Never Give Up by Kathleen Kaska

Writing’s tough. It’s fun and gratifying, but still tough. I’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way. The most important one is: believe in your writing and never give up.

Run Dog Run was my first attempt at writing fiction. I wanted to write a story that was not only engaging, but made people think about animal-rights issues—a cause I am passionate about. I had to rewrite the manuscript several times. My first draft was too heavy-handed and I realized I preached and editorialized too much. I revised it again then and set it aside. In the meantime, I began writing my Sydney Lockhart mystery series. I also love writing humor and this series offered a nice balance, since Run Dog Run was serious in nature. But I always had faith the book would sell, so I touched it up once more and I submitted it to Black Opal Books. They offered me a contract.

The idea for that story started forming while I was a member of Wildlife Rescue, Inc. in Austin, Texas. I helped rehab and raise orphaned wildlife there. I wanted to write a series that made readers aware of animal care and animal-rights issues. Run Dog Run takes place in the world of greyhound racing.

Here’s a short excerpt and synopsis.

Excerpt from Run Dog Run:

She’d been foolish and gone off alone, now she might have to pay the ultimate price…

The rocks along the bottom of the creek bed seemed to disappear. Kate felt the ropy, gnarl of tree roots instead.

The cedar break. She was approaching the road and soon the water would pass through the culvert. She knew that she would not make it through the narrow tunnel alive. Her lungs screamed for air. With one final attempt, she grabbed hold of a long cedar root growing along the side of the creek bank and hung on. Miraculously, it held. She wedged her foot under the tangled growth and anchored herself against the current. Inching her way upward, she thrust her head above water and gulped for air. But debris in the current slapped her in the face, and leaves and twigs filled her mouth, choking her. Dizziness overcame her ability to think—exhaustion prevented her from pulling herself higher.

She must not give in. Fighting unconsciousness, Kate inched her way up a little farther, and at last was able to take a clear breath. Her right arm hung loosely by her side, the back of the shaft had broken off in the tumble through the current, but the arrow was lodged in her arm. Numb from cold water and exhaustion, she lay on the bank as the water swept over her, and then, as quickly as it had arrived, the flow subsided and the current slowed. If she could hang on a few moments longer, survival looked promising. As thoughts of hope entered her mind, Kate feared that her pursuer might not have given up the chase. Perfect, Kate Caraway, just perfect. You screwed up again, she chided herself as the lights went out.



After five years in Africa, researching the decline of elephant populations, Kate Caraway’s project comes to a screeching halt when she shoots a poacher and is forced to leave the country. Animal rights activist Kate Caraway travels to a friend’s ranch in Texas for a much-needed rest. But before she has a chance to unpack, her friend’s daughter pleads for Kate’s assistance. The young woman has become entangled in the ugly world of greyhound abuse and believes Kate is the only one with the experience and tenacity to expose the crime and find out who is responsible. On the case for only a few hours, Kate discovers a body, complicating the investigation by adding murder to the puzzle. Now, she’s in a race against time to find the killer before she becomes the next victim.



If you’d like to read my formal bio, log-on to my website. But here’s a more telling bit about who I am:

I’m a Texas gal. Except for an eighteen-month hiatus when I moved to New York City after college, I lived in Texas continuously for fifty years. Since then Texas has been hit and miss—a little hit, but a hell of a lot of miss. There was a time when I thought I would happily die in Austin, Texas. But things and weather—especially weather—changed that. Now I spend most of the year on Fidalgo Island in Washington State with a view of the bay and the mountains. When I get homesick, my husband and I plug in the iPhone to Pandora and select Willie—as in Nelson, (I hope you don’t have to ask). Soon we are dancing the two-step, imagining we are at our favorite honky-tonk in Tokyo, Texas where the mayor is believed to be a dog. Who wouldn’t miss that?

Run Dog Run Kathleen’s her first mystery in the new Kate Caraway animal rights series.

Run Dog Run is available in bookstores, through Black Opal Books, and Amazon.

One final note: a portion of the proceeds from book sales will be donated to The Greyhound Project, Inc.


I’ve read several blog posts and email list discussions lately about the problems entailed in naming characters, including the recent guest blog on my own site ( by F. M. (aka Marilyn) Meredith on “Choosing Names for Characters and ‘Rules’ I’ve Broken.”


