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Books

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THE BARRENS

The Barrens is about two young women who take a 450-mile canoe trip on the Thelon River through the uninhabited Arctic tundra of the Barren Lands in northern Canada. Holly has done the trip before. A week into the trip Holly dies while taking a selfie too close to the edge of a cliff. Lee is tasked with canoeing for the next three weeks alone with the body. The two had established a ritual of telling stories about their pasts and imagined futures while camping at night. Lee continues to tell the stories even after Holly dies. Lee’s coming-of-age story is about growing up off-the-grid in Nebraska with her eco-anarchist father who eventually lands in prison. Holly’s coming-out story happens when Lee finally confronts Holly's family after getting off the river.

Author Kurt Johnson wrote this novel with the help of his daughter, Ellie, who did the 450-mile journey. His daughter is also gay. The story is the product of the author working to understand her physical journey through the Barren Lands, and her journey as a gay woman coming of age. The novel is written with his Ellie’s insight and guidance.

LAS VEGAS TURNAROUND

It's Las Vegas in the 1980s, but with all the violence, corruption and prostitution, you'd think it was still the Wild West. Cocaine, alcohol, and steroids' fuel the nightlife, the most raucous of which takes place in the seedy clubs off the Strip. This isn't a place for innocent fun.

And as an escort, Claire knows it. But despite her vigilance, she winds up raped and beaten by a customer she misjudged. All she wants now is peace and quiet. Unfortunately for her, there's no such thing in Sin City.

Her sister and meathead brother-in-law, Wood, get mixed up in a casino scam, which results in Claire

s nephew showing up on her doorstep. Now it's up to her to put the pieces together and stop Wood before it's too late. Can she survive plunging back into the darkness of volitile Vegas?

THE OUTLAW SHUFFLE
Book no.1
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The Outlaw Shuffle—a psychological thriller with a satirical twist—tells the story of an abduction, a chase across the Southwest during the pandemic summer of 2020, and a final showdown in Las Vegas.

Hugh is a dishonored psychologist and lonely widower traveling in an RV who abducts a woman simply for the companionship he believes will ensue. His victim is the fifties-something Josephine or Jo. Her husband, Bray, and a ragtag group of social media followers give chase based on leads gleaned from social media.

The Southwest of 2020 was a place filled with suspicion on many levels: politics is defined by those with masks and those without, those who display the American flag and those who don't. The pursuers of Josephine navigate all this as they search campgrounds, RV parks, Federal lands, small towns, and truck stops. They encounter angry Trumpers, Second Coming believers, RV nomads, Instagram influencers, and other quirky characters. During the chase, Hugh and Jo begin to play Gin Rummy, and in her seclusion from the outside world, the two develop a relationship of sorts. His goal is to eventually compete again in a Gin Rummy tournament in Las Vegas. When he gets a near-fatal case of COVID, Jo agrees to take his place.

 

The explosive showdown leaves some dead, some bewildered, and some wondering what to do next.

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