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Ice_Chest_coverBy Matt Ferraz

“If you write crime fiction, never allow yourself to think that your mom might someday be reading what you’re writing,” says J.D. Rhoades, the North Carolinian author of ICE CHEST .

Considering that Rhoades became famous for writing gritty and dark crime stories, his advice seems legit.

With ICE CHEST Rhoades creates a heist novel with a very unusual MacGuffin: a piece of lingerie made with precious stones worth five and a half million dollars. It becomes the target of a gang of inept thieves.

“Researching the real-life ‘Fantasy Bra’ for ICE CHEST was quite a bit of fun,” Rhoades says, while also stating how much he loved writing the main female character, Clarissa Cartwright. “She’s continually underestimated because she’s so beautiful. But she’s smart and tough and doesn’t take crap from anyone.”

Rhoades is the author of the praised Jack Keller series that deals with a disturbed bounty hunter living in the American South. Rhodes currently lives in Carthage, NC, where he also works as a lawyer. His vast experiences as a reporter, club DJ, television cameraman, ad salesman, waiter, attorney, and newspaper columnist helped him become a published writer.

While working as a columnist for The Pilot newspaper, Rhoades decided to take the suggestion of his editor and start writing fiction. The journalistic work also led him to meet writers such as Katy Munger, Karin Slaughter, Sean Chercover, and Kat Richardson, which encouraged him to give fiction-writing a shot. In Rhoades’ words, “once you start meeting novelists, either in person or online, somehow writing a novel seems much more of an obtainable accomplishment.”

Unfortunately, his first novel Rebel Yell, described as a humorous detective story, never found its way to a publishing house. Rhoades decided to take a darker tone in his following book, The Devil’s Right Hand, the first in the Jack Keller series. That seemed to work much better for him, as the book was published and received considerable praise upon its release. Keller became a popular antihero who would appear in three more books (Good Day in Hell, Safe and Sound and Devils and Dust), with another in the works.

Rhoades style, featuring dark and violent crime stories set in the American South, has often being defined as redneck horror, a term created by the author. “My original publisher wasn’t all that happy with the phrase,” Rhoades says. “I used to use it around my editor just to watch his eye twitch. Then, a very favorable Washington Post review used it, and after that, it was as if they’d thought of it themselves.”

He is also influenced by popular literature and movies. “My first ambition was to be a film director” he says. “I often say that what I’m doing is just writing down the movies I see playing on the inside of my skull.”

The movie in Rhoades’ head that gave him ICE CHEST continues his dark but humorous journey.


Rhoades photoBorn and raised in North Carolina, J.D. Rhoades has worked as a radio news reporter, club DJ, television cameraman, ad salesman, waiter, attorney, and newspaper columnist. His weekly column in North Carolina’s The Pilot was twice named best column of the year in its division. The author of The Devil’s Right Hand, Good Day in Hell, Safe and Sound, Breaking Cover, and Broken Shield, he lives, writes, and practices law in Carthage, NC.

To learn more about J.D. Rhoades, please visit his website.



Matt Ferraz