Monday, September 11, 2017

Protocol by Kathleen Valenti | Blog Tour with Excerpt, Review, Guest Post, and Giveaway

The Blurb

Freshly minted college graduate Maggie O’Malley embarks on a career fueled by professional ambition and a desire to escape the past. As a pharmaceutical researcher, she’s determined to save lives from the shelter of her lab. But on her very first day she’s pulled into a world of uncertainty. Reminders appear on her phone for meetings she’s never scheduled with people she’s never met. People who end up dead.

With help from her best friend, Maggie discovers the victims on her phone are connected to each other and her new employer. She soon unearths a treacherous plot that threatens her mission — and her life. Maggie must unlock deadly secrets to stop horrific abuses of power before death comes calling for her.

Protocol by Kathleen Valenti
Series: A Maggie O'Malley Mystery, #1
Genre: Medical Mystery, Thriller/Mystery
Publisher: Henery Press
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Paperback: 276 pages
ISBN-10: 1635112397
ISBN-13: 978-1635112399
E-Book File Size: 895 KB
Amazon | B&NKobo |  iBooksBAM! | Goodreads

The Excerpt


It wasn’t until she was five blocks from home, well past the newsstand but before the buckling sidewalk in front of the old library, that Elsa Henderson knew she was being followed.

She’d left the office late, her desk a maze of notes and lipstick-stained paper coffee cups, and headed into the starless night with her briefcase empty and her head full of the work that would be waiting in the morning. She didn’t worry about walking alone at night. This was Collinsburg, for God’s sake. Safe. Charming. The Goldilocks of the Midwest. Not too anything. Except maybe hot.

Then… a feeling. A tingle at the base of her neck. The sensation of being watched. 

She turned, casually flipping salon-blown hair, and looked behind her. 

The street was empty.

She sighed and shook her head. Laughed her signature throaty laugh. Work was getting to her. Maybe the protests, too, although those were daytime affairs and more nuisance than worry. She needed a glass of wine, a hot bath and an hour of mindless television. Maybe Dancing with the Stars or —

Elsa stopped. The hair at the back of her neck stood at attention as if an icy hand trailed a finger along her spine. A feeling of unseen eyes crawled over her.

She spun quickly this time, eyes darting from the streetlight to the blue US Mail drop box to the doorways where darkness clotted. 

The street was still vacant. 

Hadn’t she heard something? A whisper of fabric? The slip of rubber soles on a pebble? Or was it all in her head, a figment of her imagination — or what her coworkers insisted was increasing paranoia over unseen and undefined danger?

She squinted as if trying to read the street. A half-block away, in the doorway of her favorite smoothie shop, the shadows seemed darker. Denser. Man-shaped.

Elsa’s heart thudded sickly in her chest. She quickened her pace, the clap-clap-clap of her heels in time with her heart. Telegraphing her growing dread.

Hurry up. Stop.

Get home. Stop.

Don’t look back. Stop.

She wanted to run, but didn’t. That would’ve been rude. What if she was overreacting? What if she was being paranoid? Maybe the man (the shadow?) was simply walking the same way. She hadn’t even seen him — seen anyone, for that matter. Even if she had, there was no proof of pursuit beyond a sound, a feeling. 

And yet… 

Elsa Henderson broke into a light jog. A bead of sweat snaked beneath her arm, settling at the waistband of the Spanx she had yanked on that morning. Unable to resist, she chanced a look behind her. 

A pair of headlights suddenly swung into view. 

There was no man, no silhouette. Just sleek steel, shiny chrome and hungry, churning tires. 

The headlights grew larger. The tires squealed, eating pavement as the car sped toward her, shuddering with each gear shift, nosing aside a rubber garbage can wheeled to the curb for tomorrow’s collection.

“But —” she said. 

The car struck her, tossing her into the air like a crash-test dummy without the car. Her head collided with the windshield, creating a pebble-sized ding in the glass and a spider web fracture in her skull. 

The car sped on, pushing Elsa toward the roof rack until she rolled off, hitting the asphalt with a wet splat. She watched the red taillights recede into the darkness through the haze of blood now streaming down her face. The lights stopped. Then flashed to white. 

The car backed up. Rolled over her. Then did it again.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Bones ground to dust. Blood bloomed from her head. Her heart, with nothing left to pump, stopped. 

Then everything became shadow.

The Review

Wow, that was an intense excerpt. Protocol by Kathleen Valenti is definitely not a cozy, but a gripping medical thriller and suspense/thriller. Protocol is a fast-moving page-turner, with a complex, intriguing, and exciting plot. 

It's not all serious intensity, though. There are LOL moments, too, such as Maggie's unforgettable introduction to a man in a bar, and when Maggie's best friend Gus invites her to "say hello to my little friend." No, it's not what you're thinking. Gus is referring to his hamster, Miss Vanilla, a literal pocket pet. I think Gus and Miss Vanilla are my favorite characters. They add needed levity, and play important parts in the finale of Protocol.  

