Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Real Sins in New Sins for Old Scores

 Murder, like history, often repeats itself. And that, my friends, is the premise for my new murder mystery, New Sins for Old Scores from Black Opal Books.

My fourth mystery follows similar footsteps of my last series—a murder mystery with a paranormal twist that includes a historical subplot and a main character that is, well, living-challenged. Dead. Okay, yes, one of my main characters is dead.

Let me explain. Here’s the story’s summary:

Murder, like history, often repeats itself. And when it does, it's the worst kind of murder.

Detective Richard Jax was never good at history. Now, after years as a cop, he was about to get the lesson of his life.

As Jax lay dying after being ambushed at an old inn on a stakeout, he's saved by Captain Patrick "Trick" McCall—the ghost of a World War II OSS agent. Trick has been waiting since 1944 for a chance to solve his own murder and prove he wasn’t a traitor. Soon, Jax is a suspect in a string of murders. The murders are linked to smuggling refugees out of the Middle East—a plot similar to the World War II “Operation Paperclip,” an OSS operation that brought scientists out of war-torn Europe. With the aid of a beautiful and brilliant historian, Dr. Alex Vouros, Jax and Trick unravel a seventy year-old plot that began with Trick's murder in 1944. Could the World War II mastermind, code named Harriet, be alive and up to old games? Is history repeating itself?

Together, they hunt for the link between their pasts, confronted by some of Washington's elite and one provocative, alluring French Underground agent, Abrielle Chanoux. Somewhere in Trick's memories is a traitor. That traitor killed him. That traitor is killing again.

Who framed Jax and who wants Trick's secret to remain secret? The answer may be, who doesn't?

There were several elements behind the plot of New Sins for Old Scores that combines fact-based history—perhaps with a few liberties here and there—with my imagination. First, Operation Paperclip was a real operation during World War II. The US, using the OSS—the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency—sneaked scientists and industrialists out of war-torn Germany and into the US to further the US’s advancements in the face of the growing Cold War with Russian. The Russians were doing it too. In truth, Operation Paperclip brought German rocket scientist Wernher Von Braun to the US. Von Braun had been the German pioneer behind Hitler’s famed rocket program—including the V2 rockets that threatened to devastate England and win the war for Germany. He had also been a Nazi. Through Operation Paperclip, Von Braun ultimately became the US’s leading scientist in our space program. To accomplish many of these relocations, the US “erased” or otherwise ignored the checkered past of these scientists and industrialists. Most were Nazi Party members that had participated or at least overlooked slave labor and other war crimes while they continued to support Germany’s war efforts. But their knowledge and skills were paramount to supporting the US in the growing Cold War against the Soviets—who had, of course, grabbed their own scientists and industrialist with the goal of burying the US entirely. German war spoils, including its people, were scooped up with the knowledge that another war would come between the allies that defeated Germany.

Now, I’m a history buff and the OSS and Operation Paperclip fascinate me. I was also an anti-terrorism agent with the US military during the first Persian Gulf War and understood both the complexities and shortfalls of war and its aftermath. So I began to wonder—in the Persian Gulf Wars, the US used countless contractors to support the war efforts. Those included companies with intricate ties to our intelligence community and Special Forces. The question I raised was—What if one of these contractors ran its own Operation Paperclip in the Middle East? What if they did it without the government’s knowledge and they did it for profit? Surely there were thousands—more—Iraqis, Afghanis, and others who would pay serious money to get out of the region and into the US—legally or illegally. What if this corrupt contractor took advantage and ran a human smuggling scheme similar to Operation Paperclip? And what if that modern day human trafficking caper wasn’t the first? What if back in WWII, some enterprising operatives ran their own trafficking ring to smuggle people out of Europe who the OSS might not have been interested in.

Viola, the basis for New Sins for Old Scores. Add a local Virginia detective who stumbled onto the caper, a couple murders, a heroic Arab girl, and a dead OSS operative and you’ve got a story.