Coming up with names is a chore every fiction author faces. Generally, I write down whatever name pops into my head, but that can cause problems. I can’t recall what I originally named the corpse in Unleavened Dead, but, fortunately, decided to do a quick Google search. The character is a psychotherapist specializing in eating disorders among adolescent girls. He also turns out to have a rather unsavory, not to mention immoral and unethical and criminal, background. It was fortuitous that I searched the name because it turns out that I had chosen one that was too common, particularly among therapists dealing with eating disorders. I quickly changed it to something uncommon – John Quincy Moorhouse. To make sure I hadn’t inadvertently maligned someone, I didn’t use the more common spelling “Morehouse.”


I thought with the third book Yom Killer I had come up with the perfect solution. As a fundraiser for our synagogue, I sold character naming rights. But a friend of mine, blogger and avid reader Lois Hirt, bought several characters, all to be named for her grandchildren. She asked her children’s permission, and a few could be used for any age, but the rest were to be children.


And here’s where the difficulty (for me) started. First, there were too many with the same last name. I solved that problem by having one sibling group remain a sibling group, all children. For the others, I had the real-life siblings be recast as mothers and daughters.


Second, as they were all cousins, I tried to make sure that no single character got more “page time” than the others. As a pantser (one who writes “by the seat of her pants”), I don’t outline. My characters tell me what they want to do. So in a few cases, I had to change the names, either to those of non-realted “paying customers” or to fictional (I hoped) names. Doing a universal “find-and-replace” can be tricky, though, so I had to proof-read carefully to make sure I hadn’t slipped up. For example, I had decided that I shouldn’t use the word “purse,” but “pocketbook.” I did a universal “find-and-replace,” only to later read that instead of pursing her lips, a character was pocketbooking them.


Third, one character, the fictional Lois Hirt’s fictional daughter, was rather unlikeable. I made up a name for her, and checked with the real Lois to make sure she didn’t have any relative by that name. (She didn’t.)


Fourth, the character of Lois in the book is a bit “iffy.” But the real Lois was a good sport about it, and enjoyed not being the nice person she is in real life.


And therein lies another tale, so to speak. I couldn’t have all the characters be nice, or it wouldn’t be a mystery, not even a cozy. Or it would be pretty boring, with no dramatic tension. I had a sliding scale for the price, with the “villain” paying extra to be the bad guy. Even so, I was apprehensive as to how he would view himself in the book, as he revealed himself to be even nastier than originally planned. (The character insisted he needed to be.) Every time I saw the real person, I warned him, but he, too, was a good sport about it. And his friends got a kick out of seeing him in a new light!


Other characters that seemed shady at first redeemed themselves by the end of the book. The parents and grandparents who donated the names of their progeny and/or themselves have yet to complain.


My noble experiment worked – after a lot of revising – and raised some money for the synagogue while making some kids (and adults) happy to see their names in print. But I think for the future I’ll go back to stream-of-consciousness naming. Or … I know. My story is set in the fictional town of Walford, NJ, named for the equally fictional London neighborhood of Walford, the setting for my favorite soap opera “EastEnders.” I think I’ll take the first name of a character on the show and combine it with the last name of a different character. Yeah, that will work. Maybe.

Rabbi Ilene Schneider, Ed.D., one of the first women rabbis ordained in the U.S., has decided what she wants to be when she grows up: a full-time writer. She is the author of the Rabbi Aviva Cohen Mysteries: the critically acclaimed Chanukah Guilt; the award-winning Unleavened Dead; and the latest,Yom Killer. She also wrote the best-selling nonfiction Talk Dirty Yiddish, soon to be released in a new edition; developed a website of Q&As about Chanukah (; and edited a cookbook Recipes by the Book: Oak Tree Authors Write. She lives in Marlton, NJ, with her husband Rabbi Gary Gans.




On picking a location by Terri Gregg

PJ, thank you for the opportunity to post a guest blog on your site.

When writing a novel, or short story or play for that matter, it is a given that you must have interesting characters and a plot that will engage the reader. The majority of the books I find most enjoyable have another element—an intriguing setting. With my fascination for archeology (I have an M.A. in the field although I have never been a working archaeologist), Cahokia in southern Illinois was a natural location for my novel, Bones Unearthed.