I recommend Protocol to fans of medical thrillers and suspense/thrillers. I think it will have special appeal to those who are fans of Michael Crichton's and Robin Cook's medical thrillers. I enjoyed Protocol, which has earned Three Kitties. 

Three out of five kitties
Note:  I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of Protocol.
All opinions shared are 100% my own.

Follow the tour, to read other reviews and Guest Posts, plus Author Interviews!

The Guest Post

But First, Let me Take a Shelfie

A few years ago, my son attended his first Boy Scout camp. And promptly got lost.
In the middle of the night.
As temperatures dropped into the 20s and then the teens.
He came wandering into camp the next morning, near-hypothermic, bleary-eyed and visibly shaken, but alive and well (relatively speaking). He recovered quickly when dosed with hot chocolate and smothered in blankets, then told his tale.
He had become lost while trying to find the outhouse and didn’t want to “bother” anyone for help. So he wandered around in the small hours of the morning alone, cold and afraid.
After my panic had subsided, my tears were dried and my son began thinking of it as a “totally awesome” adventure (I don’t know if I’ll ever see it that way), I began thinking that I could relate to the motivation that kept him from seeking help.
He had so wanted to avoid the spotlight that as the sun began its daily hike over the mountain, he had crawled — as unobtrusively as possible — into another scout’s tent and slept until the rest of the camp was awake.
So as not to disturb.
So as not to stand out.
So as not to make a fuss.
Double oy.
The thing is, I do that, too.
Of course, my desire to avoid attention isn’t so dramatic or potentially dangerous. (You’d better believe we had a talk with our boy about getting help, embarrassment be damned.) But still… I felt his pain.
And now I’m in the very strange position of trying to get noticed. All. The. Time.
As the release for my debut mystery Protocol neared, I came to realize that my job of writing and editing (and rewriting and re-editing) was over. I was now tasked with sharing my book with the rest of the world.
Tweets. Facebook posts. Instagram updates.  You name the platform, I was supposed to be on it, building brand, inviting engagement and growing visibility.
I work in advertising, so a lot of people said, “Um… shouldn’t you, like, know how to do that?”
Well, yeah. But it’s a lot easier to beat the drum for someone else. Especially if you’re shy. Especially — especially if the idea of “bothering” people with daily updates sounds as appealing as dental surgery.
It just felt so self-absorbed — or perhaps shelf-absorbed, since we’re talking books.
Yet as the weeks wore on, I also began to realize that these efforts didn’t have to feel promotional. They could be the start of a great conversation. An invitation to get to know someone. The chance to make new friends.
I have met so many wonderful people on these social media platforms. They’re kind, funny, have many of the same joys and struggles, and love to read (hey, whaddya know!).
I reach out. They reach right back.
As hard as it’s been to come out of my shell, it’s been unimaginably rewarding. It turns out all of us reader types are shelf-absorbed. We want to see what others are reading, connect with people with like interests, and share our experiences (good, bad or Boy Scout-related). This isn’t really about self (or shelf) promotion, but about sharing lives, growing relationships, spreading kindness like confetti. And that’s a wonderful thing.
Like our son on his next Boy Scout trips, I’ll bring a flashlight on my journey — one that illuminates possibilities and lights the way. I’m glad to have so many of you walking with me. I like where we’re headed — and that we can talk books along the way.

The Author

About Kathleen Valenti

Kathleen Valenti has been writing for nearly 20 years, first as a nationally award-winning copywriter and now as a mystery novelist. A firm believer that deadpan can be dead-on, she combines funny with frightening to craft page-turners of mystery and suspense. Her debut mystery, Protocol, is the first in the Maggie O'Malley Mystery series.

Kathleen lives in Oregon with her family where she pretends to enjoy running. She’s known for appalling penmanship and unnatural love for Monty Python, black licorice and red wine.

Find her on the web at

The Giveaway

Kathleen Valenti will award an e-copy of Protocol to
four randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


September 5 – Cozy Up With Kathy – INTERVIEW

September 6 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW, EXCERPT

September 7 – A Holland Reads - CHARACTER GUEST POST

September 8 – Celticlady's Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

September 9 – Reading Is My SuperPower - REVIEW

September 11 – Jane Reads - REVIEW, GUEST POST

September 12 – Girl with Book Lungs - CHARACTER INTERVIEW

September 13 – Island Confidential – INTERVIEW

September 14 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

September 15 – A Blue Million Books - CHARACTER GUEST POST, EXCERPT

September 16 – Lori's Reading Corner – GUEST POST

September 17 – Socrates Book Reviews – REVIEW

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