Author Archives: thedarkphantom

Excerpt reveal: Blood and Wisdom, by Verlin Darrow

BloodandWisdom_w12516_750Title:  BLOOD & WISDOM

Genre:  Mystery/PI Novel

Author: Verlin Darrow

Websitewww.verlindarrow.com

Publisher: Wild Rose Press

Purchase on Amazon

About the Book: 

When Private Investigator Karl Gatlin takes on Aria Piper’s case, it was no more than a threat—phone calls warning Aria to either “stop doing Satan’s work” or meet an untimely demise.  But a few hours later, a headless John Doe bobs up in the wishing well at Aria’s New Age spiritual center near Santa Cruz.  Aria had ideas about who could be harassing her, but the appearance of a dismembered body makes for a real game changer.  And what Karl Gatlin initially thought was a fairly innocuous case turns out to be anything but.

Dispatching former rugby superstar and Maori friend John Ratu to protect Aria, Karl and his hacker assistant Matt are free to investigate a ruthless pastor, a money launderer on the run, some sketchy members of Aria’s flock, and warring drug gangs.  With his dog Larry as a wingman, Karl uncovers a broad swath of corruption, identity theft, blackmail, and more murders. But nothing is as it seems, and as the investigation heats up, Karl is framed, chased, and forced to dive into the freezing water of the Monterey Bay to escape a sniper.

Against the backdrop of a ticking clock, Karl races to find answers. But more murders only mean more questions—and Karl is forced to make an impossible choice when it turns out Aria’s secret may be the most harrowing of all… 

An intelligent, intense and engaging tale, Blood and Wisdom races from the opening scene to the final page.  Brimming with colorful, multi-dimensional characters, wit, humor, and a taut storyline, Blood and Wisdom is filled with twists, turns, and surprises.  Novelist Verlin Darrow, a practicing psychotherapist, infuses Blood and Wisdom with fascinating details about psychology and metaphysics, and seamlessly blends elements of hardboiled and softboiled detective fiction.   With its original premise, smart plotting, to-die-for redwood-studded coastal Santa Cruz and Big Sur setting, and protagonist like no other, Blood and Wisdom is a pitch-perfect PI novel.

Blood and Wisdom has garnered high advance praise.  According to Richard House, MD, author of Between Now and When, “Darrow has a sense of plot and style that carries the reader forward into that special place of anxious expectation, the place where putting the book down is unthinkable. Fascinating.”  C.I. Dennis, author of the Vince Tanzi series, including Tanzi’s Luck, praises Blood and Wisdom for its “great pace, fun characters who you care about, plenty of twists, and narrative personality.”

About the Author:

Verlin Darrow is a psychotherapist who was patted on the head by Einstein, nearly blown up by Mt. St. Helens, survived the 1985 8.0 Mexico City earthquake, and, so far, has successfully weathered numerous internal disasters. He lives with his psychotherapist wife in Northern California. They diagnose each other as necessary.

Connect with Verlin Darrow:

https://www.verlindarrow.com/blog

www.verlindarrow.com

 

EXCERPT

 

“Do you think we still need John?”

“I have no idea. Having a bodyguard was your idea, Karl. But if you’re asking me if I’m enjoying helping him, the answer is very much so.”

“Helping him?”

“Of course. That’s what I do.” Aria pulled her hands apart and then tilted them as though she were holding an invisible beach ball.

Something occurred to me. “Are you helping me, too? I mean, in some weird way besides answering my questions.”

“Did you sleep especially well the night we met? Right now, are you present and invigorated?”

I checked in with myself. I was feeling very alert, and the monkey chatter in my head was noticeably reduced. But the idea of somebody screwing with me without my permission was not okay with me.

“You know,” I said, “there’s something my first clinical supervisor told me. Well, first and last supervisor. Let’s face it, I got canned just a few months later, didn’t I? He told me that unsolicited help is interference.”

“I agree. What you’re experiencing is just the side effect of someone at your stage of spiritual development being exposed to my type of energy field.”

“Like what happened to Larry? Aria, let’s not get too weird. I’ve been tolerant of your beliefs, and I know you think all this is germane to the case, but…” I didn’t care to go further with this. I was likely to say something offensive.

