Humbling Writers Award —

I am honored to have been recognized by the IACM (Indie Author Crime Masters) as Best Author for Thriller, Suspense, Murder. Take a look and note all the wonderful crime authors that received awards – I am humbled to be included among them. You can watch the presentation video here

via Humbling Writers Award —

#Excerptweek Gerald W. Darnell

From my award winning novel ‘Dead End’.

In this excerpt Carson and his associate Lilly Longstreet have traveled to Arkansas searching for the bad guys.  Their search has brought them to an old country store where they tangle with some ‘good ole’ boys’ from Arkansas.  Enjoy.


Lilly beat me to the front door, but I was directly behind her when she shoved it open and stepped into the Cache River Amagon Country Store.  Brushing her aside, I calmly closed it and walked up to the long counter – Lilly was right behind me.

Four men dressed in work clothes were sitting around the wood stove and sharing a bottle of Jack Daniel’s – passing it back and forth.  They looked up briefly when we entered, then went back to their conversation.  My guess was they were all drunk, or headed that way.  I saw no one else in the store until the same big bearded man stood up from behind the counter.

“Hello,” he said in a deep Arkansas accent, but with a friendly tone. “How can I help you?”

“Remember me?” I said sitting down on a stool.

He stared at me for a moment and then turned that stare toward Lilly before responding. “Yeah I do, did you ever collect that RE ward?”  The big guy wasn’t looking at me.

“Give me a beer,” Lilly said roughly before I could respond. “And one for my friend – Budweiser if you have it.”

He turned, retrieved two beers from the cooler next to the wall and sat them in front of us – unopened.  Then he put both of his big hands on the counter and resumed his stare at Lilly.

“Hey idiot,” Lilly said after picking up her beer and then sitting it back on the counter. “Ain’t you going to open these for us?”

“I think he wants to be paid first,” I smiled, pulling a dollar out of my pocket and laying it on the counter.

The big guy produced an opener from somewhere, opened our beers, picked up my dollar and disappeared back behind the counter.

“Hey,” Lilly shouted. “My name is Lilly Longstreet; do you have a message here for me?”

He reappeared and walked slowly back to where we were sitting. “You’re who?” he growled, returning his stare at her.

“I’m Lilly Longstreet.  Do you have a message…a message for me?  Someone was supposed to leave a message for me here.  Can I have it?”

“Lady…I got no message for you – sorry.” He glanced at me briefly before walking away again.

Looking up at the large Coca/Cola clock on the wall behind the counter – it read 5:15.  Turning toward Lilly, I saw her glance at the clock before looking at me.  Neither of us spoke.

After taking a large swallow from her beer, Lilly sat it down hard on the counter and shouted at the big guy again. “Where can a person get a drink of whiskey around here?”

Without being seen, he answered from wherever he was; which was somewhere behind the cash register, shotgun shells and potato chips that sat on the far end of the counter.  “Beats me lady, we don’t sell whiskey here.”

“Humph,” Lilly mumbled, before looking at me and then again at the clock.  “What do you think?” she asked taking another swallow of beer.

“I think we wait; have another beer and wait. It could be the weather or…”

“Or what?” Lilly snapped.

“A trap.  It could be a trap,” I said shaking my head. Continue reading

#ExcerptWeek – Gerald W. Darnell

From my latest Carson Reno Mystery Series novel ‘Deadly Decision’


Let me set this up for you.  Carson has traveled to a remote fishing camp located on the Tennessee River called Harmon’s Creek.


But before he can chase the bad guy, he must deal with the old man that runs the bait shop. I hope you enjoy this humorous exchange between Carson and the old man who doesn’t hear too well.


There was only one car parked at Harmon’s Creek Country Store when I drove past, a black 1962 Dodge with a Shelby County license plate.  I made the left turn and continued up the shallow hill toward Harmon’s Creek.

After parking the Ford in a spot marked ‘Visitors’, I stood in the grass for a moment looking at my surroundings. A narrow foot path led off to my left and up a small incline; at the top of the hill were three weathered cabins – all identical. Standing in front of me was a small grey building next to the river, and several green aluminum boats resting upside down in the grass. Beyond the boats was a well-used gravel launching ramp connected to the water. A sign hanging across the front entrance of the grey building read: Bait, Boats and Boarding.  I walked onto the slim porch, opened the wooden framed screen door and stepped inside.

