THE COFFIN MAKER'S APPRENTICE by Chris McGillion, feature
THE COFFIN MAKER'S APPRENTICE by Chris McGillion, feature
Print Friendly, PDF & Email


The Big Thrill Discusses THE COFFIN MAKER’S APPRENTICE with Chris McGillion

Book Cover: THE COFFIN MAKER'S APPRENTICETimorese police investigator Vincintino Cordero is assigned the case of two youths, rival gang members, found a week apart with their throats slit and a betel quid placed in their mouths. The case distracts him from spending time with FBI Agent Sara Carter before she completes her INTERPOL assignment and heads home to Arizona. But Carter is facing distractions of her own as the US ambassador and INTERPOL’s director pressure her to stay in East Timor. When the fiancé of her friend, police officer Estefana dos Carvalho, goes missing, all signs point to his abduction by whoever is behind the murder of the gang members. That draws Carter into Cordero’s investigation where the stakes, like the dangers, rise. A gang war could be imminent or young Timorese could be acting out a cult leader’s prophecy that those who fought and died for the country’s independence will rise from their graves and win a more favorable victory if the right conditions are met. Which of these possibilities do the betel quids in the dead boys’ mouths point to or could it be something more sinister?

Chris McGillion recently sat down with The Big Thrill to discuss his latest contemporary thriller, THE COFFIN MAKER’S APPRENTICE.

Author Photo: Chris McGillion

Chris McGillion

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

In my research on Timorese anthropology, I read about a myth among some young Timorese that the country made independent in 2002 was not the country pro-independence guerilla fighters fought and died for and that these fighters would soon come back from the dead to win the true victory that would benefit the young. That gave me the idea for this book.

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?

The empty space was more the setting – East Timor – which had not been used for a contemporary crime series before this series but which has a very colorful past and a very colorful culture. My main protagonist is an FBI agent sent – reluctantly – to East Timor because her robust policing is seen as a problem back in the US. She lost her father (murdered) and her half-sister (abducted) and has never quite comes to terms with those loses. Her thirst for justice especially when it concerns children has closed her to her own personal relationships.

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

I have always been inspired by the Navajo crime series written by Tony Hillerman. I’ve read each of his books three or four times (and I’m not finished with them yet).

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 wrote and edited this book in twelve months. Once I had the basic plot, it wrote itself.

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

In each of my books I explore the practical basis for mythical beliefs. I tried to break down superstitions. I do the same in this book with talk of ghostly encounters and beliefs about impending resurrections to bring about what some believe to be better outcomes.

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

Number 4 in the series in which an American marine biologist is found murdered in a tale of greed, jealousy and the search for mythical treasure.


After careers in journalism and academia, Chris McGillion began writing crime novels to weave his interests in history, politics, philosophy, and anthropology into stories that unlock unique locations to members of the general public. He has published a number of books on US-Latin American relations and on religious sociology. His particular interest in Timor Leste (East Timor) stems from regular visits to the country since 2010. Over the years he has been involved in various activities including media development, agricultural communication, and nutritional initiatives. He writes the East Timor Crime Series for Coffeetown Press (US).

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