A former superintendent with Thames Valley Police, David Hodges is an accomplished crime thriller writer, with five novels and an autobiography published. His debut novel, FLASHPOINT, won critical media acclaim and was followed by a second novel, BURNOUT. His last three novels, SLICE, FIRETRAP and now REQUIEM are all published by Robert Hale. This month he chats with The Big Thrill about REQUIEM and why his character’s motivations are the most terrifying part of his stories.
Why did you choose your title REQUIEM?
Several reasons actually. In the first place, the psychotic killer involved in the story was originally a funeral director, so REQUIEM seemed appropriate. Secondly, and more importantly, this novel is a sequel to the one before, entitled FIRETRAP, and as this is the concluding part, with the killer returning in an attempt to murder the woman police officer who thwarted his plans in FIRETRAP, REQUIEM seemed appropriate here also.
What is the story behind the cover for the book? Where do those stairs lead?
The cover of the book depicts the monument which stands on top of Glastonbury Tor. Glastonbury is an integral part of the Somerset Levels where the story is set and the book cover is intended to symbolise, not only the area, but the chilling mystery of the place. The steps themselves climb the hill towards the Tor.
Why is Kate Hamblin such an inspiration to write about? Why do readers relate to her?
I wanted a woman police heroine instead of the usual male hero. But I wanted someone who was ordinary and, in some ways, flawed, as we all are. So Kate is, hopefully, a young woman –quite vulnerable in some ways – who female readers should be able to identify with. I also wanted to create a character without the usual sexist hang-ups – yes, a woman who is very attractive, but also one who is equal to and, in many cases better than, her male colleagues. BUT, and a very big BUT, not the sort of feminist icon with butch tendencies who can trounce any man etc etc, as we see so often in fiction, where women tend to be patronised. I am not making a statement with Kate; she is just a very good determined police officer and whether she is a man or woman is irrelevant. I think readers will relate to her for the reasons I have given.
How can you write stories about such a psychotic person like Twister and sleep at night? Does Twister haunt you?
I am someone who never sleeps well at night, but not because I hear strange noises or fear someone, like Twister, targeting me, but because my brain seems to be more acute in the small hours and ideas come to me so fast that it is difficult to remember them when I wake up in the morning. I think my sleeplessness stems from my time on shift as a police officer; you never entirely recover from shift-work, especially night turn.
As to the character of Twister, I have a vivid imagination and thirty years experience in the police force dealing with criminals, some of who have been on a par with Twister. He doesn’t haunt my dreams, but he is very real to me. I see him as a real person and one to be very frightened of. Like most psychopaths, he is a man just like any other on the surface – not some bulging eyed maniac – and you could be sitting next to him on a bus or train and not know it. In FIRETRAP I show him viciously assaulting someone to extract information and then tenderly wiping away the blood from their broken nose afterwards. He is a contradiction in terms – a person who is cold and has no empathy with anyone, yet observes the niceties and does things in a clinical practical way (ie. I have broken your nose, but the blood must be causing you some discomfort, so I will wipe it away for you) In short, he is the sort of man who would torture a person out of objective interest and enjoy the buzz. Not a man to take tea with!!!
I know you can’t give the book away, but how sick does Twister get in REQUIEM
Depends what you mean by ‘sick’??? The suggestion throughout is that he is not sexually competent in the normal sense of the word, but finds the act of murder very arousing. In REQUIEM, in particular, he comes very close to sexual arousal at the thought of what he is going to do to Kate, but that is all. The end he has in store for her is sick, but not in a sexual sense. I don’t deal in perversion or gratuitous violence in my novels. Yes, there IS violent death and I try to make the method of despatch in each book different, but this is a means to an end and I don’t dwell on things. Twister is a dangerous psychotic character, driven by homicidal desires – an inadequate sociopath, who is not only very cunning, but totally amoral and without conscience. For me, it is the character of the man rather than what he actually does that is the most terrifying aspect of the story.
When writing your thrillers what is the one objective you hope to achieve in every book and why?