She smiled another sweet, gentle smile. “I’m doing the best I can to minimize whatever would be difficult for you to handle, Karl.”

Larry barked. I glanced at him, and he barked again—more urgently this time. He was hearing something alarming that I couldn’t hear yet.

I stood. “Stay here,” I told Aria. “I mean it.” I didn’t wait to see her response.

Larry and I ran outside and hurtled down the front porch stairs. After a half-dozen steps toward the sound of a powerful motor, I saw it. A humongous silver SUV tore across the meadow, heading straight for us.

I dove to the side, behind a dangerously slim fruit tree. Larry remained on his feet, barking frantically as the truck bore down on him. I pulled my gun and called my dog, and thank God he obeyed. He was by my side in a flash.

Unfortunately, neither of us sensed the man behind us in time. He kicked the pistol out of my hand just before Larry took him down, but by then it was too late.

The SUV skidded to a halt, and three men piled out. One of them was the guy who’d stopped me on the road—the driver’s side guy. None of them held a weapon in his hand. They didn’t need them. There were four of them, and I was now unarmed. Presumably, someone was calling this in to the police, but we were out in the boondocks. It might be a while before a car could get to us.

“Larry!’ I called. “Heel!”

I didn’t want him getting hurt. He was astride the big guy on the ground next to me, but he backed off and sat by my side.

Larry’s guy kicked my gun away from me and moved behind us again in case we tried to run. With my knee, that wasn’t an option.

The other three stood directly in front of us now. “We meet again,” the guy with the acne said. “Where’s the woman? Is she in one of these buildings?”

I guess I didn’t answer fast enough. He stepped forward and pistoned a straight right to my gut. Jesus. This guy could punch. I’d tried some amateur boxing when I was young. Nobody had hit that hard—and this guy was a bantamweight at the most. I doubled over, trying not to retch.

“Hit him again,” one of the other men said in Spanish.

Then I heard a primeval bellow—a sound so deep and loud, all of us froze for a moment.

John Ratu sprinted around the corner of the building and tackled the boxer, driving him into the man next to him. Before the other one in front of me could react, John shot out his massive leg and swept the guy’s legs out from under him. In about two seconds, he’d knocked down all three of them.

I turned around. “Attack!” I called to Larry, and he launched himself at the guy behind us. I almost felt sorry for him. I headed for my pistol, which was about fifteen feet to the side of me.

The guy who’d punched me cut me off. He’d scrambled to his feet and eluded a roundhouse kick from John, who was now engaged with the other two attackers.

The man crouched on the balls of his feet, looking like a cross between a boxer and a martial artist. I had no doubt he could beat the crap out of me in a fair fight. It was lucky I didn’t fight fair.

He didn’t either. He pulled a double-edged knife on me and lunged forward, the weapon held low. He was going for my crotch.

I hit the ground and called Larry. We’d practiced this move at the training school we’d attended in New Mexico. With a running start, Larry leapt onto my back and launched himself. He was about head height when he reached our attacker, who was leaning forward. Larry’s open jaws clamped onto the guy’s cheek, and he screamed.

I heard sirens now. I got up, retrieved my gun, and held it on the four men on the ground. Once Larry had disabled his foe, he’d lost interest in the whole attack thing. And it had taken all of a minute for John to dispatch the other two, one of whom wasn’t moving at all.

We waited for the police. After taking all our statements, corroborated by multiple witnesses, they hauled off the thugs and towed away their SUV.

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Review: FROZEN, by Christine Amsden

 

4fd20-frozen_medReview: FROZEN, by Christine Amsden

Release date: April 11th, 2018

Publisher: Twilight Times Books

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Mystery

Series: Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective, Book 7

Get your copy on Amazon or Barnes and Noble

Fans of the Cassie ScotParaNormal Detective urban fantasy series will enjoy this the 7th instalment. This time, Cassie is married…but if you think life ends when you’re married, think again, especially in the small paranormal town of Eagle Rock, where everyone seems to have a magical ancestry and magickeeps popping up in unexpected places. In fact, the magic seems to be gettinggreater every year, with sorcerers growing stronger and mothers like Cassiechannelling more magic while pregnant. The Magical Underground tries to keep things at bay, but sometimes it canget out of control, like now…

Two people are found frozen to death, a pack of hellhounds has appeared out of nowhere, and there appears to be a sudden outset of suicides. Who or what is causing all these happenings? It is up to Cassie to find out—only, this time, while nursing her baby and managing her new marriage and family life.

