a new title and be the first to hear about new promotions, sign up for the newsletter at http://ldbeyer.com/home/vip-mailing-list/
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Thanks for doing an interview! Could you tell our readers a little bit about your writing journey?
We are a product of our environment. I am an avid reader of thrillers and suspense novels, from authors like David Baldacci, Steve Berry, Michael Connolly, Mike Lawson and Brad Thor. My first novel, In Sheep’s Clothing, is a political thriller and I’m certain that it was influenced by the works of these and many other fine authors. But in many subtle ways, it was also influenced by my own experiences: the places I’ve lived, the events that took place, both in the broader world and in my own back yard.
This is my journey.
As a young child, one of my most vivid memories is moving every few years to a new town, to a new house, as my father climbed the corporate ladder. Little did I realize at the time that my own life would follow a similar path.
By rights, I could call myself a southern boy, but that wouldn’t be accurate. I was born in Georgia and a few years later, we moved to Louisiana. My early child years were during the 1960s, a turbulent time for America dominated by the struggle for racial equality and the Civil Rights movement; the growing threat of the Soviet Union, both in the race to the moon and in the race to bear arms; civil unrest and riots in Watts and Newark, and later, at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago; and by the war raging in South East Asia.
The decade was marred by the growing body count in Vietnam and by the assassinations of President Kennedy, his brother, Robert, and Dr. Martin Luther King. The British invaded, Beatle Mania swept the nation and while we listened to Rock and Roll, we watched Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. With the exception of the moon landing, it wasn’t until I was much older that I learned of many of the events that had occurred during what I had viewed as my carefree childhood years. Still, the events of the 1960s, in many subtle ways, would have an effect on me.
By the end of the decade, my father’s job took us to Pennsylvania and as the 1970s began, we relocated again, this time to New Jersey. The turbulence continued with the still-unexplained shooting of innocent students at Kent State, the Watergate Scandal and the resignation of a president, and the final withdrawal of troops from Vietnam. All three would weigh heavily on the nation for years to come. Oil embargoes left us waiting on long gas lines, the Beatles broke up and Elvis, after a long public struggle to escape his personal demons, finally did.
Life moved on and, even in the midst of a rash of kidnappings and hijackings, technology leapt forward with the introduction of microprocessors and computer chips, VCRs and floppy disks, and the start-up of something Bill Gates called Microsoft. As the decade ended, a peanut farmer from my birth state became president and his only notable accomplishment was brokering a peace accord between Israeli and Egypt. Meanwhile, students in neighboring Iran stormed the US embassy and took Americans hostage.
Despite having moved so many times as a young child, most of my childhood was spent in the Garden State, less than an hour from New York City. My life consisted of Little League baseball in the spring, Pee Wee football in the fall, summers at the town pool and winters sleigh riding. On Thanksgiving Day, we stood on 34th Street in Manhattan and watched the parade in front of Macy’s. On July 4th, we watched the fireworks over the East River.
Outside of school, life was trouble free and I spent many hours biking around town, hiking, playing in the streams near our house and building forts in the woods. In high school, my athletic pursuits switched to soccer and ice hockey. Long gone was my thick, southern accent.
I attended college in New York during the 1980’s, which began somewhat prophetically when a group of kids my own age defeated the seemingly unstoppable Olympic Ice Hockey Team from the former Soviet Union, ending their twenty-year Gold Medal streak. Suddenly, there was a renewed pride in America ending the collective funk from Vietnam, Nixon’s disgraced presidency and the stagflation of the Carter years.
For me, nothing exemplified America’s renewed strength better than President Ronald Reagan, who shortly after he took office, defied an assassin’s bullet and, despite being seriously wounded, walked into the hospital unassisted. Reagan survived and, several years later, challenged the Soviet Union again, not to hockey this time, rather to tear down a wall in Berlin. By the end of the decade, the wall, symbolic of the Iron Curtain, did fall, and with it, one by one, the communist governments in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union as well.
As I began a career in accounting and finance, writing was far from my mind. Although I had written a short story or two in both high school and college, earning praise and publication in school anthologies, I never thought of myself as a writer. It wasn’t until many years later that I began to wonder whether something was missing from my life.
