• May 3, 2010
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Literarily Speaking Virtual Book Club Selection: Moonlight Falls by Vincent Zandri – Day 1

Every month, we pick wonderful books we’ve read to spotlight at Literarily Speaking. Today we’re happy to be reading Vincent Zandri’s new thriller novel, Moonlight Falls.  Vincent will be with us for the next three days and will be giving away a copy at the end of his stay on Wednesday.

To become eligible to win, all you have to do is ask a question or leave a comment on all three days. One lucky reader who comments with their email address is put in a pot to win the book. However, they must sign up for our email updates prior to the author’s appearance.

To recap:

  • ask a question or leave a comment on all three days
  • leave your email address
  • sign up for our email updates to the right ——->

That’s all there is to it!

Day One: Literarily Speaking Book Club Selection: Moonlight Falls by Vincent Zandri

Moonlight FallsMoonlight Falls is the Albany, New York-based paranoid tale (in the Hitchcock tradition) of former APD Detective turned Private Investigator/Massage Therapist, Richard “Dick” Moonlight, who believes he might be responsible for the brutal slaying by knife of his illicit lover, the beautiful Scarlet Montana. The situation is made all the worse since Scarlet is the wife of Moonlight’s boss, Chief of Detectives Jake Montana.

Why does Moonlight believe he might be responsible?

He’s got a small fragment of a .22 hollow point round buried inside his brain, lodge directly up against his cerebral cortex. The result of a botched suicide attempt four years prior to the novel’s start, an operation to remove the bullt frag would be too dangerous.

But the bullet causes Moonlight lots of problems, the least of which are the occasional memory loss and his rational ability to tell right from wrong. The bullet frag also might shift at any moment, making coma and/or sudden death, a very real possibility.

Still, Moonlight has been trying to get his life together as of late.

But when Scarlet begs him to make the trip over to her house late one rainy Sunday night to issue one of his “massages,” he makes a big mistake by sleeping with her. Later, having passed out in her bed, he will be rudely awakened by a garage door opening and Jake’s unexpected and very drunken homecoming. Making his impromptu escape out a top floor window, Moonlight will seek the safety of his home.

Two hours later however, he will receive another unexpected visit from Jake Montana. This time the big Captain has sobering news to report. He’s discovered his wife’s mutilated body in her own bed. She’s been murdered and now he needs the P.I. to investigate it in association with Albany ’s “overtaxed” Special Independent Unit before I.A. pokes their nose into the affair. Moonlight takes a big step back. Is it possible he made a second trip to the Montana home-sweet-home and just has no recollection of it? Once there, did he perform a heinous crime on his part-time lover? Or is this some kind of set up by his former boss? Is it really Jake who is responsible for Scarlet’s death? Does he wish for Moonlight to cover up his involvement, seal the case before Internal Affairs starts poking their nose into the situation?

There’s another problem too.

Covering Moonlight’s palms and the pads of his fingers are numerous scratches and cuts. Are these defensive wounds? Wounds he received when Scarlet put up a struggle? Or are they offensive wounds? Wounds he couldn’t avoid when making his attack on Scarlet with a blade? The answer is not so simple since Moonlight has no idea where he acquired the wounds.

Having no choice but to take on the mission (if only to cover his own ass), Moonlight can only hope the answers to his many questions point to his former boss and not himself.

Read the excerpt from the prologue:

