GIVEAWAY: Hard Court Giveaway by Robert Germaux

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Thanks to Robert Germaux and My Book Tour, I have a Kindle version of Hard Court to give away!

Hard CourtWe’ll keep it simple — to enter, leave a comment on this post between now and June 2nd at noon (MDST) and I’ll draw a name out of a hat. Obviously, make sure your comment involves some way to get in touch with you 🙂

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Hard Court by Robert Germaux

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Hard CourtHard Court

by Robert Germaux
Series: Jeremy Barnes, #2


Kindle Edition, 253 pg.
Robert T. Germaux, 2016

Read: May 20 – 21, 2016

Miles Bradshaw was my first billionaire. I’ve worked for a few millionaires, a good many thousandaires and, occasionally, individuals with negative net worths. When law firms take on a client from the latter group, it’s called pro bono. When a one-man detective agency does it, it’s called not paying your bills. Since I like paying my bills, I try to keep the negative-net-worth clients to a minimum. Lately, it’s been a mixed bag. Most recently, a guy who owned a string of radio stations had hired me to find out who was sending threatening notes to one of his on-air personalities, and after that, a five-year-old neighbor of mine asked me to find Snowball, her lost kitten. I’d been successful in both endeavors. Ed Willoughby had given me a very big check, and Samantha Jane had given me a very big hug. Both the check and hug were appreciated, and both, in my estimation, constituted fair compensation for services rendered.

Whatever else I may end up saying about this book, get this: Germaux’s prose is as smooth as silk, jazz, a baby’s tush, a criminal in a Michael Jackson song, etc. I don’t know how many times while reading this I was tempted to check his list of published works again — he doesn’t write like someone with less than 10 books under his belt (with at least one exception — I’ll get to that in a minute).

Jeremy “JB” Barnes is an ex-English teacher turned P.I. — he’s tough, into yoga, and making wise cracks. He’s got a gorgeous girlfriend (I liked her a lot), an old buddy who’s a cop (a fun character), one that’s a computer expert (not stereotypical in anyway — phew!), and so on. He’s the whole package when it comes to P.I. characters — I soon felt like I’d been reading this series of books for a long time. He’s a little bit Spenser, a little bit Elvis Cole, and a heckuva lot of fun.

Miles Bradshaw, multi-billionaire tech-giant, is the owner of Pittsburgh’s new NBA team. He’s down to earth, brilliant, generous and completely dedicated to his team. Frankly, I’d love to have someone like him in my life (no, really — all down-to-earth, generous, multi-billionaires that read this should give me a call, we’ll do lunch or something — the Whoppers are on me.). He’s concerned because people involved with the team are being harassed — either by people stalking them, vandalizing their cars, or by screwing up electronic communications between suppliers and ticket holders. Miles is convinced that since the harassment is so varied in nature, it has to be coincidental.

But because this is a detective novel, naturally, there’s no way that these aren’t connected. What neither JB or Miles can figure out is how they’re connected. Before they figure that out, they discover that the silly harassment of the team is really something on the fringe of a large-scale criminal enterprise involving organized crime, computers and spoiler-y things. I appreciated the friendship that develops between Miles and JB, something you don’t see enough of in Detective Fiction (P.I.s rescuing clueless clients, teaching them life lessons? Dime a dozen. Two professionals bonding over mutual interests while letting each deal with their strengths? Practically unheard of.). There’s a subplot that has nothing to do with these stories, that basically delivers the message that JB’s lady love is a knockout and he’s not to be messed with.

I am so glad that when he gets to the nitty-gritty of computer crimes, Germaux doesn’t try to explain it in any kind of detail. JB just leaves his friends to it and goes off to do his thing. I’m tired of that kind of thing being explained like a technical manual, or with bad analogies while the tough-guy hero makes jokes about how he can’t understand them. Nope, we get plausible thumbnail explanations and trust that the experts know what they’re doing. Just like most of us do in real life.

There’s some violence (pretty mild, really), some sexuality (very mild, really), enough to let you know that this isn’t a YA novel, but not so terrible that you couldn’t recommend this to your mother. There’s nothing revolutionary to be found here — but Germaux doesn’t seem to be trying to do anything revolutionary. He’s writing a good, straightforward detective novel, and he does that well.

