Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Dying to Tell: The Story Begins

It’s the fall again. October. Halloween. The feverish run-up to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and all the holidays. It’s also my transition from promoting my last book, Dying for the Past, to promoting my next book, Dying to Tell. Somewhere between is a blur of days and hours and hotel rooms. In the past several months, I can count the number of weekends I’ve had without travel or book events on one hand. I think I might have some fingers left over, too. But hey, I’m not complaining! It’s been fun meeting the readers and fans, talking with other authors, and giving key note speeches and book discussions. This past summer has been a blur.

Now, it’s time to take a deep breath and start again. I have three Dying for the Past events remaining this calendar year and will begin the events for Dying to Tell with this blog. Phew.

And somewhere amid the hotel rooms and podiums and meeting all the fantastic readers and fans, I’ve managed to pen three-quarters of a new thriller—Double Solution.  I hope I can keep them all straight. Let’s see, Oliver “Tuck” Tucker’s books are cozy mysteries about a dead detective solving crimes with a historical subplot and a few laughs along the way. Double Solution is about Jonathan Hunter, a wayward CIA consultant who is hunting his brother’s killer and finding his worst Middle East nightmares right at home in small town Winchester, Virginia.  Double Solution is still in the making and I cannot wait to get back to the keyboard and see what Hunter will do next.

For now, Dying to Tell, the third Gumshoe Ghost installment, hits the shelves in January 2016. It’s time to tell Tuck’s latest tale—the story of William Mendelson, a recluse bank executive, found murdered in his secret vault. Surrounding William’s fate is a treasure trove of Egyptian antiquities. Now those relics are missing. The secrets are coming out. The dead are talking.

Tuck is pulled into the case by the spirit of a World War II Office of Strategic Services operative with his own agenda. OSS Captain Ollie Tucker I—Tuck’s namesake—knows the past is catching up to the survivors of an Egyptian spy ring from more than seventy years ago. With the help of his beautiful and brilliant wife, Angel, and his gruff former partner, Detective Bear Braddock, Tuck must unravel a tale of spies, murderers, and thieves. But how to begin? Perhaps, with the botched robbery at Mendelson’s bank and the disappearance of his Egyptian loot? Or, the Kit Kat West nightclub where the sultry Lee Hawkins revives 1944 Cairo nightlife with her WWII veteran grandfather, Keys Hawkins? There are too few clues and too many suspects—like Marshal Mendelson, the conniving, bitter son; a suave bank executive wooing Angel; the vivacious bank teller sharing whispers with a lonely but heroic security guard; and the alluring and dangerous Egyptian antiquities professor whose arrival in Winchester coincides with Mendelson’s murder.

Who killed William Mendelson and what did his murder have to do with the 1944 murder of Professor Youssif Iskandr?

Writing Dying to Tell was different. As the third installment of Tuck’s dead detective adventures, I wanted to take Tuck’s unusual life—or death as it were—somewhere very personal to him. In Dying to Know, Tuck struggled with being dead. First, how to maneuver in the world of the living but with different rules. How to contact Angel and how to pursue his killer while still learning to be a dead detective. Hercule, his devoted black Labrador, helped him with much of this. And so did Doc, his live-in spirit guide. It was painful, difficult, and at times, heartbreaking for him. Ultimately, Tuck found his way.

In Dying for the Past, Tuck is in contact with Angel and is working steadily to reach that same resonance with Bear, his stubborn and grouchy former partner. But, he also has to come to terms with a new secret—that his long-lost family might just be made up of gangsters, spies, and rogues. All of them may have ended up as spirits, too. Tuck also finds some enjoyment to being a dead detective. He learned to use his world to his advantage. So what more could a guy want?

Life. At least, the taste of his former life. Love. Confidence in his commitment to Angel—and in hers to him. Is that too much to ask?

Dying to Tell takes on the issue of Tuck being back amongst the living but not truly one of them—his life with Angel. Angel, as you might know, is a beautiful, brilliant history professor. She’s on her way to bigger and better things at the University. She’s attracted the attention of a handsome, mysterious, and suave suitor. Tuck, being the witty and self-reliant spirit-cop that he is, is smart enough to see the writing on the wall. How can he keep Angel to himself when their life together is everything except real? They can share no glass of wine. No kiss. No touch. No romance after dark. Tuck is everything Angel ever wanted—except alive. Except physical.

What is she to do? What is Tuck to do?

 Dying to Tell summons up the three elements that Tuck’s books always bring: a traditional murder; a historical subplot that connects to the present; and a twisty, turning conclusion that makes you ask, “Who isn’t a suspect?” But it also takes Tuck and Angel’s life to the next threshold. After two years of being spirit and wife, does “death do you part” mean it’s time to part?

And as for Operation Salaam, the OSS, and famous World War II spies, I’ll discuss some of the historical research I did for Dying to Tell next month. This was, without a doubt, one of the most enjoyable books to research of the three Tuck mysteries so far. Next month, I’ll talk about the way I wove in the historical facts, twisted a little history, and came up with Dying to Tell.

See you then.

Tj O’CONNOR IS THE GOLD MEDAL WINNER OF THE 2015 INDEPENDENT PUBLISHERS BOOK AWARDS FOR MYSTERIES. He is the author of Dying to Know and Dying for the Past, available in bookstores and e-books from Midnight Ink. His third paranormal mystery, DYING TO TELL, will be released January 2016. He is currently working on a traditional mystery and a new thriller. 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.

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