Thrillers are first and foremost about entertainment. People like to be frightened by things that they know are only fictional – ghost stories are a classic example. So my primary objective is to entertain; to frighten my readers, to make them sit upright in bed if they hear a door creak or a tin can roll across the patio. But to entertain, it is essential that you hold the reader’s interest, so making the book a good page-turner is equally vital. I read novels sometimes so heavy with procedure and explanations that I begin to wonder whether the author is more interested in trying to impress the reader with his knowledge about a particular subject than giving them a good read. I am very keen to ensure that the background to my books is accurate, even though the plots are entirely fictitious. Having been a serving police officer, obviously it is very important to me that the police procedure at crime scenes etc is portrayed as accurately as possible and I get very annoyed when I read crime books or see crime films on television where the author has not done his or her homework properly.
But having said that, I try not to get too involved in procedure or it spoils the impact of the story, so though it is there, I tend to gloss over it and concentrate on the action, at times also adopting some degree of poetic licence if it is appropriate. When I pick up a crime book to read, I want to be led on a fast moving journey, where I reach the end of a chapter and just have to read on because I want to know what happens next. If I have to turn back to check some fact or a particular character or end up looking to see how many pages I have yet to read to the end of the chapter, the author has lost it for me and I try very hard to ensure my novels don’t fall into this trap.
Somerset is a huge inspiration for your novels. Why do you hold so much value to setting?
My last two novels have been set on the Somerset Levels and for a number of reasons. Most obviously it is because I live here myself, so research is made easier and an authentic background can be created through local knowledge. Secondly, I believe that readers like to read stories set in real places, particularly places in which they live or work. You have only to look at Colin Dexter with his Oxford based Inspector Morse series, Ian Rankin who sets his novels in Edinburgh and Peter James who favours a Brighton patch, to see how popular this strategy is. But, most important of all, the Somerset Levels, with its wild open countryside, dense mists swirling across marshes criss-crossed by a latticework of rhynes (or man-made drains); its haunting – almost primeval – atmosphere and its association with witchcraft and Mediaeval history, is an ideal place for murder, mystery and suspense. In such a beautiful evocative part of Somerset, what writer could not but be inspired?
What is (Twister’s) fascination with Kate?
It is two years since Twister disappeared after blasting two police detectives to death with an incendiary device and embarking on a murderous rampage across the Somerset Levels (FIRETRAP) But now, in REQUIEM, he returns to take his revenge on Kate, who is the one person who escaped his clutches all that time ago. In his cold calculating mind, he sees her as unfinished business, which hurts his pride, and he has devised a particularly unpleasant, but spectacular end for her. Yet he is in no hurry to make his move – he wants some fun first. And Twister’s idea of fun is the last thing Kate or anyone else would want.
Since you were a former police superintendent and now you write crime fiction with cops as main characters, would you ever consider writing anything else and why?
I have always liked good old-fashioned mystery – screams in the night, fog, sinister shadows in the moonlight! I grew up on this sort of story with Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu, the tales of Sapper’s Bulldog Drummond and Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. But my real love has always been Victorian gothic style thrillers and I have been an avid follower particularly of Sherlock Holmes stories for as long as I can remember. When I started writing at the age of 11, it was heavily influenced by the gothic style and when I got to my teens, I concentrated on this genre for several years before joining the police, but got nowhere. I created a particular character who still lives in my head and sometimes I think he is a real person and I hope one day to bring him into the light. Thirty years in the police put a stop to my writing ambitions due to the nature of the work, but when I retired I started writing again, producing a series of thrillers which were published one after the other. These were all modern style police thrillers because it was easier to write what I knew about. However, I would dearly love to complete the gothic Victorian mystery that is now two-thirds written and one day I hope I will realize my ambition in this respect. At present though, I am having too much fun and success writing modern thrillers, so long may it continue.
When your family read your stories do they ask if any of it had ever happened to you? If so, would you share an instance in which a scene or story was true to life?
My family have never asked this question, funnily enough. My wife, Elizabeth, doesn’t read this sort of crime fiction and my two children simply read my novels and comment on what they think of them. However, readers often ask me this question and I can only say what I tell them: all my stories are entirely fictitious and I would not refer to an incident I dealt with in reality in the police. Nevertheless, it is true to say that bits of different incidents have helped me to formulate accurate background material for my plots (eg. crime scene forensic work etc), but nothing specific comes to mind. Having said that, my characters – both police and non-police – are sometimes composites of different people I knew. People watching is a vital requirement for all writers and when I create a character, it has to seem real to me in my mind, so it is inevitable that I sometimes think of someone I knew and the characteristics he or she exhibited. But again, I would never create a fictional character from a recognizable real person; it would not be appropriate.
