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THE DESIRE CARD by Lee Matthew Goldberg, Crime/Suspense, 299 pp., $13.29 (paperback) $3.99 (Kindle)

Title: THE DESIRE CARD
Author: Lee Matthew Goldberg
Publisher: Fahrenheit Press
Pages: TBA
Genre: Crime/Suspense
 

Any wish fulfilled for the right price. That’s the promise
the Desire Card gives to its elite clients. But if the Card doesn’t feel
like they’ve been justly compensated, the “price” will be more menacing
than the clients could ever imagine.

Harrison Stockton learns this lesson all too well. Harrison has lived
an adult life of privilege and excess: a high-powered job on Wall
Street along with a fondness for alcohol and pills, and a family he
adores, yet has no time for. All of this comes crashing to a halt when
he loses his executive job and discovers he has liver cirrhosis with
mere months left to live.

After finding himself far down on the donor list, Harrison takes
matters into his own hands. This decision sparks a gritty and gripping
quest that takes him to the slums of Mumbai in search of a black market
organ and forces him under the Desire Card’s thumb. When his moral
descent threatens his wife and children, Harrison must decide whether to
save himself at any cost, or do what’s right and put a stop to the
Card.

THE DESIRE CARD is a taut international thriller that explores what a
man will do to survive when money isn’t always enough to get everything
he desires. It’s the first book in a series followed by PREY NO MORE
that focuses on other people indebted to this sinister organization,
where the actual price is the cost of one’s soul.

PRAISE:

“Careful what you wish for, especially from a nefarious shadow
organization, in this gripping start to Lee Matthew Goldberg’s
fast-paced, highly compelling, buzz worthy new series. If you love
characters morally compromised, richly drawn, and constantly surprising,
you’ll love THE DESIRE CARD. I burned through the first book and can’t
wait to get my hands on PREY NO MORE to see where this endlessly
exciting story takes me next! Loved it!” – Daniel Palmer, critically
acclaimed suspense author

 

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______________________
 

 

HARRISON
STUMBLED INTO CENTRAL PARK
CLUTCHING THE SILVER BRIEFCASE, HIS BODY SHAKING FROM BEING HUNTED. Clouds
clogged the sky. The trees seemed like creatures towering over him. He turned
around to see the man in the Humphrey Bogart mask running toward the entrance,
a gun bulging from the guy’s inside pocket. The man’s cold eyes scanned the
park, zeroing in. Harrison took off down a dirt path
until he was alone with only the wind ringing in his ears.
He wanted to collapse; he begged
himself to just give in. Nature would destroy him soon anyway, and his shins
were starting to feel like they’d been repeatedly stabbed. He coughed up an
excess of blood and mucus that spilled down a rock. Now he’d gone so far down
the trail that he couldn’t see where he entered. The sound of footsteps came
from all directions. A distorted laugh caused all the nearby pigeons to shoot
toward the sky. The laugh was followed by an eerie whistle that became louder
and louder as he spun around expecting to see his pursuer.
A shadow passed behind a tree, bigger
than any animal. He propped himself up against a rock, too exhausted to move
any farther, closing his eyes and waiting to die. He could see tomorrow’s
headlines declaring his death as a mugging gone wrong.
“Gracie,” he cried, trembling.
“Brent, my boy…oh God.”
He had pissed himself now, the
urine hot and sticky as it trickled down his pants leg. He still held the
silver briefcase close to his chest, resolving not to let it go without a
fight.
The man in the Bogart mask emerged
from behind a tree holding a gun.
“Just hand it over, Mr. Stockton,”
the man said. The voice box attached to his mouth made him sound robotic,
weirdly calm. “You don’t want this to get any more complicated than it already
has.”
The man made a grab for the
briefcase, but Harrison held on tight.
“You’ll kill me anyway,” Harrison
yelled, spooking any pigeons that hadn’t already flown away.
“Only if you force me to do so.”
The man kicked Harrison
in the shin, causing him to nearly buckle over. Harrison
was thrown to the ground, the man pinning him down. He still managed to hold
onto the briefcase as if it was fused to his hand.
“The Boss doesn’t know about what you’ve done
yet,” the man said, hitting Harrison’s head against the
hard dirt. “Do you understand what that means? That means you can still live.
And he’ll never find out as long as we get what we’re owed.”
“Why would you do that for me?” he
asked, seeing four masked men spinning around.
The man stepped back and pointed
the gun between Harrison’s eyes.
“The Boss doesn’t like when things
don’t go according to plan. I could be in as much trouble as you for letting
this slip-up happen. So let’s make this easy for both of us.”
Harrison got
on one elbow and hoisted himself up.
“Do I have your word?”
The man nodded.
“And my family? My wife…my kids? I
wouldn’t have to worry about them being hurt?”
“As much as you might think that
you are our sole concern, we have an entire organization to run beyond your
pithy life. Now I will count to ten and if you don’t hand over the briefcase,
I’ll put a bullet between your eyes.”
Harrison
thought about what his life had really amounted to. All the hours he’d slaved
at Sanford & Co., making rich people boatloads richer. Getting into the
office before dawn and often heading home in the middle of the night.
Sacrificing his family, his youth, his sanity. How it had made him into a
drinker, a serial gorger of all vices, just so he could forget about what he
was losing. After all of that, what did he have left to show?
“…8…9…10,” the man said, about to
pull the trigger.
“All right, all right.”
Harrison
handed over the briefcase. The man opened it up and appeared to be satisfied, a
smirking grin visible through his mask.
“I’ll leave you with this nugget of
wisdom,” he said, without putting the gun away. “If what you did manages to
compromise us in any way, if there are any rippling after-effects, be prepared
to come across the Boss. He’s known to wear a Clark Gable mask.” The man’s
smirk had disappeared. “He only appears when he’s ready to bloody his hands.
Good day, Mr. Stockton.”
“Who are you people? Under the
masks…who are you really?”
The man raised the gun over Harrison’s
head.
“I doubt you’ll ever find out,” he
said, and struck Harrison on the forehead with the
handle.
A trickle of blood spilled down Harrison’s
nose and felt cold on his tongue. He slunk down and rested his cheek against
the dirt, watching the man in the mask take off through the trees, the silver
briefcase shining like a beam of light snaking through the leaves. And then the
man finally disappeared—as if he was nothing more than a nightmare brought to
life and extinguished once the fitful dreamer finally woke.
Harrison
pressed against his rib cage and felt for his engorged liver. Cursed at it.
Wanted to tear it from his stomach. He’d been poisoned from within for too
long, his unending punishment for all of his crimes. Blood zigzagged into his
eyes as the wound on his forehead opened up even more. With his other hand he
reached into his pocket and removed his wallet. A thin metallic card fell from
out of a sleeve and sat in a puddle of blood that had collected in the dirt.
He
crumpled it up in his fist since it was responsible for letting these psychopaths
into his life. He knew he’d never feel completely settled again, always worried
that they might come after him and his family. The Desire Card had caused him
to seek out gruesome and despicable wishes. From the instant this devil’s
temptation had been placed in his hands, his moral compass never stood a
chance. So he chucked it into the air and watched it sail over the rocks for
some other fool to find.
“I’m
sorry, Helene,” he mumbled to the wind. He knew he’d have to come clean about
everything. His head throbbed, and he recalled a memory from twenty-five years
ago. Spying her in the quad at Chilton
College drinking a cherry Coke, tan
and shapely from field hockey, the entire campus becoming muted except for her.
He took a chance by flirting miserably and changing the course of their lives.
She would’ve
been better off if they had never met. In such a short amount of time, he’d
fallen so far. Now because of him people had been sliced up, left for dead, and
soon he’d follow them to his own grave. As he drifted off into unconsciousness,
he remembered that it all began to spiral out of control on his last day at
Sanford & Co. over a month ago, this treacherous path he embarked on, his
dark and dried-up destiny.