Cahokia was a very large pre-Columbian city that is almost unknown to modern Americans. It was built by the Mississippian Indians and flourished from about 850 to about 1300 A.D. The Mississippians were mound builders and what they constructed in southern Illinois was truly remarkable. At its height, Cahokia was larger than London at the same time. Estimates of its population range from about 15,000 to as many as 40,000 inhabitants. If the latter figure is correct, there was not a larger city in the area of the United States until the early 19th century.

The structures at Cahokia were built of dirt and wood.  The largest structure, Monk’s Mound, was as tall as a 10-story building and covered more area than the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. It was built over a period of a hundred years by individual Indians carrying the dirt up the mound in baskets they carried on their backs.

They had a trading empire that spanned North America from Lake Superior to Florida and covered much of the eastern U.S.  The scope of their trading is based on the materials such as shells and copper found in excavations at the site.

Like other early Indian groups, they hunted and fished as well as gathering nuts and other vegetable matter, but what allowed Cahokia to grow as large as it did was widespread corn farming. Cahokia had both small kitchen gardens and large community fields.

Cahokia is a fascinating place, but there are also a number of mysteries.  The greatest mystery is what happened to the inhabitants of Cahokia. About 1250 they were near the top of their power and wealth. By the mid-1300s they were essentially gone. It may have been caused by the destruction of their habitat.  They were profligate in their use of wood, both from building and as fuel for cooking and heating. The smoke from all their cooking fires must have made the air very bad. The hunting and fishing to supply the needs of their large population may have wiped out the local animal populations. As they became more and more dependent  on corn as their food, the health of the people may have declined significantly. No one knows for sure.

So here is a location right in the middle of America that can provide a rich and fascinating under pinning for the novel with its archeological and ancient historical elements. And if a reader’s curiosity is sparked by the background, of this or some other setting in another book, doesn’t that just enrich the whole experience?


My writing life began with nine years as a science writer for an encyclopedia.  Although that experience honed my writing skills, it was definitely not fiction. My first foray into fiction was a yet to be published mystery novel called Open House, written in Melbourne, Australia, where I lived with my husband who was on a six-month teaching exchange.

With retirement from a career as a computer consultant, my husband and I settled in Sarasota after a little over two years RVing around the country. With more time to write, I published Bones Unearthed, a mystery novel set in Cahokia World Heritage site in southern Illinois.

Currently I have two novels in the works—a sequel to Bones Unearthed and another murder mystery with a protagonist who is RVing with her husband.

I live in Sarasota with my husband, John.  We have three grown children—two girls who live in Austin, Texas, and a son in the Los Angeles area.  We have three grandchildren, also in Los Angeles.

Amazon buy link

What’s the Right Title for Your Next Novel? by J.L. Greger

I always name a novel when I start working on a project and then rename it at least twice as I write and edit the novel. How about you? Maybe these guidelines will be helpful or slightly amusing.


The title should be short enough to fit on the spine of the book and still be readable. Many thrillers have one- to three-word, like Robin Cook’s Coma or Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park. Accordingly, my most recent thriller is called Riddled with Clues. Mystery novels often have longer titles, e.g. John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. That title suggests a good idea trumps rules when naming a book.


The title needs to be catchy. It is difficult to define catchy. I think D. H. Lawrence’s The Man Who Died is a catchy title, but I’m not confident in my ability to judge catchy titles.  So, I asked a writers’ group to help me name my mystery novel. I gave them the choice of “Death of a Diet Doctor,” “Murder: A Way to Lose Weight,” and variations of these two. They immediately chose Murder…A Way to Lose Weight. At book fairs, readers often laugh when they see the title. I think this suggests a third rule to selecting a title: Funny titles sell.


The title should tell you something about the book. The Book Seller of Kabul by Åsne Seierstad is an informative title, which tells the reader about the setting and a major character. Most titles are more symbolic, but hint at the topic. Examples are Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes, which is a memoir about his mother.


I struggled to name my latest novel, Riddled with Clues. Here’s the blurb:


A hospitalized friend gives a puzzling note to Sara Almquist. He received the note signed “Red from Udon Thani” while investigating the movement of drugs from Cuba into the U.S. However, he doesn’t know anyone called Red, and the last time he was in Udon Thani was during the Vietnam War. After Sara listens to his rambling tales of all the possibilities, both are attacked. He is left comatose. As she struggles to survive, she questions who to trust: the local cops, her absent best friend, the FBI, or a homeless veteran, who leaves puzzling riddles as clues.


