James Hayman: My third McCabe/Savage thriller, Darkness First has been out since October 1st, a little over a month now. As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog, it’s currently available only as an ebook and seems to be doing pretty well. It hit #45 on the Barnes & Noble Nook best-seller list and has garnered 26 readers reviews on Amazon, 20 of them 5 star reviews and, so far, only about half a dozen from friends and acquaintances.
In any event, the introduction of Darkness First and the necessity of getting going on my 4th McCabe/Savage thriller, have pretty much consumed all my attention and most of my time for the last five weeks. My publicist at Harper Collins, the terrific Danielle Bartlett, has arranged for a dozen or more online interviews which are great but sometimes tricky to come up with new and hopefully interesting answers for some of the questions like “What made you want to become a writer?” (Answer: “I’ve always been a writer. It’s the only thing I think I’m genuinely good at.”) and “Is Michael McCabe really a lot like you?” (“Well, we’re both transplanted New Yorkers but McCabe’s a much better shot than me and he doesn’t throw up at autopsies.”)
Since I haven’t really been thinking about much of anything except my book and how beautiful the fall foliage is outside the windows of my island home, and since I really didn’t want to write a blog about the beauty of fall foliage, I thought I’d do what one of my mystery blog interviewers asked me to do a couple of weeks ago. Open Darkness First to any page and pick out three or four paragraphs.
The page I opened to was the start of Chapter 25. It’s a scene where the heroine, Detective Maggie Savage, goes into one of her old haunts in Machias, the Musty Moose, and sees her younger brother, Harlan, for the first time in probably a year. Apologies in advance to any readers of this blog who are offended by R-rated language. For better or for worse my books have a great deal of it. Anyway, here it is.
“The pool tables in the side room at the Moose were crowded with the usual assortment of players and hangers-on. She spotted Harlan in a game at table three and leaned in against the wall under the head of a long-dead bear some taxidermist had stuffed with its mouth open and fangs exposed, in full roar. The creature looked like it was seconds away from leaping off the wall and gobbling up the nearest player.
She watched her kid brother sweep the table till all that was left was the eight ball pressed against the far rail about a foot from the pocket. He had a good eye, that was for sure. Probably why they’d made him a sniper in the Corps.
Harlan sized up the table. The cue ball lay all the way down on the other side at only a slight angle to the eight. A tricky shot. He walked the table, checked the angles then leaned down and drew back his stick. As he glanced up at the eight he spotted Maggie standing in the corner and smiled a smile that was uniquely his. She smiled back. He nodded. She nodded back. Raised her bottle in silent salute.
“Hey, Harlan, you shootin’ pool or pickin’ up pussy?” hollered some goofball who was leaning on a cue stick and wearing a t-shirt with a slogan that made even Maggie smile. “Save a tree. Wipe your ass with an owl.”
“Watch your mouth, asshole, there’s a lady in the room,” said Harlan, then added in a softer voice, “Far corner right.” He gently tapped the cue ball and watched it roll, laying it in exactly where the eight ball met the rail. The eight slithered right, sticking to the rail, rolling so slowly Maggie thought it would surely stop before it arrived. But it had just enough behind it and fell gently into the pocket.
“A lady who happens to be my sister.” Harlan picked up a small pile of bills from the side of the table, handed his cue to the guy with the t-shirt. “Your game.”
He stuffed the money in his pocket, retrieved his beer and walked to where Maggie stood.
“Hello, Magpie. Didn’t know you were coming to town.”
“I didn’t either. Not until about two o’clock this morning.”
He wrapped his muscular arms around her and gave her a hug, still hanging on to his beer bottle. She hugged him back, still hanging on to hers.
“Good to see you, Harlan.”
“Yeah, you too. What brings you to God’s country?”
“Partly the old man. Partly murder.”
“Yeah. Heard you used to hang out with her.”
“Oh really?” Harlan leaned in close, eyes narrowed. “Now who exactly did you hear that from? Tommy been shootin’ off his mouth again?”
“Don’t take it out on Tommy. I’m a certified expert in getting people to say more than they intend. Including Tommy.”
“Buy you a drink?” asked Harlan.
She held up the mostly full bottle of Geary’s. “Haven’t finished the one I’ve got. Listen, why don’t we grab that booth over there. Those people are leaving.”
They waited while a waitress cleaned off the dirty dishes and gave the table a quick swipe with a rag. They slid in. Harlan ordered a burger and fries and another beer. Maggie declined food.”