 

 

Guest Post by the Author

THE ART OF PACING

 

Pacing is one of the most important tools in a suspense thriller. If tension isn’t created for a reader, it will be hard to get them to keep turning the pages. In my new novel THE DESIRE CARD, the structure is set up with four acts. Each act puts my main character Harrison Stockton through the ringer when he finds out he has liver damage and contacts a shady organization to get a new one for him off the black market. Each act, in a sense, becomes its own book with a set-up, climax, and denouement. Equally important are the novels twists and turns set to shock and awe. Having too many in one act can cause the reader to have too much whiplash. Readers enjoys twists, but they need to be delivered at the right time. If the novel is overstuffed with twists, a reader starts to question if the twists are more important than the characters. A plot has to feel organic. Readers want to believe what happens to the characters. This was one of the first books I wrote with a detailed outline first. The book came from a quick idea of a plot, but required knowing all of the character’s trajectories before I could begin.  Then, once I did, I could focus on the pacing. The choice to start the novel with a prologue or tease was one I wrestled with, but I wanted a quick burst of action before the introduction to the people readers would be spending time with. This way you know from the start that Harrison gets himself into a jam difficult to rectify. The readers don’t know exactly what the jam is, so part of the thrills is watching to see how he got himself into this mess and how he will finally get out (if he ever does). Because you partially know that something bad will happen from the get-go, it was even more important to pace the book with a good amount of twists and turns. Even if you think you know where it’s headed, you don’t know completely.

 

Author Bio

Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of SLOW DOWN and THE MENTOR (St.
Martin’s Press), which was acquired by Macmillan Entertainment with the
film in development. He has been published in multiple languages and
nominated for the 2018 Prix du Polar. The first two books in a thriller
series, THE DESIRE CARD and PREY NO MORE, are forthcoming from
Fahrenheit Press in winter 2019. His pilots and screenplays have been
finalists in Script Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York
Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests. After
graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also
appeared in the anthology DIRTY BOULEVARD, The Millions, The Montreal
Review, The Adirondack Review, Essays & Fictions, The New Plains
Review, and others. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading
Series (guerrillalit.wordpress.com). He lives in New York City. Follow
him at leematthewgoldberg.com and @LeeMatthewG.

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