Giveaway & Review – Deadly Dunes by E Michael Helms

E. Michael Helms
Let’s meet them now:

Interview with Mac McClellan


Today we’re pleased to welcome retired U.S. Marine-turned-private investigator Mac McClellan to {name of blog}. Mac retired from the Marines a few years ago after a twenty-four year career. He has graciously agreed to answer a few questions that might be of interest to the readers of {Blog} and his Mac McClellan Mystery series.

{Blog or Interviewer}: Welcome to {Blog}, Mac.

Mac: Thanks for having me. Good to be here.

{B/I}: Tell us a little about your background. When and where you were born, your education, military service, what brought you to the Florida panhandle after your retirement, etc.

Mac: I was born and raised in Brevard, North Carolina. I played baseball and football, and loved to camp and hike in the nearby mountains. After graduating high school I joined the Marine Corps on my 18th birthday, August 8, 1990. My training ended just in time for me to participate as a rifleman in Operation Desert Storm. My unit was involved in taking the airfield at Kuwait City in late February of ’91. The Iraqis put up a good fight and it took us several hours to secure the area. I took a round through and through the left thigh during the battle and earned my first purple heart. Nothing bad, just a lot of blood.

After the First Gulf War I did a two-year stint with Division Recon until I blew out a knee during a training op. After rehab I transferred back to a rifle company. By the time President Bush Two decided to invade Iraq, I was a staff NCO. I served as platoon sergeant on my first deployment. Later I was promoted to Gunnery Sergeant and served as company gunny during my next two deployments. My second deployment to Iraq was in 2004. It included the Second Battle of Fallujah in November. Fallujah was a bitch. Enough said.

What brought me to the panhandle? A good buddy of mine used to brag about the area all the time. We made plans for a fishing trip when our deployment was up, but he was KIA at Fallujah. My last deployment to Iraq was extended because of Bush Two’s troop surge. When I got home my wife told me she was tired of playing both father and mother, and wanted out of the marriage. I knew she was seeing someone, but we agreed to stay together a couple of more years until our twins, Mike and Megan, finished high school. Shortly after I retired, they left for college. Jill wasted no time presenting me with the divorce papers. We signed before a judge, I bought a camper, and headed for Florida.

{B/I}: So, your Marine Corps friend and your divorce brought you to the panhandle; why did you decide to stay?

Mac: It’s complicated. The Corps had been my home for twenty-four years. I was newly divorced. My wife was living in “our” dream retirement home with her Navy chopper-pilot boyfriend. The kids had flown the nest. I came to the panhandle to fish, relax, and think about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.

One morning I snagged a badly decomposed body while fishing near Five Mile Island. It turned out to be a popular young local woman who was supposed to be honeymooning with her husband in the mountains of Georgia or North Carolina. She also happened to be the niece of the local sheriff. We butted heads and I was warned not to leave Dodge. Then a baggie of marijuana was found stashed aboard my rental boat. Just so happens a bale of the same strain of pot had washed ashore near where I discovered the body. I knew then somebody was setting me up to take the fall. One thing led to another and I was able to solve the murder and bust up a connected drug-smuggling ring. Oh, and Kate Bell had a little something to do with my staying. She works at the local marina. We hit it off right away. She was a big help in solving the case.

{B/I}: Interesting. So you enjoyed the “thrill of the hunt” so much that you decided to take it up as a vocation and become a licensed private investigator?

Mac: (Laughs.) Not exactly. You can thank Kate and her “Uncle” Frank for that. I’m an old movie buff. One night Kate and I were coming out of the theater when she got a quick look at who she claimed was her former boyfriend. Problem was, the guy had been dead for twelve years. I tried to get her to listen to reason, but she kept insisting it was the same person. I went with Kate to see Frank Hightower. Frank’s a very close friend of the Bells, a retired cop who now runs his own private investigative company in Destin, Kate’s hometown. Kate had kept Frank informed about the murder and drug case I’d solved. Frank thought I had the makings of a decent PI. Together they conspired to get me to snoop into Kate’s old circle of friends and find out if there was anything to the boyfriend’s reappearance or not. In exchange for my time, Frank offered to pay all fees while I worked on becoming a bona fide investigator and Kate’s case. Voila—Mac McClellan, PI.

{B/I}: What makes Mac McClellan “tick?”

Mac: I’d say a strong sense of duty, dependability, and responsibility.

{B/I}: Those are certainly admirable traits. Any faults?

Mac: (Laughs again; pauses … thinking.) I’ve put on a few pounds. I need to drop about ten to get back to my fighting weight. And Kate thinks I drink too much. I guess she’s right. Maybe.

