Sunday, December 27, 2020


 Did you get at least one holiday present this year which was a dud? You know what I mean—a sweater that is two sizes too small or is in a shade of orange that makes you cringe. 

Just wait till you read about the "present" Sara Almquist got. It was about a pound of animal guts and made an alarming ticking sound. Did I mention it was contaminated with the bacteria that cause the plague?

In the medical thriller A POUND OF FLESH, SORTA, Sara Almquist receives a mysterious box of animals guts. The police suspect  gang leaders are trying to threaten Sara and prevent her from testifying at their upcoming trials. As a scientist, Sara wonders whether the packet might be a plea from a rancher fearing another outbreak of the plague in the Southwest. 

Soon all suspect the package is a clue needed to solve a suspicious series of accidents.

Why not gift yourself with this book and spend a day or two immersed in a real mystery/thriller? Then you can ignore all the boring presents you got.

P.S. Plague occurs almost every year in the American Southwest causing the death of many livestock and occasionally a few human deaths.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Does this sound like the memory of a spy?

Sara Almquist is in a lackluster love affair in I SAW YOU IN BEIRUT. Then an agent who has been undercover for thirty years in #Iran sends an email: "Help. Contact Almquist." As Sara is drawn into the plan to identify and rescue the agent, known only as F, she is forced to re-evaluate characters from her career as a globe-trotting #scientist and rethink what matters in #romance and her life in general. Available at:


This excerpt from Chapter 3 of I SAW YOU IN BEIRUT, an international #thriller, is based on a real incident and a real Iranian student in the U.S. in 1978:

“I don’t remember how I met her.” She (Sara Almquist) noted the Major continued to tap the table. “I only remember… three incidents with Farideh.” She gulped. “I guess I’m ready. I’ll start with the most revealing. I hadn’t worked for Doc Steinhaus long. So, it must have been a Saturday in September or early October of seventy-eight.”


The day was hot. I heard a roar of the crowd at a football game in Camp Randall Stadium as I entered the almost empty, red brick Horticulture Building.

Four of Doc’s graduate students were in the workroom when I delivered printouts from the computer lab in a nearby building. Three hardly lifted their heads to acknowledge me. I knew why. Danny was yipping in his high tenor voice about inconsequential departmental gossip as he looked at his near empty desk. The other three politely refrained from telling him to shut up.

I sat down by Mike and waited for instructions. I had a bit of crush on Mike. As was the fashion then, he had a thick unruly beard. He muttered, “Think of a way to shut the fool up. Doc should be here shortly. He wants you to enter data for me at the computer center.”

I got up and sliced a thin sliver of chocolate cake for myself from a tired-looking birthday cake on the table in the center of the room. The grad students had celebrated Mike’s birthday the day before. Most of the cake was gone, but wax candles were strewn on the table. “Danny, do you want a piece of cake. It’s still moist.”

Danny drew a freckled hand through his carrot red hair and blinked his brown eyes at me in apparent surprise. “The baby talks.”

I ignored the insult and placed a big slice of cake on a napkin and was handing it to him when Farideh slammed into the office. As usual she wore hip-hugging, frayed blue jeans, the bell-bottom type. An off-white knit ribbed top, which showed her slim waist, clung to her torso. Despite her dark hair and black eyes, I doubt most would guess she was from Iran. She was about five-seven and moved with long, smooth strides.

Danny talked as he stuffed cake in his mouth. “Did you do your daily protest march against the Shah around the Bascom Hall?” Chocolate cake dribbled from his mouth. “From what I hear, he’s been good for Iran. That’s why you and your husband are in grad school here.”

Mike kept his head down. “Danny, leave her alone.”

Farideh plunked in her chair. “We were followed today by men in suits. I think from SAVAK, the Shah’s secret police.”

“You’re hallucinating,” said Danny.

“Don’t display your ignorance.” Farideh strode to the table and sliced the cake.

The three other grad students kept their heads down, as though they expected a blow-up.

“Hey, doll cut me another piece,” said Danny as he swallowed the last of the cake I’d given him.

Surprisingly, Farideh did. As she cut the cake, Danny rose to stand behind her. He rubbed his hands from her waist to her hips. “What a waste to cover this with a burqa, or I guess you’d say a chador in Iran.”

She dropped the slice of cake and rammed her elbow into his gut. Hesitated a second, before she picked up the knife. “Don’t touch me.”

Mike ran from the office. The mouths of the two other grad students hung agape.

Farideh turned the knife in her hand.

Danny, who about three inches taller than Farideh and quite muscular, laughed, “Doll, you know I can take the knife from you.”

Everyone gasped as the door opened and Doc rolled in, followed by Mike. Doc was obese, and he panted when he walked at a normal speed. Today he gasped from having hurried in the heat. “Farideh… come… to… my… office.” 

Danny squealed, “You’re in trouble now.”

She gripped the knife and lunged at Danny.

“Farideh!” Doc howled.

She stabbed the knife so hard into the cake that she broke its blade on the table. Then she stalked out of the office.

As he closed the door, Doc said, “Danny, try to keep your mouth shut until I return. And Sara, here’s what you need to do.” He handed me a stack of papers.