Moonlight Falls

Five Things I Learned While Writing Moonlight Falls by Vincent Zandri

Vincent Zandri

We have a special guest post by Vincent Zandri, author of the thriller novel, Moonlight Falls, today.

Moonlight Falls is the Albany, New York-based paranoid tale (in the Hitchcock tradition) of former APD Detective turned Private Investigator/Massage Therapist, Richard “Dick” Moonlight, who believes he might be responsible for the brutal slaying by knife of his illicit lover, the beautiful Scarlet Montana. The situation is made all the worse since Scarlet is the wife of Moonlight’s boss, Chief of Detectives Jake Montana.

Why does Moonlight believe he might be responsible?

He’s got a small fragment of a .22 hollow point round buried inside his brain, lodge directly up against his cerebral cortex. The result of a botched suicide attempt four years prior to the novel’s start, an operation to remove the bullt frag would be too dangerous.

But the bullet causes Moonlight lots of problems, the least of which are the occasional memory loss and his rational ability to tell right from wrong. The bullet frag also might shift at any moment, making coma and/or sudden death, a very real possibility.

Still, Moonlight has been trying to get his life together as of late.

But when Scarlet begs him to make the trip over to her house late one rainy Sunday night to issue one of his “massages,” he makes a big mistake by sleeping with her. Later, having passed out in her bed, he will be rudely awakened by a garage door opening and Jake’s unexpected and very drunken homecoming. Making his impromptu escape out a top floor window, Moonlight will seek the safety of his home.

Two hours later however, he will receive another unexpected visit from Jake Montana. This time the big Captain has sobering news to report. He’s discovered his wife’s mutilated body in her own bed. She’s been murdered and now he needs the P.I. to investigate it in association with Albany ’s “overtaxed” Special Independent Unit before I.A. pokes their nose into the affair. Moonlight takes a big step back. Is it possible he made a second trip to the Montana home-sweet-home and just has no recollection of it? Once there, did he perform a heinous crime on his part-time lover? Or is this some kind of set up by his former boss? Is it really Jake who is responsible for Scarlet’s death? Does he wish for Moonlight to cover up his involvement, seal the case before Internal Affairs starts poking their nose into the situation?

There’s another problem too.

Covering Moonlight’s palms and the pads of his fingers are numerous scratches and cuts. Are these defensive wounds? Wounds he received when Scarlet put up a struggle? Or are they offensive wounds? Wounds he couldn’t avoid when making his attack on Scarlet with a blade? The answer is not so simple since Moonlight has no idea where he acquired the wounds.

Having no choice but to take on the mission (if only to cover his own ass), Moonlight can only hope the answers to his many questions point to his former boss and not himself.

This is the exciting premise and here are five things Vincent Zandri learned while writing the novel.  Enjoy!

…………………………………….

Five Things I Learned While Writing Moonlight Falls
by Vincent Zandri

Many things were learned during the five on-again, off-again years while I was writing my new noir, thriller, Moonlight Falls, the least if which, is that initial publishing success can be fading. Back in 1999, when my first commercial thriller, As Catch Can, was first published in hardcover by Delacorte, I assumed that I had found a permanent literary home for the rest of my life, and that the next stop in my green career was the Pulitzer Prize. But when Delacorte merged with another publisher, many of its authors were quickly transferred elsewhere and from there, kindly shown the door. For me, it was back to square one.

But despite the trial and tribulations of a commercial publishing world that has been described as “perilous,” I was nonetheless able to adhere to a program of good, solid writing, day in and day out. That alone became my shield against a volatile publishing business. That alone was my guiding force in a short literary life that had seen great ups and that now, was realizing a very deep, seemingly bottomless pit.

Still I trudged on through a period of several years where I did not publish a single book, but instead concentrated on the writing of several manuscripts, not the least of which, became Moonlight Falls. Here are five things I learned about myself and the world around me during that time.