{B/I}: Moving along, are you a religious person?

Mac: No, not really. I went with my parents to church and Sunday school when I was a kid. I don’t think it did me much good. I’ve seen too much crap to believe in a loving and benevolent God. How many times have you seen coverage of some natural disaster on TV, like a tornado? They interview some guy standing outside his demolished house and he’s saying, “The good Lord was really watching out for us today.” And down the street a mother and her two young kids were crushed to death or sucked out of the house and killed. Where was the “good Lord” when that was happening? Life is a crapshoot. Call me agnostic. I’m not saying there isn’t a god, but if he/she/it exists, he/she/it doesn’t give a damn about the human race.

{B/I}: What does combat-hardened, former Marine Mac McClellan fear most?

Mac: Letting someone down.

{B/I}: Short and to the point. I like that. Favorite food?

Mac: Steak and shrimp. And BLTs.

{B/I}: Drink?

Mac: You buying? (Laughs.) Scotch, beer, ice tea—lemon,no sugar—and water.

{B/I}: Tell me the first word that comes to mind when I say: women.

Mac: Pedestal.

{B/I}: War.

Mac: Peace.

{B/I}: Surrender.

Mac: No.

{B/I}: Very good. What are you especially proud of in your life?

Mac: My kids. They’re both good people. Kate Bell. I’m a better man for knowing her. And I like to think I’ve done my best, or given my all when it comes to interacting with people in general. The Marine Corps had a lot to do with molding me into who I am today.

{B/I}: A commendable answer. One last question: is there a code or creed that you live by?

Mac: Absolutely—Semper Fidelis. Always faithful. To me, that says it all.

{B/I}: Thanks for being with us today, Mac. It’s been a pleasure having you.

Mac: Thank you. It was a pleasure being had. (Laughs.)

Review Banner
Everything about Michael and Mac speaks to me. We like a lot of the same things and I am eager to get this adventure on the ‘road’.
Mac reminds me of Tom Selleck in Jesse Stone and Magnum PI. He’s not the perfect hero, but he gets the job done. I don’t mind a flawed character, in fact, it makes him seem real to me.
I’m glad that he considers the Florida Panhandle the ‘Forgotten Coast.’ I love it here.
A visit for Mac turned into a move and it was his good fortune to meet Kate, a feisty, fun gal who won his heart. His managerial tone of voice rang familiar to me. I have one of those at home.
Michael Helms jumped right into the mystery Mac is hired to solve, when the professor of archaeology at Florida State University is murdered. I think we may be going on a treasure hunt.
As the bodies mount, greed raises its ugly head. Is anybody telling the truth…about anything?
I love the fun and lively banter between Mac and Kate. Romance and mystery seem to go hand and hand for me and Michael Helms has a good supply of that. Their personalities shine through making me want more of them. The location is familiar to me and adds a little something extra to the story. I loved tromping through the ditches and climbing trees with Mac. There was so much going on, I had to wait for the package to be wrapped up for me. I love when I can’t figure everything out for myself. A perfect read the season.
I recieved a copy of Deadly Dunes by E Michael Helms in return for an honest review.
Animated Animals. Pictures, Images and Photos  4 Stars
Loving the cover by Sabrina Sun…great name. 🙂
Hours after hiring Mac McClellan to investigate the supposed suicide of her archaeologist brother, single-mom Jessie dies in a car accident. Jessie had just showed Mac artifacts and a copy of a map Jake found, items that indicate Hernando de Soto and his explorers might have camped on Five Mile Island during the winter of 1539-1540. Studying the map, Mac determines the site lies in the middle of a planned resort, The Dunes. Declaring the area an historic site could shut the project down. Suspicions aroused, he forges ahead, even though he no longer has a paying client.
Everywhere Mac turns, greed abounds, and no one he interviews seems innocent, even Jessie’s closest friends the Deckers, who have adopted her teenage daughter. Ron Decker’s construction company is building the Dunes, and he is heavily invested in its success. Then there is the oily son and ex-stripper wife of an old curmudgeon who won’t sell the one lot the project still needs to acquire. Jake’s estranged wife Laurel had plenty to gain from his death, and as Mac continues to dig, he begins to wonder if Jessie herself had more at stake than he was led to believe.
No one is happy about Mac’s persistence, and someone is unhappy enough to crash his truck and frame him for yet another murder. But Mac isn’t giving up, no matter what the cost.

