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Saturday, 31 October 2015

☀ Letter from Hell - M. Lee Mendelson

Thank you for joining us on the Virtual Book Tour for Letter from Hell, a Horror by (, Forsaken, 322 pages).

PREVIEW: Check out the book's synopsis and excerpt below, as well as our Q&A with author M. Lee Mendelson  Read the Prologue and the first three chapters with Amazon Look Inside. .

Comment on our post and follow the tour where you will be able to read other excerpts (☀), interviews (ℚ), and reviews (✍).


Synopsis | Teaser | Author Q&A | About the Author | Tour Stops

Synopsis

A simple, routine call to 911 unexpectedly erupts into a grisly suicide. Mike, a well-seasoned deputy is uncharacteristically disturbed by the gruesome scene. Who was this tortured soul, and why did this happen?

Innocently, most of us accept our destiny. We assume our life experiences are the result of mere chance. Few of us discover that our fate is actually an orchestrated tapestry woven from beyond our world. When that influencing weaver is from the netherworld, you may likely find yourself on a dark, terrifying, and tragic journey.

What if you discovered a letter penned by a desperate soul from beyond the grave, a literal letter from hell? What if that letter could alter your perception of reality by revealing that you are not in control?

Would you dare read it?

Teaser: Excerpt

Predestined Recipient,
      If you’re reading this desperate correspondence, I implore you to take my words to heart. Please don’t reject my story as mere fable without first granting me some considerations. If you think you’ve just happened upon this harrowing tale, be forewarned. It was by design.
      You see, from the time I was a young man, I’ve been an advocate for true justice. I had always believed that if you did good, good would come back to you, trusting that what I did somehow mattered.