Being a fan of the series and having read all of the previous books, I was happy to find out that the series didn’t end with Cassie getting married in the last book.  It’s not easy solving mysteries and facing dangerous situations in between diapers or arguments with a husband, that’s for sure! I found the story fresh and entertaining, with Cassie’s unpretentious, honest voice shining through the pages. She is both strong and vulnerable, which I love. The writing is engaging, smoothly flowing from chapter to chapter with the “quiet” tone of a cozy mystery. Though the book can be read as a standalone, without the intrusion of too much backstory, I highly recommend reading the books in order for a more satisfying experience.

Reviewed by Mayra Calvani

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for my review.

 

 

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Press release: Manhattan Novelist Awarded The Garcia Memorial Prize for Best Fiction

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Maryglenn McCombs, (615) 297-9875 maryglenn@maryglenn.com 

Manhattan Novelist Awarded The Garcia Memorial Prize for Best Fiction Book of the Year: Diana Forbes wins prestigious honor for her debut novel, Mistress Suffragette 

Mistress-Suffragette-IMAGE-e1512431996188AUSTIN, TEXAS – Manhattan novelist Diana Forbes has been awarded The Garcia Memorial Prize for her debut novel, Mistress Suffragette.  An annual award presented in conjunction with the national Reader Views Book Awards, The Garcia Memorial Prize is awarded to the best fiction book of the year. 

Sex and the Suffrage movement collide in Diana Forbes’s debut novel, Mistress Suffragette.  A brilliantly crafted work of historical fiction that unfolds against the backdrop of Manhattan’s Gilded Age, Mistress Suffragette has earned high critical praise. In a Starred review, Kirkus calls Mistress Suffragette “a sprightly, winning historical novel.” San Francisco Review of Books reports “writing of this quality is rare…a very welcome debut.”  New Theory Magazine notes:  “the plight of the clever main character, Penelope, has a timelessness that every 21st century woman will recognize.” 

About Mistress Suffragette:  Sheltered but feisty Penelope Stanton, growing up in Gilded Age, Newport, Rhode Island is tarnished by her father’s bankruptcy during the Panic of 1893.Penelope quickly attracts the unwanted advances of a villainous millionaire banker who preys on distressed women. After she flees him to nearby Boston, Penelope, by necessity, becomes a paid public speaker in the early women’s suffrage movement. Now she’s speaking out on women’s issues from Boston to New York. But will her disastrous choices in love unravel everything she’s fighting for?  In the glittering age where a woman’s reputation is her most valuable possession, Penelope will be forced to discover her hidden reserves of courage and tenacity—and she’ll have to decide whether to compromise her principles for love.

A mesmerizing tale that blends elements of history, romance, and women’s fiction, Mistress Suffragette is a beautifully-written novel that will stay with readers long after the final page is turned.  Meticulously plotted and brimming with multi-dimensional characters that spring to life within the novel’s pages, Mistress Suffragette leads readers on a rich, rewarding journey to a time long past.  An extraordinary novel by an extraordinary writer, Mistress Suffragette is a timeless, unforgettable tale. 

According to Susan Violante, editor of Reader Views, “We were overwhelmed by both the quantity and quality of entries in this year’s Reader Views Literary Awards. This year’s awards program featured numerous outstanding works of fiction.  Mistress Suffragette by Diana Forbes was a true standout. This incredible novel has it all:  excellent writing, a mesmerizing storyline, and memorable, realistic characters. Mistress Suffragette is an exemplary work of fiction and it is our honor to recognize this title as recipient of the Garcia Memorial Prize for Fiction.” 