1. Nothing replaces rock solid writing, research and rewriting. Or, the three R’s, if you will. Even though I might have quit the business altogether and moved on to something less volatile than the writing and publishing life, I still adhered to a rigorous writing program day in and day out, even when there was no money coming in. I chose this path because in the back of my head, I always knew that the novel would one day be published. Not self-published, mind you, but published in the traditional format. Which leads me to…

2. Never lose your faith in yourself and your ability, even in the face of domestic non-tranquility. Things around the house during my, lets call them “wilderness years,” were not very happy. I’d just married my second wife, Laura, whom I believed was my soul mate. We came together at a time when things were great. I was on top of the world as a writer and we were traveling the world. But then, when things got hard. I retreated back into my shell and nearly lost all confidence in my ability to write a great story. But curiously, and sadly, as Laura and I began to break up, I regained my confidence. Which leads me to…

3. Don’t quite the day job. Or in my case, don’t give up the freelance writing and journalism because you’re suddenly under the impression you’re the next Norman Mailer. What you must constantly remind yourself is that even a world renowned writer like Mailer was broke half the time. When I published As Catch Can and the follow up, Godchild, I assumed I’d never have to write another stitch of journalism again; that I could place all my literary eggs into one basket. Turns out, had I kept my foot in the freelance writing door, I might have saved my marriage and my home by maintaining at least a semblance of income. Luckily, I was able to make a return to journalism but only after the domestic damage was done. Which leads me to…

4. Learn to weather the storms and know when to move on with your life. Said another way, learn how to swallow you pride. It’s a tough thing losing everything you have worked so hard for in life, from your publisher to your wife to your home. But to have it all happen at once, well, that’s enough to break even the strongest man for good. But this is the life we live as writers and novelists. This is the life we have chosen. While in many ways I would stop at nothing to have my wife back, I know I am powerless to do anything about it other than write the best I can, and do so consistently and without prejudice; without concern for what the publishing market is currently bearing. Which leads me to…

5. The publishing market is undergoing severe and rapid change. Traditional commercial publishers are dying. Don’t let them tell you otherwise. What’s replacing them are electronically based, independent houses that although utilizing the traditional publishing model of accepting a manuscript based upon its merits as a work of art, now publish the manuscripts in both electronic and POD format. Yes, the independent bookstores will hate you for it, and even turn up their noses at you. But 90% of all book buyers are making their purchases online. Many of them are doing so via Kindle, I-Phone, BlackBerry, and other electronic means. It’s the new world publishing model of social media, virtual tours, book trailers, blog talk radio, mommy blogs, etc., and it is here to stay. More then likely, it will give over to an influx of self-published material over the next few years, while big agent firms and big publishers die off.

Moonlight Falls author, Vincent Zandri, is an award-winning novelist, essayist and freelance photojournalist. His novel As Catch Can (Delacorte) was touted in two pre-publication articles by Publishers Weekly and was called “Brilliant” upon its publication by The New York Post. The Boston Herald attributed it as “The most arresting first crime novel to break into print this season.” Other novels include Godchild (Bantam/Dell) and Permanence (NPI). Translated into several languages including Japanese and the Dutch, Zandri’s novels have also been sought out by numerous major movie producers, including Heyday Productions and DreamWorks. Presently he is the author of the blogs, Dangerous Dispatches and Embedded in Africa for Russia Today TV (RT). He also writes for other global publications, including Culture 11, Globalia and Globalspec. Zandri’s nonfiction has appeared in New York Newsday, Hudson Valley Magazine, Game and Fish Magazine and others, while his essays and short fiction have been featured in many journals including Fugue, Maryland Review and Orange Coast Magazine. He holds an M.F.A. in Writing from Vermont College and is a 2010 International Thriller Writer’s Awards panel judge. Zandri currently divides his time between New York and Europe. He is the drummer for the Albany-based punk band to Blisterz.

www.vincentzandri.com

http://vincentzandri.blogspot.com/

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http://www.facebook.com/vincent.zandri?ref=profile

