Strip Search

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She likes the sudden seconds of sheer terror. The neon dreams fit perfectly with the dreams that wake her up at night: about the man she loved and lost, about the constant temptations in her life, and about the odds that inevitably she’ll be in the right place at the right time to look naked, human madness in the eye.

Welcome to the world of Susan Pulaski, an unconventional and unusually subversive Las Vegas police behaviorist who’s already been canned once and has never been needed more. In the Sin City, someone is ritually murdering handpicked victims, each with dirty secrets in their past. The killer’s gimmick: Not only does he leave behind parts of the victims’ bodies, he also writes obscure mathematical formulas–in their blood. Pulaski doesn’t have a clue what the codes mean. But she knows someone who will.

Darcy O’Bannon is a twenty-six-year-old whose autistic savant skills are perfect for unraveling such mysteries as how many rivets are in the Eiffel Tower and how many Elvis impersonators there will be in the year 2020. As it turns out, innocent Darcy can also think along the arcane lines of Vegas’s most savage serial killer, peering into a numerological mystery that stretches back hundreds of years. 

With her own life one spark away from going off the rails, her department turned against her, and the lives of those she cares most about in jeopardy, Pulaski hunts for dangerous prey in the shadow of the Strip–with herself as the perfect bait. And the closer she gets, the more terrifying and intriguing the case becomes, for the person she’s tracking possesses truly ingenious powers–and a heart full of hate.

The incomparable William Bernhardt brings to life America’s most fascinating city and the people who police it, while he invites the reader to join one woman’s fight to stay sane, stay alive, and keep a killer from making the most shocking score of all.

Dark Eye

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Sometimes her eyes seduce. Sometimes they stare straight at the kind of sights most people turn away from. But in the blazing neon and searing sun of Las Vegas, she can’t see the man who is watching her and thinking to himself: She is the one. . . .

From the mountain views beyond the Strip to the dingy dens of forbidden pleasure, Susan Pulaski loves Las Vegas. A woman who wears a gun at her side and her heart on a sleeve, Pulaski is the perfect fit for her city and her job: unraveling the minds of deviant personalities. Until a killer begins decorating Sin City with the horribly disfigured bodies of once beautiful young women. . . . and Pulaski’s own demons go on a binge.

Eight months after her cop husband’s death, her life is spinning out of control–just as her detective colleagues start searching for a serial killer who methodically stalks his female victims and plunges them into an orgy of terror. When a violent incident earns Pulaski a pink slip from the LVPD and a trip to detox, she’s out of the hunt altogether, so she begins to desperately try to regain her job, her reputation, and custody of the niece she’s been raising on her own. It seems hopeless–until Pulaski meets the one person who can lead her into the mind of a madman no one else can understand. Darcy O’Bannon is a twenty-five-year-old autistic savant whose relationship with the world around him is so unusual that it forces Pulaski to view the crimes from a bizarre–but ultimately insightful–perspective.

White-knuckling her way to the center of the case, she becomes the key player in a desperate hunt for a killer who believes he has found divine inspiration in the works of Edgar Allan Poe. But even with the assistance of Darcy’s astonishing skills, Pulaski is in even more danger than she knows. For the man she seeks is watching her, seduced by her frailties and strengths, her beauty and boldness. To finish his masterwork of horror, he needs her.

In a blistering novel that brings together glitz and goth, human weakness and human genius, and a murderous psychopath who is all too chillingly real, master storyteller William Bernhardt has created an unparalleled literary Las Vegas thrill ride that will leave readers breathless until the final, stunning page.

The Code of Buddyhood

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Bobby Beresford and Mark Szasz, the self-appointed "Knights Templar of the Code of Buddyhood," are undergraduates at the University of Oklahoma in 1979. There couldn't be a more unlikely pair of best friends. Bobby's cautious, social ineptitude and romantic fumblings offset Mark's flamboyant, devil-may-care attitude, his irrepressible pranks, and his prowess with shapely coeds. But the cardinal rule of the Code--"A buddy does not move in on another buddy's girl"--requires Bobby to watch quietly as Mark makes time with Annie, the woman of Bobby's dreams. Mark and Bobby's college exploits include crashing frat parties, arranging elaborate double dates (that, at least for Bobby, go disastrously and hilariously wrong), and shuttling a decomposing corpse across campus. But inevitably, the girl they both love becomes a wedge that divides the buddies not only during their college days, but well into the future...

Final Round

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Travis Byrne, a smart Dallas cop who decided in mid-career to trade his badge for a law degree, has seen a lot of scum in his time -- but no one as low, mean, and vicious as Al Moroconi. Moroconi has been hauled in on the charge of orchestrating a monstrous crime against a young woman. The first defense attorney on the case disappears under highly suspicious circumstances. Now, appointed by a federal judge, Travis is obliged to speak for the defense.
Much as he despises Moroconi, Travis is a professional: he'll do everything he can to get Moroconi off, even in the face of a death threat from the Mob. But just as the trial is getting under way, Moroconi shoots his way out of court custody, steals a car, and vanishes into the Dallas underworld -- taking Travis's reputation with him.
No sooner does Moroconi disappear than Travis becomes ensnared in a web of corruption and betrayal, in which nothing is what it appears to be. The FBI is after Travis for a murder he didn't commit. The Mob wants to kill him for a secret hit list he doesn't have. Running for his life, Travis comes to the horrifying realization that the charge against Moroconi is just a cover for something much bigger and more foul . . . 