Diana Forbes is a 9th generation American, with ancestors on both sides of the Civil War. Diana Forbes lives and writes in Manhattan. When she is not cribbing chapters, Diana Forbes loves to explore the buildings where her 19th century American ancestors lived, loved, survived and thrived.  Visit Diana Forbes online at: www.DianaForbesNovels.com 

Published by Penmore Press, Mistress Suffragette is available in trade paper and eBook editions. Mistress Suffragette is available where fine books are sold. The Reader Views Awards is an annual literary awards program that recognizes excellence in independent publishing. Founded in 2005, Reader Views(www.readerviews.com ) is based in Austin, Texas. The Garcia Memorial Prize honors the life and memory of Garcia, one of the finest Old English Sheepdogs to have ever roamed the earth. Members of the news media wishing to request additional information about the Garcia Memorial Prize or author Diana Forbes are kindly asked to contact Maryglenn McCombs by phone – (615) 297-9875, or by email –  maryglenn@maryglenn.com  

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The Writing Life with Joseph Davida, author of ‘Traveling High and Tripping Hard’

Pixel Egypt Dave
After a near death experience at age fifteen, Joseph Davida left his parents’ home and moved into Manhattan. Too young to get a “real” job, he started up what became one of the biggest weed delivery services in New York to support himself while he pursued his career as a musician and songwriter. For years he worked with some of the best musicians in the world, until a nervous breakdown brought his time in the music industry to an end. During this time he traveled the world before finally settling in Nashville, where he had two beautiful daughters and started a successful chain of retail stores. He now concentrates on being a good father, and actively plans for the coming revolution…while also working to get his many stories onto the page.

Check out his travel memoir, Traveling High and Tripping Hard.

INTERVIEW:

What got you into writing?

I’ve always been writing something. Whether it be music, lyrics, or poetry, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing. Maybe it’s something in my blood. My father was a writer, my grandfather was a writer… I’m even related to Stephen Crane. A bit of misery seems to be the common thread.

What do you like best about being an author?

Not much. Unless you are doing it for purely cathartic reasons, it’s a pretty terrible thing to try and pursue.

When do you hate it?

During the editing process. There are just a million ways to write the same sentence, and being a little obsessive, I usually try to explore them all. (Even though I usually just wind up back where I started anyway.) But sometimes, hating what you write pushes you to keep writing, and to try and write something even better.

THTH_final_4What is a regular writing day like for you?

It depends. If it’s creative writing, they are not really regular, and usually contingent upon what substances I have ingested. If it’s an editing day, I’ll generally try to stay sharp. No matter what day it is, I usually like to start it with a bagel. With lots of butter. If my heart feels like it won’t give out, then I might even have some bacon. If the writing is going really bad, I deep fry the bagels in the bacon grease, and hope I have a heart attack to put me out of my misery so I won’t have to write anymore.


Do you think authors have big egos?

Of course. To think anyone should care about what you have to say, is about the most egotistical thing someone can do. But the truth is all writers are fragile beings, who just want to be loved. If your mother gave you attention as a child, it is doubtful you would want to bother with the whole writing thing in the first place.

How do you handle negative reviews?

I haven’t really had any yet, but I’ll probably be getting some soon. When it happens I’m sure I’ll pretend like it doesn’t bother me, and then will obsess over them until I question every aspect of my life and every decision I’ve ever made. My handlers have been instructed to remove all sharp objects from my vicinity once the book is released.

How do you handle positive reviews?

Haven’t had many of those either, but I’m sure I will receive them with suspicion. My doctor says I am a glutton for self-punishment.

What is the usual response when you tell a new acquaintance that you’re an author?

I don’t bother. I assume if they don’t know that on their own, there is probably a good reason for it. Where I live in Nashville, every person you meet is a writer or a musician. The only thing people generally care about is if you can get them a discount at the restaurant or store you work at.

What do you do on those days you don’t feel like writing? Do you force it or take a break?

It depends where the vodka takes me. If I find a good Neil DeGrasse Tyson podcast on Youtube, you can assume I will not be doing any more writing that day.

Any writing quirks?

Em dashes—and ellipses…

What would you do if people around you didn’t take your writing seriously or see it as a hobby?

I’d sic my dog on them, and then ask if they feel like taking me more seriously now… Sadly, he’d probably just wind up licking their face, so it is unlikely they’d wind up taking me very seriously anyway.

Some authors seem to have a love-hate relationship to writing. Can you relate?

