Tuesday, 7 June 2016


Title: Paradise Cursed
Author: Chris Rogers
Release Date: 1st April 2016

BLURB from Goodreads
Captain Cord McKinsey, a pirate cursed in 1716 for doing a good deed, now operates his schooner, the Sarah Jane, as a cruise ship. Doomed to remain effectively ship-bound and within the Caribbean waters, Cord, 34, has often reinvented himself and his ship over these near 300 years.

Though long despaired of ever breaking his curse, he becomes entwined in solving similar problems for passengers, problems that require extraordinary solutions. When his new Jamaican first mate, Ayanna, confesses she has been cursed by a Bokor, Cord agrees to help her locate a powerful shaman.

But the Bokor’s plan is more heinous and far-reaching than anyone suspects. The lovely Ayanna fails to mention that her mind and body are changing, taking form as a ravenous reptile. Even with the help of a psychic passenger, Cord may lose the people he cares for as well as his ship, the only square footage on land or sea where pain is not his constant companion.

Chris Rogers, best known for her novels of pure suspense, has previously confined any supernatural excursions to short stories featured in her Death Edge anthologies. In Paradise Cursed, Rogers gives imagination full rein to explore life’s darker mysteries.


The Caribbean Sea

“Cord! Cord McKinsey!” I heard Mum calling my name just before her arms gathered me into her skirts. Then she screamed for my da. “Jonathon!” Clutching my hand, she ran for him, stumbling over quoiles of rigging, dodging the robbers and sailors fighting around us.
                My mum was one of those women who never seem to age, as pretty at thirty-two, my da said, as she was at sweet sixteen. “A grhá mo chroi,” Da called her, “love o’ my heart.” On the deck of the H.M.S. Transport, Mum’s beauty bore the sailors a dangerous distraction, which perhaps was why I, before anyone, saw the grappling iron tumble aboard.
                The first mate was hailing the Dutch ship, other mates taking up push poles. Exactly nine years old—first day of November being my birthday—I didn’t actually know the name of the four-pronged hook, but I knew sure enough about ships and swords and flags. I knew the schooner flying the Dutch colors was passing rudely near to our starboard prow when the hook came flying onto the Transport’s foredeck, plunking down a hair’s breadth from my left foot.
                I also knew about pirates. When gangplanks slid across connecting our two ships, men skittering over like huge scrabbling rats against the dusky orange sky as the Jolly Roger flew up the pole, I knew to be frightened.
                The sight of my Da always brought comfort... his warm strong hand, the crackle of his crisp white shirt, odors of tobacco, coffee, and sometimes, but only at night when he tucked me into bed, the sweet fragrance of rum. I spied him on the port side, the sun’s remnants turning his carroty hair crimson.
He was waving a cutlass about.
Da didn't own a cutlass, did he? But there it was, and there also in the blood-red glow of the lowering sun stood a man taller and broader than any I ever had seen. A scraggly beard hung to his chest. His skin was pocked, his nose red-veined and bulbous, but it was the glitter in his eyes that nailed my feet to the deck.
Captain Richard Stryker—I recalled seeing the pirate’s picture tacked up in the London shipping office when we boarded for the trip to Jamaica. Stryker’s glittering black eyes fell on my mum, and a hungry look spread the pirate’s rubbery lips, revealing yellow-black teeth crowded in all directions.
“Leave off there!” He sprang in front of us.
 Mum halted, pulling me close. Peering frantically about, I spied Da's cutlass arcing high as he rushed up behind the pirate.
As quick as he was ugly, Stryker whirled and thrust out with his rapier.
Mum screamed. I stumbled backward, stiff with the sight of my da’s face wrenched in surprise a second before it went dull and lifeless. My eyes smarted. My stomach felt suddenly as liquid and turbulent as the sea that roiled around us.
Stryker raised a booted foot and kicked Da’s body off the end of his sword.
Then he returned his frightful gaze to my mum. A snaky tongue flicked out to lick his rubbery lips.
Still screaming with heartache and fear, Mum backed away, pushing me behind her. Too terrified not to learn what was happening, I craned around her skirts to see.
Stryker sheathed his sword, closing the distance in two strides as his long filthy arm reached for her. When his hand locked on her throat, all the anger in me took over and I charged at him, yelling, shoving and kicking.
Scarcely glancing down, Stryker clubbed me. His meaty fist knocked me across the deck as easy as swatting a beetle.
My ears drained of sound. A gray curtain clouded my spinning brain, and my stomach heaved up everything inside, but I staggered to my feet.
Stryker had twisted a hand through mum’s yellow curls and was drawing her to him, pulling her face toward his ugly maw, mum struggling in his grip like a robin flapping at a dragon. Suddenly, she stopped fighting and smiled. Her clawed hand raked down his face.
The pirate roared. He thrust her away, touching a hand to his wounded cheek. When it came back bloody, his entire body swelled with fury.
A cheer for Mum’s bravery rose in my chest—and froze—as the waning sunlight flashed on Stryker’s rapier.
“No!” I lunged at him. Slamming my entire body into Stryker, I felt no give, as if the pirate’s boots had bonded with the ship’s deck. “No! Bloody no!”
His free hand smacked hard against my ear, knocking me down again. Head ringing, I scrambled to my feet, yet even as I slammed against his bulk, Stryker’s thin blade sliced through Mum’s stomach and ripped upward with an eruption of blood.
His laugh exploded in my ears. Looming in the darkening sunset like a specter, his laughter full of dark slimy crawling things, the pirate turned his glistening black eyes on me.
Yelling every blasphemy I’d ever heard, I kept slamming into him until Stryker’s big hand grasped me by the collar, choking me as he lifted me to eye level.

“I think I’ll keep yer, lubber mite.” Amusement rolled out of him on a breath of rotted fish. “If yer don’t make a decent cabin boy, yer’ll make a fine stew.”

Chris Rogers was born in Texas and raised in the days of EC Comics and “B” horror flicks that could chill you down to your funny bones. She resides in a small community within commute of the four major Texas metropolises, where she ghostwrites business books and memoirs while turning out her own novels and short stories. Chris has taught mystery writing at the Rice University School of Continuing Studies, the University of Houston and in private master classes. Her students have received numerous awards and acknowledgements for their works. After a career in graphic design, Chris became a writer the easy way: She read voraciously and filled blank pages with drivel until her fingers cramped and her brain defected. Eventually, she learned to craft a decipherable sentence. Author of the Dixie Flannigan series, Bitch Factor, Rage Factor, Chill Factor and Slice of Life, Chris has published stories and essays in, among others, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and Writer’s Digest.

No comments:

Post a Comment