THE END

3: 37 A.M., BOCA GRANDE SHORES, a peaceful upscale bedroom community on the West coast of Florida. It was a quiet night in the dispatch center of the Sheriff’s Office when suddenly, “911, what is your emergency?”
      A frail, desperate voice, clearly that of an elderly woman answered, “Yes, I can hear my neighbors screaming at each other. It sounds like they’re having a terrible fight. I’ve never heard them fight like this before. I’m very worried. Can you please send someone right away?”
      “What is your address, ma’am?”
      “I live at 2700 Red Oak Circle.”
      “Is this a gated community?”
      “Yes, it’s the Mossy Hammock subdivision.”
      “Is there a gate code?”
      “Yes, but there is a guard on duty at the main gate. In case he’s not there, the code is star one-five-four-three-two. Please hurry! It sounds like it’s getting worse.”
      “We have units en route to you at this time. Can you see anything?”
      In an attempt to conceal her anxiety, the woman answered facetiously, “Honey, at my age I couldn’t see anything even if it was light out. They sound like they’re outside now. I’m too afraid to look.”
      “Yes ma’am, please stay inside. Will you stay on the line?”
      “Yes, of course.”
      “What is your name, ma’am?”
      “Beatrice Johansen.”
      “OK Mrs. Johansen, I’ll stay on the line with you until the deputies arrive.”
      “Thank you.”
      “My pleasure.”
      Mike, a decorated deputy and ten-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, was enjoying an unusually quiet night in Zone Four. Mike was conducting routine business checks when suddenly the radio crackled, “Four-thirteen and four-ninety-five respond to the area of 2700 Red Oak Circle for a possible domestic in progress, caller advised it appears to be intensifying, she’s unsure if there are weapons involved, make contact with caller at 2700 Red Oak Circle.”
      Mike answered, “Four-thirteen en route from the Carson & Associates Law Firm.”
      Mike’s backup, Steve Wilcox, a rookie with six months on his own since completing his field training, also responded, “Four-ninety-five en route from Tampa Trail and Palm Lane.”
      Mike recalled that Red Oak Circle was in Mossy Hammock. He was very familiar with this subdivision, since he had patrolled Zone Four for the previous three years. Mossy Hammock was an upscale community of high-end waterfront houses, home to executives and wealthy retirees. Mike thought, I wonder if Old Joe’s on duty.
      Joe McCallister, a night security guard at Mossy Hammock, was a retired New York City police officer. After losing his wife to cancer four years before, he had picked up the security job to keep from getting bored. Joe preferred the night shift and always had, even as a cop in the Big Apple.
      When Mike arrived at the guard shack, he recognized that the guard on duty was Joe. On quiet nights, Mike would often visit Joe and swap cop stories. Joe was a tall, thin man in his sixties and it appeared that he had fallen asleep in his desk chair. Mike honked his horn, and Joe jumped up, rubbing his eyes. Mike smiled. He identified with how hard it was to stay awake on the graveyard shift, particularly when it was quiet. Joe lumbered to the door.
      Mike, now chuckling to himself said, “Mornin’, Joe. Didn’t mean to wake you.” Joe countered in a gruff voice, “I wasn’t sleeping, asshole. I was just checking my eyelids for leaks.”
      The two laughed briefly, and then Joe said, “What brings you around Mike— business, or just to screw with me?”
      Mike replied, “We got a call from a Mrs. Johansen about a possible domestic.”
      “Old Lady Johansen… yeah, she’s nice enough, kind of a busybody. She’s always calling me about something she heard outside. To tell you the truth, I think she’s trying to get me to come over. She lives alone in that big ol’ house and she always wants me to come in for coffee.”
      Jokingly, Mike said, “Maybe you should court Ol’ Lady Johansen.”
      “Don’t think I haven’t considered it, boy. But she might be a little too old, even for a geezer like me.”
      “Well, she called to say that she heard the neighbors screaming.”
      “Funny, she didn’t call me tonight. Maybe it’s legit. Watch your six. I haven’t heard anything.”
      “How could you with all that snoring I heard pulling up?”
      “Screw you! Get to work, ya prick!” Joe said as he opened the gate.
      After a shorter than normal session of bantering, the two laughed, and Mike drove through.
      Although he had been on hundreds of domestic-related calls in his tenure as a deputy, Mike knew that no two are ever alike. His training and experience had taught him to treat each one as a potentially deadly situation until proven otherwise. As he approached Red Oak Circle, Mike turned off the lights of his patrol car.
      It was an uncharacteristically bright night. A three-quarter moon shone above in a clear, cloudless sky, creating a monochrome scene with a light blue hue, reminiscent of a black and white movie. Mike preferred patrolling on nights like this; stealthily driving, blacked out with the windows down, making use of all his senses. The November night air was remarkably cool and dry by Florida standards. An early cold front brought with it low humidity and temperatures in the low fifties. Mike turned onto Red Oak Circle and reported “Four-thirteen arriving on scene,” stopping his car four houses away from Mrs. Johansen’s address. He knew this gave him a tactical advantage, allowing him to look and listen for danger as he drew closer to the scene. Before approaching the residence, Mike waited for his backup unit, knowing not to enter a potentially hazardous situation alone.