Early in the writing process, I realized that a number of the clues in the book could be riddles. That way I could add tension to the book. My heroine, Sara Almquist, and the law enforcement agents in the novel knew they important clues but they couldn’t make sense of them. I thought a play on words might be fun. Riddled can mean filled. Certainly, “Riddled with Clues” sounded more interesting than “Filled with Clues.” Do you agree?


What are you going to name your next novel? Will it be short, catchy, and informative?


Riddled with Clues (both paperback and Kindle versions) is available at Amazon: Murder…A Way to Lose Weight is at:


Bio: J. L. Greger likes to include “sound bites” on science and on exotic locations in her Science Traveler Thriller/Mystery series, which includes: Riddled with Clues, Murder…A Way to Lose Weight (winner of 2016 Public Safety Writers [PSWA] annual contest and finalist for New Mexico–Arizona book award), I Saw You in Beirut, and Malignancy (winner of 2015 PSWA annual contest). To learn more, visit her website: or her Amazon author page:


Take the Point – The Bedrock Element to Crafting VOICE in Fiction by Robert W. Walker

There are few choices in fiction writing more important than POINT of VIEW, the building block to VOICE, which is the single most important element in the craft. Start with the premise that any piece of writing with an ill-defined point (be it fiction, nonfiction, essay) will ramble and spin its wheels if it is “pointless”, and any fictional work will find itself mired in mud, spinning its wheels, if it is without a Point of View.


Of course there’re various uses of this element of fiction. One single person, first person-character point of view, for example. One single person-narrator, second person point of view, or one single narraor third person point of view. Confused yet?


An author can choose 3rd person, 2nd person, or 3rd person single point of view, but that is the easy part. Sound complicated? Well yes, it is somewhat as an author can also select multiple-point of view in any one of the three ‘persons’–that is first, second, or third person. Then there is the question of time—should the Point of View (narrator or character) be speaking in present tense (now time) verbs or past tense (then time) verbs?


The choices are many, and the choices an author makes are varied, even head-spinning if you stop too often to think about how you do what you do. However, thanks to Jerome Stern’s meticulous display of all these varied choices, defining each clearly and precisely in his alphabetically organized book for writers—Making Shapely Fiction—there is HELP! After reading it, then check out Dead on Writing by yours truly in audible or ebook format.


Few authors resort to using second person to tell their entire story or novel, but some choose to tell an entire novel in present tense, often as a single point of view. Scott Turow is known for using present tense for entire novels (which I could never do…maybe a short story), but that is how his mind works, and it behooves we authors to determine how our minds work, and in what manner our minds work best, in what environment of language-scape are we feeling most comfortable? Turow blows my mind in his ability to stick with present tense for 300 pages or more. The reporter author of Homicide—Life on the Street also wrote in present tense that entire book (later a TV drama) but this author was a reporter taking notes in real time—as it all happened; in other words, in present tense/time.


For my first novel ever, the control of having one perspective, one character-narrator in Daniel Webster Jackson & The Wrongway Railroad was a good thing for a young author, but like Twain’s Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn tales, upon which I fashioned the novel as a high-schooler out to create the sequel, I used third person past tense/time. I have ever after used this comfortable POV, even doing now multiple view point crime novels and horror novels and historical novels. Of course with the multiple viewpoints, each switch I go into has to be consistent within that scene or chapter where a new POV takes precedence. Even so, I always feel most comfortable in past tense, third person. In fact, in that frame of writing, I feel as comfortable as an ocean otter floating on his back in the Pacific, eating clams and holding hands with his lady otter.


When it comes to POV, you can believe this fact: it is absolutely intertwined with verb tense/time and person as in first or third person, or at times second person, which is often quite folksy in tone, in the bell it rings. Each choice, believe me, rings a different bell. Take these three sentences each written in a separate ‘person’s voice’:


I slipped into the rear of the ‘old palace’ as Nick called his place, a rundown bungalow off Second Avenue, and I saw it was tucked in behind the Lowe’s as the lumber yard sign stared back at me.


