Killing has become a team sport. To play the game, Detective Jack Murphy has to identify all the players. He is definitely having a bad day when his ex-wife Katie announces her engagement to Eric Manson, the Chief Deputy Prosecutor, and the body parts of a young woman show up in the town landfill. Then it’s learned the body parts belong to Nina Parsons, who was not only a deputy prosecutor, but the rumored lover of the man Jack’s ex-wife is about to marry. Thirst for greed and power can drive good men to commit evil acts. Political interference twists and turns the investigation, but it’s up to Jack and his partner, Liddell Blanchard, to keep the heads from rolling. Literally. Jack knows the criminal justice system sometimes fails, but he has no doubt that this time there will be FINAL JUSTICE.
FINAL JUSTICE, the third book in the Jack Murphy thrillers, was released in January to great critical acclaim.
“Rick Reed, retired homicide detective and author brings his impressive writing skills to the world of fiction. This is as authentic and scary as crime thrillers get.” —Nelson DeMille
“A jaw-dropping thriller.”—Gregg Olsen
Rick Reed is a retired crime fighter. In thirty years on the job, he worked in Criminal Investigations, Internal Affairs, and as a Crisis Management/Hostage Negotiator and a U.S. Secret Service-trained handwriting expert. He knows of what he writes. During his career he successfully investigated numerous high-profile rapes, robberies, and murder cases, including the capture of a serial killer who claimed thirteen victims before strangling and dismembering his girlfriend. Reed’s acclaimed true-crime book, BLOOD TRAIL, is the account of that story.
How much of what you write is based on things you’ve seen in your thirty year crime-fighting career?
I use bits and pieces of hundreds of incidents and people I have experienced first hand. When I write I put myself at a crime scene and the characters seem to take over. Below I’ve given some examples of my experiences to give you a better feel for what life was like.
When I came out of the Army (1974) I was hired as a Bond Interviewer for Circuit Court. My first visit to the jail was a hum-dinger. I walked down the narrow cell block hallway and a half-naked man with Summer-teeth (some ‘r there, ‘n some ain’t) leapt onto the bars, grabbing at me with hands curled into claws, shrieking and shaking the bars like a howler monkey. A year later he was hit by a semi truck and lived. He had been shot several times and lived. He had been beaten almost to death several times and somehow always bounced back. He is a good example of the saying,“You just can’t kill mean.”
I became a pre-sentence investigator and an Indiana probation officer, a Deputy Sheriff, and then was hired by the Evansville Police Department where I became a detective. I saw a lot of death: natural, accidental, and intentional (suicide), for hire (third party), pact suicide/murder, and a serial killer who dismembered his victim. I’m a graphic writer and these hands-on experiences are not just memories. They are dark things that keep escaping from the box.
And lastly, I was the commander of the Internal Affairs division. I went from being one of the guys to being the enemy. Even the Chief of Police cringed when he saw me coming. The public and my fellow officers thought of me as a liar who was working for the other side, and said things to me that even my ex-wife hadn’t thought of. After a while I even hated myself. All of this finds its way into stories.
Working Internal Affairs had its funny moments as well.
One woman claimed she was the Mother of God and that Father Time was bitten by a Vampire. She had just returned from a forty-five thousand year mission to save the world, and discovered that the Mayor had stolen her patent for microwave ovens. Could I make this up?
Another woman said the police were illegally conducting surveillance by airplanes flying over her house. When I asked her what color the airplane was she said it was yellow. I explained that city police planes were blue. Yellow was the FBI. I gave her the telephone number for the FBI.
Another woman called to complain about her abandoned vehicle being towed. I asked for her name and she said “it’s hyphenated.” So I replied, “Well, Miss Hyphenated. Can you spell that for me?” I ended up in the Chief’s office a lot.
Did you base the Jack Murphy character on yourself, someone you knew, or is he the fantasy cop you wanted to be?
The Statute of Limitations hasn’t run out, so I can’t tell you.
But seriously, Jack Murphy is the kind of cop we all want to be real.If you ever need a cop committed to righting wrongs, he is your man. I wanted to be like him, but I have a fear of going to prison and decorating my cell with someone named Bubba.
I’ve known real people like my characters, Double Dick (Deputy Chief Richard Dick) and Larry Jansen (Missing Person Detective and Weasel), so I can sympathize with Jack. Is he me? No way. And that’s what I’ll say to a jury.
Two of your novels are about serial killers—three, if you count the True crime book BLOOD TRAIL. I’ve always heard that over ninety percent of homicides are crimes of passion, committed by someone the victim knew, perhaps domestic in nature. How many serial killers are there actually out there?
A serial killer is someone who kills two or more people in different events over a period of time. The definition was created to categorize serial killings as a separate type of murder. Mass murder is the killing of three or more people in one incident or by the same suspect in a continuing rampage over a short period of time (hours or days). When I was young I thought Mass murder was when the priest said “this is the body of Christ.” I always felt sorry for Christ because he was killed every Sunday.
Murder as a true crime of passion is just that. A guy finds his wife at a motel with another guy; he pulls out a gun and shoots them dead in front of a dozen cops. In the old days it was called “In the Heat of Passion.” The suspect acts so immediately on a stimulus that he doesn’t intend or premeditate the action. Of course, this only applies as a defense if the jury buys it.
