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Karen Cogan

Karen Cogan

A native of Houston, TX, Karen spent her early years enjoying life along the Gulf Coast. After high school, she attended Texas A&M as well as the University of Houston where she obtained a B.S. in early childhood education. She has written numerous articles and stories, books for children and novels for adults. She particularly enjoys writing suspense and romance. Karen was a suspense finalist in Harlequin's "You Think You Can Write" contest as well as the Kindle Scout program. She now lives in the Southwest with her family and assorted pets.

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Be one of the first five customers to pre-order the upcoming crime/suspense novel RETRIBUTION, Get a free e-book of this title along with a second free crime/suspense e-book. In addition to RETRIBUTION, you will receive a link to BETRAYAL. In this story, Bethany never imagines becoming the target of a hired killer. Her intent is to clear her roommate of murder and get her out of jail. After a tip from a neighbor about a ski-masked man leaving the apartment and tossing something in a dumpster, she retrieves a pair of bloody gloves and places them in her brief case for safe keeping. On the way to take them to the police station, she is attacked and injected with a fast-acting sedative. In a desperate attempt to protect the evidence, she thrusts the briefcase at the man in front of her as she tumbles into him, and begs him to keep it safe. When Luke follows his instincts to help her, he is pulled into the intrigue of lies and danger.

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Pre-order my novel, Retribution, and receive a free e-book version.The first five people to pre- order will have their names written in my acknowledgements. If you like crime/suspense, you will enjoy this story of a young veteran who returns to his home town and immediately walks into a robbery at a convenience story. Though he becomes a hero when he disarms the assailant, his life takes a downhill turn when he becomes the target of an unknown killer. Are the attacks on him and his family related to the robbery, or something much more sinister?

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Retribution

Steve returns from military service in the Middle East to discover a petite blonde has made it her life mission to see him dead.

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Synopsis


This novel, Retribution, is a crime/suspense novel that appeals to both men and women. It keeps the reader on the hook with a cat and mouse game that a psychopath is playing with the family she feels stole her happiness.

The story begins with  Steve Yarrow who has
no desire to be a hero. Yet, when he stumbles upon a convenience store robbery,
he uses his martial art and military training to disarm the gunman, thus making
him a hometown celebrity.

Soon afterwards,
Steve and his family become the targets of a stalker He assumes it is an
attempt to keep him from testifying. In the course of the investigation he
meets a tough, female detective named Dana, who intrigues him. As they attempt
to protect Steve and his family, things go terribly wrong. His beloved
grandfather is murdered and his two young nephews are kidnapped.  Soon afterwards his mother spills
the secret that she had a baby girl she put up for adoption before Steve was
born. This daughter has returned to demand ransom for the hard life she lived
as a child. When she becomes the adversary, Steve‘s goal is to keep everyone
alive until she is caught.

Outline


Chapter One: In this story, Steve Yarrow assumes that returning from military service in the Middle East means safety. Instead, in his hometown in the foothills of Colorado, he  to experiences a close brush with death when he stumbles upon a robbery at a convenience store. Military and martial arts training allow him to save himself and the store clerk. At the police station he meets a feisty detective who intrigues him.

Chapter Two: On a chilly west coast night, a young woman works the streets. A predator with a hatred-filled heart, she does what she needs to do to survive. The  pixy with golden hair and baby-blue eyes lures men and cons them with no remorse. Yet Lauren is not fulfilled. Her goal to find the birth mother who put her up for adoption is her supreme goal. Her quest to locate this woman begins when she receives a call from the agency.

Chapter Three: Upon returning home, Lauren discovers her dead roommate. Writing is scrawled on her arm promising Lauren will be next. One of the men she drugged and cheated is out for revenge. She decides to flee town and find the birth mother who will suffer for the abuse Lauren has suffered in her life.

Chapter Four: Steve's grandfather insists someone is watching him. His worry about a break-in leaves Steve hoping the elderly man is imagining the danger. However, when Steve is followed home one night, and also learns a young woman has asked his neighbor about him, he wonders if the robber has outside connections. He wonders if the man is trying to scare him out of testifying.

Chapter Five: Steve is briefly reunited with the police detective when she delivers a subpoena for him to testify. Though it seems he won't win her approwatcuval, he takes pleasure in their brief conversation. However, the pleasant beginning of his day is shattered when he visits his grandfather. The elderly man insists a family photo was stolen from his picture album. Either something strange is going on, or his beloved grandfather is going down-hill. Either way, a dog might be the cure.

