The best fiction goes beyond entertainment to make a statement or observation about society. A. J. Davidson does both jobs well in his latest novel, JOB’S COMFORT.
The book opens with Deputy Val Bosanquet returning from Guatemala planning to resign from the East Feliciana Sheriff’s Department. Before he can, he is drawn into two investigations that he can’t refuse. Pursuit of the hit-and-run killer of a thirteen-year-old girl, and help a friend framed for murder.
Bosanquet, a decorated former New Orleans homicide cop, has been a wayward and troubled detective for most of his career. After the loss of his unborn child he was eventually lured back to law enforcement as an East Feliciana deputy sheriff, where he puts his detective skills to good use.
“He prefers to work alone to protect those close to him,” Davidson says, “fearing a repeat of the earlier tragedy. Unlike the majority of his peers, Val does not view criminality in terms of black and white, appreciating that everyone is capable of acting out of character if sufficiently incited.”
Bosanquet does not see himself as a hero. Rather, he suspects he has more in common with the criminals he pursues.
To avoid the serial-killer-of-the-month syndrome, Davidson has made the interesting decision to have Bosanquet investigate a different crime in each book. Not that there’s anything wrong with serial killer books.
“Val does get involved in a serial killer investigation—Death Sentence—though it starts when he finds a young woman abducted ten years earlier,” Davidson says.
Davidson’s work is heavily influenced by his youth in a strife-torn area of Ireland—South Armagh—during that ugly period the Irish refer to as The Troubles.
“Murder, kidnap, and torture were everyday occurrences during my adolescent years and writing crime fiction has been cathartic for me. It was this unusual background that earned me my first commission from Macmillan and proved to me that truth will always be much stranger than fiction.”
How close was that violence? A neighbor and schoolmate of his known as The Border Fox killed thirty-two people, some in very strange circumstances. Although writing about the crimes was fascinating, Davidson says, he “found the long-lasting and widespread aftermath of each act of violence to be much more intriguing. These often untold stories prove that crime really does not occur in a vacuum.”
Aside from the mystery, JOB’S COMFORT carries a message about the American prison system. As Bosanquet’s mysteries are predominantly set in Louisiana, Davidson says he would be remiss not to comment on the state’s record imprisonment numbers, which he says is by far the highest in the country.
“The prison system is now one of the largest businesses in the US,” Davidson says, “and people my side of the pond often compare and contrast it to the European models. There has been enormous growth in prison-for-profit and the debate is still relevant with regard to its pros and cons. President Obama signaled a wind down but will that be rescinded by President Trump?”
And he wonders how America would have dealt with his serial killer school pal who is now a free man and worships in a church where Davidson’s cousin is pastor—a church he once shot up, killing three of the worshippers.
Davidson brings a unique perspective to his writing in part because he has moved around a fair bit and spent considerable time in a number of countries.
“My time in Louisiana was of particular interest to me,” he says, “as the state reminded me of border country in Ireland. Louisiana has been poorly served by its elected representatives and often sold out to big business—and like border country, it’s a place where language and cultures clash and incomes are low. No doubt some readers take umbrage at my reflections on Louisiana society, but like Ireland, an outside view often sees more than the locals.”
Davidson says there are parts of South Armagh that are still beyond the rule of law, and he found areas of Louisiana rife with similar anti-government sentiment. Illegal stills and smuggling are just two of examples of resistance he cites.
In the future, we’ll see Bosanquet tackle political issues head-on as he becomes the sheriff of East Feliciana Parish. But to prepare for that you’ll want to be sure to read the newest adventures of this maverick investigator in JOB’S COMFORT.
AJ Davidson is a traditionally published author and playwright, who, in Spring 2010, made the switch to Indie. He is keen to explore the potential of a rapidly changing publishing world, and is enjoying the closer contact with his readers that e-books afford.
AJ has a degree in Social Anthropology. Married for 32 years, he has two children, a Harrier hound, and a cat called Dusty.
Not one for staying long in the same place, AJ has lived in many countries across several continents. He has worked as a pea washer, crane-driver, restaurateur and scriptwriter.
A member of the ITW. Represented by the Jonathan Williams Literary Agency.
To learn more about AJ, please visit his website.
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