Inside, the Golden Pole was about what I’d imagined. Loud music, mirrored walls, and flashy neon lights of gold, pink and red dominating the joint.  A circular stage stood in the center of the room, with three polished brass dancing poles. Individual stools circled the stage front, with dozens of small tables backing them up. There were two U-shaped bars, one on either side of the room. Wide-screen TVs hung on the wall behind both bars, along with monitors so customers could keep up with the center-stage action without having to turn around to gawk. The joint was about half full, not bad for a Thursday night. . . .
The two dancers abandoned their poles, gathered their tips, and disappeared backstage as the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey began to blare from the sound system. “Ladies and gentlemen,” a deep voice sounding like a ring announcer bellowed above the music, “fresh from wildly successful engagements in Baltimore, Charlotte, and Atlanta’s finest adult venues, please give a big round of applause for our featured performer, the beautiful, the luscious, the sexy . . . Miss . . . Kami . . .  Kae!”
Whoops and hollers and shrill whistles bounced off the walls as a gold sequined curtain parted and none other than Hot Pink herself pranced around the stage, throwing kisses to the audience with both hands. She’d completed two circuits when the music changed from the theme to a saucy Latino song I’d never heard.
Kami kicked off the high heels, swung the long robe she’d been wearing in a circle over her head a few times, and tossed it to the back of the stage. She was down to a tight powder blue midriff blouse and white mini skirt. The skimpy outfit lit up under the house lights like it’d been dusted with silver glitter. The mostly male crowd roared its approval as Kami leapt into the spotlight, deftly grabbed the pole with both hands and went to work.
For the next ten minutes Kami made sweet love to the pole, keeping perfect time with the music, spiraling and sliding and grinding. That pole wouldn’t need polishing for a month. To the delight of the crowd she slowly shed one article of clothing and then another, teasing the most vocal guys gathered around the stage with money in-hand, until finally only a wisp of a G-string separated Kami from her birthday suit. She made repeated trips to the stage edge and back, so many bills bulging from the strings of her tiny bottoms that she was forced to make a pile of greenbacks on the stage floor.
Finally the music began to fade. Kami treated the audience to one more seductive thrust and grind, and then gathered her pile of cash and strutted off the stage to wild applause, hips bouncing like a Victoria’s Secret model. Reaching the gold curtains, she turned and blew a final kiss and disappeared.

Mac McClellan investigates a young archaeologist’s death whose recent discovery threatens to kill a planned multi-million dollar Florida waterfront resort.

Kami made sweet love to the pole, sliding, spiraling, grinding. It wouldn’t need polishing for a month.

She gathered the money and strutted offstage to wild applause, hips bouncing like a Victoria’s Secret Model.

E. Michael Helms grew up in Panama City, FL, on the beautiful coast of the Florida Panhandle. He played football and excelled in baseball as a catcher. Turning down a scholarship offer from the local Junior college, he joined the Marines after high school graduation. He served as a rifleman during some of the heaviest fighting of the Vietnam War until wounded three times in one day. Helms discounts it as “waking up on the wrong side of the foxhole.”
His memoir of the war, The Proud Bastards, has been called “As powerful and compelling a battlefield memoir as any ever written … a modern military classic,” and remains in print after 25 years.
The Private War of Corporal Henson, a semi-autobiographical fictional sequel to The Proud Bastards, was published in August 2014.
A long-time Civil War buff, he is also the author of the historical saga, Of Blood and Brothers.
Seeking a respite from writing about war, Helms decided to give mysteries a try. The first novel of his Mac McClellan Mystery series, Deadly Catch, was published in November 2013 and was named Library Journal’s “Debut Mystery of the Month.” The second Mac McClellan Mystery, Deadly Ruse, premiered in November 2014. It won the 2015 RONE Award for “Best Mystery.” Deadly Dunes was published in March 2016 by Camel Press. Deadly Spirits is scheduled for release in January 2017.
With his wife, Karen, Helms now lives in the Upstate region of South Carolina in the shadow of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. He enjoys playing guitar, hiking, camping, fishing, canoeing, and is an avid birdwatcher. He continues to listen as Mac McClellan dictates his latest adventures in his mystery series.
Represented by Fred Tribuzzo, The Rudy agency.
E Michael Helms is offering a $25.00 Gift card, four (4) ebook copies of Deadly Dunes in either .mobi, .epub, or .pdf (internationally, where legal), and one (1) autographed print set of the first three Mac McClellan Mysteries (Deadly Catch, Deadly Ruse, Deadly Dunes), U.S. & Canada only.
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6 thoughts on “Giveaway & Review – Deadly Dunes by E Michael Helms

  1. Sherry, thank you so much for participating in the DEADLY DUNES tour and giveaway, and for the wonderful review. I really appreciate it!

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