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Book Excerpt: Moonlight Falls by Vincent Zandri

Title: Moonlight Falls
Author: Vincent Zandri
Genre: Thriller
Paperback: 328 pages
Publisher: R.J. Buckley Publishing (Dec 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0758229208
ISBN-13: 978-0758229205

Moonlight Falls is the Albany, New York-based paranoid tale (in the Hitchcock tradition) of former APD Detective turned Private Investigator/Massage Therapist, Richard “Dick” Moonlight, who believes he might be responsible for the brutal slaying by knife of his illicit lover, the beautiful Scarlet Montana. The situation is made all the worse since Scarlet is the wife of Moonlight’s boss, Chief of Detectives Jake Montana.

Why does Moonlight believe he might be responsible?

He’s got a small fragment of a .22 hollow point round buried inside his brain, lodge directly up against his cerebral cortex. The result of a botched suicide attempt four years prior to the novel’s start, an operation to remove the bullt frag would be too dangerous.

But the bullet causes Moonlight lots of problems, the least of which are the occasional memory loss and his rational ability to tell right from wrong. The bullet frag also might shift at any moment, making coma and/or sudden death, a very real possibility.

Still, Moonlight has been trying to get his life together as of late.

But when Scarlet begs him to make the trip over to her house late one rainy Sunday night to issue one of his “massages,” he makes a big mistake by sleeping with her. Later, having passed out in her bed, he will be rudely awakened by a garage door opening and Jake’s unexpected and very drunken homecoming. Making his impromptu escape out a top floor window, Moonlight will seek the safety of his home.

Two hours later however, he will receive another unexpected visit from Jake Montana. This time the big Captain has sobering news to report. He’s discovered his wife’s mutilated body in her own bed. She’s been murdered and now he needs the P.I. to investigate it in association with Albany ’s “overtaxed” Special Independent Unit before I.A. pokes their nose into the affair. Moonlight takes a big step back. Is it possible he made a second trip to the Montana home-sweet-home and just has no recollection of it? Once there, did he perform a heinous crime on his part-time lover? Or is this some kind of set up by his former boss? Is it really Jake who is responsible for Scarlet’s death? Does he wish for Moonlight to cover up his involvement, seal the case before Internal Affairs starts poking their nose into the situation?

There’s another problem too.

Covering Moonlight’s palms and the pads of his fingers are numerous scratches and cuts. Are these defensive wounds? Wounds he received when Scarlet put up a struggle? Or are they offensive wounds? Wounds he couldn’t avoid when making his attack on Scarlet with a blade? The answer is not so simple since Moonlight has no idea where he acquired the wounds.

Having no choice but to take on the mission (if only to cover his own ass), Moonlight can only hope the answers to his many questions point to his former boss and not himself.

Excerpt:

Albany, New York
140 miles northeast of New York City

I’m escorted into a four-walled basement room by two suited
agents—one tall, slim and bearded, the other shorter, stockier, cleanshaven.
The space we occupy contains a one-way mirror which I know
from experience hides a tripod-mounted video camera, a sound man and several FBI agents, the identities of whom are concealed. There’s no
furniture in the room, other than a long metal table and four metal chairs. No wallpaper, no soft lamp light, no piped-in music. Just harsh white overhead light, concrete and a funny worm smell.

As I enter the room for the first time, the tall agent tells me to take a seat at the table.

“We appreciate your cooperation,” the stocky agent jumps in.

Out of the corner of my eye, I catch my reflection in the mirror.

I’m of medium height. Not tall, not short. Not too badly put together for having reached the big four-zero thanks to the cross-training routine I put myself on not long after my hospital release. Nowadays, my head is shaved. There’s a small button-sized scar behind my right earlobe in the place where the fragment of .22 caliber hollow-point penetrated
the skull. I wear a black leather jacket over black jeans and lace-up combat boots left over from my military service during the first Gulf War. My eyeglasses are rectangular and retrofitted from a pair of cheap sunglasses I picked up at a Penn Station kiosk. They make my stubblecovered face seem slightly wider than it really is. So people have told me.
Having been led to my chair, I am then asked to focus my gaze directly onto the mirror so that the video man or woman stationed on the opposite side of the glass can adjust the shooting angle and focus.