Sure. You can’t be passionate about anything unless you love and hate it. Most people don’t write because it makes them feel good. They write until the demons in their heads get so exhausted, they can only taunt you with whispers.

What’s on the horizon for you?  

Hopefully lots of free drugs, adoration, and writing groupies.

Leave us with some words of wisdom about the writing process or about being a writer.


I’m not sure if I’m very wise, or a good writer…but if there is anything that matters to me, it is honest writing. I’d always rather read something true and from the heart, then something technically perfect, flowery, or full of shit.

 

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Excerpt reveal: Watch Me, by Jody Gehrman

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Watch Me CoverTitle:  WATCH ME

Genre:  Thriller/Psychological Suspense/Women’s Fiction

Author: Jody Gehrman

Website:  www.jodygehrman.com

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Find out more on Amazon

A gripping psychological thriller about one college student’s dark obsession with his professor, Watch Me plunges readers into a tense, twisty, and terrifying tale about how far obsession can go…

Kate Youngblood is disappearing. Muddling through her late 30s as a creative writing professor at Blackwood college, she’s dangerously close to never being noticed again. The follow-up novel to her successful debut tanked. Her husband left her for a woman ten years younger. She’s always been bright, beautiful, independent and a little wild, but now her glow is starting to vanish. She’s heading into an age where her eyes are less blue, her charm worn out, and soon no one will ever truly look at her, want to know her, again.

Except…

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Talking Craft with Author M. J. Joseph

The Dark Phantom Review

View More: http://aislinnkate.pass.us/joejoseph-miniBorn and raised in Florida, M.J. Joseph maintains membership in the English Goethe Society, the Siegfried Sassoon Society and other literary associations. He is a supporter-member of the Society for the Study of Southern Literature, as well as an Associate of Lincoln Cathedral. Prior to retiring, Joseph enjoyed a lengthy and rewarding career with an industrial firm where he served as CEO and managed the company’s merger with a larger international corporation. He divides his time between Europe and his home on Florida’s northern coast. M.J. Joseph and his wife Ann have two children and reside in Florida.

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, The Lübecker. To begin with, can you give us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it?   

A: Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to spend time with the Phantom! First, The…

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Interview: Gabriel Valjan, Author of ‘The Good Man’

Gabriel Valjan is the author of the Roma Series and The Company Files  from Winter Goose Publishing as well as numerous short stories. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts, where he enjoys the local restaurants, and his two cats, Squeak and Squawk, keep him honest to the story on the screen. You can visit him at his website. He’s here today to talk about his new suspense series.
Thanks for this interview, Gabriel. Tell us about yourself.
I hide my love of dogs from my cats. English was not my first language, and I read fiction in more than one language. I was a sponsored triathlete. Cancer survivor. I weighed one pound at birth. Hearing-impaired. Ambidextrous. I went to school with Peter Dinklage.
Have you always been creative? When did you start writing fiction?
As a writer, no. I drew and painted at a young age. I read voraciously as a child, but when I did take an interest in creative writing, it was poetry. My first publication was a poem in 1989.
In this your new series, The Company Files, you move from the present Rome of your Roma Series to historical post-war Vienna. Why did you choose this particular time period?
I should state up front that I wrote The Good Man before I wrote Roma, Underground. To answer your question…History interests me. For those who don’t know, Vienna was divided into four zones, the American, the British, the French, and the Russians after World War II. Vienna would become, for a brief time, a Wild West.
It’s not the first time a city or country had been divided after a conflict. Vienna, however, bears a crucial distinction in that it became the crucible for the Cold War and the birthplace for the post-war intelligence community. Modern nation states in Europe then were designated as either friendly to US-led Western Bloc or to Soviet-led Eastern Bloc countries. There is, of course, the fun of researching the social mores of the era. Leslie in The Good Man and Bianca in The Roma Series are a half-century apart, and yet confront similar issues of survival in a man’s world.
The book is described as historical noir. For readers who aren’t familiar with this genre, can you tell us about it?
First, noir is a cinematic term. Film noir is, in my opinion, a visual display of Existentialist philosophy. The prevailing undercurrent to film noir and the crime fiction it inspired is that the Average Joe is doomed no matter what he does. He’ll make one bad decision after another, whether it’s planning a heist that goes wrong, keeping found money and unwittingly inviting the bad guys into his life, or lusting after the wrong woman. His life is a blues song. If he didn’t have bad luck, he’d have no luck at all.