This plot proves that history repeated itself quite nicely. In my story, Trick McCall discovered an illegal operation in 1944 to smuggle wealthy German’s out of Europe to the States for profit. He was killed for it. In 2011, Jax stumbles on another human trafficking ring and he was nearly killed for it. Together, they must find those responsible and prove that Captain Trick McCall was not a double agent for the Nazi’s and that Jax is not a cold-blooded killer.

So for New Sins for Old Scores, the story is based on facts—perhaps tainted with real sins too—with the US’s bringing Nazi scientists to the US and turning a blind eye to their misdeeds and complicity in war crimes. Along the way, good men and women died for those sins. New Sins for Old Scores shows that while time may go by and war becomes more and more sophisticated, evil keeps pace, and ultimately, it’s the basic failures of men who commit the worst sins. For Richard Jax and Capt. Trick McCall, those old scores surface again but with new sins. And if not for the repeating history, they would never learn the truth.

For more on New Sins for Old Scores or my other paranormal mysteries, check out my world at www.tjoconnor.com

Bio

Tj O’CONNOR IS THE GOLD MEDAL WINNER OF THE 2015 INDEPENDENT PUBLISHERS BOOK AWARDS (IPPY) FOR MYSTERIES. He is the author of New Sins for Old Scores, Dying to Know, Dying for the Past, and Dying to Tell. His new thriller, The Consultant: Double Effect will be out in the spring of 2018 from Oceanview Publishing. Tj is an international security consultant specializing in anti-terrorism, investigations, and threat analysis—life experiences that drive his novels. With his former life as a government agent and years as a consultant, he has lived and worked around the world in places like Greece, Turkey, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, and throughout the Americas—among others. He was raised in New York's Hudson Valley and lives with his wife and Lab companions in Virginia where they raised five children.

Learn about Tj’s world at:

Web Site:  www.tjoconnor.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/tjoconnor.author
Blog: http://tjoconnorbooks.blogspot.com/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7148441.T_J_O_Connor

 

 

 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

A Good Detective Can Be A Dead Detective

Since publishing my first paranormal mystery, Dying to Know, I’ve published three more. Two in the Oliver Tucker Gumshoe Ghost series (I loathe that moniker), and recently with New Sins for Old Scores. Both these series include a lead character that has some unusual flaws. In my travels and even on some blog responses and reviews, I occasionally get a few eye-rolls or snickers when I talk about my lead characters and how one of them is always living-challenged. Dead. I mean dead. One of my lead characters is always dead.
So where is it written that characters in novels—the epitome of make believe and “not real”—have to be alive and breathing? No one giggles at science fiction or werewolf stories, right? So why are there some that think my having a dead detective is somehow a breach of some unwritten, secret handshake protocol?
 
A couple years ago, I had a reviewer say that he felt some of the things that Oliver Tucker did asked the reader to stray way too far from believability. He felt it detracted from my story and was to unrealistic. Really? Yet, Tuck being a dead detective didn’t bother him at all? Come on, have some imagination! Didn’t you ever see Ghost Hunters or Paranormal Lockdown? Ghost? Topper? Please, it’s a novel and it’s meant to be fun and mysterious and allow the reader to escape a little. Unless, of course, werewolves and vampires and invading behemoth amazon women is everyday life. If you start making rules like that, then most novels won’t qualify by someone’s definition of “reality.” I dare say that unless I’ve missed the news, old Agatha killed off more people in England than might have ever lived there. And whoa, now, Jessica Fletcher wiped out most of Main, Vermont, and New Hampshire three times over. Let’s just remember, characters are there to guide us, to tell their story, to entertain and thrill and perhaps even scare us. If they were always absolutely real to life and perfect, then crimes committed would be solved immediately—or never able to be committed in the first place. Our plots just wouldn’t work and stories would be dull.
No! I say dead characters are people too!
 
Let me explain my living-challenged characters in my two series—Oliver Tucker’s Gumshoe Ghost Mysteries from Midnight Ink, and my current series, New Sins for Old Scores (series not yet named, but let’s call it the Trick McCall Mysteries.