“Please say something,” requests Stocky Agent while removing his suit jacket, setting it over the back of an empty chair.

“There once was a cop from Nantucket ,” I say to break the ice.

But no one laughs.

“You get that?” the taller agent barks out to no one in particular.

“Okay to go,” comes a tinny, hidden speaker voice. “You gonna finish that poem, Mr. Moonlight?”

“Knock it off,” Stocky Agent orders. Then turns back to me.

“Before we get started, can we get you a coffee? A cappuccino? You can get one right out of the new machine upstairs.”

“Mind if I burn one?”

Tall Bearded Agent purses his lips, cocks his head in the direction of a plastic No Smoking placard to the wall.

Stocky Agent makes a sour face, shakes his head, rolls up the sleeves on his thick arms. He reaches across the heavy wood table, grabs an ashtray, and clunks it down in front of me as if it were a bedpan.

“The rule doesn’t apply down here,” he says. Then, in this deep affected voice, he adds, “Let’s get started, Mr. Moonlight. You already know the routine. For now we just want to get to the bottom of the who, what, wheres and hows of this train wreck.”

“You forgot the why,” I say, firing up a Marlboro Light. “You need to know the why to establish an entire familiarity with any given case.”

Stocky Agent does a double take, smiles. Like he knows I’m fucking with him.

“Don’t be a dick, Dick,” he says.

I guess it’s important not to take life too seriously. He laughs. I laugh. We all laugh. Ice officially broken. I exhale some smoke, sit back in my chair.

They’re right, of course. I know the drill. I know it’s the truth they’re after. The truth and almost nothing but the truth. But what they also want is my perspective—my take on the entire Scarlet Montana affair, from soup to peanuts. They want me to leave nothing out. I’ll start with my on-again/off-again love affair with my boss’s wife. Maybe from
there I’ll move on to the dead bodies, my cut-up hands, the Saratoga
Springs Russians, the Psychic Fair, the heroin, the illegal organ harvesting
operation, the exhumations, the attempts on my life, the lies, deceptions
and fuck-overs galore.

As a former fulltime Albany detective, I know that nobody sees the same thing through the same set of eyeballs. What’s important to one person might appear insignificant or useless to another. What those federal agents want right now inside the basement interview room is my most reliable version of the truth—an accurate, objective truth that
separates fact from fantasy.

Theoretically speaking.

“Ask away,” I say, just as the buzzing starts up in the core of my head.

“Just start at the beginning,” Stocky Agent requests. “We have all night.”

Sitting up straight, I feel my right arm beginning to go numb on me. So numb I drop the lit cigarette onto the table. The inside of my head chimes like a belfry. Stocky Agent is staring at me from across the table with these wide bug eyes like my skull and brains are about to pull a JFK all over him.

But then, just as soon as it all starts, the chiming and the paralysis subsides.

With a trembling hand, I manage to pick up the partially smoked cigarette, exhale a very resigned, now smokeless breath and stamp the cancer stick out.

“Everything you wanna know,” I whisper. “You want me to tell
you everything.”
“Everything you remember,” Tall Agent smiles. “If that’s at all possible.”

Stocky Agent pulls a stick of gum from a pack in his pants pocket, carefully unwraps the tin foil and folds the gum before stuffing it into his mouth.

Juicy Fruit. I can smell it from all the way across the table.

By all indicators, it’s going to be a long night.

“I think I’ll take that cappuccino after all,” I say.

For the first time since entering the interview room, I feel the
muscles in my face constricting. I know without looking that my
expression has turned into something miles away from shiny happy. I’m
dead serious.

If you would like to pick up your copy of Moonlight Falls, click here.

