Heather Graham Takes a Bite Out of the Big Apple
By Dawn Ius
Heather Graham has traveled the fictional globe with her bestselling romantic thrillers, but until now has steered fairly clear of New York, despite a deep-rooted family connection that is ripe with stories for the taking.
Now, Graham takes readers to the Big Apple in her latest release, FLAWLESS. The story centers on criminal psychologist Kieran Finnegan, her three less-than-innocent brothers, the Irish pub they co-own in the heart of New York City—and a series of thefts in the city’s thriving Diamond District.
Kieran is in the midst of “unstealing” a flawless stone taken by her youngest brother in a misguided act of vengeance when she meets FBI agent Craig Frasier, who is there to stop a heist in progress. Thrown together by unusual circumstance, Kieran and Craig are assigned to the case. But to Kieran’s horror, mounting evidence seems to suggest that the family pub, Finnegan’s, is somehow involved—which is of course in stark contrast to the reputation the pub hopes to cultivate.
“Finnegan’s is where you want to go when you want to feel a sense of comfort, or when you want a night out with some good music,” Graham says. “It’s your go-to place!”
That’s the thing about pubs, she adds. The food isn’t necessarily gourmet, but it’s still like coming home, a place where you visit with family and friends, and if you’re lucky, where the bartender remembers your name. These are the kinds of pubs that pepper the streets of New York.
But it’s more than flowing pints that inspired Graham’s New York in FLAWLESS. Her mother immigrated from Dublin through the city and the family still loves to tell stories of their first impressions—tales that have an impact on Graham’s writing.
“The family loves to talk about being on the ship approaching our shores—and seeing Lady Liberty. They were in awe,” she says. “Our backgrounds affect us every day of our lives—and, so naturally, big time in our writing.”
Graham captures this awe in FLAWLESS, using her innate skill to bring setting to life, as she peels back the layers of the city’s cultural and historical depth, taking her readers to new places with familiar friends.
“History has so much to give an author, it’s incredible,” she says. “There’s a true story about a murder in the Bowery that I used in a Krewe tale—Sacred Evil—that brought up the question as to whether or not Jack the Ripper had come to the U.S. New York history is so rich—decades and decades of society and life. I know people who do incredible research off their computers. For me, I truly love it when I can go to a place and see and ‘feel’ it for myself.”
Graham hopes readers take away more than just a compelling story when they turn the page of FLAWLESS, perhaps creating a desire to explore more than New York’s hot spots, but some of the city’s hidden jewels, as well.
“I’m a history nut, so you must see Trinity and St. Paul’s—downtown. Hamilton is the rage on Broadway, right now. You may not be able to get tickets—but you can visit the real guy’s grave! If you can maneuver mass transport, head up to the Poe cottage. Also, just wander the Village, or head to a museum,” she says. “You can live there, and not run out of amazing things to do.”