Once you slipped into the rear of the ‘old palace’ as Nick called his place, a rundown bungalow off Second Avenue, only then did you catch sight of the Lowe’s Lumber Yard sign staring back at you.


Lucas slipped into the rear of the ‘old palace’ as Nick called his place, a rundown bungalow off Second Avenue, tucked as it was behind a Lowe’s loading dock. “Some view,” Lucas said as the Lowe’s sign stared back at him.


Brrrrrrring one, brrrrring two, barrrrrrinnng three. Each rings a different bell, which is called tone in the textbooks. “What is the tone of the piece? Is it sarcastic? Authoritative? Straight-laced? Tongue-in-Cheek?


The point is that the construction of one’s POV character or narrator (who are not always one and the same) is a difficult set of constructs that requires that you juggle a host of decisions, but once made, then it is a matter of being consistent in your choices. If your story begins in first person, it should end in first, unless you’re doing something ‘innovative’ or extra special and you know it. If your story sets out in second person, you are stuck with it throughout the story. If in third person (my favorite choice) then it should end in third person. If your story is set up as a single-person POV in past tense like Huck Finn who tells his own story, the whole story then is Huck’s VOICE, Huck’s single point of view. Nothing happens that he does not see and experience. It is totally his story.


In my Instinct Series I used third person narrative throughout, but I also use multiple viewpoints throughout, so you are in the mind/body/spirit of Dr. Jessica Coran (whose story it is) most of the way, but you are also at times in the mind/body/spirit of the villainous serial killer or Jessica’s supervisor, or her lover, or her shrink, or her lab assistant. These other POVs all are connected to Jessica. She is at the center of the universe of the novel, and all other minor POVs are satellites in her orbit. Some call it the character WEB with Jessica at the center and all others are connected in her web by the connective tissue of each relationship status and interrelated status(es).


So there! How simple is that? So easy…  Frankly, if it was easy, it would not take years upon years to learn the craft to the point of writing lines that do more than lay there on the page, lines that instead sing. As Stephen King has said, if you can’t make it sing, at least make it clear. By controlling POV and using consistent POV referencing, you remain clear. Deviating all over the POV map is the fastest way to confuse your readers, committing the #1 sin in writing—Being Unclear. You are not going to be that writer. Your narrator or character-narrator is going to ring a beautiful bell.

Robert W. Walker has written & published over 70 novels, 3 short story collections & the how-to Dead On Writing, all since his first published work in 1979, Sub-Zero. A graduate of Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., Rob holds an MA in English Education & today is an adjunct professor at West Virginia State University. While he was born in Corinth, MS., Rob grew up in Chicago, setting for many of his novels. Today Rob has ten separate series characters in as many genres. Rob’s Instinct Series began with Killer Instinct & is Rob’s longest running franchise. Rob has taught writing almost as long as he’s been writing—since his junior high days. His first novel, completed in high school was Daniel Webster Jackson & The Wrongway Railroad, a book highly influenced by Mark Twain’s boys’ tales. Rob’s favorite authors are Twain and Shakespeare. He lives in Hurricane, WV with his wife and step-children.

In a Series: How Many Books Is Too Many? by Maggie Pill


I recall a few years ago blithely saying on a panel at Malice Domestic that I couldn’t write a series with more than five books. Too confining. Too repetitive. Too boring.


Eat, Drink, and Be Wary is the 5th Sleuth Sisters mystery, and it released April 14th.

The story came to me as it often does, as a basic idea: the sisters would go to a trendy winery and run into a murder in their first hour there. That was the backbone, forming a beginning, middle, and end, but it required a lot of work to cover that frame with the humor and personality of a cozy and the details that make a mystery enjoyable. What if the trip involved a group Barb disapproved of, and she decided not to go along? What if Faye got stuck dealing on her own with crowds of strangers and (OMG) a fashion show? What if Retta actually got dirty—not just a little dusty, but right-down filthy?

Weaving those ideas into the web of murder and other crimes, I ended up with a fun story, a satisfying plot, and a lot of humor and action. But it’s the fifth Sleuth Sisters Mystery. Does that mean I’m done?

The Sleuth Sisters is different from my other series (written under my real name, Peg Herring) in that the material comes from real life. I have two sisters. We love each other but recognize that we see the world from diverging viewpoints and live our lives very differently as a result. While we’re not like Barb, Faye, and Retta in most ways, we are as unlike each other as they are. I learned early in life that when people have dissimilar perspectives, they might have trouble working together.