Oliver Tucker’s Gumshoe Ghost Mysteries—Dying to Know, Dying for the Past, Dying to Tell:
 

In the opening book in the series, Dying to Know, Oliver “Tuck” Tucker is killed and returns to hunt his own murderer. In each of the novels, there is a combination of a traditional murder mystery, a historical subplot, and a conclusion that culminates with a grander plot that revolves around Tuck’s long-dead family members who have all played significant roles in true historical events—serial killers, 1940’s mobsters, World War II OSS operations, etc. Throughout the stories, Tuck is a sarcastic, savvy detective who works with his widow, history professor Angel Tucker. Her contributions are only possible because of Tuck’s unusual “dead skills.” These skills are not what you see in the movies. They are a bit more unusual. Some of these skills allow him to relive past events of another story character, but only when he touches something personal or an object integral to the crime. For instance, in Dying to Know, Tuck touches a lost bracelet and it brings him to the murder scene where he watches a murder unfold that directly links, decades later, to his own demise. While Tuck is not clairvoyant and cannot instantly solve the murders through spook-visions, his dead-skills do enable him to bring historical clues and evidence into the light and see the crimes from other’s eyes. Along the way in the book, Tuck learns the ropes of being back among the living but not truly one of them. He narratives the stories and after just a few chapters, you’ll forget he’s a dead detective. He’s an integral character who brings a new twist to the traditional murder mystery. So his being a spirit contributes to the uniqueness of the story, but not as a “ghost story.” It’s simply a murder mystery with a paranormal twist.

The Trick McCall Mysteries—New Sins for Old Scores: In my latest paranormal mystery, Detective Richard Jax is ambushed at an old inn on a stakeout, he's saved by Captain Patrick "Trick" McCall—the ghost of a World War II OSS agent. Trick has been waiting since 1944 for a chance to solve his own murder and prove he wasn’t a traitor. Soon, Jax is a suspect in a string of murders. The murders are linked to smuggling refugees out of the Middle East—a plot similar to the World War II “Operation Paperclip,” an OSS operation that brought scientists out of war-torn Europe to work for the US. Together, they hunt for the link between their pasts—aided by the beautiful and brilliant historian, Dr. Alex Vouros—and are on the trail of a killer. Along the way, they are confronted by some of Washington's elite and one provocative, alluring French Underground agent, Abrielle Chanoux. Somewhere in Trick's memories is a traitor. That traitor killed him. That traitor is killing again. In this story, Trick McCall is Jax’s spirited sidekick. His dead-skills are similar to Oliver Tucker, but not entirely. Again, Trick is not able to swiftly unmask any killers or have clairvoyance in the cases, but he is able to add new dimension to the mysteries. For instance, he likes to “share” people—possess them and allow relive events they’ve or perhaps he’s seen. While coming to terms with being a 1940’s man thrust in 2011, Trick’s indifference to computers and cell phones forces Jax to do things the old fashioned way—footwork and chasing clues. Trick is a sarcastic adventurer who still has a love of life—despite his present dead condition. His abilities to travel to other times and places and see events through other’s eyes gives Jax a view of crimes and events that help solve their cases—a paranormal twist that adds a different aspect to the traditional mystery.

So, as you can see, my living-challenged characters add a new twist to the traditional murder mystery. They allow me to connect my historic subplots to the modern-day murders and give the characters a view of those historic events to help solve the crimes. With a few exceptions, the characters do not act like the stereotypical ghost. They are active, engaged characters who mostly just talk and act like live, breathing characters. They don’t swish around and boo here and there. You’ll easily forget they are spirits—until they traverse the story’s timeline or “share” a character and bring the reader back 75 years to another time and another murder. Then, you’ll begin to understand the importance of my paranormal twists!
 
Remember, a good detective can be a dead detective.
 
We'll talk again next time!
 
Note: My following blog post was written first for Laura's Interests, a stop on my Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. It was posted July 19. I'm reposting and providing a link to this great sight so you can check out the other stories and posts there ... http://dogsmomvisits.blogspot.com/

Thursday, May 4, 2017

New Sins for Old Scores ... Launch!

May 27, 2017—Launch …. New Sins for Old Scores!