Where can your books be obtained and do you have another novel in the pipeline?
All my books are currently available on Amazon or can be purchased through any of the usual commercial outlets. The latest crime novels, SLICE, FIRETRAP and REQUIEM can also be obtained via the website of the publisher, Robert Hale Ltd, with REQUIEM due out in October this year.
SLICE, FIRETRAP, and my autobiography on my thirty year career as a police officer, REFLECTIONS IN BLUE, are also now available on Kindle.
I have nearly completed my fifth novel, BLAST, which will be offered to my publisher at the end of this year, hopefully for publication in 2013. BLAST is another crime thriller, set this time in London and the south-west of England, in Cornwall.
Former superintendent with Thames Valley Police, David Hodges is an accomplished crime thriller writer, with five novels so far published, plus an autobiography. His debut novel, FLASHPOINT, won critical media acclaim and was followed by a second novel, BURNOUT. His last three novels, SLICE, FIRETRAP and now REQUIEM are all published by Robert Hale. He is a family man, with two daughters and four grandchildren, and lives on the edge of the Somerset Levels with his wife, Elizabeth, where he can fully indulge his passion for crime writing.
By Josie Brown
Most protagonists have to deal with one murderous sicko. In THE PROPHET, Ethan Cross’s second novel in his Shepherd series, not only does Special Agent Marcus Williams deal with Francis Ackerman, a serial killer who lives to be his nemesis, he must also stop a new killer, the Anarchist, before he drugs and kidnaps another female victim, then burns her alive at the behest of “the Prophet,” a mysterious figure who wields control over a twisted brotherhood.
Mindboggling? You betcha. Rest assured there is a method to the madness of Cross’s finely woven plot, which began with a book-length outline…
How did the plot concept for THE PROPHET come to you?
Well, I was visited by three ghosts and…sorry, that’s a different story. With THE PROPHET, I wanted to touch on the world of doomsday cults and the abuse of power wielded by the charismatic leaders of such groups but also on the impact of abuse and how the sins of the parents affect their children. Throw in some gun fights and explosions, and you’ve got yourself a story!
The body has been mysteriously mutilated.
No clues, no witnesses, no apparent reason.
When a second murdered boy is found two days later in the same condition, Homicide Detectives Samson, Vota and Murphy of Brooklyn’s 61st Precinct fear that the two boys were victims of the same killer.
The novel tracks the day to day work and private lives of the detectives and the methodical hunt for the killer.
A killer who believes he is following a mandate from God and is handing out Old Testament retribution to those he identifies as responsible for his torment.
The novel comes to a furious and dramatic conclusion as all of these lives intersect and collide on the turbulent streets of Gravesend.
J.L. Abramo’s GRAVESEND raises the bar for gritty police procedurals in this fast paced thriller. The action never stops as Brooklyn Detective Lieutenant Samson juggles mob wars, murders and mayhem during a search for a biblically obsessed killer. ~Bill Moody, Author of CZECHMATE: THE SPY WHO PLAYED JAZZ
J. L. Abramo was born in Brooklyn on Raymond Chandler’s fifty-ninth birthday. Abramo earned a BA in Sociology at the City College of New York and a Masters in Social Psychology at the University of Cincinnati.
Abramo is the author of “Catching Water in a Net” (2001), winner of the St. Martin’s Press/Private Eye Writers of America prize for Best First Private Eye Novel; and the subsequent Jake Diamond mysteries CLUTCHING AT STRAWS and COUNTING TO INFINITY.
To learn more about J. L. Abramo, please visit his website.
By Josie Brown
If the news that a Rizzoli and Isles book is about to hit the shelves gets your heart racing, go grab the smelling salts. In LAST TO DIE, Tess Gerritsen’s latest addition to her celebrated crime series, Detective Jane Rizzoli and Medical Examiner Maura Isles must find out what links the fates of three children who live in different cities but have something very sad and sinister in common: they are the sole survivors of family massacres — and the killer has come looking for them again.
This kind of plot premise is why 25 million copies of Gerritsen’s books — which PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY describes as “pulse-pounding” — have been sold around the world, and translated into 37 languages.
Then again, maybe the fact that she plays a mean fiddle is the real reason for her success.
