Print Friendly, PDF & Email

By L. Dean Murphy

After Lt. Rollie Waters is yanked out of his latest assignment and tossed in the brig, he’s only partly surprised when the officials in charge mention one name: Dan Waters. U.S. government money—a lot of money—has gone missing, and they think Rollie’s father took it. The only way to find Dan is to trace the frail tendrils of truth scattered among Rollie’s childhood memories. To do that, he’ll have to go deep into the undercover identity of a lifetime: his own.

Debut novelist David Rich added, “The story is about how the quest for millions of stolen dollars allows some people to face the truth about themselves. Others, who never question the quest, fall by the wayside. Rollie discovers the truth of his past, and discovers that the deficiencies of his childhood, the pain inflicted by Dan’s deceit and neglect, have given him the skills he needs to survive undercover as a Marine, and to handle the situation Dan leads him into.

Michael Koryta, author of THE PROPHET and whose novels have been adapted for film and television, said, “CARAVAN OF THIEVES has everything a reader could desire from a thriller—breakneck pacing, well-rendered action scenes, a vivid setting, a compelling hero, and endless twists.”

According to C.J. Box, of FORCE OF NATURE fame, said, “CARAVAN OF THIEVES busts right out of the chute and never stops bucking. It’s a rocket-ride and a terrific debut that will leave the reader shaken and gasping for air.”

Rich said, “The father and son scenes are compelling because they are about two people offering enigmatic glimpses of themselves, then hiding and feinting. The undercover scenes show Rollie at his man-on-the-edge best. And, the cat and mouse in the cave was a lot of fun to write.”

When asked what inspired the novel, Rich added, “Three things: The way parents and children don’t know each other and present false fronts to hide their true selves, the temptation soldiers confront when looking at the endless stacks of stolen hundred dollar bills, and the way a man who has little formal education survives and flourishes by his instinct and wits in a violent, venal world.”

This is Rich’s first novel after more than 30 screenplays. For entertainment reading, he said, “I loved the Len Deighton movies but had never read the novels, so I read FUNERAL IN BERLIN and IPCRESS FILE. I was interested in reverse engineering; could I learn a little more about writing a thriller by seeing what was added to and deleted from a story I knew well? After that I picked up Jim Thompson, THE KILL OFF and AFTER DARK, MY SWEET. By the time I read THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN, I was losing confidence; those are all terrific books. Luckily, I picked up a few other thrillers which, despite their fame and reputation, were boring, awkward and forced. Convinced I could do better than those, I was ready to start. Like many who end up writing thrillers, I started out reading and rereading Hammett, Chandler and le Carre. Also, I’m a Kipling, Conrad, Maugham, Graham Greene fan: for them, every story is a spy story. Right now I’m rereading THE HEART OF THE MATTER, by Graham Greene. He’s the master of the drip of dread. I don’t want to face the next page, but I know I must.”

Rich has advice for aspiring writers. “Get a job at a newspaper. You’ll learn how to tell a story on a deadline. You’ll learn how to express yourself clearly. And that writer’s block is a disease only rich people contract.”

When asked about the mechanics of writing, Rich said, “The story changed a lot as I went along, and then it changed some more. I begin with notes and a general sense of where it is going but I don’t know the details until my fingers start moving. For the outline, I put down the broad strokes, then I fill in some details for the early chapters. Then I write some phone numbers and dinner orders on the outline. Then I misplace the outline. Then I find it when I’m cleaning up after I’ve finished the draft.”

On rewriting, Rich said, “I wish I were smart enough and fluent enough to write straight through. I’m a staircase writer: after I leave the room and I’m walking down the stairs, I think of how the scene should have gone.” Rich added that stubbornness helped most along the way with his writing career.”

Rich’s most rewarding comment was “The moment when my editor said, ‘We want to buy this’ was the number one highlight.”

Readers can look forward to MIDDLE MAN, which is a sequel to CARAVAN OF THIEVES, in 2013.

As for character development, “CARAVAN OF THIEVES is written in first person so the main character is defining himself right up to the end. The other characters come clear, I hope, through Rollie’s perception of them and through his relationship with them.”

Regarding research, forensics and setting, Rich said, “I like to have a strong sense of the setting though I don’t spend a ton of time describing it. The characters have to know where they are. I’m much more interested in motivation and character than forensics. The moments between people are those of drama and suspense.”

With the ever-changing publishing world, Rich opined about electronic publications. “TV did not wreck the movies and eBooks won’t wreck Tree-Books. Cell phones haven’t ended landlines. For people who read a lot, eBooks are wonderful. I still like to sit around with a hardcover, but eventually I’ll adapt.”


David Rich has sold screenplays to most of the major studios, and to production companies in the U.S. and Europe. He wrote the feature film, RENEGADES, starring Kiefer Sutherland and Lou Diamond Philips, as well episodes of MacGyver and other shows. He wrote three plays: THE INTERVIEW, THE RESCUE, and W.A.R. (Women’s Armed Resistance). Forsaking Los Angeles for small town Connecticut, David turned his attention to fiction. CARAVAN OF THIEVES is the result.

To learn more about David, visit his website.

Dean Murphy
Latest posts by Dean Murphy (see all)