James Hayman: For thriller fans who may have missed it the first time around, my first McCabe/Savage book (and the first fiction I ever wrote), The Cutting, was re-released as an e-book yesterday (June 3rd) by Harper Collins Witness Impulse imprint. A paperback version will be released in July.
The primary hero of The Cutting is Detective Sergeant Michael McCabe who, like me, is a transplanted New Yorker. In fact, when I wrote my “official” online biography, I realized there were a lot of similarities between McCabe and myself.
“Like McCabe, I’m a native New Yorker. He was born in the Bronx. I was born in Brooklyn. We both grew up in the city. He dropped out of NYU Film School and joined the NYPD, rising through the ranks to become the top homicide cop at the Midtown North Precinct. I graduated from Brown and joined a major New York ad agency, rising through the ranks to become creative director on accounts like the US Army, Merrill Lynch, and Lincoln/Mercury.
We both married beautiful brunettes. McCabe’s wife, Sandy dumped him to marry a rich investment banker who had “no interest in raising other people’s children.” My wife, Jeanne, though often given good reason to leave me in the lurch, has stuck it out through thick and thin and is still my wife. She is also my best friend, my most attentive reader and a perceptive critic.
Both McCabe and I eventually left New York for Portland, Maine. I arrived in August 2001, shortly before the 9/11 attacks, in search of the right place to begin a new career as a fiction writer. He came to town a couple of years later, to escape a dark secret in his past and to find a safe place to raise his teenage daughter, Casey.
There are other similarities between us. We both love good Scotch whiskey, old movie trivia and the New York Giants. And we both live with and love women who are talented artists.
There are also quite a few differences. McCabe’s a lot braver than me. He’s a better shot. He likes boxing. He doesn’t throw up at autopsies. And he’s far more likely to take risks. McCabe’s favorite Portland bar, Tallulah’s, is, sadly, a figment of my imagination. My favorite Portland bars are all very real.”
The Cutting tells the story of a greedy and sociopathic bad guy who concocts a scheme to make millions by selling harvested human hearts for illegal transplants.
Where does he get the hearts? Don’t ask.
Who buys them? Octogenarian billionaires who, because of their age can’t qualify for legitimate transplant programs and are willing to pay anything for a few more years of life.
When I started talking to doctors about the possibility of performing illegal heart transplants, most said the procedure would not be possible. I asked why and was told hearts are viable for transplant for only about four or five hours at most after they are harvested from a donor. A second problem was that fairly large team of different medical specialists are required in the OR during the procedure. And, finally, the operation itself requires a lot of expensive equipment that can only be found in major “Tier 3” hospitals.
However, the more I researched the procedure, the more convinced I became that a determined bad guy with deep pockets and the right connections could make it work. So I moved ahead and wrote the book.
My decision to ignore the initial advice and move forward in writing the story was vindicated when I showed the first draft manuscript to Dr. Robert Zeff, a leading American transplant surgeon (who also happened to be a classmate of mine at Brown). Dr. Zeff loved the book. More importantly, he said if illegal heart transplant procedures were done the way I described, they were not only possible, but were every bit as likely to be medically successful as those performed in a major transplant center.
The Cutting was the first book to introduce Mike McCabe to thriller readers. His partner, Detective Maggie Savage, played a fairly small role in this tale. However, I liked Maggie so much and felt she was such a good character that I gave her co-star status in book #2, The Chill of Night. And then decided I wanted her to play the leading role in McCabe/Savage #3, Darkness First.
I’m currently working on book #4, which is still untitled, in which both McCabe and Savage are both prominently featured.
While all the McCabe/Savage books work well as stand-alones, those who want to read the series in order can now order The Cutting.