Summit will now cost you money

I told you to download Summit from Amazon when it was free, but you didn’t listen to me.  You never listen to me.  Now you have to pay $2.84 for it.  Why $2.84?  I don’t know.  But it’s worth it!  Probably worth even $2.99, now that I think about it.

The purpose of making the book free was to generate some nice reviews, and I got some!  Here’s a sampling:

This is a well written, well -rounded, exciting book. I loved it and will be looking for all books by Mr Richard Bowker. I do NOT give five stars often or lightly, but I am impressed Summit. So if you like thrillers, this is a great one to read. And Mr Bowker, if you ever need a beta reader, I would be thrilled to do it.


The author has a way of bringing you right into the story; the characters are believable and flawed. The sprinkle of romance is fun and the Mr Bowker’s knowledge of classical music and the ability to identify the problems of a classical music prodigy are amazing.
Above all the plot twists and turns were extremely suspenseful.
I also appreciated the author not painting the Russians as all evil and U.S. as all good.
I wish Bill Sullivan had a better ending, but such is life. More importantly, Fulton and Valentina (more than) survive.
A great read, thanks !

I wish Sullivan had a better ending, too!  And:

Richard Bowker manages to give lots of credibility to the subject of psychics. What is there not to agree in the end? Psychics do exist, even if their lives are depicted more in the dark forces type of books than in a thriller.
Deep thoughtful take on American and Russian ideals, the perceptions and beliefs ingrained in their nationals to infuse a patriotic love, which makes us explore our own psyche and rattles perhaps our own confidence in our righteousness. The same political corruption and power greed exists at all levels, in all countries- and is perfectly delineated in the pages of this book. It is difficult not to love the heroes, and the insertion of a love story makes the read even more enjoyable for female readership. I did enjoy this book till the (perfect) end.

And, as a reminder,here’s the exciting new cover:


“Summit” is #1 free spy thriller on Amazon

It would be better if people were, you know, actually paying for it.  But I’ll take what I can get!

Here’s the most recent customer review:

Richard Bowker manages to give lots of credibility to the subject of psychics. What is there not to agree in the end? Psychics do exist, even if their lives are depicted more in the dark forces type of books than in a thriller.
Deep thoughtful take on American and Russian ideals, the perceptions and beliefs ingrained in their nationals to infuse a patriotic love, which makes us explore our own psyche and rattles perhaps our own confidence in our righteousness. The same political corruption and power greed exists at all levels, in all countries- and is perfectly delineated in the pages of this book. It is difficult not to love the heroes, and the insertion of a love story makes the read even more enjoyable for female readership. I did enjoy this book till the (perfect) end.

The newly re-covered Summit is free on iTunes!

I don’t know why we keep giving stuff away, but we do.  Here you go.

Here’s that new cover everyone’s been talking about, with the Kremlin clock tower that no one recognizes:


As with other free offers, the idea is to bludgeon Amazon into also making the book free by having thousands of rabid fans click on the “tell us about a lower price” link on the Summit page. Please help — it only takes a few seconds.

My wily publisher’s idea, by the way, is to tie Summit to Marlborough Street as part of a “psychic thriller” series.  Works for me if it will sell copies!

By the way, Dover Beach continues to be free on Amazon.  It’s piling up some really nice reviews, along with a couple that make me scratch my head.  One of them is probably worth a separate post.

New covers for Pontiff, Summit? Opinions solicited.

One of the advantages of ebooks over printed books is that, if you don’t like your cover, or think it isn’t working, you can switch to a new one pretty easily.  We’re pondering making a change for Pontiff and Summit.  You can see the originals at the links.  Here’s the proposal for Pontiff:


The idea is still to suggest religion and murder, but maybe with a cleaner look.  I’m not sure I like the bleeding rosary, though.

And here’s the alternative for Summit:


Here the designer has dropped the hammer and sickle, which she claims looks dated, and added the Kremlin clock tower to suggest the Soviet Union.  Again, the design is brighter than the original, I think.  Is that good?

