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Smile and Walk Away

Shatter, 1

Detective Duran thinks he’s searching for a missing woman. Little does he know he’s actually pursuing the last remaining evidence of a CIA cover up.

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    The police are looking for Velma Bloom, a young woman who has gone missing. All that’s left of her is her car parked in front of a house containing two dead Russian men.

    Velma is a twenty-five year old woman who loves her life of booze, sex, and cigarettes. But this sassy, over-educated waitress has a secret—a strange ability she’s never been able to understand. Answers come unexpectedly and from an unexpected source. Armed with her new knowledge, she sees her way to forging a new future. She only has one obstacle—making sure she stays alive.

    Now she has vanished, and rookie detective Jackson Duran is trying to find her. She hasn’t left many traces, and everything Duran discovers about her only complicates his search. What he does learn leads him to some sinister truths he never thought he’d know, and would rather not know.


  • Grade 

    Excellent Read

    Everything about Velma Bloom—her taste in cars, booze, and boys— seems like a deliberate defiance of her upper-middle class upbringing. When she is reported missing, Detective Jackson Duran will learn, nothing is as it seems. Thrust onto a trail of buried secrets, CIA experiments, and Russian agents, each must decide what is truly important or risk being shattered.

    When it comes to thrillers, especially those with writings about the CIA, DARPA, etc., I am extremely critical. This work of fiction was superbly done and deserves some time in the spotlight. I look forward to the next books in the series.


    Everyone Needs a Book Like This

    What do you do if you’re tired of living the life that was entirely planned by your parents? You just smile and walk away.
    What do you do if you’re a new detective assigned to a missing person’s case? You search, even when you know you shouldn’t.
    Tired of hiding her secret and wishing to make her own way in the world, Velma Bloom blows her entire trust fund on the car of her dreams instead of attending graduate school. Much to her parents’ chagrin, she drives off to start a new life in Yonkers, New York. She quickly settles into a comforting routine working at Lonnie’s Pub as a waitress and spending time with her cat, Carrot, and her not-boyfriend, Brett. She is happy in her new life with no plans to upgrade her future. A single phone call forces Velma into action, trying to discover her father’s past and to come to terms with parts of herself that she has had to keep hidden all these years. Her sudden disappearance effects everyone and, with a possible link to a double homicide, is a case that Detective Jackson Duran is quickly consumed with solving.
    Overall, Smile and Walk Away by Danielle Riedel is a recommended read. While I was initially a bit disappointed with the slow pace, I had simply began reading this book while in the mood for something a bit more fast-paced. I was still caught up in the unique storyline and the interesting characters. There are even plenty of action scenes, just none ranging over several pages. This ties into my only other complaint that Velma solves her dilemma’s a bit too quickly for closeness to be developed by the reader, only admiration. Neither of these is enough of an issue to overshadow the amount of talent that Riedel displays in this novel or the amount of enjoyment I gained while reading it. This is a book to be read on a quiet rainy day when feeling a bit too lazy for anything containing extensive adrenaline, or for those times when you want to read but can’t allow yourself to get too caught up. There is a need for a book like this in everyone’s life and Danielle Riedel has written it.

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    Smile and Walk Away

    Smile and Walk Away

    Detective Duran thinks he’s searching for a missing woman. Little does he know he’s actually pursuing the last remaining evidence of a CIA cover up.


    January 1981

    The agent sat in a comfortable chair facing a blank screen. He wore a cuff around his upper right arm and had plastic clips over the tips of his right index and ring fingers. Rubber tubes were wrapped around his chest and abdomen. His head was shaved, and his scalp was covered in small white sensors. Wires from everything attached to his body were connected to a tabletop machine.

    The doctor situated himself behind the machine with a pencil, a notepad, and a cup of coffee. A third man stood off to the side next to a projector. The agent in the chair couldn’t see either of them. Plastic panels extended eight inches out from each of his temples so that he could only see what was right in front of him.

    “If you’re ready, Agent Majors, we’re going to show you a series of images.”

    “Ready when you are, doctor.”

    “Excellent,” said the doctor. He nodded to the man at the projector. An image came up on the screen of a child on a swing set. “I’m using the same electroencephalograph as the last time you were here,” he continued. “If the results today match your baseline electroencephalogram, within a small range of course, we can move on to the next phase of testing.” The doctor fixed his eyes on the monitor screen in front of him. The image on the projector screen changed to one of a dog urinating on a tree.

    The agent relaxed as he looked at pictures of dolphins swimming beside a fishing boat, butterflies flying over a meadow, and a puppy catching a Frisbee. Two minutes passed, and those images became interspersed with ones of car crashes, open-heart surgeries, and amputees. Each photograph lingered on the projector screen for about three or four seconds. The doctor remained focused on the screen of the electroencephalograph.

    Agent Majors saw three seconds of a nude woman on horseback, then four seconds of a man attempting to crawl out of the wreckage of his home after an earthquake. He saw four seconds of a new mother nursing her baby, then three seconds of a lion tearing apart a dead gazelle. The man at the projector was silent as he performed his simple task, and the doctor periodically glanced away from the screen to make a note or to sip his coffee.

    The images became more graphic, ranging from sexual to grotesque. Pleasant and relaxing pictures would show up in between, but the contrast became more dramatic. The doctor continued his notes and observations. He picked up his coffee mug as the image changed from two women caressing each other’s breasts to a child sobbing as a man prepared to strike him. The coffee mug shattered in the doctor’s hand before it reached his lips. He cursed, but gestured for the man at the projector to continue. With the tail of his lab coat, he managed to stop the coffee spill from reaching the machine.

    “Everything okay, doctor?” Agent Majors asked.

    “I just spilled my coffee, it’s fine. Focus, please.” The doctor sat down, ignoring the small brown puddle and mug shards at his feet. It was a cheap mug.

    The agent focused as he was told. The doctor wrote notes without looking at his paper, determined not to take his eyes away from the monitor.

    An image came up of three kittens nestled together in a basket. The doctor signaled to the man at the projector that he should pause on this. He signaled again for him to proceed, but only after almost ten seconds had passed. Next, a picture appeared of those same three kittens screaming in agony as two adolescent boys set them on fire.

    The doctor made no move to write anything. Then his pencil snapped in half with a distinct, high-pitched crack. The doctor laid down his notepad and the two halves of his pencil with shaking hands. His eyes widened as he looked from his monitor to the now kaleidoscopic image on the agent’s screen.

    “Stop the test.”

    The lens of the projector had shattered.

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