I met my wife shortly after college. Strangely enough, we had attended the same school but it wasn’t until a Halloween party several years later that we finally met. We married and not only worked full time in our respective careers, but we both attended Grad school at night as well. Starting a family was put off, but kids soon joined us and while my wife doted on them, I continued my journey up the corporate ladder.
Our journey took us from New York to Michigan to Illinois, then back to Michigan again. One day, after we had been in our house for about a year, my youngest, in his third house in four years, asked if it was time to move again. Little did he or I know at the time, but, several years later, we did, this time to Mexico.
We lived in an old colonial city several hours north of Mexico City where we met many fantastic people and enjoyed the country and the culture in a way that a tourist never could. Although Mexico was, and still is, embroiled in a war with drug cartels, and security has become a growing concern, it was a wonderful experience for me, my wife and my three children. Three years later we were back in Michigan again and, by this time, I was a senior executive for a Fortune 500 company.
I was living the American dream: wonderful wife, great kids, nice house, rewarding career. Still, when I thought about my life, I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something I needed to do, a creative urge I needed to explore. In my chosen field, accounting and finance, bouts of creativity are usually followed by a prison sentence. I don’t look good in prison stripes, or so I kept telling myself, so one day, I decided it was time to do something different. With the support of my family, I began writing.
It has been a long, rambling journey full of many unexpected twists and turns while the broader events of the world seemed to unfold on their own around me. All of this somehow found its way from the dark recesses of my brain to the pages of my book. I hope you enjoy the read.
How many books do you currently have published?
I have 3 books published. In Sheep’s Clothing and An Eye For An Eye are the first two books in the Matthew Richter Thriller Series. The Devil’s Due is a stand-alone thriller set in Ireland in the early 1920’s.
What has been your favorite book to write so far? Why?
It would have to be The Devil’s Due because the story is based loosely on a family legend about my grandfather who served in the Irish Republican Army during the War for Independence. Growing up, I heard the stories of how he had been forced to flee Ireland with a false passport because both the British and his own comrades in the IRA had put bounties on his head. Like most legends, I’m sure this one grew over time and with each retelling, especially when my Irish uncles were drinking! To gather information for the book, I spent some time in Limerick and Dublin, meeting with researchers and historians. I was happy to learn that while my grandfather had indeed served in the IRA, the circumstances surrounding his decision to emigrate after the war were not quite as dramatic as the legend would have you believe. Exaggerated or not, though, I always thought the legend made for a great story line!
Are you currently working on a book? Will this be your next release?
Yes, I’m currently working on the next book in the Matthew Richter Thriller series. It’s tentatively titled The Deadliest of Sins and will hopefully be released in the spring of 2017.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
There’s something cathartic about writing. Writing is a journey and the journey has its own rewards. It’s really cool to start with a blank page and watch as the story unfolds, sometimes taking twists and turns I never expected. I know that sounds like I’m not in control when I write but after giving them a nudge, the characters and the plot tend to evolve on their own and go in directions I never envisioned when I first began typing. As a writer, I’m finally getting a chance to be creative, something I was not really able to do during my more traditional life.
Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it?
I think all writers do from time to time. What usually works for me is to step away from the keyboard for a while. I’ll go out for a walk, ride my bike, go to the gym, chop some wood—physical activity has a great way of unleashing creative thought. Other times, I’ll even pick up a book and lose myself for a while. This usually clears my head and when I sit back down, the creative juices start to flow again. Other times, my block is more due to the fact that I don’t know a subject matter as well as I should so I can’t write with authority. My character is left standing in the intersection, unsure which direction to go and the only solution is research. What does the inside of the White House look like? What is it like to work in a foreign embassy? What is the science behind a polygraph? Even if I never use what I learn during my research, stepping away from the keyboard for a while is crucial. Trying to force the words onto the page has never worked for me. Like fine wine, a good story takes time.
Have you ever had one of your characters to take a twist you weren’t expecting and surprise you?
Absolutely. In a sense, writing is as much a journey for the characters as it is for the author and for the readers. It surprised me at first but I discovered that the characters, like the plot itself, seem to develop and evolve over time and in ways that I never imagined when I first sat down and started typing. More than once, I’ve found myself reflecting on something a character just did and thinking that I hadn’t envisioned that this particular character would do something like that when I first created him or her a dozen chapters earlier. Sometimes, a minor character created for one scene and one purpose comes back to play a much more prominent role later on. The characters and the plot seem to go in directions that only they can choose and often I’m left following along.
