By Sherry — I’m so delighted to introduce you to Roger Johns!
Roger’s debut book Dark River Rising released on August 29 from Minotaur Books! Here’s a bit about the book: Dark River Rising is a tense and expertly-plotted mystery set against the bayous of Louisiana, from debut author Roger Johns.
Baton Rouge Police Detective Wallace Hartman has had better days. With her long-time partner and mentor on medical leave and a personal life in shambles, she’s called to the scene of a particularly gruesome murder: the body of a known criminal has been found in a deserted warehouse, a snake sewn into his belly. Obvious signs of torture point to a cunning and cold-blooded killer who will stop at nothing to find what he’s looking for.
When Federal Agent Mason Cunningham arrives on the scene, Wallace expects a hostile takeover of the case. But when a scientist with ties to the victim goes missing from a government lab, she needs Mason’s federal connections as much as he needs her local insight, and the two form an uneasy partnership to solve a case that grows more complicated—and dangerous—by the minute.
Meanwhile, the killer lurks in the shadows with an agenda no one saw coming, and when Wallace and Mason threaten to get in the way they risk losing everything they hold dear. Including their lives.
Thanks for joining us today, Roger!
Thank you, to the fantastic Wicked Cozy Authors for having me on the blog today. Full disclosure: I am most certainly a cozy reader, but I am (gulp!) not a cozy writer. Gritty, hard-boiled, and neo-Noir would be pretty good descriptors for the category I belong in. Contemporary writers like Karin Slaughter, Michael Connelly, Craig Johnson, and Tess Gerritsen would be good shelf-mates. And, if you look back a few years, John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee novels would also be kindred spirits. So, at least the ‘wicked’ aspect of the blog title is probably apropos.
That said, I’m absolutely thrilled to be in the company of the Wicked Cozy Authors and their readers, today. Trust me, every first-time mystery writer longs for a chance in a spotlight this big and bright. And . . . there’s a little bit of a story behind how this happened. It falls into what my wife and I call the “You just never know ____________” category. There are the usual ways we would all fill in that blank, such as “You just never know . . .
* what you’re gonna find if you stop at that garage sale,” or
* what kind of meal you’re going to have when you try that new Ethiopian restaurant,” or
* whether you’re going to feel guilty for buying that budget-busting sport coat/pair of shoes/Maserati until after you’ve brought it home.”
And, today’s blank can be filled in with another of the old standards: “You just never know . . .
* who you’re gonna meet when you share a taxi from the hotel to the airport at the end of a mystery readers and writers convention in New Orleans . . . in October . . . of last year.”
The convention–Bouchercon 2016, by the way–was a great deal of fun. A year earlier, I had never even heard of, much less been to Bouchercon. But as I got deeper into the business of being an author I started learning about all these cool goings-on in the mystery reader-writer world. Maybe it was a blessing that I hadn’t known before, because I can see myself having dropped a ton of cash on it over the years. In any event, there I was, in the Crescent City, mingling with all these writers whose books I’d spent a lifetime reading, and meeting new writers and fellow readers. I didn’t have a book in play at the time–that was still about ten months away– so, in a sense, I was pressing my nose to the glass, but what a fine time it was.
Oh, and about that taxi ride, I tried hard not to eavesdrop (yeah, right!), but from a foot away, inside a van, afflicted with a congenitally nosey streak, it’s impossible not to overhear what your fellow riders are talking about. Mysteries, of course. Well, one thing led to another, and eventually I was invited into the conversation and eventually (and very nervously, I must add) I told my travel companions that I was in the early stages of being a mystery writer myself. My fellow riders–Sherry Harris (yes, that Sherry Harris) and Julianne Holmes (yes, that Julianne Holmes)–were so kind and so generous with their advice and in the recounting of their early experiences in the writing biz. I wish I had a video of the conversation to put up with this blog post.
There’s something exceptional about the reading-writing community, in general, and about the mystery-reading and writing community, in specific. Given that murder and mayhem are our stock in trade, it really is a remarkably good-natured slice of humanity (pun intended). In this ultra-competitive, too-often ill-mannered world we live in, it’s refreshing and affirming to be so readily embraced by the people who are already making the writing world go around. In my earlier incarnations, I met plenty of unpleasant people, but I have yet to encounter a single one in the reader-writer community. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, has been so thoughtful and helpful and friendly, and so much fun to be around. We people of the book are a special tribe, and we should take a great deal of pride in this.
Author Bio: Roger is a former corporate lawyer and retired college professor, with law degrees from LSU and Boston University. Before, during, and after those endeavors, and before turning to mystery writing, he also worked as a script reader, drapery hanger, waiter, book seller, tuxedo rental clerk, ranch hand, television-commercial agent’s assistant, and party photographer–among other things. His debut novel–Dark River Rising–was released in August of this year by Minotaur Books-St. Martin’s Press.
Readers: What “you just never know” moments have you had?