By George Ebey
Author and educator Kathleen George is no stranger to crime fiction. Her series featuring the exploits of a team of Pittsburgh-based police detectives began with 2002’s TAKEN and continued with the highly-praised follow-ups FALLEN, AFTERIMAGE, THE ODDS, and HIDEOUT. Now Kathleen is back with her most recent installment, SIMPLE.
This time out, Detective Richard Christie senses something is wrong when Cal, a young man, confesses to the murder of Cassie Price, a gorgeous young law student. Cal was smitten with her, but so was everyone else who came in contact with her. Christie and his squad have to investigate the law office where Cassie worked–and that means the delicate matter of investigating the dashing man who is running for governor.
In a throwback to the era of Mike Hammer and Shell Scott, Denver private investigator Bryson Wilde lives in an edgy 1950s world where the women are dangerous, cigarettes dangle from ruby-red lips and the nights are hotter than whiskey-soaked jazz.
So when a curvy young blonde who thinks she may be the target of a killer walks in one morning and asks for his help, he’s not the kind to say no just because things might get a little dicey.
What he foresees is a dangerous but straightforward hunt. What he doesn’t foresee is that he will be swept into a deadly vortex of unimaginable scope where nothing is as it seems and time is running out.
By George Ebey
If you haven’t met Stella Hardesty yet, now is the perfect time. Stella is the tough and tenacious subject of a stunning new series of crime mysteries by author Sophie Littlefield.
And book four, A BAD DAY FOR MERCY, just may prove to be her toughest case yet.
This time out, a call from Stella’s little sister brings the news that Stella’s step-nephew, Chip, has been threatened with serious bodily harm if he doesn’t settle his unpaid gambling debts. So Stella makes the drive to Chip’s home in Wisconsin, only to walk in on a wee-hours dismemberment. Chip and his girlfriend, Natalya, insist the man was left, already dead, on their porch. Suspicious but compelled to help family, Stella tracks down other suspects, including the deceased’s business partner, a purveyor of black-market Botox, and a jilted violist. Matters are complicated by the unexpected arrival of BJ Broderson, who has picked the worst possible time to pursue his amorous intentions toward Stella. Meanwhile, thoughts of Sheriff “Goat” Jones make her blush and wonder where, and with whom, Stella will spend her fifty-first birthday.
Street-tough Nola Céspedes, an ambitious young reporter at the Times-Picayune, gets assigned to a story about the hundreds of sex offenders who went off the grid during the Hurricane Katrina evacuation. At the same time, a tourist who looks eerily like Nola is abducted from the French Quarter. As Nola’s work leads her into a violent criminal underworld, she’s forced to face disturbing truths from her own past and is confronted with the question: In the aftermath of devastation, who is responsible for rebuilding what’s been broken?
By Julie Kramer
New York Times bestselling author Linda Fairstein is back with NIGHT WATCH, her fourteenth thriller starring sex crimes prosecutor Alexandra Cooper. Fairstein has certainly lived her research, spending a career as a New York prosecutor before becoming a crime novelist. She remains a leading legal expert on sex crimes and domestic violence.
Her latest tale of suspense features a wealthy financier charged with attacking a hotel maid – a ripped from the headlines premise. As an added treat, readers get an inside look at the ruthless business of gourmet dining. Booklist gave NIGHT WATCH a starred review, calling it “a real winner from a legal thriller master.”
Here in THE BIG THRILL, Fairstein discusses the difficulty of finishing NIGHT WATCH after the death of her husband, what scares her most about changes in the publishing industry, and her take on the 50 SHADES OF GREY phenomenon.
RANSOM RIVER is an atmospheric thriller about a complex and flawed heroine, a murder trial, and the long-unsolved mystery it exposes. Rory Mackenzie is a juror on a high-profile murder case in her hometown of Ransom River, California. It’s a place she vowed never to visit again, and her return dredges up troubling memories from the childhood she spent as an outsider. But in the wake of a desperate attack on the courthouse, Rory realizes that exposing these dark skeletons has connected her to an old case that was never solved, and bringing the truth to light just might destroy her.
Annie Hauxwell was born in Hackney and immigrated with her family to Australia when she was a teenager. She abandoned the area of medical negligence law in England and security and investigation law for a telecommunication company in Australia to work as an investigator, and now combines this with writing. She lives in Castlemaine, a small country town in Victoria, and travels to London frequently. She is published by Penguin Australia and in the UK by Random House.