Interview with Vincent Zandri, author of Moonlight Falls

Moonlight Falls’ author, Vincent Zandri, is an award-winning novelist, essayist and freelance photojournalist. His novel As Catch Can (Delacorte) was touted in two pre-publication articles by Publishers Weekly and was called “Brilliant” upon its publication by The New York Post. The Boston Herald attributed it as “The most arresting first crime novel to break into print this season.” Other novels include Godchild (Bantam/Dell) and Permanence (NPI). Translated into several languages including Japanese and the Dutch, Zandri’s novels have also been sought out by numerous major movie producers, including Heyday Productions and DreamWorks. Presently he is the author of the blogs, Dangerous Dispatches and Embedded in Africa for Russia Today TV (RT). He also writes for other global publications, including Culture 11, Globalia and Globalspec. Zandri’s nonfiction has appeared in New York Newsday, Hudson Valley Magazine, Game and Fish Magazine and others, while his essays and short fiction have been featured in many journals including Fugue, Maryland Review and Orange Coast Magazine. He holds an M.F.A. in Writing from Vermont College and is a 2010 International Thriller Writer’s Awards panel judge. Zandri currently divides his time between New York and Europe. He is the drummer for the Albany-based punk band to Blisterz.  You can visit his website at www.vincentzandri.com or his blog at http://vincentzandri.blogspot.com/.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Vincent. Can you tell us what your latest book, Moonlight Falls, is all about?

Moonlight Falls is basically film noir on paper. It’s about Richard “Dick” Moonlight, suicide survivor who now must cope with a small piece of .22 caliber bullet lodged in his brain. Because it’s pressed up against his cerebral cortex he has trouble making good decisions and he suffers on occasion from short-term memory loss. In times of stress he passes out. He could suffer a major stroke or die at any moment. So time means little to him. When he makes the wrong decision to sleep with his former boss’s wife and she later turns up brutally murdered, he believes it’s possible he might have killed her and just can’t remember it.

I believe I was down in Manhattan promoting As Catch Can with my then Delacorte editor, Jacob Hoye (now MTV Books), when I came across a story about a man who survived a suicide attempt and lived with a piece of bullet shrapnel still stuck in his brain. At the time I was also influenced by a self-stabbing suicide art exhibit that I caught in a Soho gallery by the artist infamous artist Damien Hirst. I’ve also been fascinated with a rarely spoken about story from my family history in which my paternal grandfather committed suicide by slicing his neck open with a straight razor in front of his grown children.

Q: Is this your first novel?  If not, how has writing this novel different from writing your first?

Moonlight Falls is my fourth published novel, although I’ve written or am in the process of completing four others. Plus numerous starts and stops. My first novel length effort, Permanence, was a literary effort based on my most anthologized short story. The next novel, As Catch Can, was a huge commercial effort and it generated a lot of money. MF is more literary in style, with several POVs and time shifts. It’s definitely more small lit press oriented.

Moonlight Falls by Vincent Zandri (click on cover to purchase at Amazon)

Q: How difficult was it writing your book?  Did you ever experience writer’s block and, if so, what did you do?

This one went through many transformations, depending upon what agent was repping it at the time. Everyone injected their two cents. In the end, I stripped it to the book I originally envisioned and that’s the one that got published.

Q: How have your fans embraced your latest novel?  Do you have any funny or unusual experiences to share?

So far the response has been overwhelmingly positive. The novel has also generated some movie interest from Heyday Productions who produce the Harry Potter movies. Because my main character is named Dick, my dad, many people have asked me if he’s based on my dad, who also goes by that name.

Q: What is your daily writing routine?

Up by 7:00AM, make the coffee, drink it while putting in a couple of hours in my writing studio, which is also my bedroom. Then I head outside to run 3 or 4 miles. Then off to the gym for some weight training. After lunch, I write all afternoon, until it’s time to rehearse with my band. Then I like to head out for a drink and dinner. When I’m on assignment like I was this past June in Africa (http://rt.com/About_Us/Blogs/Embedded_in_Africa/2009-06-05.html) where I covered the work a hospital ship is doing there off the coast of Benin, the writing and exploring can be non-stop.