      Shortly after his arrival, Mike heard over the radio, “Four-ninety-five on scene in the area.”
      Mike looked up to see the glow of Steve’s headlights coming from around the corner, and with a brief radio transmission reminded him, “Four-ninety-five, kill your lights and park behind me.”
      Steve complied and parked behind Mike’s cruiser.
      On the phone the dispatcher spoke, “Mrs. Johansen, the deputies are on scene, can you see them?”
      “Let me look. I’ll step outside. Oh yes, I see them.”
      “Okay, Mrs. Johansen. I’ll let you speak to the deputies now. Take care.”
      “Thank you, dear. Good night.”
      Mike and Steve exited their vehicles and closed the doors as quietly as possible. As the two walked toward Mrs. Johansen’s house, Steve whispered, “What’s up man? Been a quiet night so far, huh?”
      Mike looked at him. “Rookie? Tell me you didn’t just say the “Q” word.”
      With an innocent grin, Steve said, “Oops, sorry.”
      “Damn F-N-G!”
      As they approached, they could see Beatrice, a petite, 87-year-old, silver-haired woman wearing an elegant, flowing white robe. She was standing on her darkened front porch with a concerned look on her face.
      When Mike and Steve got closer, she shouted in a shrill voice, “Over here, Officers. I’m the one who called you!” Her voice cut through the crisp night air like a knife.
      Afraid of losing his strategic edge, Mike took his right index finger and raised it to his now pursed lips, gesturing to Beatrice to speak softly.
      Mike then approached Beatrice on her front porch. “Good morning, ma’am. Can you tell me what you heard?”
      In a softer voice Beatrice said, “Well, I’m usually not a light sleeper, but tonight I woke up to the sound of a man and a woman screaming. It sounded like it was coming from that house.” She pointed to the house across the street, 2701 Red Oak Circle. “They’re usually such a nice, quiet couple. I ordinarily wouldn’t have heard anything, but I was sleeping with the windows cracked open. It sounded just awful. I was afraid they were going to get violent, but then it suddenly stopped just before you arrived. I’ve lived here for six years. After he retired, my late husband and I moved here from Long Island. He was the CEO of a brokerage firm. He was such a wonderful man, and generous. He always took good care of me…”
      As Mrs. Johansen rambled on, Mike looked at Steve and rolled his eyes. Steve turned away to keep from laughing out loud.
      “… miss him so much.”
      As she caught her breath, Mike quickly asked, “Have there been any other problems at that house that you know of?”
      Beatrice replied, “Well, not since that nice couple moved in about a year ago. When my husband and I moved in, the house was vacant. About three months ago, late one night, I heard a siren and from my upstairs window I saw an ambulance in front of their house. Of course, I didn’t know why they were there and I didn’t see any police cars. A few weeks later, I was playing bridge with some of my girlfriends at the club house, and my friend Sophie told me that she heard that the wife had lost the baby. That was why the ambulance took her away. But other than that, I can’t recall.”
      Mike, seizing the opportunity to get away, said, “Okay Mrs. Johansen, thank you. We’re going to get going now.”
      Beatrice began, “It’s been quiet for several minutes now so maybe it was nothing.”
      Mike reassured her, saying, “I’m sure you’re right, but we’ll check it out just to make certain.”
      Relieved, Beatrice thanked Mike for his quick response and polite manner.
      Mike, having avoided any major reports so far that night, was anxious to get back to his peaceful shift and write this off as another “bullshit” call.
      Mike and Steve cautiously approached the house, a large, beautifully landscaped, two-story Modern Contemporary design home. There was what appeared to be a brand new luxury SUV parked in the circular driveway, suggesting to Mike that someone should be home. The house was dark, with no glow of lights inside or out.
      Mike told Steve to stand behind the left pillar on the porch as they neared the large double front doors.
      “Watch that big window, and keep your eyes out for any movement.” Mike was referring to what appeared to be the living room window, a large pane of plate glass to the right of the double doors. The curtains were drawn open, providing an unobstructed view inside the residence due to the exceptionally bright moonlight.
      Mike rang the doorbell and took several steps back away from the door, standing behind the pillar on the right, shielding himself from any unexpected surprise at the door. From this vantage point, Mike could also see inside the living room. Neither Mike nor Steve saw anyone inside. After what seemed like several minutes, with no answer and no apparent activity inside, Mike rang the doorbell again. Again, no answer.
      “What do you think, Stevie Boy?”
      “I don’t think they want to talk to us.”
      “I think you’re right. Let’s walk around the house and make sure we don’t miss anything.”
      Mike and Steve walked around the outside of the residence, and neither of them found anything out of the ordinary.
      “Four-thirteen to Dispatch, be advised that we are getting no answer at the door, nothing located. Make sure I’m primary, and show both units in service.”