Which of your characters is your personal favorite? Why?
That would have to be Matthew Richter. He’s the protagonist of my first two books. He’s the unassuming hero. Saddled with some personal baggage, he nonetheless rises to the occasion during times of crisis. With a keen sense of right vs. wrong, he selflessly puts himself at risk to save others. I have a third book in the Richter series coming out spring of 2017.
So far, what has been your favorite scene to write?
That would have to be the prologue of In Sheep’s Clothing. In a few short pages it captures how corrupting power can be, what it can do to those who have it, those who want it and those who vow to protect it.
What lessons have you learned since becoming a writer? Do you have any tips for new writers?
The advice I heard most often when I started writing was to write every day, for as long as you can, even if it’s only for fifteen minutes. While I’ll admit that I don’t always follow that advice, like any skill, writing takes practice and you will become better over time. The second thing is to read everything you can within your genre or chosen field. Learn how different writers approach their craft and along the way you’ll learn what an intriguing protagonist, a compelling plot, or engaging dialogue look and sound like. It’s also good to network with other writers. We tend to think alike and, even if it’s to commiserate on the rapid changes taking place within the publishing industry, writers tend to be very supportive of each other. At the same time, I would learn as much as I could about publishing, whether it’s traditional or self-publishing. Most importantly: get feedback. Find a handful of people who will give you objective advice about your writing. You can’t get better unless you know where you need to improve. Finally, hang on to the dream! Perseverance is as much a part of being a writer as a computer and a dictionary are!
If you were to recommend your books to a stranger, which book would you advise them to start with? Why?
In Sheep’s Clothing. This was my first book and is the first of the Matthew Richter Thriller series. I’m currently working on the third installment. Personally, I like series. I enjoy seeing how the character develops and evolves overtime. And, particularly for Thrillers, I’m swept along for the ride as they face new challenges and find themselves once again facing life or death threats.
Now it’s time to get to know you! What are some of your favorite books to read?
I love thriller and suspense novels–medical thrillers, legal thrillers, historic thrillers, political thrillers—particularly ones that are full of intrigue and have a lot of action and adventure. Brad Meltzer, Vince Flynn, Steve Berry, David Baldacci, Brad Thor—these are some of my favorite writers and they are a great source of inspiration. When I read, I want to escape and to live vicariously through the characters, even if only for a short while. I want to root for the good guy and hate the bad guy. And if the tension is just right, I keep turning the pages because I need to know what happens next. This is the journey I hope to take readers on with my books!
But I’m also an eclectic reader. I devoured the Harry Potter series after my wife and children could not stop talking about them. Currently, I’m part way through George R.R. Martin’s Game of Throne series. To me, if the book is gripping, then it doesn’t matter what the genre is.
What about television shows? Movies?
I’ll admit that I had pretty much given up on TV a while back but two shows have me hooked. One is Madam Secretary, which has been around for several seasons, and the other, Dedicated Survivor, is brand new this season. Not surprisingly, these are very much like the Thrillers I enjoy: full of intrigue. From a comedy perspective, I enjoy Tim Allen’s Last Man Standing.
Is there a book that you have read that you feel has made a big impact on your life? Why?
More than one particular book, I would say there are several authors who have influenced my thinking, my creativity and by extension, my life. The first would have to be Dr. Seuss. Having read Seuss as a child and then, years later, reading Seuss again to all three of my children—over and over again, over the span of some dozen years—I can’t help but marvel at his brilliance. Seuss is poetic, colorful, sparks the imagination, and almost always has a lesson buried inside.
From a non-fiction standpoint, my new favorite author is Malcom Gladwell. Gladwell does a brilliant job helping us understand why some people succeed and others don’t in Outliers, and how new ideas, trends and products “catch on” in Tipping Point. If you want a good read that will challenge your thinking, pick up Gladwell. Every author, regardless of genre, should read Gladwell. You’ll find some great nuggets on what it takes to succeed!
If you had to sum up your life as a writer in ten words, what would you say?
Each story patiently awaits the perfect writer to tell it.