Q: When you put the pen or mouse down, what do you do to relax?

Run, lift weights, eat, drink, travel, walk, fly fish, hike, play drums in my punk band, The Blisterz, read, think, play with my kids, spend time with my girlfriend, the New York artist, Gina Occhiogrosso.

Q: What book changed your life?

Tough to narrow it down to one. Max Frisch’s Homo Faber would have to be the one book that stuck with me as an existential body  of work written sparely, without sentimentality. I wanted to convey that in my noir.

Q: If someone were to write a book on your life, what would the title be?

Vincent Zandri: A Life Story/PART I

Q: Finish this sentence: “The one thing that I wish people would understand about me is…”

I’m not nearly as crazy as I look!

Thank you for this interview, Vincent.  I wish you much success!

Vincent Zandri is on virtual book tour throughout February and March 2010.  If you’d like to visit his official tour page, click here!

Announcing thriller author Vincent Zandri’s Moonlight Falls Virtual Book Tour February & March 2010

Join Vincent Zandri, author of the thriller novel, Moonlight Falls (R.J. Buckley Publishing), as he virtually tours the blogosphere in February and March on his first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotion!

Vincent Zandri

About Vincent Zandri

Vincent Zandri is an award-winning novelist, essayist and freelance photojournalist. His novel As Catch Can (Delacorte) was touted in two pre-publication articles by Publishers Weekly and was called “Brilliant” upon its publication by The New York Post. The Boston Herald attributed it as “The most arresting first crime novel to break into print this season.” Other novels include Godchild (Bantam/Dell) and Permanence (NPI). Translated into several languages including Japanese and the Dutch, Zandri’s novels have also been sought out by numerous major movie producers, including Heyday Productions and DreamWorks. Moonlight Falls is his fourth novel. He is the author of the blogs, Dangerous Dispatches and Embedded in Africa for RT ( Russia Today TV) which have been syndicated and translated in several different languages throughout the world. He also writes for other global publications, including Culture 11, Globalia, Globalspec and more. Zandri’s nonfiction has appeared in New York Newsday, Hudson Valley Magazine, Game and Fish Magazine and others, while his essays and short fiction have been featured in many journals including Fugue, Maryland Review and Orange Coast Magazine. He holds an M.F.A. in Writing from Vermont College and is a 2010 International Thrillerl. Writer’s Awards panel judge. Zandri currently divides his time between New York and Europe. He is the drummer for the Albany-based punk band to Blisterz. You can visit his website at www.vincentzandri.com or his blog at www.vincentzandri.blogspot.com.

Moonlight Falls by Vincent Zandri (click on cover to purchase)

About Moonlight Falls

Moonlight Falls is the Albany, New York-based paranoid tale (in the Hitchcock tradition) of former APD Detective turned Private Investigator/Massage Therapist, Richard “Dick” Moonlight, who believes he might be responsible for the brutal slaying by knife of his illicit lover, the beautiful Scarlet Montana. The situation is made all the worse since Scarlet is the wife of Moonlight’s boss, Chief of Detectives Jake Montana.

Why does Moonlight believe he might be responsible?

He’s got a small fragment of a .22 hollow point round buried inside his brain, lodge directly up against his cerebral cortex. The result of a botched suicide attempt four years prior to the novel’s start, an operation to remove the bullt frag would be too dangerous.

But the bullet causes Moonlight lots of problems, the least of which are the occasional memory loss and his rational ability to tell right from wrong. The bullet frag also might shift at any moment, making coma and/or sudden death, a very real possibility.

Still, Moonlight has been trying to get his life together as of late.

But when Scarlet begs him to make the trip over to her house late one rainy Sunday night to issue one of his “massages,” he makes a big mistake by sleeping with her. Later, having passed out in her bed, he will be rudely awakened by a garage door opening and Jake’s unexpected and very drunken homecoming. Making his impromptu escape out a top floor window, Moonlight will seek the safety of his home.