      “Dispatch copy, four-thirteen.”
      “Well, Steve, I’ll take care of the report. Thanks for the backup. You got lucky this time with that “Q” word thing.”
      “I know, sorry.”
      Smiling, Mike said, “The night isn’t over, though this better be it.”
      Steve laughed, “I hope so. Be safe, brother.”
      The two fist-bumped, and Steve walked back toward his car.
      Mike could see that Beatrice was still standing on her front porch. Hopeful he could avoid a lengthy dialogue, he reluctantly chose to make one last contact with her to reassure her that everything was fine.
      Suddenly, out of the deafening silence, there erupted a blood-curdling shriek from the quiet house which Mike had just walked away from, confident that all was well.
      “I LOVE YOU! NO, DON’T! OH MY GOD! PLEASE NO!!!!
      ” Mike whirled around. As he did, he saw a bright flash looking like the strobe of a camera in a dark room, illuminating the large plate glass window of that beautiful house. With the flash came a single, thunderous “BOOM.”
      Mike’s experience and training instantly took over. Instinctively, he drew his weapon and took cover behind the trunk of a large oak tree in Beatrice’s front yard. Taking a quick inventory of himself first, he then looked and saw Steve, who had almost made it to his car, standing in the middle of the road. He appeared to be paralyzed with uncertainty.
      The senior, more experienced Mike called out, “STEVE, GET YOUR RIFLE AND TAKE COVER!” Mike then turned and cried out, “MRS. JOHANSEN, GET INSIDE YOUR HOUSE!”
      Steve snapped to and reacted to Mike’s commands. He ran to his trunk and retrieved his AR-15 rifle. He then took cover behind his patrol car.
      “FOUR-THIRTEEN DISPATCH, SHOT FIRED, SHOT FIRED FROM 2701 RED OAK CIRCLE, REQUEST IMMEDIATE BACKUP, BE ADVISED WE HAVE A SINGLE SHOT INSIDE THE RESIDENCE!”
      “Dispatch to four-thirteen, copy shot fired.”
      The once quiet radio now sparkled to life. “Dispatch to four-oh-three, four-oh-nine, four-twenty-two, four-thirty-seven, Supervisor six, Canine seven, respond to 2701 Red Oak Circle for a reported shot fired.”
      From the report, Mike could tell it had been a large caliber weapon that he’d heard, probably a shotgun or rifle. All units reported en route. Mike could now collect his thoughts.
      He rapidly assessed. Am I okay? Check. Is Steve okay? Check. Is Mrs. Johansen okay? Check. Help coming? Check. In the distance, Mike could hear the sounds of sirens. The cavalry is coming!
      In what seemed like an eternity, but in reality was only a span of a few seconds, Mike had run his checklist and was satisfied he was ready to continue.
      His thoughts were suddenly interrupted by the sound of the same female voice piercing the silence.
      Following the sound of her screams, Mike heard, “OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD, HE’S DEAD! HE’S DEAD! HELP ME, HELP ME!”
      Mike took a deep breath and looked out from behind his sacred cover, seeing the silhouette of a woman running from the big double doors of the house. She appeared to be wearing only a sheer nightie and was still screaming.
      Mike barked into his radio, “Steve, get up here and cover me!”
      Steve swiftly moved up to the big oak tree and Mike instructed him to provide cover as he attempted to assist the woman.
      Steve pointed his rifle at the house across the street, finger on the trigger, sweat seeping from his forehead. This was the real deal, what he had trained for. Adrenaline coursed through his young veins like a pyroclastic flow through the streets of Pompeii when Mt. Vesuvius erupted in AD 79.
      Mike stepped out from the safety of his precious oak sanctuary to reveal himself to the panic-stricken woman.
      “Ma’am, come over to me! Quickly!”
      When she saw that Mike was a deputy, she ran hysterically toward him. He grabbed her, and pulled her behind the tree.
      The woman was inconsolable. Mike tried to get information out of her, but to no avail.
      “Is there anyone else in the house?”
      “HE’S DEAD! HE’S DEAD! OH MY GOD, HE’S DEAD!” is all she kept repeating. Mike could see that Steve was motionless, still in a perfect cover position.
      “Steve, you good?” “Yeah brother, I got this shit.”
      Mike and Steve held their position until the arrival of backup units.
      Confident that Steve had his back, Mike continued to console the distraught woman. He didn’t see any injuries on her, and in an act of compassion, took off his light jacket to provide her some cover in the unusually chilly Florida air.
      The night rolled on. The scene had changed. It was now 6: 30 a.m. and the sun was rising. Mike, now a half hour past the time when his shift was supposed to have ended, was still on the scene. The woman was at the police station being interviewed. The yellow police line tape was stretched across the street, and the scene was abuzz with activity. Half-dressed onlookers, the “uh oh” squad as Mike called them, stood in their yards in their robes, sipping cups of coffee and talking amongst themselves, speculating about what had occurred. Detectives were on the scene, interviewing neighbors. Crime scene technicians were photographing the area and the press was there to collect their dirty laundry.
