Friday, January 29, 2016

The Runner and the Robber by Robert Sells (excerpt, review and GIVEAWAY) GFT

by Robert Sells


GENRE: Young Adult



His father is dead. Grandfather has Alzheimer’s. Mom can just pay the bills. And, Bill Taylor can’t run track and cross-country anymore. Could it get any worse? How about being threatened by an ex-con, fighting with a football player twice his size, and being involved with two murders?
One day, running back home from school Bill was nearly run over and accosted by a strange man. “Tell the old man he damn well better give up some of that the money. I want my cut and I’m coming to get it.”

Thus begins a search for three million dollars missing from a Brinks’ robbery twenty years in the past. Billy makes friends with Sarah Seeley, a classmate as impetuous as she was attractive. Sarah and Bill put the pieces of the puzzle together relying on a few clues and the fragmented memory of the addled brain of Gramps. Billy’s life gets even more complicated after encounters with the mafia who also have an interest in the money. Then there’s this problem with a serial killer. Billy is faced with one paramount question: will he and Sarah be the next victims?



I rose late Sunday morning, feeling sorry for myself.

Granddad was getting up and I angrily swung out of bed. Had to help with Gramps so I got him and myself ready for another dull day. Mom beamed brighter than the sunlight streaming in through the window.

“Hi, honey, how was your night?”

Annoyed that she seemed insensitive to my foul mood, I snapped at her.

“Oh, great Mom. Let’s see, I cleaned up Gramps ‘cause he can’t do it himself anymore. Then I laid on my bed since there’s nothing else to do. Oh, I did listen to the game on the radio and Rick Henson, Sarah’s boyfriend, you know the one I’m so much better than, well he scored three touchdowns. Good for him. Good for Sarah since she cheered each one. Great night,
just great.”

She was silent as she put blueberry pancakes in front me, real blueberries, and I realized I was a certified jerk. Gramps wasn’t the reason I was upset and the rest of what I said was just cheap shots. I was upset because I am such an incompetent dweeb when it comes to girls. I pushed the pancake around the plate.

“I’m sorry, Mom.”

She put her hand on my shoulder. “I know taking care of Gramps isn’t easy. But, we do what we have to do.”

“It’s not Gramps. It’s other things.”

“Like what?” she asked waving the red cape. I exploded again.

“Like I want to go back to Florida, Mom. I don’t like it here. I don’t fit in.”

Mom went back to the sink, her back to me, busying herself with the dishes. Her body was as rigid as two inch thick piece of oak plank. Her words, however, came out soft and understanding.

“I know it was unfair to you, Billy. But, we had to do it.”

Before I could dig my hole any deeper, Gramps shuffled into the kitchen. “Pancakes, Abby? Pancakes. Yum.”

He sat down smiling at me. He was a pain, but when he was in a good mood… well, you just felt better somehow. “I’ll get some for you, Gramps.”

I got a plate for him. Mom stayed at the sink, her shoulders slumping down, chin to her chest over the sink. She was taking a long time to clean the sink. I stepped behind her.

“Mom, I’m sorry. Again.”

She said nothing, but she wiped her nose with her sleeve. Great. Suspended, no girlfriend, no friends at all (I refused to count Jerry as a friend when I was in this mood), and I’ve succeeded in making my mother cry. Another banner day for William Taylor.

When Mom finally finished scrubbing the sink, she saw my full plate, and ordered me to eat my pancakes. With granddad slopping pancakes into his mouth and Mom bossing me around what passed for normalcy returned to the cabin.

After she cleared the plates off the table, she studied me. I looked away, momentarily closing my eyes. A lecture was coming.

“Billy, you’ve got to give this town a chance. Part of the problem is you. If you don’t make an effort to get out with your friends, you don’t have a chance here because you don’t give yourself a chance. In fact, Sarah is the only the friend you’ve ever invited to the house. I’m home all day, so why don’t you call up somebody else and do something with them.” 

I bit my tongue hard, stood up and looked at frost on the ground, just now glistening as it melted. I didn’t want to tell Mom I had no friends. This early morning brush fire would turn into a raging forest fire if I told her the truth. So, I simply pushed the problem to later.

“Maybe you’re right, Mom. I think I’ll first just go for a run this morning. Then I’ll try to catch up with someone. Gotta catch up on some school work too.”

Mom tilted her head and scrutinized me with narrowed eyes. That I capitulated so quickly made her suspicious. She knows me too well. Her mouth opened to say something when a knock at the door diverted her attention. 

The Ebook can be purchased for $0.99 during the tour.