Historical noir, as I use the phrase to describe The Good Man, is when characters make decisions within a certain context. The world is still morally compromised and fatalistic. The historical circumstances offer both flavour and plot device. The reader has the advantage of hindsight. November 22, 1963, for example, has only one inevitable conclusion. Genre sets the expectation, and I leave it to the reader to decide whether I abide by or violate those rules. Is there justice in the end? Does the guy get the girl?

Like in your Roma Series, you pay particular attention to team work among your characters. What draws you to this quality?
The Good Man is the result of my love for what I call the middle period of noir fiction, the 1940s. I’m not hard-boiled as Hammett’s Continental Op and Sam Spade from the 1920s, nor as violent as Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer in the 1950s. I envisioned a softer cynicism found in Raymond Chandler’s Marlowe.
In reading contemporary crime fiction, which I think harkens back to hard-boiled, I can appreciate the antihero and the protagonist who can’t catch a break, but I find most of it too nihilistic. While I don’t believe that Good always triumphs in real life, I found myself asking: Are we so cynical as to find value in the bleak and ultra-violent stories? Does it take visiting the darkest depths to feel better about our own lives?
Don’t get me wrong about violence and profanity. Mexican cartels are violent, but the Average Joe criminal is not that sadistic. My complaint is that there’s no glimmer of hope in a lot of contemporary crime fiction, unless it’s the razor blade on the sidewalk. Algren, Bukowski, and Fante wrote to show how the other half lived, but so did Upton Sinclair and Steinbeck. What is the point, if there’s nothing positive in the universe?
Writers have to compete with movies, with visual media, so why not work the vein of human relationships in close quarters? I’m not saying people can’t be flawed. The series Breaking Bad is a perfect example. People pushed to extremes are forced to work and trust each other, to some degree. In The Good Man, there is a triangle of characters who entrust their lives to each other. Jack, Walker, and Whittaker have a foundation – their shared war experiences – for trusting each other. Another triangle in the story is Leslie, Sheldon, and Tania: they have to prove themselves. There is history, camaraderie and debts, recognized and repaid.
Tell us about your protagonists and what makes them stand out.
Jack Marshall is the leader, principled but agile. Walker is the romantic, the fellow caught up in history’s current and unsure of his abilities. Whittaker is the doer, which doesn’t always require brains. Each man makes questionable decisions. Leslie is a woman with skills in an unappreciative world and she’s acutely aware of it. Sheldon is savvy, almost suicidal. Tania is precocious, another survivor, and a damaged soul.
Jack and Walker fought in the war together, depended on each other and owed each other something. In a life and death situation, would they choose friendship over duty?
Jack and Walker have a moment in The Good Man where they question Whittaker’s loyalty, but they extend the benefit of the doubt. Political pressure is hammering both men. Friendship and duty coexist and are in conflict with each other. The question is how long can they hold out. Jack and Walker choose Loyalty because of what they’ve experienced together. Few would understand it.
I found Walker and Leslie’s relationship sad. Does love have a place in their dangerous professions?
Their story continues in the sequels, The Naming Game and Diminished Fifth. My take on their relationship is that Leslie realizes times are changing and she is trying to hold onto her independence. The social mores of the day were especially hard on women. Women during the war years experienced a few years of financial freedom before the country asked them to return to the kitchen and home.
Leslie knows she has the credibility for a career in intelligence, but how much of that can she keep or maintain if she is perceived as ‘attached’ or ‘compromised’? I also believe Leslie is better grounded than Walker. He is trying to find his place in the world. I’m not sure Leslie can wait for him, or sacrifice what she has accomplished on her own. Their profession adds the complication that their lives are shrouded in secrecy and they must be ciphers to most people around them.
There are a number of intriguing secondary characters, like Sheldon and Tania. Were they difficult to write about? What challenges did you face getting into the mind of a vigilante and a 13-year-old Lolita-type character?
They weren’t difficult since I didn’t have to venture far to create them. As I mention in the Afterword, there were Jewish concentration camp survivors who were incensed that known war criminals were evading justice, so they became ‘vigilantes’ and hunted them down. Sheldon is a complex character and his “activities” are ambiguous, depending on your moral compass. The late Simon Wiesenthal hunted down former Nazis to have them arrested or exposed because so many escaped the courtrooms.
My opinion is that justice was selective and in the hands of the dominant player after World War II, the United States. There were businessmen and companies who benefitted from Nazi labor camps. Have a look at the I.G. Farben Trials, and note that none of the defendants was American, though Ford Motor Company, General Motors and IBM benefitted from their dark alliances with Hitler’s Third Reich.