Two hours later however, he will receive another unexpected visit from Jake Montana. This time the big Captain has sobering news to report. He’s discovered his wife’s mutilated body in her own bed. She’s been murdered and now he needs the P.I. to investigate it in association with Albany ‘s “overtaxed” Special Independent Unit before I.A. pokes their nose into the affair. Moonlight takes a big step back. Is it possible he made a second trip to the Montana home-sweet-home and just has no recollection of it? Once there, did he perform a heinous crime on his part-time lover? Or is this some kind of set up by his former boss? Is it really Jake who is responsible for Scarlet’s death? Does he wish for Moonlight to cover up his involvement, seal the case before Internal Affairs starts poking their nose into the situation?

There’s another problem too.

Covering Moonlight’s palms and the pads of his fingers are numerous scratches and cuts. Are these defensive wounds? Wounds he received when Scarlet put up a struggle? Or are they offensive wounds? Wounds he couldn’t avoid when making his attack on Scarlet with a blade? The answer is not so simple since Moonlight has no idea where he acquired the wounds.

Having no choice but to take on the mission (if only to cover his own ass), Moonlight can only hope the answers to his many questions point to his former boss and not himself.

Read the Excerpt!

Albany, New York
140 miles northeast of New York City
I’m escorted into a four-walled basement room by two suited
agents—one tall, slim and bearded, the other shorter, stockier, cleanshaven.
The space we occupy contains a one-way mirror which I know
from experience hides a tripod-mounted video camera, a sound man and
several FBI agents, the identities of whom are concealed. There’s no
furniture in the room, other than a long metal table and four metal
chairs. No wallpaper, no soft lamp light, no piped-in music. Just harsh
white overhead light, concrete and a funny worm smell.
As I enter the room for the first time, the tall agent tells me to
take a seat at the table.
“We appreciate your cooperation,” the stocky agent jumps in.
Out of the corner of my eye, I catch my reflection in the mirror.
I’m of medium height. Not tall, not short. Not too badly put
together for having reached the big four-zero thanks to the cross-training
routine I put myself on not long after my hospital release. Nowadays, my
head is shaved. There’s a small button-sized scar behind my right earlobe
in the place where the fragment of .22 caliber hollow-point penetrated
the skull. I wear a black leather jacket over black jeans and lace-up
combat boots left over from my military service during the first Gulf
War. My eyeglasses are rectangular and retrofitted from a pair of cheap
sunglasses I picked up at a Penn Station kiosk. They make my stubblecovered
face seem slightly wider than it really is. So people have told me.
Having been led to my chair, I am then asked to focus my gaze
directly onto the mirror so that the video man or woman stationed on
the opposite side of the glass can adjust the shooting angle and focus.
“Please say something,” requests Stocky Agent while removing
his suit jacket, setting it over the back of an empty chair.
“There once was a cop from Nantucket ,” I say to break the ice.
But no one laughs.
“You get that?” the taller agent barks out to no one in particular.
“Okay to go,” comes a tinny, hidden speaker voice. “You gonna
finish that poem, Mr. Moonlight?”
“Knock it off,” Stocky Agent orders. Then turns back to me.
“Before we get started, can we get you a coffee? A cappuccino? You can
get one right out of the new machine upstairs.”
“Mind if I burn one?”
Tall Bearded Agent purses his lips, cocks his head in the
direction of a plastic No Smoking placard to the wall.
Stocky Agent makes a sour face, shakes his head, rolls up the
sleeves on his thick arms. He reaches across the heavy wood table, grabs
an ashtray, and clunks it down in front of me as if it were a bedpan.
“The rule doesn’t apply down here,” he says. Then, in this deep
affected voice, he adds, “Let’s get started, Mr. Moonlight. You already
know the routine. For now we just want to get to the bottom of the who,
what, wheres and hows of this train wreck.”
“You forgot the why,” I say, firing up a Marlboro Light. “You
need to know the why to establish an entire familiarity with any given
case.”
Stocky Agent does a double take, smiles. Like he knows I’m
fucking with him.
“Don’t be a dick, Dick,” he says.
I guess it’s important not to take life too seriously. He laughs. I
laugh. We all laugh. Ice officially broken. I exhale some smoke, sit back
in my chair.
They’re right, of course. I know the drill. I know it’s the truth
they’re after. The truth and almost nothing but the truth. But what they
also want is my perspective—my take on the entire Scarlet Montana
affair, from soup to peanuts. They want me to leave nothing out. I’ll start
with my on-again/off-again love affair with my boss’s wife. Maybe from
there I’ll move on to the dead bodies, my cut-up hands, the Saratoga
Springs Russians, the Psychic Fair, the heroin, the illegal organ harvesting
operation, the exhumations, the attempts on my life, the lies, deceptions
and fuck-overs galore.
As a former fulltime Albany detective, I know that nobody sees
the same thing through the same set of eyeballs. What’s important to one
person might appear insignificant or useless to another. What those
federal agents want right now inside the basement interview room is my
most reliable version of the truth—an accurate, objective truth that
separates fact from fantasy.
Theoretically speaking.
“Ask away,” I say, just as the buzzing starts up in the core of my
head.
“Just start at the beginning,” Stocky Agent requests. “We have
all night.”
Sitting up straight, I feel my right arm beginning to go numb on
me. So numb I drop the lit cigarette onto the table. The inside of my
head chimes like a belfry. Stocky Agent is staring at me from across the
table with these wide bug eyes like my skull and brains are about to pull a
JFK all over him.
But then, just as soon as it all starts, the chiming and the
paralysis subsides.
With a trembling hand, I manage to pick up the partially smoked
cigarette, exhale a very resigned, now smokeless breath and stamp the
cancer stick out.
“Everything you wanna know,” I whisper. “You want me to tell
you everything.”
“Everything you remember,” Tall Agent smiles. “If that’s at all
possible.”
Stocky Agent pulls a stick of gum from a pack in his pants
pocket, carefully unwraps the tin foil and folds the gum before stuffing it
into his mouth.
Juicy Fruit. I can smell it from all the way across the table.
By all indicators, it’s going to be a long night.
“I think I’ll take that cappuccino after all,” I say.
For the first time since entering the interview room, I feel the
muscles in my face constricting. I know without looking that my
expression has turned into something miles away from shiny happy. I’m
dead serious.