AUTHOR Bio and Links:

I attended college at Ohio Wesleyan where I struggled with physics. Having made so many mistakes in college with physics, there weren’t too many left to make and I did quite well at graduate school at Purdue.   
I worked for nearly twenty years at Choate Rosemary Hall, an exclusive boarding school in the heart of Connecticut. More often than not, students arrived in limousines. There was a wooded area by the upper athletic fields where I would take my children for a walk. There, under a large oak tree, stories about the elves would be weaved into the surrounding forest.
Returning to my home town to help with a father struggling with Alzheimer’s, the only job open was at a prison. There I taught an entirely different clientele whose only interaction with limousines was stealing them. A year later Alfred State College hired me to teach physics. I happily taught there for over ten years.
My wife’s boss, the superintendent of a rural school in western New York, begged me to teach physics and earth science. Helping young high school students was particularly appealing to me at this point in my career and the salary was more than reasonable, so I find myself happily teaching at Mt Morris Central School.
Five years ago, my wife pestered me about putting to “pen” some of the stories which I had created for the children and other relatives. I started thinking about a young boy and a white deer, connected, yet apart. Ideas were shuffled together, characters created and the result was the Return of the White Deer. This book was published by the Martin Sisters.
Years ago I gave a lecture on evolution. What, I wondered, would be the next step? Right away I realized that silicon ‘life’ had considerable advantages over mortal man. Later this idea emerged as the exciting and disturbing story called Reap the Whirlwind.
Two years ago I stumbled upon an old article in the local paper about a Brinks’ robbery in 1992.  Apparently over ten million dollars were stolen and most of it was never recovered. Although the mafia was peripherally involved in the heist, it was unlikely they took the missing millions. This was the seed which has now grown into the young adult novel, The Runner and the Robber. 
I have many other stories inside my mind, fermenting… waiting patiently for the pen. Perhaps someday I will even write about those elves which still inhabit the woods in the heart of Connecticut.



a Rafflecopter giveaway

The tour dates can be found here


My review:

4 out of 5 stars

The Runner and the Robber by Robert Sells is a young adult story that centers around William (Bill) Taylor, who has moved with his widowed mom to New York so they can take care of his paternal grandfather, who has Alzheimer’s. A high school junior, Bill has not really made any friends except for an eighth-grader, so he is startled when his chemistry partner, Sarah, gradually starts insinuating herself into his life. A mystery involving a decades-old crime seems to snowball and Bill finds himself driven to solve it, not least due to Sarah’s interest. Unfortunately, there are others interested in the case, and the danger escalates until it becomes apparent that Bill has more friends than he realizes—and he’s going to need help from almost all of them!

There are quite a few themes addressed in this young adult mystery story, including the trauma of dealing with a parental death, the challenges presented by the costs of extensive medical care, the difficulties and sacrifices inherent in caring for an Alzheimer’s sufferer, teen angst and new love, and, oh yes, the dangers of trying to solve a crime that involves REALLY dangerous folks! 

The story starts a little slowly and gradually gets more and more outrageous, but I think that adds to its charm.  Watching the blossoming of young love mixed with the challenges of being the new kid at school is heartwarming, as is the obvious love that accompanies the sacrifices to care for Bill’s grandfather.  Bill is a guy with hidden talents, as becomes apparent while the story unfolds and I love his humility and tenacity.  The surprising connections to unsavory individuals and the unexpected ethical challenges that are faced provide a thought-provoking story while the mounting tension and exciting situations that lead up to the climax keep one enthralled until the final feel-good ending.  Unfortunately, there were some editing issues which got a little distracting at times, but the overall story was entertaining and positive.

A copy of this story was provided to me for review


  1. What character in a book would you like to sucker punch in the face?

    1. Interesting question, Mai. The only one would be Kenny Songor. Read the book and find out why.

  2. Replies
    1. My thanks as well. If there is anything I can do to help, please let me know.

  3. Great review and I really enjoyed the excerpt.

    1. Billy is a conflicted kid. He loves his granddad, but he hates the situation his grandfather has put him in. He wants to fit into his new school, but he has no friends. It takes a number of difficulties with a new girlfriend to help him appreciate his grandfather and finally start to enjoy his new home. Fun read. Great mystery.

  4. Nice Excerpt!
    Thanks for the giveaway!

    1. Give the rest of the book a read. As Sarah so often insists, it's a fun treasure hunt. Good luck with the Giveaway.

  5. Replies
    1. You're welcome. Hope you enjoy the rest of the book.

  6. I enjoyed the review and the excerpt, thank you for sharing!

  7. I really enjoyed this excerpt. Thank you.

    1. Glad you did. The rest of the book is of the same quality. Enjoy.

  8. I really like the "treasure hunt" element.

    1. Ahh... then you will love Sarah. She so wants a real treasure hunt! So much, in fact, she ends up getting she and Billy in dangerous situations.