Sunday, December 15, 2013

Is the Perfect, Untraceable Murder Possible?

I believe I created a perfect murder for my newly reissued novel STALKING THE SKY.  And not just the murder of one person, but of over three hundred.  And I did it twice.

STALKING THE SKY is the story of America's leading airline in crisis.  As a ruthless corporate raider is moving to seize it from its legendary founder, one of its 747s explodes in mid-air, killing everyone on board.  Then a second airliner goes down.  Sabotage is suspected.  Will Nye, the airline's general counsel who lost his best friend in the second disaster, is working closely with the FBI to track down the killer.

Obviously a bomb of some sort had to be employed with the killer able to escape after placing it, but how to accomplish that and how does one place it in the absolutely precise place to disable a giant aircraft built to survive a multitude of in-air mishaps?  I devised a scheme, but needed to be sure my scheme would work.  On a vacation trip with my wife, I entered the jetliner's lavatory and nervously went through enough of the steps my murderer would be taking to place the bomb until I was sure that I—and he—could get away with the crime.  Fearing arrest at any moment, I returned, sweating, to my seat.  Yet, like the murderer, I safely got off the plane at my destination.

A perfect mass murder?  I think it would have been.  I'll leave for my book's readers the details of how one gets a bomb on board and still makes a safe getaway.  But I'm sure that if Will hadn't found and tracked down a tiny clue I planted, STALKING THE SKY would have had a very different ending: The killer dancing all the way to a happy and very wealthy retirement.

So, I definitely think a smart, thorough thriller/mystery writer could devise a perfect plan to get away with murder.  The question is: How many novelists pecking out their daydreamed plots possess a killer's nerve?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Instilling Jeopardy in My Novels

In the TV quiz show Jeopardy, the stakes get doubled part way through the show and are raised again at the end in Final Jeopardy. For that last difficult question, the contestants can risk up to whatever they have won so far in the hope of correctly answering it and doubling what they've put at risk. Perhaps more important, the top money winner gets to return to compete for more prize money in the next game.
In my courtroom thriller, A QUESTION OF PROOF, the protagonist, Dan Lazar, a renowned criminal-defense lawyer, is divorced and badly misses his son. Moreover, burned-out and disillusioned by his success at winning acquittals for people he knows are guilty of horrendous crimes, he is ready to call it quits. He falls in love with Susan Boelter, the estranged wife of an autocratic newspaper publisher, who is seeking to take everything from her in divorce proceedings, including custody of their daughter. Susan's happiness and consequently Dan's as well are at risk. Suddenly, Peter is found dead, and Susan is charged with his murder, raising the stakes again for Susan and Dan. He yields to her entreaty that he defend her at the murder trial, an unorthodox and personally wrenching arrangement that puts more at risk for Dan. The stakes are raised even higher by Dan's urgent inner need to use his lawyering skill to save at least one person he can truly believe is innocent. In this case that person is also the woman he loves. But is she innocent or merely using him/  Events put his certainty in doubt.  Ultimately at stake is virtually everything Dan's considers worth living for.  The outcome turns on a question of proof.
STALKING THE SKY is my latest thriller to be published on Kindle and simultaneously in print on Amazon with new material and  new Introduction. Its protagonist Will Nye, the general counsel for America's leading airline, is feverishly seeking to uncover the identity of the saboteur who planted a bomb on one of the airline's 747s. To raise the stakes, one of the pilots who went down with the plane was his best friend, who saved his life in Vietnam. Nye's quest becomes an obsession. When he finally learns that yet a third airliner has been targeted and the woman he loves is one of that plane's flight attendants, the stakes--and the suspense--soar as high as the sky that plane is flying through.
Jeopardy is not just a game, it's at the heart of a thriller.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

How I'm Using New Media to Reach Readers

Nearly all authors in the pre-Internet age experienced the galling frustration of having a publisher put little or no marketing effort into a book we may have spent years writing. The new media, primarily social media, provide emancipation from that netherworld; we can personally market our books in so many ways that were never before available. In days of yore, we hoped the people reviewing books for newspapers would pick ours to write about or maybe someone would write an article or even that we’d be interviewed on a phone-in radio show. Today, we can reach potential readers with what we hope are intriguing pitches for our books on Twitter, the major resource for my marketing, Facebook, blogs, and web sites like 
Goodreads, where readers gather and exchange opinions on what they've read. I created a website,, which  features all my books and additional material about me and them. 

Everyone with access to a computer can be a reviewer in this new age, and thousands of people with only a love of books as a qualification are conveying their opinions on Amazon book pages and blogs and Facebook pages and Twitter. They are also communicating directly with writers and each other on websites and in online book forums. And just as they can be stimulated to see a movie through trailers, they can be motivated to buy books by watching promotional video trailers online.

To take only one instance of how I'm attempting to use the new media, I’ve always felt that my legal thriller A Question of Proof, a book I loved that received gratifying pre-publication reviews and endorsements (one person called it "a masterpiece of suspense"), was not marketed effectively or vigorously by the publisher and could have reached many more readers. The presence of the new media with its potential to communicate my enthusiasm and belief in my book directly to thousands of potential readers induced me to launch a new edition it in digital and also print form. I updated it so that it takes place in the present and added new material and a personal Introduction to make it as pleasurable for new readers as I believed it was originally. Being an experienced film-maker, I created a video book trailer, which is available both on GoodReads and on my website (and even appeared in it). As I write this A QUESTION OF PROOF is selling prodigiously on Kindle, as well in its new print edition, both with new covers, and it's garnering great reviews, which gives me enormous, if delated gratification.

A similar effort to reach readers via Twitter is expended on my other books now also available in new Kindle and print editions at Amazon: the just-published STALKING THE SKY (formerly "Hawks"), a thriller about America's leading air carrier under siege both from a saboteur destroying its 747s in flight and a corporate raider seeking to seize it; my 3-generation mystery romance DEEDS; my beloved woman's novel BIRTHRIGHT about a strong woman fighting for success in a man's world; and STAR TIME, an TV insider's novel. 

In short the new media is the best tool authors and readers have ever had to find each other.  Please contact me at and let me know what you think.  And if you enjoy the books, please leave reviews for them here and on their Amazon pages.