Air in the large, cluttered room was stuffy but surprisingly comfortable, helped along by two giant ceiling fans turning slowly, but consistently. Two of the three walls I could see were lined with heads and bodies of long-ago departed animals; their petrified remains on display for the enjoyment or admiration of visitors to Harmon’s Creek Fish Camp. Deer with large antlers, Bobcats showing sharp teeth, wild hogs, oversized large mouth Bass, and even a turkey in flight gave the room an odd aura – more like a museum rather than a bait shop.  I assumed the dead fish and animals were intended to represent what the successful hunter or fisherman could expect from their visit. However, the prey I expected from my visit to Harmon’s Creek would be different; quite different.

Light for the dark room came mostly from outside, with just a single lamp burning somewhere in a far corner – I couldn’t see the source. Several large windows surrounded most of the building, and an open screen porch next to the river provided an almost natural atmosphere to a room crowded with dead animals and dusty fishing gear. Continue reading

A train called the ‘City of New Orleans’

Take a listen…you will enjoy this.  Listen here

This is a short story called ‘A Train Called the City of New Orleans’ and produced by Rob Steele. The story is actually the opening chapter from my Carson Reno Mystery Series novel ‘the Crossing’.   Sit back and enjoy Rob’s presentation.



#ExcerptWeek – ‘Dead End’ by author Gerald Darnell

‘Dead End’ is the thirteenth novel in the Carson Reno Mystery Series. All books in the series are ‘stand-alone’ novels, rated PG or PG 13 and may be read in any order without confusion.  The setting for the series is the early 1960’s and Carson Reno is a Private Detective who works from an office in the Memphis Peabody Hotel.

This excerpt from ‘Dead End’ is the opening for the book. Carson finds himself in a muddy ditch as the result of an automobile accident while running from someone who is trying to kill him and his friend. A flashback follows this excerpt which takes the story up to present time and his dangerous situation.

Dead_End_Cover Winner

A filthy mixture of snow, ice, Arkansas mud and blood filled my mouth – the gritty mess was making it almost impossible to breathe.  Eyes still closed, and trying not to choke, I rolled my head to the left and spit the nauseating mixture onto the bright snow.  Apparently my nose was broken, because after relieving my mouth of the irritation, it quickly filled with the warm and sweet taste of blood – my blood.  Oddly, despite the trauma of the last few minutes, my thoughts and head were remarkably clear – making me wonder if I might be in the early stages of shock.  I’d never been there before.

Silence was everywhere, only disturbed by the sound of light snow falling, and thankfully covering my dry lips. I licked at the welcome moisture and slowly opened my eyes, not knowing what I might see.

A fuzzy gray sky, white falling snow and fading daylight stared back at me – looking down at where I lay – in a dirty, wet ditch, somewhere in Arkansas.

The human body is a smart and complex machine.  When any of the five senses aren’t working properly, it directs another to pick up the slack.  Without sound or vision, my suffering nose was receiving input about my current situation and relaying that information to the brain, it didn’t like what it was hearing! The smells of burning rubber, radiator fluid, raw gasoline and the heat associated with a crashed car engine were reminding me of why I was in this ditch and why my mouth was full of blood. The real world was coming back and it wasn’t pretty.

Our getaway was cut short by the wrong turn down a dead end road, but pursuers had left us no choice. The dark, snowy, lonely roads of rural Arkansas weren’t familiar to the driver, and what seemed like the perfect opportunity for escape, quickly turned into disaster.

Straining to add vision to the messages from my nose, I looked to my right and confirmed what I already knew. The car was resting front down in the ditch and only a few feet from where I lay. Steam rose from a broken radiator, and its warm fluids dripped onto the snow; then the melted mess found its way to the bottom of the filthy trench I was in.

The engine stopped running with impact, but somehow bent and crushed headlights remained on – dimly shining against the ditch bank and tall grass. Light reflecting back on the destroyed car, painted a surreal and bizarre picture for my weak eyes.