Okay, here’s my gripe: Germaux has clearly drunk deep at the well containing the advice about making sure you propel your readers to the next chapter with a plot development, cliffhanger or something else. Frequently, he does okay with that. But almost as frequently, what we end up getting is ham-handed and/or corny. You almost expect David Caruso to deliver some of his last paragraphs (no, not the cool NYPDBlue Caruso, but latter-season CSI: Miami Caruso).

I guess I have another one: the ending felt a little rushed. Not much though. Not enough to spend more time on. (making us even, I guess)

Both of these problems are easily overlooked and outweighed by the rest of the novel, and I have little doubt that in a few books (especially if they’re new Barnes books), Germaux will have figured out how to avoid both of these.

This book was a real pleasure to read — it felt like I was at least 4 books into a series. The relationships, the histories, the dialogue all felt like the kind of things that I’d been reading for years — I just hope this means I get to read more of them. Germaux knows what he’s going, and I heartily recommend them.

Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

—–

4 Stars

Q & A with Robert Germaux Author of Hard Court

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These questions were provided by My Book Tour

Why a novel about a private detective?

I’ve always loved mysteries, starting when I read the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books as a kid. As I got older, I enjoyed Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct novels, and eventually I also got hooked on the characters of Spenser, Elvis Cole and Myron Bolitar, among others. When I decided to write my first full-length novel, there was no doubt in my mind that my protagonist would be a private detective.

How would you describe Jeremy Barnes, Bob?

There’s an old line about people you wouldn’t want to run into in a dark alley. Well, if you did end up in that dark alley with one of those people, JB’s the person you’d want covering your back. He’s a tough guy with a soft spot in his heart for life’s underdogs, and while he’d much rather diffuse a tense situation with his sense of humor, if push comes to shove, he’s more than capable of handling himself that way, too.

Is JB based on anyone in particular?

There’s a little bit of several people I’ve known in JB, but mostly he’s a product of my fertile imagination. Actually, other than the fact that he’s bigger, stronger, younger, smarter and better-looking than I am, we’re remarkably similar!

How do you come up with the plots for your books?

It’s a combination of finding subjects I’m knowledgeable about and things I have an interest in. For example, in Leaving the LAW, JB attempts to help a young man who’s involved with gangs at the school where JB used to teach. In the early 90s, I was teaching at a Pittsburgh high school that the local cops called Gang Central, so I had some personal experience with that whole scene.

Why first person narrative?

I can’t imagine writing about JB in any other way. When I write my Jeremy Barnes novels, I’m right there inside his head. At those moments, we’re one and the same. He’s definitely my alter ego.

You’ve said you can’t see yourself ever writing a character interview with Jeremy. Why is that?

Jeremy exists in the world I created for him, and I’m very comfortable writing about him in that world. But bringing him into this world just doesn’t work for me. It would be sort of like the literary equivalent of breaking the fourth wall in a stage production. I’m sure some authors can pull that off, but I’m not one of them.

Do you have a reading group?

Yes, and the group’s name is Cynthia. As soon as I finish writing a chapter, I give it to my wife. Cynthia knows my characters as well as I do, so I almost always end up using her comments/suggestions.

How important was it for you that Jeremy would have a love interest in the character of Laura Fleming?

I knew from the start that Jeremy would have a woman in his life, a soul mate. The scenes with JB and Laura are my favorite to write, whether they’re discussing one of his cases, talking about her kindergarten kids or just sharing a candlelight dinner at one of Pittsburgh’s hilltop restaurants.

Okay, Bob, last question. Are there other Jeremy Barnes mysteries on the horizon?

I’ve actually written three other books about Jeremy: Small Bytes, Speak Softly and the aforementioned Leaving the LAW. If there’s a demand, I will definitely publish them, too.

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Guest Post: Writer’s Block? Step Into My Shower By Robert Germaux

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Does this sound familiar? You’ve placed one of your characters (let’s call her Jenny) in a pretty sticky situation, and now you have no idea how to get her out of that pickle. You’ve tried several scenarios, but none of them quite works. Finally, you decide to take a break, clear your mind a bit. You’re thinking grab a quick shower, drive over to Starbucks for a latte, then come back and get to work on saving Jenny. Five minutes later, you’re halfway into that shower, and suddenly, it hits you, the perfect way to extricate Jenny from that sticky situation.