Double Jeopardy

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Travis Byrne, a smart Dallas cop who decided in mid-career to trade his badge for a law degree, has seen a lot of scum in his time -- but no one as low, mean, and vicious as Al Moroconi. Moroconi has been hauled in on the charge of orchestrating a monstrous crime against a young woman. The first defense attorney on the case disappears under highly suspicious circumstances. Now, appointed by a federal judge, Travis is obliged to speak for the defense.
Much as he despises Moroconi, Travis is a professional: he'll do everything he can to get Moroconi off, even in the face of a death threat from the Mob. But just as the trial is getting under way, Moroconi shoots his way out of court custody, steals a car, and vanishes into the Dallas underworld -- taking Travis's reputation with him.
No sooner does Moroconi disappear than Travis becomes ensnared in a web of corruption and betrayal, in which nothing is what it appears to be. The FBI is after Travis for a murder he didn't commit. The Mob wants to kill him for a secret hit list he doesn't have. Running for his life, Travis comes to the horrifying realization that the charge against Moroconi is just a cover for something much bigger and more foul . . . 

The Midnight before Christmas

William Bernhardt has won critical acclaim for his bestselling series of legal thrillers featuring Oklahoma-based attorney Ben Kincaid. Now Bernhardt takes a holiday from the courtroom to deliver a suspenseful, pulse-pounding tale of Christmastime crime with all the trimmings. 

'Tis the day before Christmas, and all through the town,
someone evil's at large, spreading mayhem around!

Thirtysomething lawyer Megan McGee is facing a quiet Christmas with her bulldog when Bonnie Thomas, a battered wife, comes looking for legal protection from her violent ex-cop husband, Carl. In a recent bout of rage, Carl vowed to kill their seven-year-old son, Tommy, rather than be separated from the boy. It's no idle threat, either--as Bonnie assures Megan: "He's tried before."

And when Tommy's school unwittingly allows him to leave with his father, Carl gets his chance to try again.

Now, with the town all but shut down for the holiday, Megan races against time--and terror--to keep Carl's Christmas Eve jaunt from turning into a slay ride.

This season, the weather outside isn't the only thing that's frightful. . . .

The Game Master

It’s not whether you live or die, it’s how you play the game.

While in Vegas for the American Poker Grand Slam, BB Thomas—the Game Master—is suddenly arrested by the FBI and taken to a top-secret laboratory. A scientist has been murdered in a bizarre manner, and BB’s daughter has been kidnapped. Reluctantly joining forces with his ex-wife, Linden, BB plunges into a labyrinthine mystery incorporating the world’s oldest and best-known games and taking them to Paris, Dubai, Pyongyang, and Alexandria. Pursued by a relentless FBI agent and an unknown assailant who wants him stopped at any cost, BB races to uncover an insidious plot involving secret societies, ancient cover-ups, and savage vengeance. Someone is playing a deadly game, and the object is the destruction of every government on the face of the earth—no matter how many people die in the process.

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Challengers of the Dust

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In 1935, George Earle returned from college to his Oklahoma birthplace to find it drastically altered. The Dust Bowl and the Depression have transformed the bucolic farmtown into a desolate wasteland where few are healthy, happy, or employed. A chance encounter with Pretty Boy Floyd lands him in jail with a melancholy pulp-literary agent named Hart. They're given one chance to avoid execution by accepting an unlikely task: find local powerbroker Doc Bennett's wayward daughter. They head east meeting migrants, vagabonds, rail-riders, rainmakers, a few destined to become famous, a few too dangerous to live, and the most ghoulish acts of a starved population, while attempting to fulfill their impossible mission. Praise for Challengers of the Dust: "Wow! That was all I could say when I finished devouring William Bernhardt's Challengers of the Dust. Readers beware, hold on tight for this roller-coaster ride that starts and ends in Oklahoma's No Man's Land of the Dust Bowl 1930s. Along the way you will meet con artists, maniacs, daredevils, cannibals, and an array of so many famous and infamous personalities that Forrest Gump's celebrity encounters pale in comparison. Mr. Bernhardt, you have done it again. Don't quit now. More please." -Michael Wallis, Pretty Boy: The Life and Times of Charles Arthur Floyd

The White Bird

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You may be familiar with my novels, but in recent years I've devoted more time to writing poetry, which I enjoy enormously. I've attached links to a few of my published poems. I've also included a link to a lovely literary journal called Conclave: A Journal of Character, which was kind enough to feature some of my poetry in the Autumn 2012 issue.

"One of America's bestselling authors turns his talents in a wonderful new direction with this rich gathering of poems. Armed with a storyteller's sensibility and his trademark humor, Bernhardt writes of 'children, work, the dreams of others' in this beautiful collection filled with longing and loss, irony and humor, the bittersweet complexities of parenting, the secret dreams of writers." – Rilla Askew, book blurb

The Ocean's Edge

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My newest poetry collection explores the complex tapestry of family and the subtle interconnections that bind us to our past and forms the ballast to identity. Popular culture merges with classical allusions, weaving the colorful threads of a fabric composed of moments lived and still to be lived. These poems remind us that we are part of a collective history and that we are never alone.

Blind Justice

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I must admit that, at the time I wrote it, I didn't perceive Primary Justice as the first of a series, but after it started hitting the bestseller lists, the publisher wanted a sequel. This book finds Ben launching his own practice—and Christina is his first client, accused of murder. It also introduces Jones and Loving to the regular cast. Despite the grim plot description, this is possibly the funniest book in the series.