The plot for The Good Man revolves around Operation Paperclip, where the U.S. collaborated with allies to shield former Nazis. The physicist Wernher von Braun is a notorious example. His work accelerated the U.S.’s space program. Reinhard Gehlen, another example, traded in his Nazi Army shoulder boards to become a Communist hunter. Eichmann’s whereabouts were not a complete mystery to U.S. intelligence, but it took the Israeli Mossad to defy both the U.S. and international laws to kidnap him from his apartment in Buenos Aires in order to bring him to Jerusalem to stand trial.

Tania was a wonderful creation. She’s flirtatious and, like most victims of sexual abuse, she acts precocious and manipulative. Her pedigree as a victim, however, runs deeper. As a Slav, she had dodged the Nazis, who would’ve worked her to death in the camps; had she presented herself as a refugee seeking asylum in Vienna, the Americans would’ve seen her as a Communist. There is also her ideological heritage: her father was a casualty of a Stalinist purge. She is a young girl without a country.
Were you thinking of Sheldon when you came up with the title?
Yes, but I think the question, “Are you a good man?” can be put to Jack, Walker, and Whittaker, too.
Post-war Vienna came alive for me in the story. Tell us about the importance of settings.
Context and circumstances are everything. I tried to develop the noirish aspect of time and place. I mentioned earlier that Vienna was a unique historical situation. Vienna was a playground for intrigues and for the Cold War, the silent world war. Whereas Berlin had a literal wall to divide antagonistic ideologies, hotels and landmarks designated the governing powers in Vienna.
With the War over, the Americans and British were now uneasy allies. Russia, an ally for the Americans, was now the new enemy. The bad guys, the Nazis with special insider information, became tentative allies. That the entire drama plays out in a German-speaking Austria was not lost on me. Austria, Hitler’s birthplace, while German speaking, is not Teutonic in the sense that it’s Protestant and its division into Bundesländer, or city-states, came after the dissolution of the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy.
In the café scenes, I tried to capture this sense of a world that had fallen away from what Stefan Zweig called The World of Yesterday. Walker is out of his depth in not knowing the German language and Austrian culture well, and both he and Jack are also caught up in the clashes of American and European, and West with East, when they encounter Sheldon and Tania. 
What appeals to you about European settings? Have you been in the places that appear in your books?
Differences in perception and outlook. Travel and living abroad have educated me. My use of settings is more than just ‘colour’ in my novels. While I have not been to Vienna, I’ve visited Austria. I’ve travelled around Great Britain (attended graduate school there), been to France, Germany, Italy, and the former Yugoslavia. I try to illustrate and incorporate cultural differences; how people interact with each other and relate to authority. In the Roma Series, I explore the unresolved North and South divide in Italy, among other sensitive issues.
I witnessed a balance between Work and Life in Europe that does not exist in America, whether it was Ferragosto in Italy, or strikes in France by all workers to protest raising student fees in France. Americans work longer and harder and our health suffers for it. If American education and healthcare were run according to the business model of rewarding performance, then there would be true reform.
I find it morally reprehensible that, for a country of such wealth and resources, the U.S. has the worst rate for maternal deaths in the Developed World, with 26 deaths per 100,000 live births. Sense of perspective: The World Health Organization tracks 180 countries and the US ranks 137 on that list for maternal deaths. Other findings are sobering and irrefutable. Will McAvoy, a character on Aaron Sorkin’s The News Room, summarized it in his answer to the question, “Can you say why America is the greatest country in the world?” You can find the clip on youtube.com
Experiencing Europe, I realized that Americans and European society are socially engineered around a different definition of ‘citizen.’ I’m not naïve: Europe is a tiered society and mobility is limited, but I think it’s disingenuous to think America doesn’t have a class society. I’m not blind to disconcerting parallels between the U.S. and Europe, such as the uncanny similarities between Berlusconi and Trump.
