To celebrate the launch of her newest novel, my guest today, Cathi Stoler, is doing a giveaway based on her series main character, Nick Donahue, a professional International Blackjack player. You could win a double deck of playing cards, casino chips, and instructions on how to play the game.

The details about how to enter are below.

I’s so delighted to be Debbi’s guest on the Crime Cafe blogspot. I love writing about Nick Donahue and hope you’ll enjoy reading about his latest adventure, OUT OF TIME.

Nick first came into being in a short story, “Fatal Flaw,” a tale of International jewel thieves pursuing a mysterious woman, Marina DiPietro, whom he met in Venice. When Marina asked Nick for his help, he had no idea what he was getting into, or that Marina was working for British Intelligence’s MI6. The story kept growing in my imagination and evolved into the novella, NICK OF TIME, which took Nick to Switzerland where he uncovered a money-laundering ring backed by the mob, and to Monte Carlo, where he had to win ten million dollars to ransom Marina and pay back the money the mob thought he owed them.

In OUT OF TIME, Nick and Marina are living in London and Marina has opened her own private investigation firm. When they are hired by billionaire and industrialist, Adnan bin Haddad, to protect his Thoroughbred race horse from death threats, what was to be a simple assignment turned into something much more sinister. As they investigate, they uncover the real threat: terrorists are trying to steal bin Haddad’s new invention—the ultimate weapon of war, a cloaking device. Nick has to use all the cunning, skill and subterfuge he’s acquired as a gambler to turn the predators into prey.

The cloaking device is actually a real, working invention. While it’s not of Klingon caliber yet, it someday may be.

Here’s an excerpt from the novel:

Just ask Marina.

If you want to know how I wound up tethered like a sacrificial goat to a flimsy spire swaying in the wind on top of the world’s tallest building, maybe she can explain it.

Probably tell you I had a special knack for getting into trouble. And, she’d be right.

From where I stood, the Arabian Gulf looked like a giant swimming pool. The water shimmered in a sensuous ripple. Its surface blue and sparkling tinged with golden light from the afternoon sun beating down from above. A sight that normally would have drawn a wow if I hadn’t believed it would be one of my last.

A half-mile below people scurried in and out of streets and buildings like the streams of black-bodied ants they resembled. Not one of them poked a nose into the air and noticed the man far above struggling against his bonds. Had the citizens of Dubai become so used to the Burj Khalifa in their midst, they didn’t even glance at it anymore? Seemed so. The people who put me here hadn’t even bothered to gag me. I could scream all I wanted and not a soul would hear.

The Salafi thought I was their insurance, like a Blackjack player protecting his bet, while hedging that the dealer has twenty-one. They already had what they wanted. At least I thought so.

Believe me, I was scared. Being trussed up and hung above the city were just the beginning. They were waiting to make sure the other player hadn’t pulled a switch. Either way, I was sure they’d kill me. I wasn’t going to be the one to tell them I thought he had, that what would happen if he had given in would be unthinkable.

The sun had almost dropped below the horizon, the water turning cool and steely, the wind picking up and creating ripples along its surface. After hours under a blazing sun, a night up here when the desert turned frigid was going to be even more brutal. Shivers ran up my spine just imagining it. I tucked my chin toward my chest and tried to conjure up warm thoughts. It wasn’t working. All that came to mind was Marina, her green eyes wide with surprise, then anger, as that big black Glock pushed into her. Watching as they led me away, dumped me in the car, and drove off. My anger had been the equal of hers, my mind reeling with thoughts of what they might be doing to her. Was it possible she’d escaped and made it back to Adnan’s villa? Or was she still in their clutches, desperate in some blistering desert wadi? The fear came later when they put me up here.

This was actually Marina’s case. I’d just come along to keep her company, to be a sounding board when she needed one. Then, before I knew it, I was smack in the middle of things. So, if you want to know how this happened, I’m not sure either one of us could tell you. I just hoped we’d live long enough to try.

To enter to win the Blackjack set: playing cards, casino chips, and instructions, email me at I’ll do a random number generator to pick the winner and contact them for their information.

You can also find more about me and my books at


Cathi Stoler is the author of the three volume Laurel & Helen New York Mystery series, which includes TELLING LIES, KEEPING SECRETS and THE HARD WAY, and a three time finalist, and winner of the 2015 Derringer for Best Short Story, “The Kaluki Kings of Queens”. She’s very involved in the crime writing world and serves as Co-Vice President of Sisters in Crime New York/Tri-State, and is a member of Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers.

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