At last, my fourth published novel. This one coming to you from Black Opal Books and my strange, wild imagination. It’s a murder mystery with a paranormal twist! (Go figure, right?) And yes, this is a cheap self-promotion blog.
 
Summary:

Murder, like history, often repeats itself. And when it does, it's the worst kind of murder.
 
Detective Richard Jax was never good at history. After years as a cop, he was about to get the lesson of his life.
 
As Jax lay dying after being gunned down at an old inn while on surveillance, he's saved by Captain Patrick "Trick" McCall—the ghost of a World War II OSS agent—who has been waiting since 1944 for a chance to solve his own murder. Soon, Jax is a suspect in a string of murders—murders linked to smuggling refugees out of the Middle East—a plot similar to the World War II “Operation Paperclip,” an OSS operation that brought scientists out of war-torn Europe. With the aid of a beautiful and intelligent historian, Dr. Alex Vouros, Jax and Trick unravel a seventy year-old plot that began with Trick's murder in 1944. Could the World War II mastermind, code named Harriet, be alive and up to old games? Is history repeating itself?
 
Together, they hunt for the link between their pasts, confronted by some of Washington's elite and one provocative, alluring French Underground agent, Abrielle Chanoux. Somewhere in Trick's memories is a traitor. That traitor killed him. That traitor is killing again.
 
Who framed Jax and who wants Trick's secret to remain secret? The answer may be, who doesn't?
 
End cheap, self-promotion (for now). Look for New Sins for Old Scores!
 
We’ll talk again next month.  

Tj O’CONNOR IS THE GOLD MEDAL WINNER OF THE 2015 INDEPENDENT PUBLISHERS
BOOK AWARDS (IPPY) FOR MYSTERIES. He is the author of New Sins for Old Scores, coming in May 2017 from Black Opal Books, and Dying to Know, Dying for the Past, and Dying to Tell. He recently finished his new thriller, The Consultant: Double Effect and his amazing agent, Kimberley Cameron is finding it a new home. Tj is an international security consultant specializing in anti-terrorism, investigations, and threat analysis—life experiences that drive his novels. With his former life as a government agent and years as a consultant, he has lived and worked around the world in places like Greece, Turkey, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, and throughout the Americas—among others. He was raised in New York's Hudson Valley and lives with his wife and Lab companions in Virginia where they raised five children. Dying to Know is also the 2015 Bronze Medal winner of the Reader’s Favorite Book Review Awards, a finalist for the Silver Falchion Best Books of 2014, and a finalist for the Foreword Review’s 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award.

Learn about Tj’s world at:
 
Web Site:  www.tjoconnor.com

 

 



Wednesday, April 5, 2017

New Sins and Late Nights

by Tj O'Connor

Nighttime belongs to mystery and intrigue—evil, too. I could say it belongs to love, but I write mysteries and thrillers, not romance novels. For me, I do my best thinking around midnight. I also do my best panicking and second-guessing. Don't we all? It’s not unusual for me to be lying there (or sitting at my computer writing), plotting out a scene or another book and wham—God, in the 7th Grade, I insulted that sweet redhead, Becky. What was I thinking! Then back to my murder plot and … crap! I’ll never retire, I’ll have to work until I die and … now, where did I leave that last body in Chapter 12... dammit, why isn't Pluto a real planet anymore? As the hours tick by, so does my split personality between story plots and lifelong regrets.

Raise your hand if you are with me on this–and don’t lie.

But something else happens after midnight, too—creativity. An unknown author once said, “3 AM is the hour of writers, painters, poets, musicians, silence seekers, overthinkers, and creative people…” I am clearly in the writers and overthinker columns. Of course, perhaps the best quote to describe me was by the hiphop group, the Initials, who wrote, “The Night Belongs to The Poet and The Madman.” Hmmmm, I’m no poet so … yup, madman. Nailed it.

Most of my novels were all given birth after midnight. New Sins for Old Scores was no exception.

