The Stories

Deadly Kiss
Finalist- 2017 ITW Best First Novel
(Black Opal, release Summer 2016)

In the summer of 1946, a group of children plays a kissing game behind a general store in rural Georgia. It’s just kids having fun, until one innocent kiss leads to the brutal beating death of a ten year-old boy. The horrific hate crime shakes an entire town. It spawns a series of murders, and a secret that is kept hidden for generations.

 

Decades later, the children have grown old, and none of their lives have been untouched by the kiss. Mike Latta’s estranged father was one of them. He dies before he can finish telling his son the secret.

 

The story leads Mike back into the heat and humidity of a sixty-five-year-old Georgia summer, back to dirt roads and muddy-water fishing holes under wooden bridges, back to a single kiss that has killed, and killed again. It’s a kiss that has slept for decades, but now it’s awake. Learning its secret may cost Mike his life.

 

Fiction inspired by the real life Emmett Till murder, 'Deadly Kiss' is the story of loves that won’t stay lost, and ghosts that just won’t sleep.

Santa Teresa California, 1947

 

P. I. Nathaniel Crowe has extricated his client, Charlene Cleveland, from a dangerous marriage to a local hood, Sal Cleveland. Her husband grants the divorce, but then runs her car off the road and shoots her to death. Crowe is shaken by news of the murder. He resolves to get justice for Charlene, even if it means working for free. He crosses paths with the beautiful and exotic Annie Kahlo, an eccentric artist, who has an old grudge against the gangster. Annie knows a few secrets about Cleveland; secrets that might help Crowe bring the kingpin down. Despite all of his better instincts, Crowe finds himself falling for Annie...hard.

'Girls in Pink' is neon, wet streets, smoke, and ghosts in pink. It's echoes of Bogart and Bacall, the summer of 1947... LA noir with a fresh, contemporary feel.

Girls in Pink

Caves in the Rain
(Champagne Book Group, release January 2017)

 

Mike Latta can’t forgive himself for the death of his little daughter. It was a freak accident, but fathers should protect little girls from bad things that can hurt them. He didn’t. A descent into divorce and the bottle has gotten rid of every happy ending he ever hoped for.

 

Mike owns an isolated cabin on an island in northern Hollow Lake. It’s just a summer place, but a year of solitude away from the booze and the reminders of grief may be the last chance he has. He’s determined to get himself back, and a new romance with a local woman, Molly Bean, might be just what the doctor ordered.

 

There’s more than peace and quiet on the lake though, because the ghosts of a long-ago murder haunt Echo Island. If Mike can’t figure out what the ghosts want from him, it may cost another little girl her life.

 

‘Caves in the Rain’ is the prequel to 'Deadly Kiss', fiction inspired by the endless love of parents for children, and by the ghosts all around us.

 A Song for Chloe

 

     “Cumin, Turmeric, Cayenne, Blueberry...” Chloe whispered. “A dash of each, and all together.”

   “Where are we going ?” I asked.  

       

   “Somewhere warm,” she said. “A place where beasts are mild.”  

 

    I could see it, the faraway, in her dark eyes.

  What if the love of your life was a ghost? What if you had to make a choice?

  Hollow Lake has a legend.  The locals say that the spirit of Chloe Hunter, a teenager drowned in 1980, haunts its waters. She has been seen every year since, especially during late autumn when she appears as an eerie figure swimming in near-icy waters.  Nick Horan knows the legend, but he doesn't believe in ghosts...until late one night, when he sees Chloe as she wades out of the cold lake. As beautiful as she is terrifying, the vision stirs something inside him before she vanishes into the dark woods. 

  Chloe isn't from here. She's a doorway to somewhere else, and he might just follow her anywhere.

Fiction inspired by 'Brigadoon', from an author who loves 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland'.

(ph 11)

Hau Tree Green

Santa Teresa, California

November 1947

 

 Sometimes secrets are too big to live with. Sometimes dying is a relief.

 

Beatrice Stone came to the west coast young and delectable, with high hopes and big plans for a long career on the silver screen. It hasn’t worked out. She has a secret… she loves someone she isn’t allowed to. It’s a love that’s forbidden, and it ruins her. Pretty dreams don’t always come true, and she descends into the streets, living for the next bottle of gin. A prostitute and a thief, she gets by any way she can. She steals something without knowing how valuable it is, and the people she stole it from want it back badly enough to kill her.

 

The last man Beatrice Stone ever propositions is private eye Nate Crowe. He turns her down, but something about her touches him. He gives her five bucks and watches her walk away, not knowing that she’s going to haunt him, or that he’s going to haunt her murderers.

 

Crowe has a secret of his own. The love of his life is an eccentric artist; the beautiful, exotic Annie Kahlo, who died in a fiery crash at the end of a police chase. She’s earned a trip to the gas chamber, but nobody is looking to execute a corpse. Annie isn’t dead, though, and she’s more than a little crazy. She has a gun in her purse, a strong sense of right and wrong, and her own quick way of dealing with injustice. The worst people never see her coming.

 

Scented with cinnamon and suntan oil, soaked in neon and bourbon, Hau Tree Green is the sequel to Girls in Pink. From the sleazy beach motels on Cabrillo Boulevard to the gated, palm-shaded mansions in Montelindo, this is southern California in the winter of 1947, fresh, real and colorful as today.

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© 2016 by Bob Bickford