      The SWAT team had arrived on the scene to clear the house. In addition to his regular duties as a deputy, Mike was also a member of the SWAT team. From the information provided by the woman at the station, the command staff was confident that they were dealing with a suicide and that there were no other shooters. No one had yet entered the house. The SWAT team deployed a remote control robot with a camera. The commanders watching the grainy video verified that the victim was deceased. Due to the limitations of the robot, the team was necessary to clear the rest of this large house to make sure there were no other victims.
      The dawning light brought forth a new perspective, and as they approached the now open front double doors, Mike thought the house was even more beautiful than he had recalled. He had previously taken note of this house on his routine patrols at night, but never had cause to deal with the people inside.
      As the team approached the house, Mike noted that the doors were beautiful carved mahogany that accented appealingly with the latte color of the rest of the house. By the light of day he could see the large plate glass window. What was once clear was now beclouded by a large smudge, clearly blood. Upon entering the residence, Mike was immediately overcome by a convoluted array of odors. His olfactory senses were nearly overwhelmed, and he had to swallow hard to keep from vomiting.
      Since childhood, Mike had always had a weak stomach when it came to smells. The ghastly aroma of blood hung heavy in the air, with a thick, humid feel. It felt like a mid-July afternoon in town after a heavy rain, when the sun comes out immediately following. The smell reminded him of the summer he spent with his Uncle John in Tennessee. John was a butcher, and Mike worked with him in his shop. The odor of blood was always in the air, and Mike grew to hate the heavy, iron-like smell. Now, the stench of blood combined with that of gunpowder, cigarettes, alcohol and shit produced a nauseating bouquet.
      “Shit? Why in God’s name am I smelling shit?”
      After entering through the vestibule of the grand home, the team turned the corner and entered the living room. Here the nightmarish scene unfolded and and all the answers to Mike’s questions were answered.
      The first image that caught Mike’s attention was the living room window. Resembling a work of abstract art, it was splattered with a bright red kaleidoscope of brain matter, hair, bone fragments and blood.
      Sitting upright on the brown plush sofa in front of the window was the body of a man wearing nothing but a pair of boxer shorts. At his feet lay a beautiful, custom pistol gripped pump action shotgun. Proud that he had been able to identify the sound under stress, Mike thought to himself, Yep, I was right, a shotgun. Atop the undressed torso were the remains of what was once a human head. The scene called up images in Mike’s mind from his time in college when his roommate threw a watermelon from the balcony of their apartment to the sidewalk below. Looking like a fleshy horseshoe with teeth was the only discernible part that remained, the lower jaw. The jaw hung low from the wanting neck, and was resting upon the hairy upper torso.
      On the floor under the glass coffee table, he could see a half empty, open bottle of Scotch, accounting for the pungent smell of alcohol. There was also a single cigarette butt on the glass of the table top with a trail of ashes from where the lit cigarette had continued to burn itself out. But then he saw it… the shit. “Why in the hell did this guy shit himself?” Mike wondered if perhaps it was a natural occurrence as a result of such a violent demise. He could not recall having seen this on other death scenes before, but this one was exceptionally gruesome. Whatever the cause, Mike had to swallow hard after double clutching. But this was no time to be weak; he had a job to do.
      “Mike, you and Bill clear the upstairs.”
      Mike responded, “10-4 Sarge.”
      Other team members had been assigned to check the rest of the house.
      Mike and Bill climbed the stairs with guns drawn and calling out, “Sheriff’s Department,” to elicit a response from anyone in need of help. At the top of the stairs, the hallway went in two directions. Mike checked to the right and Bill checked to the left.
      Mike said “Bill, let’s clear the left hall first.”
      “Roger that.”
      The two proceeded down the hall and checked each room.
      Mike entered the first bedroom while Bill covered him from outside in the hall.
      As Mike exited he called, “Clear!”
      This continued until they had checked every room, under every bed and in every closet on the entire floor. Mike was absolutely certain that there was no one upstairs.
      The two proceeded back down the stairs after Mike radioed, “Second floor clear. We’re coming down.”
      Once downstairs, the whole team congregated in the vestibule, reporting all clear. The investigation could now continue. As the team prepared to exit the house and turn the scene over to the detectives, Mike abruptly froze.
      He asked, “Hold on, did you guys hear that?”
      Bill said, “Hear what? What did you hear?”
      As Mike was explaining that he thought he heard a man’s voice, the entire team was startled by the sound of a door slamming from upstairs.
      “What the hell, Mike? I thought you said the upstairs was clear!”
      Mike, visibly shaken, and baffled by the sound, responded, “It was, Sarge… I swear we cleared the entire floor. There’s no way anyone could be up there.”
      “Well, genius, apparently you missed something! Get your ass upstairs and find out what the fuck is going on! You two go with them!”
      Mike, Bill and two other team members rushed upstairs to investigate.

