When the First Lady of the United States is kidnapped, President Alex Sanderson calls on Jack Richman and Maggie Trumbull of the Harbor Point Police Department, who proved themselves trustworthy in uncovering an assassination attempt. Besides, President Sanderson doesn’t trust the director of the FBI. He does believe the detectives can find his wife. As the clues unravel, the detectives realize the kidnappers are not the usual suspects with the usual motives. What Richman and Trumbull discover will change everything.
Bentley Turner recently spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest thriller, THE TAKING OF THE FIRST LADY.
Can you pinpoint a moment or incident that sparked the idea for this book?
Believe it or not, the idea for this book occurred to me after I was thinking about an area in South Carolina that I had visited while on a driving vacation some years ago. Then the plot flowed out of me last summer. In fact, I think I wrote the first draft in two or three months.
A novel is such a major undertaking; there’s the writing of it, of course, then you’re spending months and months revising, polishing, and then promoting it. How did you know this was the book you wanted to spend the next couple of years on?
I enjoyed writing this book because of the primary characters, the situations in which they find themselves, and, of course, the location, which plays an important role in this thriller. As I mentioned above, I wrote the first draft in two or three months, which is unusual for me, to say the least. However, I was not satisfied with it until I had gone through it at least three times, maybe four.
Were there any particular books, movies, or songs that were knocking around in your head while you were writing this one?
No. I merely thought about the area I had visited. For some reason, pictures of it have remained in my mind. Could it possibly be because I really enjoyed that part of my vacation? Probably so.
When you first created your protagonist for this book, did you see an empty space in crime lit that you wanted to fill? What can you share about the inspiration for that character?
First, I wanted a protagonist who acts really tough, but, deep down, is not. Second, I wanted another character who is able to persuade the protagonist to take action. And this character could not be suspected of doing anything illegal by readers. Third, I wanted two detectives–not agents of the FBI–to try to solve the cases.
In addition to a great read, what do you hope readers will take away from this story?
I hope they can visualize the area or location where most of the action takes place as well as the major characters.
What can you share about what you’re working on next?
I just started writing a historical thriller about a man who is murdered in his home. However, the man is not just any man. Years before, in Germany, his parents persuaded relatives in the United States to take him in because they did not want him to experience what may happen as a result of the Nazis coming to power. The relatives agree. Later, after World War II, the man tries to learn what happened to his parents. He goes to Europe and learns that his parents were brought to Auschwitz. His mother experienced medical operations and eventually died. His father labored until he couldn’t any longer. He was killed, too. The man learns that one of the doctors–the doctor who killed his mother– at Auschwitz escaped. The man finds the doctor and brings him to justice. At least, the man’s mother did not die in vain. The man writes a bestselling book about his experience. As a result of its popularity, many individuals write letters to the man in care of his publisher. Although most letters are very positive, there are a few that aren’t. But the book was published more than twenty years before the man’s death. Surely, one of the writers of the letters did not wait all these years to kill the man who had brought the doctor to justice?
Bentley Turner has written the thrillers, “The File on Thomas Marks,” “A Killing in Oklahoma,” “The Agency,” and “The Taking of the First Lady.” He has written short stories for literary magazines. In fact, his collection of short stories, “The Prize Winners and Other Stories,” was published in 2021. Under his legal name, Turner has written articles for academic journals, chapters and entries for academic and reference books, and several books of nonfiction for academic and reference publishers.