That sort of thing has happened to me often enough that, at some point, I began to wonder about the possibility of a connection between water and creativity. So, of course, I Googled it, and I quickly learned that there is a veritable waterfall of information on this topic. Yeah, I know. Waterfall of info on water. I couldn’t resist it. No more, I promise. Anyway, I discovered that there does, indeed, appear to be a connection, although it’s not the water per se, but rather a progression of events in which water is just one part. With apologies to Mr. Metcalf, my high school science teacher, I’ll do my best to walk you through the process. It involves dopamine, and one of the few things I still remember from Mr. Metcalf’s class is that dopamine equals good. Apparently, dopamine aids in the creative process (no idea; I got a C- in science), but to get the dopamine released into our brains, we first need to be doing something relaxing, like taking that warm shower or a long walk or a leisurely drive in the country. During these types of activities, your mind is distracted from whatever subject you’ve been concentrating on all day (for instance, poor Jenny), which allows your brain to relax at the same time it’s being flooded with dopamine, and before your know it, genius hits.

Okay, there you have it. Maybe not the most scientific explanation of the process (again, C-), but it gives you the general idea. Relaxation plus distraction plus dopamine equal problem solved. So the next time you’re sitting there staring at that blank page, take a hike.

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Guest Post: Literally? Really? By Robert Germaux

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A few weeks ago, a friend of mine was telling me about a horror movie he’d just seen, and he ended his narrative by saying, “I was literally scared to death!”  My first thought was, not unless I’m getting this information in your Memoir from Beyond the Grave.  The word literally means actually or really, as in There are literally thousands of people following her on Twitter.  That’s a completely believable and verifiable fact.  However, if someone says he literally exploded with anger, well, probably not.  What’s happened here is that so many people have misused the word literally for so long, it’s become acceptable to use it incorrectly.  This has happened with other words, too, the best example possibly being the word bye as it’s both used and misused in professional football.  The NFL gives the two teams with the best regular-season records in each conference a bye in the first round of the playoffs, meaning they’ve earned the right to skip that first week.  That’s a correct usage of the word bye.  However, during the regular season, every team in the league gets one week off, and that’s what it should be called, an off week.  But somewhere along the way, someone began referring to that off week as the bye week, and thanks to the Internet, that term went viral and was repeated thousands and thousands of times, until it eventually became part of our national lexicon.

A final example of this linguistic phenomenon involves the word factoid.  A little history lesson first.  Factoid was coined by Norman Mailer in 1973.  Mailer stuck the suffix –oid (which means resembling or having the appearance of) on the word fact to create factoid, which he said referred to “facts which have no existence before appearing in a magazine or newspaper.”  Jump ahead several decades, have a few people, including some in major media outlets, start using the word factoid to mean an interesting bit of trivia about a person or event, throw in the Internet (of course) and voila!  You have a new definition for factoid.

Okay, let’s take a step back here for a minute.  Does all this stuff matter?  I mean, what harm is being done by someone saying he was literally scared stiff while watching the latest episode of The Walking Dead?  Or by hearing a local sports anchor talk about your favorite team’s bye week in the middle of the season.  In the greater, or even lesser, scheme of things, this is all pretty irrelevant.  I’m well aware that there are far greater issues to be discussed and debated, and I completely get it that our language is constantly evolving.  That’s why, for instance, we ask a new acquaintance where he or she is from instead of saying Whence comest thou?  It’s just that I like to see and hear words being used properly.  So I hope you’ll forgive me if the next time I hear a reporter on a national newscast say And here’s an interesting factoid, this longtime lover of language smiles a bit as he slowly, quietly and, yes, literally gives his head a small shake.

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Hard Court by Robert Germaux Book Tour

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Coming up: We’ve got a Guest Post from Robert Germaux about the continuing evolution of the English language (and how curmudgeons like us react to it), another Guest Post from him about dealing with writer’s block (applies to all sorts of creative endeavors), a Q & A with him (longer than usual ’round here), too — and finally, my $.02 about the book. Oh, yeah, and I’ll be giving away a copy of it, too. Come back and check these posts out (the links will work when the posts go up) — or just go get the book — might be easiest to just do that.

But first: about the book and the author:

Hard Court by Robert Germaux Cover Reveal Event - Book Cover Photo

 

  • File Size: 638 KB
  • Print Length: 253 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Robert T. Germaux (April 6, 2016)
  • Publication Date: April 6, 2016
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01DX54ZFO

 

ABOUT HARD COURT:

Miles Bradshaw, the dot-com billionaire owner of Pittsburgh’s first NBA franchise, hires private detective Jeremy Barnes to look into what appears to be a simple case of harassment of one of the team’s players. But when Jeremy (JB to his friends) begins his investigation, the case proves to be anything but simple, eventually involving a local businessman with suspected criminal ties, a major FBI task force, a computer geek in California and a mob boss in Erie. Along the way, JB, who can quote Shakespeare as quickly and easily as he can land a solid left jab, uses his wits and his ever-present sense of humor to wend his way through a cast of characters who range from the ridiculously inept to the ruthlessly lethal.

