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The Big Thrill Discusses NORTHTOWN ANGELUS with Robert White

Book Cover: NORTHTOWN ANGELUSJohnny Dillon took his life. His wife Cora wants to know why. The Northtown cops don’t care; they closed the case as a suicide. The M.E. hasn’t got any answers for the discrepancies Ray Jarvi discovered in the autopsy report and from what Johnny’s wife told him about the days leading up to his decision to take his life.

This is the beginning of an investigation for private investigator Ray Jarvi, who follows a twisting path of corruption and vice in his rust-belt town on the shores of Lake Erie to help her find some resolution to the worst day in her life. Like a medieval play between warring devils and angels battling for a soul, he must deal with a variety of Northtowners who play one part or the other on his journey to find those answers. Getting past one obstacle only leads to another—and another. Before long, Jarvi does not know whom to trust. He realizes nothing in his town is what it appears to be and that there are some dangerous people who like it that way.

Author Photo: Robert White

Robert White

Robert White recently sat down with The Big Thrill to discuss his latest contemporary thriller, NORTHTOWN ANGELUS.

Can you pinpoint a moment or incident that sparked the idea for this book?

After Northtown Blitz (2020), I was dissatisfied that I had left my rotten little town (Northtown, OH) off the hook too easily. I wanted to do justice to its sleaziness.

Were there any particular books, movies, or songs that were knocking around in your head while you were writing this one?

None in particular. Enough time had passed from the preceding Ray Jarvi novel and because I am a decades-long fan of Martin Cruz Smith and the Arkady Renko novels, I was probably re-reading him or Thomas Harris’s Hannibal novels and felt–foolishly as ever–I could write something worthy of their caliber.

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?

Not at all. Just the opposite. I loved Raymond Chandler’s novels & Marlowe and wanted to try one like that and produced the first series of Thomas Haftmann novels. With the later Raimo Jarvi, I wanted to steer clear of the wisecracking and tough-guy stuff.

In addition to a great read, what do you hope readers will take away from this story?

Just that: a great read.

What can you share about what you’re working on next?

Short stories in one of the horror or hardboiled crime genres help to decompress.


Robert White lives in Northeastern Ohio. Many of his stories and novels feature private investigators Thomas Haftmann or Raimo Jarvi. In 2019, he was nominated for a Derringer for “God’s Own Avenger”; “Inside Man” was selected for inclusion in Best American Mystery Stories 2019. A collection of revenge tales in 2022, Betray Me Not, was selected for distinction by the Independent Fiction Alliance.

To learn more about the author, please visit her website.