Barb, the oldest of the sisters, sees humankind through a logical lens, which means she wants to “fix” people and things so they make sense. Faye, the middle child, sees life emotionally, so she notices and feels compelled to relieve the pain of both people and animals. Retta is a little selfish (having always been the cute one), and though she is strong and even fearless when necessary, her first concern is likely to be saving her nail polish from damage. Their differences give me a lot of raw material to work with in this “sister series.”

The other thing I (wisely, but not purposely) did is have the three women open a detective agency. I didn’t intend the first book, The Sleuth Sisters, to become a series, but it did because so many readers wanted it to. (When they beg for more, how can an author resist?) Professional investigators have cases brought to them, unlike Jessica Fletcher-type characters who must “happen upon” corpses over and over. This series combines the advantage of P.I. novels, where protagonists are charged with solving crimes, with the fun of cozies, where small-town characters exhibit unique personalities and lovable oddness.

There’s another thing I have to consider, and it’s what my fellow panelists were kind enough not to point out to me when I mentioned five as my limit on a series. Financial and critical success is hard to walk away from. Readers love the Sleuth Sisters, and as a result they buy them in e-book, print, and audio. It’s not just me who benefits from this. The owner of the studio that makes the audio books and the three actresses who read the sisters’ parts love their regular paychecks from Audible. My editors and cover artist are pleased with the prospect of more business from Maggie Pill. And my husband doesn’t mind listening to me talk about writing (which I do way too much) if I’m telling how well sales are going. It’s hard to look at rising numbers and reader requests for another adventure and say, “I’m not writing any more of those.”

The solution?

I plan to let the series be its own pilot. If an idea comes along that stirs my creativity, I’ll continue. If not…Well, I refuse to push it. I like the sisters and enjoy taking their different points of view as I write their adventures down. I hope a new idea comes along before 2018, but if it doesn’t, that’s okay. My Peg persona has lots of stories she wants to write down too.




Maggie writes mysteries, loves fine chocolate, and lives in northern Lower Michigan with her husband and an elderly, self-assured cat. She is working on visiting every waterfall in the Midwest before she’s too old to climb the steps. Maggie Pill is also Peg Herring, but Maggie’s much younger and cooler.



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Fallout in the Desert by Janet Lynn

My husband Will, a published author also, and I co-write the Skylar Drake Murder Mysteries, a hardboiled 1950s series.

Our third book takes place in 1955 Las Vegas. We knew nothing about the area when we spent a week in Vegas to research the era. We had the opportunity to interview a gentleman, Mike, who was born and raised in Las Vegas and a young adult in 1955. He talked about the Atomic Bomb testing from 1952–1963, nuclear testing was taking place 50 mi north Las Vegas. Residents and tourists were enamored with the blasts. They threw all-night parties called “Dawn Bomb Parties,”  in-sight of the mushroom cloud at dawn.

It seems the city took the fame and ran with it. There was a new drink called Atomic Cocktail, beauty pageants crowned Miss Atomic Bomb and an “Atomic Hairdo” or the “Mushroom Cloud Hairdo”.

          He said people came from all over America to see the spectacle and Las Vega’s population more than doubled. People would venture with atomic lunchboxes for a lunch date in the desert.

He smiled and said, “We called our city the “Atomic City.”

In hindsight, the suffering these tests caused families and the resulting human tragedy can’t be explained away. “We were stupid to think we could control the fallout and wind shift of the desert. But for a period of time we enjoyed jubilation of technology and the power atomic energy gave us.”

          After the interview with Mike, we headed to the County Library and found stories of the testing and how people welcomed it. We also found pictures of the things Mike talked about. We just had to use them in our book.

The results? DESERT ICE was released in January…and yes, we’re still married.



Synopsis for DESERT ICE


In 1955, a missing Marine and stolen diamonds lead Private Eye Skylar Drake to Sin City, where the women are beautiful and almost everything is legal—except murder.

The FBI and a Las Vegas crime boss force him to choose between the right and wrong side of the law. All the while, government secrets, sordid lies and trickery block his efforts to solve the case.

Common sense tells him to go back to L.A. but is gut tells him to find his fellow Marine.