As Hard Court unfolds, there are numerous surprises and plot twists, culminating in a dramatic confrontation that neither JB nor the reader could have predicted.

 

PURCHASE HARD COURT ON AMAZON

 

 

Robert Germaux Author PhotoABOUT ROBERT GERMAUX:

Both my parents were readers. I’m talking stacks-of-books-on-their-nightstands readers. So it’s no surprise that at an early age, I, too, became an avid reader. Everything from sports books (especially baseball) to Nancy Drew to the Hardy Boys to almost anything about distant and exotic places.

Although I’ve always enjoyed putting words on paper, the writer in me didn’t fully emerge until I retired after three decades of teaching high school English. I quickly wrote two books aimed at middle school readers, at which point my wife urged me to try a novel for adults. As is usually the case, Cynthia’s idea was a good one.

Over the next few years, I wrote several books about Pittsburgh private eye Jeremy Barnes. I took a brief hiatus from the detective genre to write Small Talk and The Backup Husband. Now I’m back and I just released my first Jeremy Barnes novel, Hard Court, on April 11.

In our spare time, Cynthia and I enjoy reading (of course), going to live theater productions, watching reruns of favorite TV shows such as “Sports Night” and “Gilmore Girls,” and traveling to some of those distant and exotic places I used to read about as a child. So far, we’ve been fortunate enough to walk in the sands of Waikiki, swim in the warm waters of the South Pacific and share a romantic dinner in Paris.

I love interacting with my readers and getting their input on my characters and stories. Please feel free to contact me via my website and connect with me on Twitter and Facebook.

READ “LOGAN – A JEREMY BARNES SHORT STORY” HERE

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Cover Reveal: Hard Court by Robert Germaux

Author Robert Germaux is releasing his third novel, Hard Court, on April 11, 2016, and we have the Cover Reveal here!

About Hard Court:

Miles Bradshaw, the dot-com billionaire owner of Pittsburgh’s first NBA franchise, hires private detective Jeremy Barnes to look into what appears to be a simple case of harassment of one of the team’s players. But when Jeremy (JB to his friends) begins his investigation, the case proves to be anything but simple, eventually involving a local businessman with suspected criminal ties, a major FBI task force, a computer geek in California and a mob boss in Erie.

Along the way, JB, who can quote Shakespeare as quickly and easily as he can land a solid left jab, uses his wits and his ever-present sense of humor to wend his way through a cast of characters who range from the ridiculously inept to the ruthlessly lethal.

As Hard Court unfolds, there are numerous surprises and plot twists, culminating in a dramatic confrontation that neither JB nor the reader could have predicted.

About Robert Germaux

Both my parents were readers. I’m talking stacks-of-books-on-their-nightstands readers. So it’s no surprise that at an early age, I, too, became an avid reader. Everything from sports books (especially baseball) to Nancy Drew to the Hardy Boys to almost anything about distant and exotic places.

Although I’ve always enjoyed putting words on paper, the writer in me didn’t fully emerge until I retired after three decades of teaching high school English. I quickly wrote two books aimed at middle school readers, at which point my wife urged me to try a novel for adults. As is usually the case, Cynthia’s idea was a good one.

Over the next few years, I wrote several books about Pittsburgh private eye Jeremy Barnes. I took a brief hiatus from the detective genre to write Small Talk and The Backup Husband. Now I’m back and will be releasing my first Jeremy Barnes novel, Hard Court, on April 11.

In our spare time, Cynthia and I enjoy reading (of course), going to live theater productions, watching reruns of favorite TV shows such as “Sports Night” and “Gilmore Girls,” and traveling to some of those distant and exotic places I used to read about as a child. So far, we’ve been fortunate enough to walk in the sands of Waikiki, swim in the warm waters of the South Pacific and share a romantic dinner in Paris.

I love interacting with my readers and getting their input on my characters and stories. Please feel free to contact me via my website.


*Cover Reveal media prepared by Susan Barton, My Book Tour