I was lying awake one night a few years ago when I began writing New Sins for Old Scores, my latest paranormal mystery coming out in a couple months from Black Opal Books. A line came to me that sort of sums up the opening of the story and my permanent state of insomnia and creativity—of the lead character, Richard Jax, I wrote, “… history taught him a very important lesson—an axiom of parents with teenagers—that nothing good ever happens after midnight. Jax wasn’t married and had no children. But it was after midnight and he was alone.” Then, bam! A body—his body—blood, bullets, and bang-bang. The story unfolds.

The story follows the traditional mystery path to “the End” with a murder, finger-pointing, a few more bodies, deep dark secrets, twists and turns, the spirit of a long-dead OSS operative, and the capture of the bad guys. Well, perhaps the spirit of a long-dead OSS operative isn’t the traditional mystery path, but it can be  with me. At least for this book it was. Most of this story was written between the hours of 9 pm and 4 am. In fact, most of my nine novels were written during those hours.

And yes, alas, most of my life-long regrets and mistakes haunt me then, too.

A lot of good can happen after midnight for me. I’ve learned a ton about writing over the past five years or so—patience, the ability to take a gut-punch (think critics, publishers, and barroom friendships), and perseverance. Mostly, though, I’ve learned a lot about myself and many of those lessons came in the late hours when I can forget about my real life and focus on my imaginary one—killing people and stopping international crisis. Okay, okay, so over the years my real life and imaginary life gets a little blurry, but you get what I mean. Late at night I love to take in the night air and let my brain go crazy. It’s a battle to ignore the forgotten appointments, lists of to-do things, and life’s worries (although I still accumulate a Picasso of yellow sticky notes by 5 am each morning). Still, I’ve learned that my inner demons thrive after lights-out, so I always have my cellphone handy and my note-application ready for an endless list of characters, plot twists, and action sequences I want to write. The dread of it all is that I must—like most of you—work for a living. Alas, I have to wait until the next night before I can put fingers to keyboard and craft those ideas into my stories. It’s painful sometimes, but like a vampire, daylight isn't fun—work, bills, cooking, chasing the dogs, responsibilities …

Somehow, before the sun comes up each day, I catch 3-4 hours of sleep. That’s when I dream about my stories. Do you think I’m obsessed?  

The moral to all this is know thy self—learn about your strengths and weaknesses and what works best for you. Don’t read blogs and go to seminars and panels and try to mimic what other authors do and say. There is no secret code to success (lord don't I know)! Don’t fall into the trap of trying to fit yourself into a mold. Trust me, you’ll get stuck and have to fight your way out—or worse, you’ll be captive to seeking that infamous secret formula. No. I believe in using your love of the pen to learn about yourself—learn when the demons come out and when the voices in your head begin to make sense. Even if that’s after midnight.

Oh, and forget the tossing and turning about those bills and long lost friends and what-ifs. Those voices are just your ex-spouse or the IRS trying to make you crazy! Listen for the little whisper that starts after the lights go out and tells your characters what to do and say and where the story is going. And for God’s sake, pay attention!

We’ll talk again next month.

Tj O’CONNOR IS THE GOLD MEDAL WINNER OF THE 2015 INDEPENDENT PUBLISHERS BOOK AWARDS (IPPY) FOR MYSTERIES. He is the author of New Sins for Old Scores, coming in Spring 2017 from Black Opal Books, and Dying to Know, Dying for the Past, and Dying to Tell. He recently finished his new thriller, The Consultant: Double Effect,and his amazing agent, Kimberley Cameron, is finding it a home. Tj is an international security consultant specializing in anti-terrorism, investigations, and threat analysis—life experiences that drive his novels. With his former life as a government agent and years as a consultant, he has lived and worked around the world in places like Greece, Turkey, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, and throughout the Americas—among others. He was raised in New York's Hudson Valley and lives with his wife and Lab companions in Virginia where they raised five children. Dying to Know is also the 2015 Bronze Medal winner of the Reader’s Favorite Book Review Awards, a finalist for the Silver Falchion Best Books of 2014, and a finalist for the Foreword Review’s 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award.