An open passenger door was the reason I was in this ditch, and my ejection spared me most of the shock from the crash. I knew my nose was broken, and I certainly had other injured parts not discovered; but I was alive – for now. Somehow I’d managed to avoid the bullets, and only escaped the violent collision by choosing the peril of jumping from a moving vehicle.  Unfortunately the driver wasn’t that lucky.

The head and face made a perfect imprint in the smashed windshield – open and lifeless eyes staring at me through the bloody glass and asking for help. I had none to offer. Impact from the sudden stop against the ditch bank was enormous – however, I don’t suspect the body felt a thing.  Moments before running out of road, a bullet crashed through the driver’s side window; taking most of their head with it, before slamming into the dashboard.

Even knowing it was useless, instinct told me to get up…get up and go check on my friend, the one I had promised to protect. Whoever fired the bullet that removed most of my friend’s head was probably only a few yards away and already rushing over to finish their work.

Unfortunately, my .38 wasn’t in its holster where it belonged – I knew that.  During the short and speedy chase I had managed to fire two rounds at our pursuer, neither one having much effect on their aggressiveness. The gun was in my hand when I left the vehicle, but it wasn’t there now – apparently separating itself from me somewhere in the process.

Weapon or no weapon, I needed to get out of this ditch and on my feet – stand up to run or stand up to fight.  Either way, I needed to stand up!

Putting my right arm against the soft ground, I rose slightly before moving my left – the pain was deafening. I slumped back into the mud, cursing myself for letting this happen. My left arm was useless, either broken when I left the vehicle or from another bullet that I never felt.

Looking away from the carnage I closed my eyes to help tolerate the pain and tried to recall recent events. Events that led me to a ‘one horse’ town in Arkansas, events that had killed my friend and events that put me in this dirty snow filled ditch without the ability to get out.

It started only a few days ago, which now seemed like forever. A client I was hired to protect – a simple task – had gone badly.  Now, I have a dead friend, a dead client and a task not so simple.

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#ExcerptWeek ‘Murder and More’ by Gerald Darnell

‘Murder and More’ is the fourteenth novel in the Carson Reno Mystery Series. All books in the series are ‘stand-alone’ novels, rated PG or PG 13 and may be read in any order without confusion.  The setting for the series is the early 1960’s and Carson Reno is a Private Detective who works from an office in the Memphis Peabody Hotel.

In this excerpt from ‘Murder and More’ Carson and his associate, Joe Richardson have traveled to Daytona Beach, Florida in search of a killer.  Instead they find a rude and uncooperative motel desk clerk.

Murder and More Cover

From the airport we drove north on Highway A1A and easily found the Greyhound Bus Station. It was conveniently located between a small bar and a surf shop in the more economical part of Daytona Beach.  Numerous ‘low rate’ motels lined both sides of the road advertising rooms at ‘prices to fit any budget’, and I’m sure they did. Kids in bathing suits were running everywhere, nervously waiting on mother or father to hurry up and take them to the sand and salt water. Most were carrying a bucket of beach toys and wearing those silly blow-up floats around their waist that made mom and dad feel safe, but were actually more dangerous than not having anything at all.  However…they were really at the beach, Daytona Beach, and I’m sure everyone was determined to have a good time – regardless.

 I took the East (beach side) and Joe took the West side.  As expected, it didn’t take long to find what I was looking for.

 The desk clerk at the Beach Town Motel was resting shoeless feet on top of a large cooler and watching a small black and white television when I walked in and looked around.  An open can of beer was sitting near his dirty feet with several empties stacked beneath the chair. I assume beer came with the sunrise – allowing him to make the most of his day.

His blue, faded tee-shirt covered an oversized belly and ended just below the top of a well-used red bathing suit. Cracked/sun parched skin on his round face seemed to be held together by a gray beard that was in serious need of attention, and white rimmed sunglasses hid eyes that I was sure looked just like the rest of him.  This guy more resembled an ‘over the hill’ life guard rather than a motel clerk.

He spoke without looking at me or moving, and using a tone that sounded like I had disturbed his morning nap. “Rooms are twenty-five dollars a night and thirty if you use our towels on the beach. It’s a two night minimum and we require payment in advance.  If you want a room, sign the register and I’ll get you the key.” He was still watching TV and waving at the small counter while he talked. Continue reading