My ebooks: sales, prices, reviews

I handed over my ebook pricing to a publisher in return for having them perform some sales magic.  The magic appears to be working.  First they made Senator free on Amazon, which got it near the top of the top of the “sales” list for free political novels.  Then they raised the price to $0.99, and now it’s up to $2.99.  In the meantime it’s gotten a bunch of great reviews.  Here’s a five-star review I liked because, when I started reading it, I had no idea how it could possibly end up being a five-star review:

The beginning of this book put me off. I generally do not care for novels written in the first person, and the first chapters were tedious, another overworked story of the dead mistress whose murder threatens to ruin her high-placed lover. However, once all of the players were identified, I found myself relating to the protagonists and many supporting characters on the same kind of personal level as when I first read Presumed Innocent so many years ago. Bowker creates the flawed hero of the classics, a man driven on the one hand by ambition and on the other,by a sense of honor. Even at the end, the Senator possessed strengths and weaknesses that are not entirely resolved. In other words, he is human. This is not just a fine tuned murder mystery, it is a journey into the very complex issues of guilt and innocence-good and evil. For nearly a quarter century, I was a prosecutor of serious felonies, a position not without personal as well as professional challenges. It was not uncommon for me to sometimes relate to the defendant sitting one chair away at counsel table on a very human level. That did not change the nature of my mission–I was considered a tough prosecutor– but it made me reflect upon the difference between the concept of legal guilt and that of moral evil. This is not a story in which the murderer is arrested, tried and convicted, but its resolution is gratifying. In the past 18 months I have downloaded more than 415 books on my Kindle, and read all but a very few. This is one of the better ones, perhaps when it comes to a political mystery, the very best.

Anyway, Senator is now #22 for political genre fiction on the Kindle store, in between a couple of novels by Vince Flynn–should I know who he is?–and two positions ahead of a volume containing Animal Farm and 1984, with an introduction by Christopher Hitchens.  Yoicks!  The book is also #2515 on the overall Kindle bestseller list.

So that’s pretty good!  On the other hand, my other current ebooks, Summit, Pontiff, and Replica, are still mired in the lower reaches of the Kindle sales list.  Maybe it’s time for my ebook publisher to do something about them.  You can help, of course.  If you’ve read any of them and liked it, please write a review!  It doesn’t have to be as detailed as the one I quoted above.  Reviews on other sites besides Amazon are also welcome.

Books without any reviews just seem sort of lonely.  No one wants to hang with them.  They eat lunch by themselves in the cafeteria.  They go home and watch infomercials on high-number cable channels.  They buy costume jewelry from QVC.

Please consider helping them out.  They will be forever grateful.

New, lower prices on my ebooks

Regular blogging will now resume.  I hope you found other ways to entertain yourself in the past week.

Anyway, I just wanted to point out that my ebooks are on sale at Amazon and Barnes & Noble — and probably at other places as well.  My new publisher’s marketing scheme appears to be to set a list price of $4.99 on Amazon, and then discount from that, so the books look like they are on sale.  Which, I guess, they are.  So buy them while the prices are low.

Senator remains free. It’s been interesting to see how it has fared on the “bestseller” list of free Kindle books.  It peaked somewhere in the 100s on the overall list; now it’s down in the 800s.  For a while it was #1 in the political genre; it has now faded to #6.  It was also in the top ten for a while in the suspense genre; it is now at #24.  As the Underpants Gnomes say: Profit!!

Replica is now available for $0.99.  That’s a pretty good deal!  But has not yet broken into the top 100,000 for Kindle.  Shoot.

Pontiff and Summit are both available for $2.99.  Oddly, Pontiff is much higher on the paid Kindle bestseller list than either Replica or Summit.  I’m guessing that, at the sales level we’re talking about, a few copies can make a pretty big difference in a book’s ranking.

The ebook release of Dover Beach is going to be delayed so we can publish its sequel, whose title may or may not be Locksley Hall, at the same time.  But it shouldn’t be very long.

My goal is to get the ebooks for Forbidden Sanctuary and Marlborough Street out the door by the end of the year.

Then we’ll have a party.