Learn about Tj’s world at:

Web Site:  www.tjoconnor.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/tjoconnor.author
Blog: http://tjoconnorbooks.blogspot.com/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7148441.T_J_O_Connor

 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

New Sins and Old Dogs.

by Tj O'Connor
 
Cancer should be spelled with an F. That’s the way I spell it—F---ing Cancer.

Cancer took my girl. Fast. Painfully. Heartlessly.

First it took her by surprise. Then it took her leg. Then it took her dignity. Then, it forced me to … f---ing cancer.
 
I have faced death all my life. We all have in one form or another. But these past couple years has been one heartache after another. Still, nothing prepared me for the loss of my girl, Maggie Mae. Nothing. In 2015, I lost both my mentor, Wally, and my companion, Mosby. One as much as the other—a Lab and a brilliant but crusty old spy—devastated me nearly the same. I’m not embarrassed to admit it. Wally was 92 and had lived his amazing life. Up until the very end—the hour—we shared laughs and talked and made sure there was peace and understanding between us. But with Mosby, it was hard to share anything but the loss. I wanted him to understand there was no choice. To understand that there was no greater love than to let go and save him from pain and despair. No greater sacrifice than accepting responsibility for the strange, heart-breaking kindness that is sometimes death. I hoped—prayed—he understand that I was not betraying him. Not merely moving on. I was saving him from the worst fate.

I try to tell myself that every day. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it kills me all over again. Pain doesn’t go away, it just simmers in the background waiting for an opportunity to burn you a little more.

Maggie is different. Painfully different. I can’t explain why—perhaps because she was my girl or perhaps it was because it was such a shock. Perhaps it was something else—she was forever in bandages for something. Always on meds for this or that. A twelve year struggle to cure the next thing. But she lived without complaint. Without demand. Always happy and loving. Until December when she came up lame in one leg. The vet told me she had arthritis, maybe a damaged ligament. No worries. Pain meds, therapy… maybe a little surgery if it didn’t heal quickly. All would be fine.

Wrong. Dead wrong.

Three weeks later, I knew something was very, very wrong and sought out a specialist. My girl wasn’t going to limp anymore or down pain pills any longer. Whatever the reason. Whatever the cost. She was going to be healed—and fast.

Oh dear God … twenty minutes after arriving, the end lay in my lap, panting and begging me for a chance—a few more weeks. A few more months ...  Osteosarcoma. F---ing cancer. Deep in her bone. So deep it was killing me, too.

The doc, an amazingly lady with class, skill, and compassion, operated that day and took her leg to save her life. Chemo was scheduled. More pain meds. But hope was in my grasp. Within three days she was hobbling around, playing a little, loving a lot—the smile back in her eyes after two months in hiding. Even after her first chemo treatment, she was on her feet and fighting back. Fighting for us. Fighting for life. She loved on Toby, or black Lab and the love of her life. She played with my granddaughter, walked and slept with me, and ate everything she could find. After all, dying be damned—she was a Lab.

Until the second week. Paralysis consumed her. It was back. She couldn’t walk, couldn’t sit, couldn’t have the dignity of controlling herself … her face exuded embarrassment when I carried her for days into the yard just to keep her from soiling herself. I didn’t know what was killing her faster—f---ing cancer or shame.

Humans should have such dignity.

I can barely write these words. The next ones especially. Pain rains and fingers tremble—the thoughts of those last moments. For those who don’t share my emotions over pets, you shouldn’t have them. For those that do, I can only image you’re sharing a little of my grief right now. You know the rest of the story. I couldn’t allow her any more pain, anymore shame, anymore cancer. And in my arms, both of us shaking … I let her go.

Damn me for what I had to do. Damn me. I only pray that if there is a heaven—and for souls like hers and my boy, Mosby, there has to be—that she and he are together and happy. They deserve it like no human I’ve ever known. Loyal. Loving. Compassionate.

This is not the fun, lighthearted post I wanted to write. But it is the post I had to write. It hasn’t healed me yet—I am struggling still. But it helps. Because sadly, I’m not always the adventurous, tough Harley guy people think of me too often—I’m an UFO (ugly fat old guy) who cries over lost dogs and isn’t ashamed to post that pain for the world to read.

