BY: BENTLEY WELLS

Columbus, Ohio, Homicide Detectives, Michael McConnell and Aaron Simmons, investigate the brutal murders of two women. There are no witnesses and few clues, except for unfamiliar words the killer has printed in lipstick on each victim—words which have demonic connotations, making the detectives wonder if they are dealing with a serial killer or a demon from Hell. As McConnell and Simmons dig for the truth, they discover a decades-old third murder with the same MO. This victim had ties to a mysterious club, The Paradise Coven, that may be responsible for all three murders. Unfortunately, the terrible secret the detectives unravel may have far-reaching consequences.

TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In The Paradise Coven by Bentley Wells, two Columbus, Ohio, detectives are trying to solve a series of murders. They have a suspect, but little evidence, and the evidence they do have gets thrown out due to a technicality caused by clumsy police work. As the detectives dig for the truth, they discover a cold case in another town with a common thread—ancient words written in lipstick on the victims. The main problem for the detectives? Their current suspect couldn’t have committed the old murder, so are the new murders the work of a copycat, or do they share the same killer? And what does a mysterious college club called “The Paradise Coven” have to do with it all?

Wells has crafted a clever, intense, and fast-pace mystery, where everyone seems to be a suspect, and you won’t figure it out until the end.

REGAN MURPHY SAYS: The Paradise Coven by Bentley Wells is the story of a murder plot that is a lot more far-reaching than it seems. When two women turn up dead in Columbus, Ohio, Detective Michael McConnell is sure that he won’t have to look far for the perp. After all, the last person to see the victim alive should be the killer, right? Especially when the same person was with each victim just before she died. But the case isn’t as easily solved as the detective thinks. Especially when a similar murder comes to light, this one a decades-old cold case from another jurisdiction, that has a connection to an elite college club called The Paradise Coven. Members of the club swear it was nothing more than a study club to help improve their grades, but rumors claim it’s demonic. And with words written on the victims that have demonic connotations, there’s a good chance the rumors may be right.

The Paradise Coven is part murder mystery, part psychological thriller, fast-paced, tense, and filled with twists and turns—an entertaining and compelling read.

CHAPTER 1

The attractive woman with shoulder-length black hair and dark brown eyes returned from the kitchen with two partially filled glasses. The man with blond hair and blue eyes, who appeared to be in his early twenties, glanced at her. A smile formed on his face. Then he looked at the large television directly across the room.

As she approached him, he reached for the glasses. “Let me help you.” He carefully put the glasses on coasters that rested on the oak coffee table in front of him.

“Thank you,” she said. She sat on the cream-colored leather sofa next to him.

He glanced at her and smiled.

“Did I miss anything?” she asked.

He shook his head. “No. The movie just started.” He took a drink from the glass nearest him.

“I bought that brand of water today. Do you like it?”

“It’s very good,” he assured her. “Is it the same brand we had after our round of racquetball?”

“No. Why?”

“Just wondered.” He thought about their game of racquetball. Considering how much she enjoyed sports, he thought she should have worked in a physical fitness center. However, she didn’t need to work because her parents had been incredibly wealthy. When they died in a car accident, everything–about fifty million dollars’ worth–had been left to her. She’d been twenty-one. Several years later, she married a man who had become one of the most successful cardiovascular surgeons in the state, if not in the country. The marriage had ended in a highly publicized divorce. According to the TV and newspapers, she had received approximately ten million dollars in the settlement. That was last year. She had been thirty-two.

She looked at his right index finger. “How’s your finger?”

He glanced at it. “I think I’ll live,” he replied. “I can’t believe I did that.” He had cut his finger with a knife while helping her prepare a tossed salad, which they had eaten after their game.

“Thomas?”

He noticed that her dark brown eyes were fixed on him. “Yes?” he asked.

“Do you like me?”

“Yes. You know I do.”

“Do you like being with me?”

“Of course. We have fun.”

“But I am older–”

He laughed. “You are? Why didn’t you tell me?” Then he reached for her hands. He glanced at her fingernails. She had them manicured once a week. He looked at the light veins on the backs of her hands. Then he kissed them. He looked at her face. A smile formed on her mouth. He leaned toward her. “You want to know something?”

“What?”

“I enjoy being with you. In fact, I think I’m falling in love with you.”

She didn’t say anything.

He moved closer and whispered, “I’d like to kiss you.”

“You have my permission,” she said playfully.

Their lips touched, and suddenly he felt warmer. He leaned back and looked at her. Her lips parted, revealing her perfect white teeth. He looked at her black hair.

“Is something wrong?” she asked.

He shook his head. “No.” He glanced at her lightly tanned legs, which had helped defeat him at racquetball earlier.

She noticed his glance. “Do you like what you see?” she asked with a smile.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

“Thomas, there is no need to be sorry.” Then she reached for him and kissed him lightly on the lips.

When their lips parted, she reached for her glass of water. Thomas grabbed her in his arms and pulled her to him. Their eyes met, and he could feel her warm breath on his face. Suddenly, he held her at arms’ length and looked at her. “You know, you are a very beautiful woman.”

She laughed. “Thank you.”

“Your former husband must be very stupid.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Because. He let you get a divorce.”

“Actually, he had grown to love another woman.”

“Like I said, your former husband must be very stupid.”

He pulled her closer and kissed her. Suddenly, he realized that something was wrong. Although he had not experienced any physical pain, he felt his body jerk once, then twice. He tried to speak. Nothing. He thought he could see Madalyn growing concerned, asking, “What’s wrong?” But he wasn’t certain. His vision had become impaired. She had become a blur. Then he lost consciousness.

© 2017 by Bentley Wells