Prologue
Man’s life is flashing before his eyes.
He’s a little amazed because it’s happening just like it does in a
sappy movie. You know, when they run real fast through some
homespun super-eight film starting with your birth, moving on to
toddler’s first step, then first day at kindergarten, first communion, first
prom, first Gulf War, first marriage, firstborn son, first affair, first
divorce . . .
So why’s the life flashing by?
Man’s about to execute himself.
He sits alone at the kitchen table inside what used to be his
childhood home, pistol barrel pressed up tight against his head, only a
half-inch or so behind the right earlobe. Thumb on the hammer, index
finger wrapped around the trigger, hand trembling, eyes closed, big tears
falling.
On the bright side of things, it’s beautiful sunny day.
Outside the kitchen window wispy clouds float by like giant
ghosts in a heavenly blue sky. Bluebirds chirp happily from the junipers
that line the perimeter of the north Albany property. The cool wind
blows, shaking the leaves on the trees. The fall air is cool, crisp and clean.
“Football weather” his mortician dad used to call it back when he was a
happy-go-lucky kid.
On the not so bright side, a bullet is about to enter his brainpan.
But then, as much as the man wants to enter the spirit world, he’s not
entirely insensitive. He’s thought things through. While he might have
used his service-issued 9mm to do the job, he’s decided instead to go
with the more lightweight .22—his backup piece. To some people, a
pistol is a pistol. But to the man, nothing could be further from the truth.
Because had he chosen to “eat his piece” by pressing the pistol barrel up
against his mouth’s soft upper palate, he’d guarantee himself an instant
death.
A good death.
Problem is, that “good death” would leave one hell of a spatter
mess behind for some poor slob to clean up after his soul has left the
building. So instead of choosing the safe “good death,” he’s opted for the
more thoughtful no-mess, easy-clean-up kind of suicide—the assassin’s
death. Because only a professional killer with a steady hand knows that a
.22 caliber bullet hasn’t got a chance in hell of exiting the skull once it’s
made jelly filling of your brains.
Outside the window, the wind picks up.
The chimes that hang from the eaves make a haunting, jingly
ghost music.
The super-eight memories inside his head have ceased. His life
story—the entire thirty-six year affair from birth to this very moment of
truth have officially flashed before his eyes.
Roll credits . . .
Man swallows a lump, thumbs back the hammer. The
mechanical action reverberates inside his skull.
There’s no stopping him; no penetrating the resolve of the
already dead. He’s happy with himself for the first time in he can’t
remember how long. So happy, his entire body weight seems to empty
itself from out the bottoms of his feet. That’s when a red robin perches
itself on the brick ledge just outside the picture window. Just a small
scarlet-feathered robin that’s beating its wings and staring into the house
with its black eyes.
“Don’t look,” the man whispers.
He plants a smile on his face a split second before he pulls the
trigger.

Questions:

Q: This sounds like a really troubled man, Vincent. Can you give us an in depth character profile on him so that we can understand what he’s going through?

Vincent Zandri: Moonlight has not only lost his wife to his former Albany Police Department partner and best friend, Mitchell Cain, but he’s lost his son as well. His little boy now looks up to Cain as his dad. Moonlight has also gone broke over the ensuing divorce and been forced move back into his parents old home–the very home he grew up in, which also happened to be a former funeral parlor. With this heavy load becoming too much for him, he decided to get drunk one after which leads to his putting a gun to his head. But at the very second, just before he’s about to pull the trigger, the image of his boy enters into his brain. He’s pulling the gun away from his head when the trigger depresses. The hollow point bullet shatters and a portion of it enters into his brain pan, lodging itself up against his cerebral cortex, ultimately affecting his decision making process and, on occasion, his ability to retain short-term memory. Not, years later, he’s fallen in love with his former boss’s troubled wife, Scarlet Montana. One night when they decide to have one of their illicit visits, Scarlet’s husband arrives home unannounced. Moonlight sneaks out a window and heads back home. Later that night however, Scarlet is discovered brutally murdered. Moonlight is hired as a special independent investigator to oversee what’s being called a suicide. But Moonlight senses that what’s happened to her is outright murder. When he discovers blood on his own hands, he realizes that he may actually be responsible for her death. He could choose to just sign off on the suicide theory, but he’s got a second chance at life and now he wants to do the right thing. Even if it means pointing the finger at himself.

Q: Why did you decide to begin your novel like this?

Vincent Zandri: I wanted the the audience to know that we’re not only dealing with an unreliable narrator, but a trouble character who has the ability to cause a major train wreck where ever he goes. The reader should also get the sense that they have never read a book like this one before.

Now it’s your turn! Leave a comment below to become eligible to win a free copy of Moonlight Falls on Wednesday.  The winner’s name will be posted by Friday, May 7.

Stay tuned tomorrow for Day 2 of Literarily Speaking’s Book Club Selection: Moonlight Falls by Vincent Zandri!

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