But, the loss of one has one good fortune with the pain—room for another. Toby needs a companion—he morns for Mags every day. This house needs a girl—I do to. Not to replace you, Mags, but because you left such an emptiness behind.

So, to end this with a little hope … welcome Annie Rose. You’ve got big paws and a huge heart to fill. Be gentle with Toby and me—we’re still grieving. But he, like me, is coming around.

We’ll talk again next month.
 

Tj O’CONNOR IS THE GOLD MEDAL WINNER OF THE 2015 INDEPENDENT PUBLISHERS BOOK AWARDS (IPPY) FOR MYSTERIES. He is the author of New Sins for Old Scores, coming in Spring 2017 from Black Opal Books, and Dying to Know, Dying for the Past, and Dying to Tell. He recently finished his new thriller and is beginning three sequels to previous works. Tj is an international security consultant specializing in anti-terrorism, investigations, and threat analysis—life experiences that drive his novels. With his former life as a government agent and years as a consultant, he has lived and worked around the world in places like Greece, Turkey, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, and throughout the Americas—among others. He was raised in New York's Hudson Valley and lives with his wife and Lab companions in Virginia where they raised five children. Dying to Know is also the 2015 Bronze Medal winner of the Reader’s Favorite Book Review Awards, a finalist for the Silver Falchion Best Books of 2014, and a finalist for the Foreword Review’s 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award.

Learn about Tj’s world at:

Web Site:  www.tjoconnor.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/tjoconnor.author
Blog: http://tjoconnorbooks.blogspot.com/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7148441.T_J_O_Connor

 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

It's Time for My New Sins ...

by Tj O'Connor

Temporary Cover Art
My sins are surfacing. They’re on the horizon, inching ever closer, and it’s time I dealt with them head-on. Like many a wild and crazy-guy, my sins come with scores to settle, too. There’s nothing better than a good battle of new sins and old scores. Nothing.

For the past two years or so, I’ve blogged about my characters, plots, and process surrounding my previous series, The Gumshore Ghost (a dreaded series name). Oliver Tucker and his pals hunted murderers, thieves, and gangsters. Tuck was a dead detective helping solve first his own, and then other murders along the way. Each of those stories had a historical subplot and a paranormal twist. And so does New Sins for Old Scores.

The difference in the story lines are unique—Tuck was written in the first person, and New Sins in the third. Tuck’s stories were very light-hearted mysteries whereas New Sins takes a little more serious storyline, still with good humor, but it’s closer to a traditional mystery. Lastly, and perhaps more noteable at least to me, it takes on a serious subplot—human trafficking—and overlays a historical real-life event to connect the past with the present. I truly believe history repeats itself. I also believe we are slow to learn its lessons.

New Sins for Old Scores makes us wonder if we’ve learned life’s most important lessons about the past, trust, and honor.

 In February 2016,  I had a brief discussion about my new novel. I’ll try not to rehash it here. It suffices to say that these new stories will also have murder with a paranormal twist, but in this case, the paranormal side will be the secondary character—Trick McCall, the spirit of a long dead, disgraced WWII Office of Strategic Services (OSS) operative. Trick is the sidekick in these stories, not the primary hero as in Oliver Tucker’s Ghost Gumshoe series. And this series is a little more traditional—albeit with the paranormal twist—and not quite as light-hearted as Tuck’s stories, either—though Trick does tend to have a little fun at the expense of the bad guys.

 The novel is based on some real events—or more accurately, real historical events—which I took license with and molded into a modern murder mystery. The story follows a disgraced detective, Richard Jax, who must prove his own innocence in a multiple homicide and stop an international plot of human traffickers and murders.

The story begins …

Murder, like history, often repeats itself.

When it does, that kind of murder isn’t the byproduct of some psychotic break or an unintended emotional frenzy. That kind of murder is conscious and considered. It is deliberate.

History is full of that kind of murder.