So I’m thinking of robbing my next door neighbor’s house. He’s a cop.
By his own admission he’s a terrible shot. And he’s a jolly cop, with a little paunch and a beaming sweet-guy smile. He’s Officer Norman Rockwell who gets cats out of trees. Not an intimidating fucker with a cop mustache and ashen eyes who you know just loves to beat the shit out of cuffed prisoners with telephone books. Combined yellow and white pages, not just those little DEX directories.
He reads comic books, like me. Still subscribes to them even though I can’t afford to anymore. I’m envious. I burn with jealousy and greed. He smiles and talks about series titles I can no longer follow. The Avengers, X-Men, Daredevil, Batman. It makes me nostalgic. It makes me think of a time when my father used to read to me. It drives me bugshit. A lot of things do these days.
But there’s no rest for Charlie, a decent but damaged man still troubled by his wartimes experiences, when a just widowed friend of his wife asks a favour and he’s dropped into something a hell of a lot bigger than he bargained for.
A local funeral parlour has been burying bodies with parts missing and when a Hungarian émigré hearse driver points Berlin in the right direction for some answers it quickly becomes obvious anyone asking the wrong questions is in real danger.
By Dawn Ius
A DARK AND BROKEN HEART, like Shakespeare on meth, makes BAD LIEUTENANT look like a kindergarten teacher. You have been warned.
Like each of R.J. Ellory’s books, A DARK AND BROKEN HEART is not part of a series. It’s a stand-alone, where a new environment, a new atmosphere, and new cast of characters must differ from each of his previous nine novels.
Yet, strangely, Ellory admits his newest release is kind of an inadvertent sequel to one of his most popular titles, SAINTS OF NEW YORK.
“SAINTS was a book about a man who appeared to be a disaster. His life was a horror, a real car crash, and yet beneath all of this he was a decent, good-hearted man, just trying to do the best that he could in a terrible, terrible situation,” he says. “A DARK AND BROKEN HEART is a modern Shakespearean tragedy, and deals with the opposite kind of character, a man who appears to be the very best, but beneath the façade he is a nightmare.”
Never before had Holmes and Watson come up against a brotherhood like the Kipling League. Dedicated to their Patron Rudyard Kipling, the Poet of Empire, the League’s sole allegiance was to England’s civilising mission. Its members would allow nothing to get in their way.
Tim Symonds’ new novel SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE DEAD BOER AT SCOTNEY CASTLE will be published March 19 by MX Publishing, known for their Sherlock Holmes’ authors.
Holmes and Watson take the train to address the mysterious Kipling League at Crick’s End, a Jacobean mansion in deepest Sussex. A body is found in a wagon pond at nearby Scotney Castle – but why the wagon pond and not the moat? And why unclad? What is the meaning of the pair of shiny dark glasses clutched in one hand? And that hatband – could it really be from the skin of a yellow and brown spiny snake?
In the fifth book in the series, Lieutenant Lucinda Pierce encounters a death that at first appears to be suicide. In another city, Special Agent Jake Lovett pays little attention to a man who seems to be a conspiracy nut—until he’s found dead. As they pursue their separate investigations, the two cases merge into one bigger crime.
When Homicide Investigator Lucinda Pierce finds Candace Eagleton hanging from a rail in her home, a thick rope knotted around her, she vows to catch her killer. A note exposes Candace’s marriage to wealthy husband Frank as a sham, making him Lucinda’s prime suspect.
If you’ve watched the popular TV series MODERN FAMILY, you already know that gay parenting has become mainstream. Gay men and lesbians are adopting kids and fathering kids in cooperative arrangements, and all kinds of literature from children’s books to literary fiction follows the trend. I chose to take a different angle on the issue in my newest Mahu Investigation, ZERO BREAK.
I was sitting at dinner with a group of other writers when I heard the following story. A gay man of my acquaintance had donated sperm to a lesbian couple, and one of the women had become pregnant twice, and given birth each time to a boy. The gay dad became a part of the family, visiting the boys regularly and developing a relationship with them.
“The best way I can describe the Four Corners neighborhood of Chicago is find a length of rebar, scratch a big cross into the concrete, set your feet solid in the quadrant you like best, lean back, and start shooting.”
