Sunday, April 13, 2014

Spotlight on: Blessed are the Dead: A Gabriella Giovanni Mystery by Kristi Belcamino

Blessed are the Dead: A Gabriella Giovanni Mystery by Kristi Belcamino
ebook, 100 pages
Expected publication: June 10th 2014 by Witness Impulse

For her debut novel, BLESSED ARE THE DEAD (Witness, on sale 6/10/2014, $2.99, ISBN 13: 9780062338907), Kristi Belcamino relies on her knowledge gained from working as a crime reporter at newspapers in California, specifically in her experience with a serial killer who police and FBI agents liked to several kidnappings and murders. Belcamino’s personal past colors this smart, thrilling novel with a unique new voice.

BLESSED ARE THE DEAD offers chilling, authentic glimpses into the mind of a psychopath while also mining the psyche of an extremely likeable protagonist.  The novel sets up a new series featuring Gabriella Giovanni, an Italian-American Bay Area crime reporter.  BLESSED ARE THE MEEK, the second book in the series will be published in July.

BLESSED ARE THE DEAD pits Italian-American Bay Area Crime reporter against a serial killer who preys on children. When they were little girls, Gabriella Giovanni’s sister was kidnapped and killed. Twenty years later, Gabriella spends her days on the crime beat flitting in and out of other people’s nightmares and then walking away unscathed. That changes when a little girl disappears and Gabriella’s quest for justice and a front-page story leads her to a convicted kidnapper who reels her in with tales of his exploits as a longtime serial killer and promises to reveal his secrets to her alone. Meanwhile, Gabriella’s passion for her job quickly spirals into obsession when she begins to suspect the kidnapper also killed her sister. Gabriella won’t hesitate to risk her life to garner justice for the dead.

Another boyfriend pissed off at me over a dead body. Or in this case, two dead bodies. The silence on the other end of the line confirms it.

Snapping my cell phone shut, I swipe my key card and hurry in the back door of the newspaper. The smell of fresh pizza makes my stomach grumble as I pass the cafeteria, but there’s no time to eat. Deadline is looming. I forget about my limping love life — the clock is ticking. The paper goes to bed in three hours, so I’ve got to hustle.

Entering the newsroom, a jolt of excitement surges through me. It’s that special friction, that palpable energy in the air that is always present close to deadline. Giant windows, black with night, reflect the bustling activity around me. A big screen TV with its volume muted dominates one wall and smaller TVs hang from the ceiling throughout the room blaring local and national news. The room smells like burned broccoli and musty books, but still manages to always feel like home. It’s where I’m meant to be.

“Giovanni, you got 17 inches,” my editor, Matt Kellogg, hollers. Nobody at the Bay Herald ever calls me Gabriella. In the news business, you are your last name. Luckily, I like mine.

I want more space, but there’s no use arguing. He’s right. It’s sad, but it’s the same old story we’ve all seen before — big-living San Francisco businessman up to his Gucci eyeglasses in debt kills his wife and then turns the gun on himself.

The momentum of the newsroom engulfs me, sending adrenaline soaring through my limbs. The space hums like a beehive. Deadline is the one time you can find nearly every metro reporter at a desk. Most are pounding the keyboard, flipping through notebooks, or talking on the phone, getting last-minute quotes for their stories. Our desks are in gray cubbies with low walls so we can see each other and the rest of the newsroom.

I catch snippets of different conversations floating in the air. Our political reporter is losing patience with someone on the other end of the phone line.

“Now come on. You know that’s a bunch of bullshit,” she says. “We’ve known each other for ten years, Jeff. You never once said it was off the record. You know the game. You know the rules. This isn’t amateur night here.”

Across the room, the sports department erupts in cheers as an Oakland A’s batter hits a homerun on the big screen. One of the investigative reporters slams down his phone, stands up, pumps his fists into the air, and yells to no one in particular, “Fuck yeah. Fuck yeah, you motherfucker. I knew I’d catch you in a lie. Now it’s going in the paper, you douchebag.”

Nobody except the reporter right beside him even looks up. He only does so to scratch his chin. I keep walking. A veteran reporter lifts his head. “Thought you had a hot date.” We both like to cook and I had tantalized him earlier with descriptions of the birthday dinner I was going to make for my boyfriend.

“Murder-suicide,” I say. He nods and turns back to his computer.

My teeth clench when I see May DuPont, the night police reporter, at the cop reporter’s station, two desks with a stack of police scanners between them.

I try to straighten my skirt and smooth my hair before I get to my desk. It’s useless. It’s been a long day. I’ve already filed two stories for tomorrow’s paper – a car crash and a brush fire – and the traces of hiking after firefighters cling to me. My hair smells like smoke, and small bits of grass have adhered to my sandals.

Each morning, I dress nice in an effort to create la bella figura like my Italian mother taught me. But by the end of the day, this is what I’ve become – smelly, rumpled, and bedraggled.

About the author:
Kristi Belcamino is a writer, photographer, and Italian mama who also bakes a tasty biscotti.

As an award-winning reporter in California, she flew over Big Sur in an FA-18 jet with the Blue Angels, raced a Dodge Viper at Laguna Seca and watched autopsies. Her first novel, BLESSED ARE THE DEAD, was inspired by her dealings on the crime beat with a serial killer.

Contact: website | Twitter

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