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deadly-trust.jpgBy L. Dean Murphy

In JJ Cooper’s Deadly Trust, a riveting thriller set along Australia’s eastern coast, former army interrogator Jay Ryan enjoys the quiet life after leaving the military behind–or so he thinks. Old habits die hard, and when he realizes someone is trying to kill him and make it look like an accident, he’s interested to find out who…and why.

An anthrax attack on the Gold Coast complicates the issue, and it soon becomes apparent that this hybrid strain of anthrax is being used to create nationwide panic. Only one batch of anthrax inoculations can resist the deadly new strain, and it was given to five military interrogators, one of whom was Jay Ryan.

When it’s discovered the other four interrogators have disappeared, and are presumed dead, Ryan is in hot demand. Racing against time and hunted by rogue soldiers, crazed scientists and an organization that operates beyond the law, Ryan digs deep into his past for a chance at a future! Protagonist Jay Ryan wages a one-man war against enemies both known and unseen. But winning this war may have devastating consequences for the last interrogator.

cooper-jj.jpgDeadly Trust picks up twelve months after the first in the Jay Ryan series, The Interrogator. No longer a military interrogator, Jay’s recovery is complete and life’s good by the beach–or so he thinks. After a couple of near-miss attempts on his life, coupled with the disappearance of four former colleagues, it’s apparent he’s being targeted. In typical Jay Ryan style, the hunted becomes the hunter in this wild ride along the picturesque eastern coast of Australia. When Jay discovers he is the only one alive with the antibodies to defeat a deadly new strain of anthrax that has caused panic amongst a population apathetic to crime prevention, he enlists the assistance of woman who appears to operate beyond the law–but can she be trusted? This thrill-a-minute thriller rarely lets readers catch a breath.

Stranger than fact, Cooper explains that his name “is a pseudonym. I figured it was little ‘uncool’ for an ex-interrogator to write under his real name–I’m sure there are a few unsavory types out there who may like to catch up again for a ‘chat’ one day. JJ is the nickname for my oldest son, whilst Cooper is the name of my youngest son. Like me, Jay is an ex-interrogator. I haven’t been shot–sometimes characters need to sacrifice more than I to make a compelling story.”

Cooper adds, “The interrogation scenes make this novel most compelling. I use my knowledge and experience as an ex-interrogator to create an air of ‘authenticity’ to these scenes. I want the reader to experience interrogation from someone who has been on both sides of the table.”

Cooper is “Definitely a Mike Hammer fan” who thinks “Spillane set the bench mark for crime fiction for others to follow.” He lets real-life people inspire characters. “I’m a people-watcher. Inspiration is everywhere. Recently a gentleman approached and said, ‘You look like you’d enjoy a good joke’. He told a joke that had me laughing. I’d tell you the joke but it’s going in book three. Inspiration really is everywhere.”

After seventeen adrenalin-filled years in the military, Cooper “suddenly found myself tied down to a nine-to-five job. My mind was going mush with boredom. So, I decided to write. I had no real ambition of being published until I’d finished my first novel. Before I knew it, I had a two-book deal with Random House Australia. Seemed like a long process at the time but in publishing terms, the blink of an eye.”

Drawing from real-life before Cooper deployed to the Middle East in 2003, he received a series of anthrax vaccinations, had no idea what was in the needles. “I suppose it’s the kind of thing writers continue to wonder about, and it’s the catalyst for events in Deadly Trust. For book three, a face from the past appears–the only person Jay Ryan was unable to ‘break’ during interrogation. I don’t really research, apart from the observations I make in life. Experience and imagination–that’s all that really is needed to write fiction. But there is so much talent coming through the ITW Debut Author Program as well. Take a look at the last couple of years and the success that they’ve all had–that’s the future of thrillers writers right there! Aspiring writers should stay determined. Although my journey was relatively quick in publishing terms, it’s not something that can be rushed.”

Cooper edits as he goes. “Generally, I write ten chapters then edit. This process helps me to identify areas to strengthen and look at sub-plot elements as I go. It allows me to check the flow and ensure the right characters are doing the right things. Mostly, it helps me to review and strengthen the writing early. So, I only give a completed novel a couple of full reads and minor edits after completion. I write straight through, stick to a linear type of story that I find allows me to create a realistic plot following a logical sequence of events as seen through the eyes of my main character. So, there’s no author intrusion and readers discover the twists and turns as my main character does. I generally put my characters in situations that seem impossible to get out of, and then spend a considerable amount of time coming up with a credible way to get them out of it.”

Cooper offered interesting comments from readers: “I took the day off work to finish reading your book.” And “I am so tired today, because I was up all night with your book.”

Concluding about writing, Cooper added, “As long as writers can continue to have their main characters evolve, then the series gains fans who love the characters. Do you ever read a standalone and wish it was a series because you loved the characters as well as the writing? I may be a little biased though–I haven’t written a standalone novel yet!”

ITW readers are invited to visit the author’s website at

Dean Murphy
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