By J. H. Bogran
The Village of Eastpoint, Long Island is suddenly in turmoil after John Hunter, a celebrity romance columnist resident is murdered. But murder is only the beginning of the town’s troubles. Hunter, an outsider, left dark secrets that have surfaced after the chief of police discovers paintings of Hunter and local women in compromising positions. Hank Reed, the chief of police is torn between his allegiance to protect his beloved town and the honor of his shield. As that balance bends toward justice, the townspeople rise against him, including his wife, who Reed suspects might be Hunter’s killer. As the emotional walls begin to crumble, Reed forges ahead without compromise, risking his job, his wife, and the townspeople he so desperately wants to save from the outside world.
What inspired the premise for Hunter’s World?
Murder is a mystery writer’s lifeblood so that element was foremost in my mind. Events surrounding 9/11 created an unsettling time for Americans. Their home and community, which had been a haven, suddenly became their bunker. I wanted to write about losing that safety net. For me, Long Island was the perfect backdrop. I lived in New York City back in the fifties. I remember my family taking trips out east and driving past potato farms, open fields, and small towns associated with rural life. I immediately fell in love with Long Island. Soon after my wife and I married we moved there. In a way, this book is homage to small town living, and in particular, the Island. I asked myself, what would happen to a small community if an outsider moved in? One who was subsequently murdered in a town where crime was nonexistent? How would the town react to suddenly being exposed to the outsider’s dark secrets? This fiery combination fueled the story. Adding to the fire, I needed our protagonist, the chief of police, to make difficult decisions by balancing the murder investigation with the irrational fears of his community.
Please tell us about Hank Reed.
My protagonist, Police Chief Hank Reed, is a devoted husband and the protective keeper of his beloved town. He’s 40, tall, and handsome in a rugged way, with a wry sense of humor. He becomes Eastpoint’s police chief heir apparent when his father died. Hank grew up in the community and adopted a small town sensibility. But he also worked as a County homicide detective for eight years so he’s seen gruesome murders–only not in his own back yard. So when Eastpoint witnesses its first major crime, Hank, on occasion, has lapses in professional judgment. He provides more information about the murder to his townsfolk than he should. He becomes an overprotective parent wanting to explain that what he’s doing will be best for them. Hank also becomes conflicted about the responsibilities of a police officer. He agonizes over balancing his job with his love for the town. He’s a decent police chief, and in the end, gets the job done.
Considering the book is a mystery, how much can you tell us about the antagonist?
The real antagonist, John Hunter, is dead almost from the start. He’s an outsider, a syndicated romance columnist and psychologist with dark secrets. Attempting to shed that past, he relocates to Eastpoint. But his past catches up with him and our protagonist has to clean up his mess. I’m not really giving away too much by telling you John Hunter was murdered.
Is this intended as the first of a potential series?
At first, I decided to make the book a stand-alone. But I grew to like Hank Reed’s character. Since he was a homicide detective in his other life, I might consider bringing him back and work for the County. Maybe I should wait and see what my readers think.
What kind of research did you do?
As mentioned before, I have always been fascinated with Long Island’s past. My familiarity with the area helped enormously. I knew approximately where I wanted the murder to take place, and as the story progressed, I made trips to the North Folk of Long Island. I interviewed people at the Suffolk County Medical Examiner’s Office in Hauppauge, where I was welcomed to viewing stiffs of all kinds. A bit gruesome for me but it helped create a few scenes in the book. I visited a few local bars, inns and of course, I went apple and pumpkin picking. Okay, it wasn’t all research. I also tapped my son’s brain – no pun intended – for anything dealing with psychology. He’s a therapist.
How much did your experience in government contribute to the plot or writing?
Working as an IRS agent for years led me to my first book, Murder 1040. It’s about an agent who uncovers something more sinister than cooking the books. I hope to publish that book in the future. As an agent auditing large corporate tax returns, I became familiar with white-collar crime by using intuition as well as expertise to solve cases. Tax returns have their own mystery attached to them and it’s the agent’s job to uncover the mystery by following the numbers and gathering evidence. It’s similar with the detective work in my mysteries, only in those cases, there’s more blood shedding.
Do you have a sample chapter?
Yes, you can find it on my website.
What made you choose the mystery genre?
Most of my childhood was embroiled in a fractured family environment so living under those conditions was not conducive to reading. As a young adult, my friend introduced me to the Matlock Paper written by Robert Ludlum. I was immediately hooked. It turned out to be my way of escaping life temporarily. From there, I entered the world of John Le Carre and others. It wasn’t until I read Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent, whose clever writing style captivated me, that I thought one day I’m going to write a mystery novel. Enter Nelson DeMille. His incredible plot and characterization infused with a Long Island backdrop compelled me to take writing seriously. While Hunter’s World is a mystery, my next book, Double Trouble is a thriller. I am most thankful to Ludlum, Turow and DeMille.
Any presentation or forums you will be attending in the next quarter?
Right now, I’m focusing on my book tour. My first stop is at the Murder on the Beach bookstore (June 25th) located in Delray Beach Florida. I then travel to Long Island – closer to the crime scene – stopping at Book Revue in Huntington (June 29th). I’m working with a few more bookstores in the northeast, as well as several libraries to create workshops. I was hoping to attend ThrillerFest in July but I have a conflict. I look forward to attending next year’s event.
What are you currently working on?
My latest mystery titled “Double Trouble,” has just been completed. The story starts off in South Florida and continues to New York City, Las Vegas, Cancun Mexico, and Costa Rica (bring along a travel guide and map). The premise of the story surrounds twins separated at birth. It’s a wild ride for the protagonist (a detective) who is being chased by his twin brother’s mafia boss over stolen diamonds. And then there is “Murder 1040,” which I’m currently editing.