Richard Jax was never a good student of history—but he knew murder well. He was more pragmatic than philosophical, and except for watching the History Channel and old movies, the past occupied little of his time. His time was reserved for murder and violence. Yet, history taught him a very important lesson—an axiom of parents with teenagers—that nothing good ever happens after midnight.

Jax wasn’t married and had no children. But it was after midnight and he was alone.

Later on, Richard Jax is ambushed while on a stakeout and lay bleeding out, alone and without backup. As his assailant approaches him for the final kill shot, he meets Trick McCall …

A voice exploded in his head. “Get up. Fight back. It’s not over. It can’t be—fight.”

Jax looked across the driveway. Someone lay on the gravel a dozen feet away. The figure stared wide-eyed back at him. Then, in strange, freeze-frame movements, the man stood. He looked around and brushed himself off. He gave Jax a nod and then picked something up off the ground and placed it on his head.

“Come on, Mac, fight. Don’t quit. You can’t.”

Jax tried to focus but knew he was already done.

“Come on, Ricky. You have to do this yourself. Until you do, I can’t help.”

Jax watched the man across the parking lot as the warmth pooled beneath his cheek. His vision blurred and he wasn’t sure what he saw was right—a cone of light engulfed the man—just him. Everything around the light was black and murky. The man was tall and lanky. He wore a hat—a fedora—and a dark, double-breasted suit. Behind him was a 1940s Plymouth with wide, squared fenders, and a dark green, four-door body.

Was he dead and heaven playing a film noir festival for his arrival?

“Shoot ‘em, Ricky. Shoot or he’ll kill you.”

Jax looked up at the silhouette standing over him. The warmth that flowed from him minutes ago now left him cold and spent.

The silhouette raised his gun for the final shot.

“No,” Jax grunted. “No…”

A deafening crack and a flash of light.

Silence.

“Miles Archer, Ricky,” the fedora-man said leaning over him. “Bogart’s partner was Miles Archer, ya know, in The Maltese Falcon. I saw it open at the Capitol Theatre in D.C. in ’42. You did good, Ricky—real good.”

Darkness.

Jax and Trick McCall have two things in common. They are both disgraced—Trick believed to be a murderous traitor who killed his own men for profit, and Jax a crooked cop who killed his partner and fiancĂ© from jealousy. Together they have to set the records straight —even if those records began in 1942.

As with my previous novels, I intertwine history and the present, proving the opening line, Murder, like history, often repeats itself.  The paranormal twist allows me to move between past and present and explore the events that led to Trick’s death and his disgrace. It also allows me to link events from the ‘40s with modern day skullduggery. The outcome brings out all the character’s New Sins and helps them settle Old Scores.

I’m anxious to get on the road to talk about this story. It was fun writing and I think it’ll be fun talking about the plot and characters to fans. But mostly, I love just talking books with readers. This one opens up a new chapter in my own writing, another potential series that mixes my favorite topics—murder and history. In these stories, I get to play with my own sins and conjure up some old scores to settle, too.

We’ll talk again next month.

Tj O’CONNOR IS THE GOLD MEDAL WINNER OF THE 2015 INDEPENDENT PUBLISHERS BOOK AWARDS (IPPY) FOR MYSTERIES. He is the author of New Sins for Old Scores, coming in March 2017 from Black Opal Books, and Dying to Know, Dying for the Past, and Dying to Tell. He recently finished his new thriller and is beginning three sequels to previous works. Tj is an international security consultant specializing in anti-terrorism, investigations, and threat analysis—life experiences that drive his novels. With his former life as a government agent and years as a consultant, he has lived and worked around the world in places like Greece, Turkey, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, and throughout the Americas—among others. He was raised in New York's Hudson Valley and lives with his wife and Lab companions in Virginia where they raised five children. Dying to Know is also the 2015 Bronze Medal winner of the Reader’s Favorite Book Review Awards, a finalist for the Silver Falchion Best Books of 2014, and a finalist for the Foreword Review’s 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award.

Learn about Tj’s world at:

Web Site:  www.tjoconnor.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/tjoconnor.author
Blog: http://tjoconnorbooks.blogspot.com/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7148441.T_J_O_Connor