By John Darrin
Edgar-nominated author David J. Walker could be one of his own characters. Ex-priest, ex-cop (of a sort), ex-lawyer. Maybe in a new series of hard-boiled mysteries to complement the ten books he’s already published. He could even use his own name, just drop the David and he’d be J. Walker, flouter of traffic laws, scourge of ne’er-do-wells everywhere.
He’d have to be a throwback, a detective in the old-school mold. With reviews of his current books including such words and phrases as cheeky, high-stepping, sass and charm, panache and lively repartee, that seems to be his comfort zone (see “scourge of ne’er-do-wells,” above). And he’d have to look like James Cromwell, a younger James Cromwell, because Walker is Cromwell’s slightly shorter separated-at-birth twin. At least in looks. But that’s a good thing, according to Walker, citing a little-known physiological rule:
“We both have sort of long faces and white hair, which are universally agreed-upon signs of great virility.”
In taste, they have their differences. For instance, Walker likes his pigs cooked.
Walker’s new book is the fifth in the Wild Onion, Ltd series featuring Chicago-based private investigator Kristan, and her lawyer/husband, Dugan. Here’s Walker’s summary:
“When a Chicago cop is murdered, Dugan’s foolish flouting of the rules about attorneys “chasing” clients drags him into the case, and Kirsten undertakes to drag him back out. Soon she has not one, but three, clients. They all want her to find the killer… or at least they all say they do. Turns out the dead police officer had way too many people happy to see him gone… from members of his own family to members of organized crime, from ethically-challenged lawyers and real estate developers to cop co-conspirators. Meanwhile, who’s trying to shut down the police homicide investigation? And what’s the U.S. government got to do with it?”
Booklist liked it, calling it “engaging, appealing, and entertaining” with “an eye-popping plot, wacky characters, oddball humor.” As we all know, getting Booklist to read a book is challenging enough. Liking it is the Good Reading Seal of Approval.
Booklist isn’t the only one who likes To Many Clients and Walker’s other “Wild Onion” books. Take Publisher’s Weekly – “[David J. Walker] brings his crisp dialogue, a fine comic edge, and a cast of sharply drawn supporting characters to a new series… ”
Or The Washington Post – “A slick read that pushes forward with wonderful speed. [T]he intensity of the scenes holds you inside the story all the way to the end.”
“I left when it dawned on me that I didn’t really want to go my whole life being told by people in Rome what to think and what not to think, or being their mouthpiece and telling others the same. Oh…and the celibacy thing, that might have had something to do with it.”
“I thought I could practice law and write, too. I’m told a few others have done that with moderate success, but I can’t think of their names. However, when I practiced law I found that I not only had no time to write, but also no time for my life. So that lasted about as long as my priesthood career.”
“I held that job (investigating accusations against police officers) during the four years that I was in law school, and loved every minute of it: working out of central headquarters, driving all over the city in unmarked squad cars, interviewing police officers, alleged victims, and witnesses on both sides of the issue, day after day. Great stuff.”
When asked why he meandered such an eclectic path to arrive at writing, Walker says,
“I can’t speak for everyone, but I do think it takes a certain amount of courage to follow one’s heart, which for some of us means we need someone to encourage us (encourage, a verb, meaning ‘to give a kick in the ass’), someone who understands us and reminds us what our lives could be about if we took responsibility for them.”
And who is that someone for Walker? His wife, Ellen, “someone who’s always got my back (as all we cool people say); and someone who unfailingly “encourages” me (read: kicks me in the ass). Oh, and someone with medical coverage when it’s needed.”
Apparently (I’m not in Chicago, where Walker and Ellen live, so I have to take his word for it) sipping a beer called Moose Drool, brewed in Missoula, Montana, Walker tells me what else he’d like out of life, besides for me to buy a copy of Too Many Clients.
“A personal assistant would be cool. One who does home repairs, maybe?”
I could go on and on. His life and work provide a wealth of topics to rut through, opinions to evoke, and experience to relate. But as he said, closing this interview, “I have a deadline to meet. Can I go back to work now?”