Music and an excerpt from Summit: The Raindrop Prelude

It’s raining in my part of the world, so it seems like a good idea to post a performance of Chopin’s Raindrop Prelude, which plays a small role in Summit.

Since the Raindrop Prelude isn’t especially difficult to play, YouTube is overrun with amateur performances.  Here is a professional one.  I’ve never heard of Valentina Igoshina, but she’s pretty good, although the production here is a bit over the top, from the dress to the camera work to her soulful expressions at the end.  Oddly, the Russian heroine in Summit is also named Valentina, although she is the psychic, not the pianist.

And here’s your special bonus excerpt.  Khorashev plays a minor but interesting role in Summit; here we see him playing the prelude at Carnegie Hall.  Note the grammatical atrocity perpetrated about two-thirds of the way through the excerpt.


Most of the audience in Carnegie Hall knew the recital would end with a slow piece. That was the way Dmitri Khorashev did things. If you really have an audience with you, you can leave them pianissimo, while they strain to hear every note, desperate not to miss the slightest susurration of your genius. The result may not be the wild, mindless cheering elicited by a thundering cascade of octaves, but in its place you get a deeper response, one that will last long after the final bouquet has been thrown and the piano firmly and dramatically shut.

When Khorashev began the Raindrop Prelude for his third encore, then, the hall was hushed. If you didn’t pay attention now, who knew when the old man would play again?

He didn’t look like a legendary pianist. His posture at the keyboard made piano teachers wince—arms stiffly in front of him, hands parallel to the keys and scarcely moving. His eyes were half-closed, and his expression could as easily have been produced by boredom as ecstasy. He looked, in fact, more like a kulak than an artist; one could imagine him swilling vodka and bellowing a bawdy song in some Ukrainian tavern after bringing in the wheat harvest. But people paid to listen, not to look. And it was well worth listening to Dmitri Khorashev.

Audiences do not think as one, of course, even while the legendary Khorashev plays Chopin.

In the third balcony, a Juilliard student strained to penetrate the mystery of the man’s legato. Was it the pedaling? The fingering? It all sounded so easy—until you tried to do it yourself.

In the fifth row of the orchestra, another legendary pianist, who had played the prelude for over half a century, was convinced that Khorashev’s tempo was far too slow, his phrasing syrupy—that Khorashev was, in fact, a show-off, who aimed more to please the masses than to understand the music. This conviction would not, however, prevent the legendary pianist from leaping to his feet at the conclusion of the piece and joining in the ovation. It would not do to appear jealous.

The critic from the Times sat in his aisle seat composing his lead. “Recitals by the emigré pianist Dmitri Khorashev are rare events—far too rare, judging by his stupendous performance in Carnegie Hall yesterday….”

Near the rear of the orchestra, a white-haired man with a deeply lined face sat with his head bent forward and his eyes closed. Was he listening intently to the music, or was he asleep? The people around him were afraid he would start snoring, and that fear was enough to ruin their enjoyment of the piece. He was wearing stained brown pants and an old blue suit coat that was too short for him; his white shirt was dingy and frayed; he grasped a cane in his large left hand. He should have been feeding pigeons in Central Park instead of attending a piano recital, the people around him thought. And if he had to be here, at least he could stay awake.

Two rows behind him, at the very back of the orchestra, a dark-haired man wearing a gray suit stared intently at the sleeping—or listening—old man. If there was music being played, the dark-haired man did not appear to notice it.

And that was the dark-haired man’s loss. The piece was not long, not difficult, but it managed to encompass both serene beauty—the beauty of a soft spring shower, perhaps—and grim menace—the menace of an underwater beast, perhaps, reaching to the surface to destroy the beauty. And at the end it all faded, the incessant pulse of eighth notes slowed and stopped, as if the music no longer had the strength to overcome silence.

In Khorashev’s performance, the silence lengthened as he allowed the visions a chance to disappear into the mist. And then he slowly raised his hands from the keyboard, his eyes opened wide, and the recital was over. Time for the final applause.