Read what critics are saying about Moonlight Falls!

“Tough, hard-boiled noir delivered with the kind of fast-paced taut action that represents the best of the genre, Vince Zandri’s Moonlight Falls gives us the kind of protagonist series are built on. “Get your protagonist up a tree and throw rocks at him” is advice given to novelists from Day One: Zandri’s character Richard Moonlight isn’t up a tree; he’s up a Sequoia and those aren’t rocks being thrown at him—they’re boulders shot out of a cannon. It’s become a cliche to say “I couldn’t put it down,” but in this case, it applies. Not knowing if his next minute might be his last to draw breath—with a bullet fragment lodged in his brain, the artery wrapped around it prohibiting its removal—the tension builds to a fever-pitch as Moonlight is surrounded by enemies all determined to deal one of two outcomes for him—either his death or his arrest for the murder of his lover, and the journey to prove his innocence and the surprise ending will absolutely enthrall readers. Don’t begin reading this at night the day before you have to work unless you have a forgiving boss who won’t mind if you show up bleary-eyed from staying up all night to read it.”

–Les Edgerton, author of Monday’s Meal and the writing text, Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Them Go.

Vincent Zandri’s MOONLIGHT FALLS VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR ‘10 will officially begin on February 1st and end on March 26th. Please contact Dorothy Thompson at thewriterslife@yahoo.com if you are interested in hosting and/or reviewing his book during his virtual book tour. Thank you!