Americans, however, have drunk the ideological Kool-Aid and I’m afraid we are losing our standing in the world. I cited ‘citizen’ as an example, so let me provide an example of distorted logic. There were protests against Obamacare. The idea of national healthcare is still derided as ‘Socialism’ and ‘Communism.’ Protestors claimed that in other systems, a patient died waiting for care.
There is no such evidence. President Obama himself said he watched his mother worry not about the ovarian cancer that would claim her life, but rather how she would pay for healthcare. I’ll set aside the obvious ignorance that Socialism and Communism are apples and oranges, but nobody has considered the European view that healthcare is a citizen’s right, and that healthy citizens are an investment in Society.
For this book, how much and what type of research did you have to do?
With any topic that is not native to your experience, research is required; it’s a matter of ethics. I had to read history books and memoirs about the period covered in The Good Man. I cited some of them in my Afterword. With respect to people who lived during that time, those I knew are dead now. I am aware that with people I knew, the material is anecdotal and subjective, the lens of history made hazy.
The Good Man tries to show decent people in terrible situations. Mistakes were made, people fooled, and terrible compromises made. There was also a consolidation of extraordinary power in individuals such as the Dulles brothers at the CIA, and J. Edgar Hoover at the FBI. The United States would see a similar nexus of power again with the Kennedy brothers.
I do believe that the CIA was founded on the noble (and necessary) premise of national security, but the nature of spy craft and politics is such that it’s a losing proposition. When governments resort to secret agencies or programs, or leverage the methods of their former enemies Hermann Göring’s propaganda and Stasi surveillance methods are alive and well then what do we have? Enemies yesterday, friends today; and friends today, enemies tomorrow. Case in point: President Reagan continued Operation Cyclone to counter the Soviet presence in Afghanistan, funding mujahedeen leaders who would later become the founding members of the extremist al-Qaeda.
In general, what do you struggle with as an author?
Visibility. It’s a struggle because there are so many books out each month.
What is a regular day like for you? Do you set yourself a minimum amount of words or hours on a daily or weekly basis?
I write in the mornings. I find that my mind is clearer and focused then. While I understand setting goals as a form of discipline, Word Counts mean nothing to me. I don’t lack discipline. The way my imagination works is that I envision a scene and I write until it is done, whether that takes one day or several days. I see writers posting daily Word Counts, and I don’t know what to make of it. Quantity over Quality? A form of humblebrag? Jack Torrance sat every day at his typewriter and typed, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy …” and look how that turned out for him.
How do you set yourself challenges and grow as an author with each new book? For example, what lessons did you learn with your first series that you now implement in this new series?  What are you discovering about yourself as a writer while writing these new series?
I challenge myself by writing in different genres. Horror. Crime fiction. Cozy mystery. Genre gets bashed as low-brow, and not as “Literary Fiction,” which I think is nonsense. Genre is like poetry. You have to know the rules, the meter, and the expectation. Break the rules after you’ve mastered them, but learn them first and appreciate their inherent challenges. The same approach applies to reading in and out of your comfort zones. I mentioned earlier that I read foreign literature. Translators have made other writers available. Read a French ‘polar’ and ‘policier’ and observe the space dedicated to describing violence and exposition. As with any foreign culture, note workplace hierarchy and formalities.
What can readers look forward to in the sequel? When is the next book coming out?
The Naming Game delivers more of the Walker and Leslie relationship. Readers will become acquainted with the turf war between the nascent CIA and J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI during the Red Scare in Los Angeles.
What do you look forward to as an author in 2018?  
I look forward to reading more of Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano. I hope to meet readers at conferences such as Malice Domestic, and New England Crimebake. I have not made a decision about attending Bouchercon in Florida.
What else would you like to tell readers?
If you are at a conference and know that I am there, please stop me and say hello.

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