Rocky is eighty pounds of muscle and fur, part German shepherd, and part anybody’s guess. A handsome dog, Rocky had black and white streaks in his thick, fluffy coat. Liberal with licks to show his love, it is debatable whether he'll prove a good guard dog. He does promise to be a loving and loyal companion. Steve's hesitation about Rocky's protective streak changes when he brings him home before taking him to his grandfather. In the middle of the night, Steve awakes to Rocky’s low, rumbling growl. Someone is attempting to break into the back of the apartment. He escapes before Steve can get a look at him. 

Chapter Six: Steve drops the dog at his grandfather's house before heading to the police station to report the attempted break-in. Perhaps this is related to the trespasser on his grandfather's property. Then, there is also the matter of the missing family photo.

He warns his sister to watch out for her family. After lunch, he goes back to visit his grandfather. As he nears the house, he spots a Grand Marquis with missing plates like the one that followed him home one evening. His heart is pounding as he reaches his grandfather's house. Police cars with flashin lights and people gathered along the sidewalk give the scene a carnival feel. He pushes past and reaches Dana Morales who tries to ease him into the news that his grandfather has been murdered. Her sympathy is the only comfort he can find.

Chapter Seven: Dana is first on the scene when someone takes a shot at Steve while he is walking the dog. Since it is obvious the family is being targeted, the police provide an escort to and from the funeral. Neighbors come in with food and words of comfort, yet there is no escaping the pain of their loss.

Chapter Eight: Lauren tails the family to the cemetery only to realize she has been followed, most likely, by the man who killed her room-mate. She believes she has lost him on the way to the library to do more research on the Yarrow family. She chooses a computer in a deserted corner behind the stacks. Engrossed in her research, she doesn't know someone is behind her until he speaks.She whirls to see him holding a silver pistol equipped with a silencer. Freezing, she assesses her options. He toys with her, admitting to killing Steve's grandfather.  He taunts her with the knowledge that he was her grandfather, too. "You'll die without meeting your long-lost family."

The one advantage she had was that he didn't know her expertise in martial arts. Catching him unaware, she did the most damage possible, breaking his shoulder with a hard wrench. In the next movement, she chopped his throat before twisting his head to break his neck.

Lauren calls her birth-mother, Rachel, and arranges to come and see her. She tamps down her bitterness and puts forth a sweet demeanor,even when she explains how poorly her life has gone. Then, she blackmails them into paying so that she will not tell Steve or Megan she exists.

Chapter Nine: Steve spars with Lauren at the Tae-Kwon-Do studio without knowing she is his half-sister. A formidable opponent, he is surprised when she asks him out. Her aggressive style doesn't appeal to him and he turns her down.

Lauren curses his refusal to fall into her seductive trap. Agreement would have made killing him easier. When she doesn't find him at his job the next day, she murders his co-workers.

Chapter Ten: Lauren tricks Rachel into leaving the house so that she can break-in and leave a family of dolls showing Rachel what will happen to her family. As she intends, the shock to Rachel causes her to collapse, putting her into the hospital.

Steve is shocked when Officer Morales mentions the stress his parents were under after the visit of his half-sister. He wonders how many more surprises he will endure.

Chapter Eleven: The next day, Steve receives the subpoena to testify at the robbery trial. He hopes,when it is over the attacks will stop. A light shines in the darkness when Dana takes him up on a date.

Chapter Twelve: Lauren is furious when Steve survives her ambush. Yet, she is still determined to kill him first, as she has planned. His love for his family will be his fatal flaw. She kidnaps his nephews to lure them into a trap and kill all of them. She kills one officer and injures another. When she is injured she retreats, leaving Steve to rescue his nephews from the burning shack.

Chapter Thirteen: To buy some time while the heat is on, Lauren visits her roommate's family. She doesn't tell them about Kathy's murder. She simply says Kathy invited her to visit them if she was in the area. She turns the visit into several weeks as she asks to stay on until she gets a job.

Chapter Fourteen: When Lauren discovers Bill is less than a suitable father, with a penchant for pornography. When she finds Kathy's diary and learns they didn't believe Kathy when she reported abuse by her uncle, she kills both of the parents. With the money she steals from them, she buys disguises and returns to finish her work of revenge.

Chapter Fifteen: Steve considers copying the witness protection witness protection and relocating his family. His heart is in his throat when he asks Dana if she will go with him. He has never been happier than when she agrees. Yet life rarely goes according to plan and he can't shake the feeling that Lauren will find them wherever they go. She will have to be faced and overcome. Instinct tells him he'll be the one to do it.

Chapter Sixteen: Lauren breaks into the house while Steve is alone. Squeaky floorboards alert him that she is prowling. In a battle that rages through the house, they nearly kill each other. When sirens wail, Lauren vanishes like a phantom.     