Serial killers are more apt to like the kill. It makes them feel like they are better than the rest of us because they can kill one of us anytime they want. The victims may be stalked or just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sometimes the killing isn’t as important as the fantasy, or maybe the fantasy and murder must be exactly alike. To a serial killer we are no better than cattle. These are my opinions and not absolutes.
And you’re right about most murders being committed by someone close to, or familiar with the victim. An investigator generally looks first at the spouse (ex-spouse) and family, significant other, acquaintances, friends, enemies, neighbors, co-workers, etc. But this isn’t necessarily true of serial killers.
My serial killer, Joseph Weldon Brown, said he had screwed up by killing Ginger because he was too close to her. He knew we would look for him. He was a stranger to the other women that he killed. That may be one of the reasons why he dismembered and disposed of Ginger’s body over several counties. He hoped we wouldn’t find enough of the body to prove it was Ginger. He was wrong.
As to “how many serial killers there are.” Serial killers don’t wear a sign. They could be your neighbor of twenty years, your high school coach, even your wife or girlfriend or friend. The stupid ones kill for many years without getting caught (BTK Killer). The smart ones screw up relatively quickly and go to prison (Dahmer). In my opinion, we are the sheep and serial killers are the wolves thinning the flock. They are legion.
What is the biggest difficulty of writing a series character like Detective Jack Murphy? What is the biggest pleasure?
When you write 400 plus pages it is easy to make someone 6’2” when they should be 6’, or blond when they have light brown hair, etc. A reader will catch the differences even after the story has been read numerous times and edited by a professional.
I have to create a character sheet for each book that gives a very minimal personality profile and description of the major characters. I include weapons used, transportation, relationships, and unusual things (like if they are killed).
The greatest pleasure in using the same character in several books is that I can become that character and experience life through their eyes. In my younger years people who did that were taking hallucinogens. I can create, delete, move things, and say the things that I wouldn’t dare say otherwise. It’s like the opposite of being a policeman. I get to have an opinion and my opinion counts. At least that’s what I tell my wife.
Your books have all been received to high acclaim. Have you ever had any bad reviews? If so, how do you deal with the reviewers?
Yes and they’re wrong, so I kill them in a book. What comes around goes around. I keep a list.
If any of your books were made into films, who would you choose as the leading actor(s)?
Tom Cruise or Gary Sinise as Jack Murphy; John Goodman as Liddell Blanchard; Jennifer Aniston as Susan Summers; and as Katie Murphy, Canadian actress Rachelle Lefevre who was in Stephen King’s series UNDER THE DOME. Of course, if I sell the rights to the books for a movie, the producer doesn’t ask my opinion. Tom Cruise played Lee Child’s famed character, Jack Reacher in the movie. Cruise is about a foot shorter than Jack Reacher. Still, I loved the movie. Cruise is a great actor. Are you reading this Tom?
You’ve indicated that you’re working on a fourth Jack Murphy novel, MURPHY’S LAW, scheduled for release later this this year. Can you give us a preview and tell us what else you have in mind for Jack Murphy?
MURPHY’S LAW is really the first Jack Murphy book that I wrote. I almost sold it to Kensington, but it was a police procedural thriller and they wanted serial killer fiction. I loved the story so much that I have rewritten it and it will be released later this year.
Murphy’s Law says,“anything that can go wrong usually will, and at the worst possible moment.” Jack and some of the characters in the story will prove this notion is correct.
In MURPHY’S LAW, Jack faces an antagonist who isn’t a serial killer, but is a ruthless mass murderer who has come to Evansville, Indiana, to commit his most horrendous act yet. The story is peppered with danger, action, failing interagency cooperation, federal agents, gunfights, and a slam bang ending the reader won’t see coming. Oh, and I’ve added some romance for the readers that requested Jack get a life. Sorry, but there are no longdrawn-out sex scenes like on television. Murphy’s Law is like “Five Shades of Gray.”
The next Jack Murphy book is called THE FOURTH MONKEY, and is a serial killer psychological thriller. In THE FOURTH MONKEY, the killer is on a quest for justice in what he perceives is an unjust world. He is judge, jury and executioner, and Jack is under real pressure to stop him because most of the victims are cops.
If there’s one thing you want people to walk away with from reading FINAL JUSTICE, what would it be?
I want the reader to have an overwhelming urge to read another Jack Murphy thriller. Feedback from my readers is my drug of choice.
After retiring from law enforcement, Rick Reed taught Criminal Justice in an Indiana college for five years. His first Jack Murphy novel, THE CRUELEST CUT, was published in 2010, with THE COLDEST FEAR following in 2011. Both novels have been translated into German and Polish. His third novel, FINAL JUSTICE, will be released in January 2014 by Suspense Publishing.
Bookmark his website, buy all of his books and be prepared to be hooked. As BookReporter.com says, “Reed gives the reader a genre story worth every minute and every penny spent.” There’s no doubt. Rick Reed delivers a story that keeps you turning the pages deep into the night—and one you may be afraid to read if you’re home alone.
To learn more about Rick, please visit his website.