Book Review—The Locksmith

The Locksmith Cover

Peeling away the layers of anything is usually a mistake. Just ask someone who has had to use sharp tools to prise old wallpaper off the plaster walls of an ancient house. Sometimes, you’ll discover a kid’s crayon drawing of a scarecrow. But other times, you might find something sinister—like dead cockroaches.

The Locksmith reminded me of this nasty renovation business because the protagonist, Jude, is naturally curious and insists on getting to the bottom of things, especially in relationships and usually at her peril. Unfortunately, her children and new life partner must be pulled along to suffer the consequences. But it’s for their own good, you understand.

The writing is accomplished and the characters vivid, but I was disappointed by the ending. The author does such a beautiful job of building toward a natural—inevitable—denouement, then snatches it away in a sharp turn to the right. No spoilers here, but I think she would have done well to adhere to Chekhov’s gun principle. That said, the book is most certainly worth reading for fans of dark mysteries and slow-boil suspense.

You can find this review at Goodreads.

Book Description
Jude doesn’t like secrets, they breed poison, but she knows her husband is hiding something from her. To uncover the truth she flees with her three young children to stay with her mysterious mother-in-law, Audra. Through Audra, Jude believes she can uncover the truth that will heal them all. Only Audra has secrets of her own and will stop at nothing to keep them.

Where to Buy
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Book Review—Pocketful of Bones

Pocketful of Bones Cover

Pocketful of Bones is a quiet story in the way Psycho and The Lottery are quiet. At least, that’s what I was thinking as I made my way through this marvelous and absorbing tale of villains, victims, and valentines. Maybe unsettling is a better description. One minute, someone is having a conversation, and the next, they are dead. And it’s hard to know where you stand with well-drawn characters like Tibba and Finny because, at times, someone can at a moment’s notice turn from victim to villain. And someone who you thought might be conniving turns out to be sweet and loyal.

For me, the best thing about the novel was, I really didn’t know what to expect. For the record, I’ve had my fill of serial killers. So, as the bodies piled up in Pocketful of Bones, I was surprised at the logic and—dare I suggest it?—the correctness of it. The story unfolds as though Fate itself were guiding mother and son to their inescapable destinies. And along the way, they planted the annuals. In short, they were born for this.

If you’re looking for a satisfying read that both perplexes and horrifies in a Canadian sort of way, I suggest you read this book. And remember: anyone is capable of murder; some see it as just another tool in the toolbox.

You can find this review at Goodreads.

Book Description
Finnegan MacGillivray, red-haired, freckle-faced social pariah, finds solace in his mother’s garden while she entertains “dates” in his home. When an accident takes the life of a friend, Finnegan buries the evidence amid the purple dead nettle and bougainvillea, and unearths a treasure trove of human remains. Did his house rest atop an ancient burial ground? Or was there a killer tucking him into bed at night?

His fascination with bones grows as fast as his obsession with his mother. She rejects his advances, and he escapes to the other side of the country. Years later, he returns to his childhood home, to the secrets and the guilt and the bones — and to fulfill his destiny.

Where to Buy
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CHAINSAW HONEYMOON—Putting the Pieces Together

Chainsaw Honeymoon Cover 3DI feel honored to be featured today on Sue Coletta’s Murder Blog. In case you didn’t know, Sue is the author of the chilling Mayhem Series. I was worried my post didn’t contain enough gore, but thankfully, she let me slide. Take a look…

Maybe it’s the fact that I live in a houseful of women. Or that throughout my life I’ve been surrounded by women who have had a strong influence on me. Whatever the reason, a few years ago I set out to write a screenplay about a crazy-smart girl named Ruby who is determined to get her parents back together by any means necessary. Back then, I had the characters pretty much fleshed out. I had smart dialogue and lots of manic scenes I hoped would explode off the screen. But for some reason, I just couldn’t make it work. After a dozen drafts, I finally set it aside to the sound of that WAH-WAH-WAH trombone burping in the background.

I’d been writing screenplays for years—one of which actually sold. And Chainsaw Honeymoon was pretty much my last shot before deciding my time was better spent writing novels. Since then, I managed to publish three novels and a novella, as well as short stories and a children’s book. As I was about to begin working on a new paranormal story, I got the uncontrollable urge to go back and revisit my young adult story and see if, just maybe, I could turn it into a novel.

Well, it worked.

To read the rest of this post, please visit the Murder Blog.

Hooray! Chainsaw Honeymoon Is Published!

Chainsaw Honeymoon Cover 3D

I am so excited—what a journey! The Kindle edition of Chainsaw Honeymoon is available now exclusively at Amazon, and for a limited time, I am offering it for $1.99 US. Click here to order your copy. The print edition will be available in a few days.

Yes, I want to buy now!

Take a look at what IndieReader had to say about my latest novel:

“In this tale of a daughter literally trying to scare her estranged parents back together, Steven Ramirez combines the horror/slasher film and literature genres with the light comedy/romance of a Cary Grant film. Both genres present challenges on their own. What is amazing about Chainsaw Honeymoon is how Ramirez surmounts both of these demands. Added to these accomplishments is his ability to present the viewpoint of a fourteen-year-old girl. In the form of Ruby, Ramirez imparts to readers all the confusion brought about by puberty; the emotional neediness camouflaged by sarcasm; the obsession and continuing frustration with boys; and the bonds female teenagers forge with one another.” — IndieReader

Stop talking so I can click the link!

Book Description
Life, love, and a few dead bodies. Just another day in LA.

One year ago, Alan and Stacey Navarro underwent a painful separation, leaving their daughter, Ruby, to live with her mom and an over-caffeinated Shih Tzu named Ed Wood. People split up all the time, and most kids might get over it, providing they can still Snapchat. Not Ruby. A bright, funny fourteen-year-old who loves shoes and horror movies, she is on an insane mission to get her parents back together. But she can’t do it alone. She needs her two best friends, her dog, an arrogant filmmaker, a bizarre collection of actors, and a chainsaw-wielding movie killer. What could possibly go wrong?

Chainsaw Honeymoon is “hysterical fiction” and like nothing you’ve ever read. There’s romance, drama, and a creepy talking doll called Mr. Shivers. Cutting a breakneck, jagged swath across present-day Los Angeles, this book hurls flaming balls of movies, music, horror, and comedy—like some kind of possessed pitching machine. Is this real life? Better ask Ruby.

For fans of John Green, Robyn Schneider, and Ferris Bueller.