Tuesday, March 29, 2016



Checkmate is the fourth standalone novel in the Harry Starke series of mysteries.

Angela Hartwell lay dead in the shallow waters beside the golf course. There was not a mark on her, yet she had been strangled. How could that be?

Once again, it’s up to Harry Starke to find out. The investigation takes him into a world he’s very familiar with, a world of affluence, privilege, and corruption.

To solve the mystery, he must deal with three murders, a beautiful used car dealer, her lovely twin sisters, and a crooked banker.  Not to mention Burke and Hare, two crazy repo men who will stop at nothing to protect their employer’s interests. There's also the matter of an ingenious, sadistic killer. But nothing is ever quite what it seems . . .

Harry Starke is a hard-boiled private detective, an ex-cop, a tough guy from the right side of the tracks with finely tuned senses, good instincts, and friends in high places. He’s single, successful, well educated, and yes, he will hurt you if he needs to.

Excerpt from Checkmate

She walked around the desk, sat down, reached over and punched a number into the intercom. “Max. If you wouldn’t mind. Please come in here.”

A few seconds later, the door opened and in walked what could only be described as the Terminator. Max Tully was about as tall as me, but there the similarity ended. He must have weighed at least 250 pounds, but his body fat was probably less than five percent. He was a body builder, a powerhouse, probably on steroids. He was so muscled his arms wouldn’t hang by his sides.

“Mr. Starke is leaving now, Max,” Ruth said. “Please show him out.”

I stayed where I was. “I have a few more questions, if you don’t mind,” I said reasonably.

“I do mind. Max?”

He took a step toward me. “You heard the lady.”

“Back off, Fatso,” I said, even more reasonably than before, so I thought, as I got to my feet and turned to face him. “Fatso,” probably wasn’t what I should have called him, but I learned a long time ago that the best way to handle a tough guy was to throw him off his game before he got started. Anyway, he went for it. He growled, and took another step forward. I took a step backward.

“I said, back off.”

He grinned, exposing a set of white but crooked teeth, and raised his right hand to grab my shoulder. That’s the trouble with big, strong guys like him. They think their size and strength are all they need. This one, by the self-satisfied look on his face also thought he was better than me.

Fat chance, Blutto.

He didn’t even see it coming. I grabbed two of his outstretched fingers—the pinky and the one next to it—and bent them back. He howled in pain. His knees bent. His arm crooked upward toward his shoulder. His eyes closed. His head went back. Ruth sat staring, wide-eyed and open-mouthed.

“Down, boy,” I said, as I slowly forced him to his knees. I sighed and shook my head as I increased the pressure until he was down on his back.

“All you had to do was ask nicely, and I would have left,” I said quietly. “You didn’t need to bring in the heavy — and that’s all he is, Ruth: heavy.”

I pulled on Max’s fingers, and he rose into sitting position. I bent down, put my mouth close to his ear.

“Max, I’ll say this just once, so listen up. I’m going to let you go now. When I do, you’ll stand up and go back to whatever hole in the wall you crawled out of. If you don’t — if you decide you think you can ambush me — I’ll blow away one of your kneecaps. I’ll put you on sticks for the rest of your days. Understand?”

He nodded. He was in too much pain to even speak. I let him go and stepped back and pushed my jacket back to expose the grip of the MP9 under my left arm. He got up and staggered out of the office, his right hand clasped in his left, close to his chest.


Blair Howard is from a small town in England, near Stratford-upon-Avon, on the edge of the English Cotswolds. He is Kentucky Colonel, an honor bestowed upon him in 2008 by the then Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Steven L. Beshear. Until 2015, he wrote sweeping historical epics, and is the author of five historical novels. In July of 2015 he decided to try his hand at writing mystery novels, thus we have Harry Starke. The first in the series, Harry Starke, was released in mid-September 2015. The second novel, Two for the Money, was released October 19, the same year, Hill House, in mid-December 2015, and Checkmate in February 2016, and there are more to come.

Blair is the author of more than 40 books and more than 4,500 magazine, newspaper, and web articles. His work has appeared in many national and international publications, including Delta's Sky Magazine, PHOTOgraphic magazine, The Mail on Sunday, The Walking Magazine, Petersen's Hunting Magazine, The Boston Herald, The Detroit Free-Press, The Anchorage Times and many more.

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