Welcome to my new Tuesday Thrillers blog. Every week I will be sharing a new thriller novel with you. I hope you enjoy reading about them. My first guest is John Ryder, whose latest thriller First Shot is out now.
“When girls go missing here, no one says a word…”
Twenty-four year old Lila has disappeared without a trace. It’s the kind of case that ex-military loner Grant Fletcher would normally be happy to take on—if someone had the money to pay him. But this one he’s doing for free. This one’s personal.
Fletcher owes his life to Lila’s father, from that time in Afghanistan he’d like to forget. And Fletcher knows that returning Lila safe and sound is the only thing that matters to his wheelchair-bound friend.
She last called her father from a small town called Daversville, in rural Georgia. A place—Fletcher discovers as he checks into the only motel—where folks are proud to keep themselves to themselves, and almost all the business comes from the giant sawmill that looms large over the town.
Before he’s even started looking for Lila, Fletcher finds trouble. And discovers that his friend’s daughter wasn’t the first girl to go missing there. Not the first by far.
Then the last person to have seen Lila before she disappeared is murdered. With Fletcher on the scene when her body is found, he becomes the local deputy’s only suspect, leaving him no choice but to go on the run. Because he knows someone’s abducting girls in this town. And he also knows he’s the only one who can find them…
Fans of the high-octane action and unforgettable heroes found in Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels, Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne series and David Baldacci’s Amos Decker books will love First Shot.
The early evening air was cooling to a tolerable level after the day’s high temperature, and as such, it carried sound with a clarity that gave him far more warning of possible trouble than he needed. Either someone had a major emergency, or there was a learner driver on the roads who’d never mastered safe cornering speeds.
There was another screech of tires as a second corner was rounded, and then the thumping roar of a V8 being demanded to donate every one of its horses to the driver’s cause.
He sent a glance the diner’s way. The server was looking out the front window and her gaze was locked on him. Fletcher gave her a subtle wave to let her know he’d seen her watching and resumed his waiting.
The roaring grew louder as a battered pickup shot into the parking lot and squealed to a halt.
Four young men emptied themselves from the pickup and walked towards Fletcher. To him they looked like everyday punks. They had a belligerent swagger and more of a desire to appear tough than an ability to carry out whatever threat they made.
All four were tall and rangy, their bodies hardened as if by physical labor. As a group they’d think someone like Fletcher was little threat. Their clothes were washed-out denims and shirts that had seen better days. No follower of fashion himself, Fletcher still recognized their clothes were nothing like the stylish ones he saw most punks their age wearing.
Fletcher eased himself upward from where he was sitting on the hood of the rental sedan and waited until they approached him.
This was the reaction he’d suspected he’d get when he’d shown the picture to the server in the diner. In every way imaginable, it backed up Brad’s story. Now it was a case of seeing how things played out.
The tallest of the young men stepped forward, his whole demeanor filled with the unassailable arrogance of youth. “You’re not from round here, sir, and I think you should return to wherever it is you come from.”
Even in a potential fight situation, the Southern manners of the youth shone through. In these parts anyone conversing with someone older than them by fifteen years or more would always address the person they were speaking to as Sir or Ma’am. It was a respect thing and would be automatic. When the “Sir” was dropped, it wouldn’t be bad manners, it would be outright disrespect and a sure sign things were about to get ugly.
Fletcher dropped a lazy smile at Tall Boy, as he thought of him. “Not planning to be here long. Just passing through.” Fletcher pulled the picture of Lila from his pocket and showed it to Tall Boy. “Once I find my friend, I’ll be gone. Don’t suppose you know where she is? She went missing after eating at the diner six days ago.”
Tall Boy answered without looking at the picture. “Ain’t never seen her.”
At Tall Boy’s shoulder one of his buddies gave a snort of derision. Fletcher ignored him; he was the thinnest of the four and while he was being cocky, he was also making sure he was behind Tall Boy and his freckle-faced buddy.
