SAM Paperback Cover3

Readers Favorite - 5star-shiny-web



“Deep and full of colorful details, twists & surprises. Great writing! The intrigue of New Orleans & deep psychological drama make Inside Sam Lerner  a must-read. Great Story!” Melinda Hills – Readers Favorite 5 STARS!
“Gwen Banta writes beautifully…The plot is complex enough to keep readers intrigued… Inside Sam Lerner features very compelling characters, and readers will enjoy the protagonist, a character that enables readers to understand the anatomy of grief. It’s an entertaining and engrossing crime fiction novel.” Divine Zape – Readers Favorite 5 STARS!
The story draws on the noir tradition, with its antihero detective … Sam succeeds as an antihero… He has his faults, but readers will root for him to find peace with the world.  Kirkus Reviews


Sam Lerner is a former Los Angeles homicide detective who is running from his life after the death of his wife. He returns to his native New Orleans and stays at the Gentlemen’s Club, an escort establishment owned by the intriguing Maire Girod, a longtime friend. There he befriends Madsen Cassaise, a young Creole who cares for him as he struggles to overcome his grief and a growing dependence upon alcohol.

     Several days later his college friend, New Orleans police Captain Leon Duval, confides in Sam about a drowning victim. Sam is astounded to hear that the victim was Madsen, last seen the night she was with Sam.

     Soon more escorts disappear. When Sam stumbles upon information regarding false death certificates, he is drawn into the investigation. Moving through the bayous, cemeteries, levees, and colorful bistros of the Vieux Carre, he uncovers a far-reaching–and shocking–crime operation. He must question old relationships and risk his own life to stop the killers. In the Big Easy, a place as mysterious as the case itself, this former detective discovers what is truly Inside Sam Lerner.


GWEN 2017

Well I just received my first paycheck for my novel, The Fly Strip. I can’t think of many things better than getting paid for doing something I love.

The book tour has been exhausting, but very fulfilling. It has been such a pleasure to meet new readers and fans. And what does any author enjoy more than discussing literature? Please join me when I visit your town. I love making new friends!  -Gwen Banta, The Fly Strip                NOW ON AMAZON!

The Blues Brothers

(Yesterday an Actress, Today an Author)

Blues Brothers with John Belushi

Thirty-six years ago today I was at a party celebrating the release of the film, The Blues Brothers, in which I had a memorable scene with John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd . Those were great times – and great memories. Rest in peace, John. Thank you for the laughter, Danny. Hello to the Blues Brothers Band members – your secrets are safe with me!

The Fly Strip Blog

Hello Friends,

I am very excited about the upcoming release of my new novel, The Fly Strip, which will be in book stores in September. My publisher, Waldorf Publishing, has submitted my book for pre-release reviews, and I am grateful and honored for the kind reviews that are coming in.

I would like to take this opportunity to share the latest review from D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review:

“The Fly Strip opens with a letter written by the angst-laden Weed Clapper, a teen who is on a bus, moving to Indiana to live with an unfamiliar relative. One might anticipate from this that the story will revolve around his struggles with family; but set as it is in the turbulent 60s, when racial issues are turning into hotbeds of contention across the country, it’s only logical that Weed’s coming of age introduction to adult society will involve more than family strife.

One of the first notable features of The Fly Strip is Weed’s wry sense of humor, which captures images of his world with the precision and finely honed finesse of a sharp pair of scissors, snipping out facets of the world he observes with a delightful critical perspective: “I’m looking out the window at nothing but miles of flat land. These may be America’s fruited plains, but there isn’t a fruit in sight. It’s the saddest expanse of nothingness I’ve ever seen. Even the cows look bored. Midwest farmers should definitely be on alert for a bovine suicide pact.”

Under Gwen Banta’s hand, protagonists come alive (“I’ll be paying, and I’ll have a vanilla Coke,” I replied…but not too friendly myself. (Honestly, I’m a really nice guy in spite of how this sounds, but my nerves are a bit on edge these days.) “Hmmm, all the other kids order cherry Cokes,” Snarls sniffed, like he was the Betty Crocker of fountain drinks.”), and the vivid method Weed uses to describe his world is what succeeds in bringing it to life with more than a wry sense of snarky observation.

Carry this nicely-posited sense further than scenery and everyday characters and use it to inspect civil rights issues and social change and it’s evident that something special is being finely tuned in The Fly Strip. Think Catcher in the Rye, but with a greater focus on social events. Think To Kill a Mockingbird, but with the mature eye of a seventeen-year-old who still finds his world confusing, but who is able to remark on it with jaded (yet pointed) precision.

As readers pursue The Fly Strip, one thing becomes evident: this is an extraordinary coming-of-age story …

The humor may not always be for everyone: many times black humor is embedded in the story (“Robert is from Long Island, and he’s a lot of fun. He told us that although New Yorkers have the reputation of being a bunch of unfriendly grouches, they’re really very social and always show up in large numbers when there’s a group shoot-out. That killed us.”), but the delightful injection of unexpected moments and the feelings of a soon-to-turn-eighteen boy who just wants to escape the madness growing around him makes for a delightfully personal and engrossing read.

As Weed searches for meaning, love, God, and stands at the pinnacle of success posed on the thin edge of disaster, so readers come to not just understand his world and his life, but to embrace them.

Fans of coming-of-age sagas who look for gritty, realistic reads and, most especially, characters who are determined and believable, will find The Fly Strip a powerful selection, especially recommended for adults of all ages who want a more socially revealing contrast to the classic Catcher in the Rye.”