It rained down on him from the balconies, it washed up at him from the orchestra. He stood and bowed and beamed, and let the applause soak in. The audience too was standing, unwilling to leave, unwilling to let him leave.

The critic from the Times was first down the aisle. The white-haired man was a close second; he stumbled past the people in his row, then limped through the swinging doors into the lobby.

The dark-haired man was right behind him. His eyes were narrow and alert; he looked like a dog on the scent. He caught up with the old man in the cream- and rust-colored art deco lobby and laid a hand on his arm. The old man stopped, startled, and stared at him. “Excuse me, Mr. Fulton,” the younger man said. “I’d like to talk with you for just a few moments, if you don’t mind.”

The old man shook his head. “Fulton?” he rasped. “You’ve made a mistake. My name isn’t Fulton.”

“Please, Mr. Fulton,” the other man persisted. “You’re a difficult man to get hold of, and this is rather important.”

The old man seemed to become agitated. “Absurd,” he muttered. “Mistaken identity. Fulton, indeed.” He started to walk away.

The dark-haired man then reached out a hand as if to grab him. Instantly the old man’s cane came up and whacked him solidly on the arm. Then the old man rushed out of the lobby into the confusion of Fifty-seventh Street.

The other man pursued him for a moment, but stopped as he saw him dive into a cab and head off past the Russian Tea Room. He noted that the old man’s limp had disappeared in his eagerness to escape, and that seemed to be enough for him. He rubbed his arm where the old man’s cane had hit it, and he smiled.

Music from Summit: Chopin Ballade in G minor

Here is Krystian Zimerman, looking very dashing:

Here from Summit is the Russian psychic Valentina listening to Daniel Fulton play the piece in Moscow; he looks dashing, too.  The first half of the recital hasn’t gone well, but now things are picking up.


Valentina closed her eyes as he played the solemn opening octaves. She knew this piece so well; he had played it last time, and she still remembered. Duty and love, love and duty—the eternal, irresolvable conflict; that was what it spoke of to her. The harsh minor-key opening theme chillingly spoke of her duty—what she had to do to stay alive; but thank God the theme melted away, and in its place—love. Grand, passionate love, sweeping across the keyboard. The duty theme would return, more menacing, more insistent, but it didn’t matter. The love existed; it too would return, and it would triumph.

Wouldn’t it? Oh, she knew it wouldn’t, she knew it was just a dream, but when Daniel Fulton played the piano like this, anything seemed possible. The tension of the first part of the recital was gone, her prayers had been answered, and now there was only the joy that had been missing from her life for three awful years.

When Fulton finished in a wild flurry of octaves, the audience leaped to its feet to cheer him. All except Valentina, who sat in the balcony with tears running down her cheeks, falling like raindrops onto her beautiful red silk dress.


Update: YouTube also has performances of the G-minor Ballade by Horowitz and Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli — surely two of the finalists, along with Gould, for most eccentric pianist of the twentieth century.  (Michelangeli is also a finalist for most poetic name.)  Zimerman is way more showy than either of them, but they are both worth watching.

I played the Ballade when I was in high school.  It’s not impossible, except for the last minute and a half, which I simply didn’t have the technique to pull off.  The third Ballade is much easier.  The fourth is the best of the lot, I think, although not as immediately accessible as the G minor.  It’s also the hardest; I struggled with it for quite a while before giving up.

Music from Summit: Les Adieux

This post reminded me to provide some of the music that gets talked about in Summit.

Here is Claudio Arrau play Beethoven’s Les Adieux sonata.  I saw Arrau at Symphony Hall in Boston, probably when I was writing Summit.  He must have been over 80, and he walked so slowly to the piano from the wings that I though he might not make it.  His tempi were fairly slow as well, as I recall, but I wasn’t bothered by it — it gave you more time to savor the music. YouTube doesn’t give any provenance for this clip, but it must have been hot, because he basically turns into a puddle by the end of the piece.

For an encore, here’s Evgeny Kissin playing Liebestraume No. 3, which the two pianists also talked about in the excerpt.  (I’d find it distracting to have a bouquet sitting on the piano, as Kissin does here.)