Chapter Seventeen: When Lauren hires a seedy character to set the Yarrow's house on fire, Steve decides he is putting the family in danger since she seems most intent on killing him. He moves into his own house.  Yet there is hope. Repairs will be made on Rachel's house. She wonders when the family will move back. She knows who she can ask. There will be no security at his firm. She will simply wait for him beside his car and have an informative chat.

Chapter Eighteen: Lauren confronts Mitch in the parking lot. When he refuses to give him any information about the family. She shoots him in the chest. He survives by way of a bullet-proof vest.

When the family discovers that Rachel is not Lauren's birth mother, they put it in the newspapers hoping to dissuade Lauren from further attacks. Since she believes it is a trick, it doesn't work.

Upon her return, she kills three officers, yet fails to kill the Yarrows with a mix of sodium cyanide and hydrochloric acid thrown through the window. When Steve and Dana realize the officers aren’t responding, they lead the others upstairs and onto the roof while the poisonous gas fills the house. Though they escape, Lauren also gets away.

Chapter Nineteen:  When Lauren is forced into hiding in the countryside, she gets a surprise visit by a woman who offers to hire her to be her partner as an assassin. The money is good and she’s provided a way out of town to escape the tightening net of the law. Even better is the promise from Pam, the professional killer, to return and help her kill Rachel and her family.

They work together on a job in Hawaii. All the while, Pam recalls the recent newspaper article explaining that the hospital made a mistake in entering Rachel’s social security number. Though Lauren refuses to accept it, Rachel is not her mother. Pam is her mother. She has released this terror upon the Yarrows. She knows the consequences of telling Lauren the truth. Since she can’t convince Lauren to forget her obsession with the Yarrows, she plots with her to kill Rachel and the others.

Chapter Twenty: The plan is brilliant. They travel through drainage pipes to arrive beneath the Yarrow’s garage. From there, they crack the concrete and get into the house. The family is in the living room. There is no escaping this time. Steve will be first, then Charles, Mitch, and finally, Rachel. Lauren aims the weapon. As she presses her finger on the trigger, Rachel flings herself in front of Steve, desperate to save her son. The pistol hardly makes a sound as it goes off.

Rachel falls sideways onto the floor, unharmed. She stares at Steve only to see him sitting as he has been, blinking in surprise as he exhales the breath he's held. It takes a moment for them to understand what has happened and shift their attention to Lauren who lies dead on the floor, killed by her birth mother, Pam.

Pam asks for fifteen minutes before they call the police and that they say Steve shot Lauren to protect his family. After she is gone and Dana and the other officers arrive, When Steve's adrenalin rush abates, he takes Dana into his arms and assures her they can, at last, have a normal life.

Audience


Karen's audience of readers are those who enjoy an element of mystery/suspense in whatever genre they read. This is a highly popular market at the moment and Karen's twists and turns of intrigue keep readers turning the pages.

Author


Karen Cogan enjoys writing in the crime/suspense genre. In the past two years, she has been a finalist in the "You Think You Can Write" Harlequin competition as well as the Amazon Scout program. Her books combine an element of romance with compelling danger and suspense.

She lives in the beautiful southwest, where she has set several of her novels. Karen is a multi-published writer with independent and traditional publishing houses.

Her stories appeal to both male and female readers who enjoy an element of surprise and intrigue. Since the genre of crime novels is soaring in popularity, readers will enjoy the twists and turns of Karen's novels.

Promotion


My current platforms are an Amazon presence and blog, Facebook blog and advertising, Twitter tweets and re-tweets. I have a WordPress blog. I have a Mailchimp following of approximately 500 fans to e-mail about new novels as well as Facebook fans interested in my books. I am a member and participant in several online communities for authors and readers, including Goodreads.

Competition


INNOCENCE by Dean Koontz would be comparable to RETRIBUTION in the stories exploration of the many facet of human nature. As he  explores the baser human instinct that would destroy good, so does  RETRIBUTION.

THE GIRL YOU LOST by Kathryn Croft would be a contrast in that it is about the evil done to young women. However, my novel does not go into the graphic details of this story.

THE GOOD GIRL by Mary Kubica is similar because, like my book, she is not a good girl. She is a vengeful sociopath bent on ruining her parent.

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIL by Paula Hawkins is a hauntingly depressing psychological thriller. Like my story happy character live where my sociopathic antagonist believes she should live.  However, RETRIBUTION does not have the underlying current of depression of this story.

MEAN GIRL by Natasha Salnikova  is about fifteen-year-old girl who attends a private school. She has been bullied because of her weight by popular girls and resents that they have what she wants. Her retaliation is akin to my antagonist in RETRIBUTION. However, my character wishes to destroy her family instead of her peers.

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