Officer Bobby Vargas is hard-edged but idealistic, a Chicago cop who stands at the epicenter of a subterranean plot that will have horrific ramifications for both himself and the entire city. Twenty-five years earlier, a gruesome murder rocked the unforgiving streets of Four Corners. Now, suddenly, a dying Chicago paper is running a serial exposé on new evidence in that old case, threatening to implicate Bobby and his older brother, Ruben—a decorated, high-ranking detective and cop- prince of the streets. The smear campaign stirs up decades-old bad blood, leading the Vargas brothers down an increasingly twisted and terrifying path, where the sins of the past threaten to destroy what remains of the truth.
When a drought reveals a child-size skeleton, the marshal of Dukaine, Indiana is certain the bones belong to an eight year old boy who disappeared nineteen years earlier. When the the marshal is shot, the investigation falls on a young deputy who quickly becomes a suspect, leaving him little time to prove himself innocent, and find out if the boy is really dead, or has returned to town for revenge.
TREACEROUS: GRIFTERS, RUFFIANS AND KILLERS, the short stories of Gary Phillips, is a new collection from Perfect Crime Books that brings together for the first time the various tales of chicanery and odd goings on the veteran mystery writer has produced over the years. For instance in “The Thrill is Gone” (from SEX, LIES AND PRIVATE EYES), a hit man rescued from the agonies of Hell is a reluctant envoy sent back to Earth to dispatch evil for Heaven; in “Roger Crumbler Considers His Shave” (from LOS ANGELES NOIR), a mild-mannered middle-aged accountant on his birthday contemplates much more than having a second slice of cake; and in “Branded” (from FLESH AND BLOOD: EROTIC TALESS OF CRIME AND PASSION) a philandering husband wakes after a night of debauchery with a tattoo in a…rather uncomfortable location that will be hard to explain to his out-of-town wife.
Katherine Howell is an Australian ex-paramedic who uses that experience to excellent effect in her bestselling crime series featuring Sydney police detective Ella Marconi. She talked to The Big Thrill about her work.
Tell us about your latest book.
SILENT FEAR is the fifth book in the series, and it kicks off on a searing summer’s day when paramedic Holly Garland rushes to an emergency to find a man collapsed with a bullet wound in the back of his head, CPR being performed by two bystanders, and her long-estranged brother Seth watching it all unfold. Seth claims to be the dying man’s best friend, but Holly knows better than to believe anything he says and fears that his re-appearance will reveal the bleak secrets of her past—secrets which both her fiance Norris and her colleagues have no idea exist, and which if exposed could cause her to lose everything.
You might say T. Jefferson Parker (Jeff) has to be in the mood to write. That’s because he sees the starting place for each of his novels to be an “internal atmosphere” (or mood) he wants to explore. For his 19th novel, THE JAGUAR, he took captivity, fear, and helplessness, whose only antidotes according to Jeff are “the creation of art and serious good luck.”
And he continues, “I wanted a languid jungle, tropical heat and history, surprising flora and fauna. I wanted music in the face of narco-terror, the idea that Art is the Answer to Death. I wanted a long-in-the-tooth castle in this jungle, filled with mysteries and treasures and beauties and scary, scary people.”
In Peter May’s new hardback original THE LEWIS MAN (Quercus, January 2012), an unidentified corpse is recovered from a peat bog and the only clue to its identity is a DNA sibling match to a local farmer. But this islander, Tormod Macdonald, now an elderly man suffering from dementia, has always claimed to be an only child. When Tormod’s family approaches Fin Macleod for help, Fin feels duty-bound to solve the mystery.
THE LEWIS MAN is the follow-up to May’s international bestseller THE BLACKHOUSE, which the IRISH INDEPENDENT described as “a beautifully written, haunting and powerful examination of the darkness of men’s souls … An outstanding page-turning murder mystery.”
By Don Helin
In his novel, STORM DAMAGE, Ed Kovacs unleashes a story so thrilling that New York Times bestselling author Steve Berry says, “Hard-edge, Frenetic. This tale is fluid, dark, and compelling. Ed Kovacs is a vivid addition to the thriller genre.”
Synopsis: In a city overwhelmed with murder and mayhem, the last homicide before a Category 5 hurricane wipes out New Orleans is quickly forgotten and remains unsolved. Until now.