To Tall Boy’s right was the widest of the four. He was as well-built as Fletcher, but while his body was sculpted, his features had a bovine emptiness to them. Of the gang, he’d be the one who’d be the most dangerous, assuming the coming fight was about brute strength rather than intelligence.
“Are you sure about that? Maybe your buddies would know.”
“She ain’t anywhere in town, so it’s time for you to leave, sir.” Tall Boy jerked a thumb in the direction of the road. “Big fat guy was asking the same questions you is. Was accusin’ the good people of Daversville of abducting the girl. Folks round here don’t like gettin’ accused of things they ain’t done and if you’re fixin’ on doing the same, I’d recommend you don’t waste no time in leaving town.”
Fletcher looked Tall Boy up and down with a deliberate slowness. He wasn’t worried about the impending scuffle. These four yokels weren’t the kind of people he’d considered a threat since a sergeant major with an inventive repertoire of coarse vocabulary had taught him and a clutch of other recruits to the Royal Marines how to fight.
“And if I’m not ready to leave, what will happen?”
“We’ll make you ready. Yeah, boys?”
Tall Boy threw a disdainful look over his shoulder at Cocky for stealing his thunder. As much as the implied threat had now been voiced, Fletcher’s attention was on the way the gang’s dynamic had been shown. Tall Boy was the top dog, the contrition on Cocky’s face had made that clear. Freckles and Muscles had adopted what they must have believed were intimidating stances, but they were keeping silent and taking their lead from Tall Boy.
“As my associate says, we’ll persuade you to leave now. Ain’t no hospital in Daversville, so it’s sure a long walk to the emergency room.”
“I like walking. It’s good exercise.” Fletcher saw the first traces of uncertainty in their faces as he straightened his stance and squared up to Tall Boy. “You’re forgetting something, though.”
“Yeah?” The solitary word fell from Tall Boy’s mouth in a scoffed laugh.
“You never said please.”
All four boys laughed at this, and Cocky leaned between Tall Boy and Freckles, his head thrust forward.
“Will you please get the hell out of our town?”
Tall Boy’s top lip curled into a mocking sneer. “Kick his ass.”
“Wait.” Fletcher made a halting gesture. “You’re not being very smart about this. You see, I get your thinking, there’s four of you. You think you’re able to take me down without any trouble. You’ve all got at least two or three inches on me; you’re probably all twenty years or so younger as well. Those will seem like good odds to you. However, have you asked yourselves who I am and why I’m the one looking for the girl? Have you also thought about why I’m not backing down?” To further incite their anger, Fletcher wagged his finger like a school principal giving a student a dressing-down. “Here I am confronted by four fit and strong young men, and yet I’m not climbing into my car and hightailing it out of town. Doesn’t that tell you that I’m not afraid of you? That, in fact, maybe I’m a threat to you?”
Well that’s told them! It sounds a riveting read, doesn’t it? Here’s what readers are saying:
“Outstanding… Grips you from the start to the end… A fantastic book… Move over Jack Reacher.” Goodreads Reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“I’m still shaking from this heart pounding thriller… John Ryder you nailed it!… Chilling! Riveting! Dark! Action Packed! Twisted! Everything a thriller should be!” The Secret Book Sleuth ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
You can grab a copy here:
Meet John Ryder
John Ryder is a former farmworker and joiner. He’s turned his hand to many skills to put food on the table and clothes on his back. A life-long bibliophile, he eventually summoned the courage to try writing himself, and his Grant Fletcher novels have drawn inspiration from authors such as Lee Child, Tom Cain, Zoe Sharp and Matt Hilton. When it comes to future novels, he says he has more ideas than time to write them.
When not writing, John enjoys spending time with his son, reading and socialising with friends. A fanatic supporter of his local football team, he can often be found shouting encouragement to men much younger and fitter than he is.
My first psychological thriller will be out later this year. Look out for the cover reveal, coming soon.