Letter from Hell - available NOW!

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About the Author

A first time author, M. Lee Mendelson and his wife Yvonne have six children between them, three boys and three girls. Yes–the Brady Bunch.

He was inspired and encouraged by Yvonne to write his first book after he proposed the concept to her. M. Lee never dreamt of writing anything before his first book, but has now discovered he has a passion for writing, with one idea after another pouring out of him.

A rare native Floridian, M. Lee recently retired from a career as a full-time firefighter and part-time law enforcement officer. His twenty-six years of experience on the streets have given him a vast array of experiences; some good, some bad. His recent retirement allows him much more freedom to dedicate to his newfound obsession with the written word.

His first book, “Letter From Hell,” is a complex horror novel with a little something for everyone M. Lee’s real-life experiences, coupled with an active and vivid imagination, allow his stories to come alive. Striving to paint pictures with words, he immerses the reader into his scenes.

His ambition is that people will enjoy reading his work and deem it worthy to recommend to others.

Follow M. Lee Mendelson:

Visit the author's blog Visit the author's website Visit the author on Facebook Visit the author on Twitter Visit the author on their Amazon page Visit the author on GoodReads Visit the author on Instagram

Tour Stops

Follow Letter from Hell's tour at:

Oct 8: I Heart Reading
Oct 9: Enchanted Book Nook
Oct 11: My Book Fairy ☀
Oct 15: Rising I:ies United
Oct 17: Awesome Book Assessment ✍
Oct 20: Cara Correnti’s Blog ☀
Oct 22:: Dark Treasury ☀
Oct 26: Back Porch Reservations ℚ
Oct 27: PRATR ✍<
Oct 28: Teatime a: Books
Oct 29: Back Porch Reservations ✍
Oct 31: BooksChatter ☀ℚ
Nov 2: Galley Wampus ℚ✍
Nov 3:: Plain Talk BM ℚ
Nov 4: Solafide Publishing Book Blog ☀ ℚ
Nov 6: Books, Authors, Blogs
Nov 7: Stormy Night Reviewing ✍
Nov 8: Illuminite Caliginosus

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