A mixed-martial arts coach and bare-knuckled former cop investigates a curious missing persons/murder case. The cold trail quickly heats up, propelling him into a battle of wits and brawn with the deadliest killers operating in the apocalyptic, post-hurricane ruins of New Orleans.
Some of my favorite mystery novels star an investigator dragged into a case he originally had no interest in. That’s just what happens to investigative journalist Mick Murphy in STAIRWAY TO THE BOTTOM, the latest novel from Michael Haskins. And from there it gets weird.
The book opens with a hit man changing his mind about his decision to be in the witness protection program. He makes his escape on a Jet Ski. Russian agents left over from the Cold War believe the man on the run may also be an agent that fled with $20 million in diamonds just as the Berlin Wall was coming down. As it turns out, our hero Mick Murphy was the last person to see the hit man alive. When the Russians send an agent to Key West, Florida to interrogate Murphy, well, that’s when the adventure really takes off.
A VINE IN THE BLOOD, Leighton Gage’s fifth thriller due in December, is driven by the upcoming FIFA World Cup games to be held in Brazil and solving a kidnapping that will dramatically effect Brazil’s futebol team, an assumed favorite to win the games.
Gage’s four previous Chief Inspector Mario Silva Investigation thrillers have included travels through Brazil’s interior, mixed in with politics and corruption in the bigger cities like Sao Paulo, that trickle down to the police and government agencies in out-of-the-way locales. A VINE IN THE BLOOD focuses on Sao Paulo and its suburbs, allowing Gage to show readers one of Brazil’s largest cities with its traffic and roadway problems as well as its everyday citizens.
David Hodges is a former police superintendent with a wealth of experience at the sharp end of police work, which he draws upon in his four crime-fiction books. His most recent is FIRETRAP, a hardback published in October by Robert Hale Ltd. In it, Detective Constable Kate Hamblin narrowly escapes death when her police surveillance van is blown apart by an incendiary device. Accused of abandoning two colleagues who died in the explosion and suspended from duty, she embarks on a desperate mission to nail the killer herself. But she finds herself being stalked by the very man she is pursuing—a ruthless psychopath who is determined to silence his only witness.
“Write what you know” is advice familiar to every author. But what if you’re a writer with a wide range of life experiences, a writer knowledgeable about a lot of different things?
David J. Walker has been, at various times before becoming a fulltime writer, a parish priest, an investigator for the Chicago Police Department, and a lawyer. It’s no surprise, then, that people who do what Walker actually did in real life keep cropping up in his books.
“The lawyer and police jobs—I was in the unit of the Chicago P.D. that investigated charges of ‘excessive force’ against officers—were obviously helpful for a crime writer,” Walker said. “And the parish priest gig? When I began I really didn’t contemplate writing about priests, but as it turns out they have kept popping up, even when I don’t expect them to. I look on my ‘past lives’ as part of my own well of experience, and when I drop the bucket down it’s not surprising that I would frequently draw up lawyers and priests and cops.”
1930s Hollywood. Discredited LAPD detective Chris Blanchard is hired by MGM Studios mogul Louis B. Mayer and stumbles into a murder. His hunt for the killer uncovers a blackmail scheme by the Nazi-infested German American Bund that could result in the deaths of thousands. More bodies fall and hidden truths emerge as Blanchard battles his way through life-threatening twists that lead to dead ends, near-disasters and deals that convert enemies to partners-in-crime.
By Derek Gunn
ANTHONY LARK has a list of names—Terry Dawtrey, Sutton Bell, Henry Kormoran. To his eyes, the names glow red on the page. The men on the list have little in common except that seventeen years ago they were involved in a notorious bank robbery. Now Lark is hunting them, and he won’t stop until every one of them is dead.
This is the second novel from Harry Dolan featuring his mystery magazine editor, and sometimes detective, David Loogan. I must admit I missed his first novel, Bad Things Happen and I’m sorry I did. The writing draws you in immediately and the characters hold you tightly. The pace is fast throughout and the plotting is tight. I finished this in two sittings, and at over 400 pages that was a major investment in time, especially when I have a lot on this week. The story begins with the narrator, Loogan, and is told in the first person and then switches between other character point-of-views so that we get to see what is happening outside of the influence of the main character.