We’re thrilled to welcome Bruce back to the blog in celebration of the latest book in his Detective Byron series, WITHIN PLAIN SIGHT.
Bruce Robert Coffin here. Many thanks to the Wickeds for allowing me the opportunity to guest blog. I hope you’re all enjoying a great start to 2020. With the release of my fourth Detective Byron Mystery, WITHIN PLAIN SIGHT, my year is certainly starting off well.
I thought I’d share with you a question most often posed to me by readers, and that is: where did I come by my love of books? Well, it all began one summer when I was a wee lad. Already addicted to reading and to great storytelling, I discovered a local flea market within biking distance of our house. Flea market, as I learned that summer, is a fancy moniker for a store that sells cool used stuff. Believe me when I tell you this place had everything, tools, artwork, collectibles, but most importantly it had books. Lots and lots of books. Displayed proudly at the back of the store upon painted shelves was a treasure trove of all things fiction. Row upon row of Nancy Drew Mysteries, The Hardy Boys, Spin and Marty, and Tom Swift. Oh, what a quarter would buy back then. And while these titles pre-dated me, they intrigued me all the same. I still recall the little white price stickers and the intoxicating scent of musty old books. So very captivating were their covers and illustrations. I deliberated over each and every one like an indecisive teen. Even the titles were brilliant: The Secret of the Caves, The Ghost at Skeleton Rock, The Whispering Statue, and The Mystery of the Dragon Fire. I had no idea what dragon fire was and I couldn’t wait to get the book home and find out.
I often wonder whether books played a larger role during my formative years simply because of the limited number of television channels, the absence of computers and cellphones, and Internet. But books were and continue to be a major part of my life. You may wonder why that is. They are simply paper and ink after all. Only words printed on pages, bound together by a spine, sandwiched between two cloth-covered pieces of cardboard, then wrapped in a shiny dust jacket. Nothing too extraordinary, right?
But if books really are no big deal, if they don’t rise above the sum of their parts, then why do we erect buildings dedicated to them? Why are we compelled to purchase shelves to hold them, and boxes in which to store them? Why do we display them on coffee tables and night stands, as if they were treasured photos of loved ones? Or race to the store to buy the latest in a series? Or stand in lines to have them autographed by strangers?
I think it’s because books have the ability to transport us back to a time when we were different people, younger versions of ourselves. Don’t believe me? Try picking up a copy of Clifford the Big Red Dog or Where the Wild Things Are, then tell me you don’t see images from your childhood dancing before your eyes. Or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. I still recall sitting at my desk in third grade while our homeroom teacher read to us, wondering how an everlasting gobstopper or a snozzberry might taste.
When I turned twelve, I read my first Stephen King novel, Salem’s Lot. I can still recall the magical scent of those new pages, much like the pop quiz sheets straight from the mimeograph in the principal’s office. I also remember King’s book scared the hell out of me, as have many of his subsequent works. As I aged, my tastes changed, along with my books: One Police Plaza, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Haunting of Hill House, Tuesdays with Morrie, Of Mice and Men, and A Walk in the Woods. I imagined myself hiking up and down mountains along the Appalachian Trail while chatting with Bryson, or maybe sharing a cream soda with Katz. Each book represented a new chapter in my life, new memories.
More than just paper and ink, books are an endless stream of thought and consciousness, knowledge and idea. Each one possessing the power to entertain and enrich us. Books allow us safe passage, an escape from this world, if only for a short while. Evoking an infinite number of emotions, the best books are like amusement park thrill rides, lifting our spirits one moment, then rocketing us downward toward some imaginary horror the next.
Readers, how did you get hooked on books?
Bruce will be giving away a copy of his book to a commenter on the blog!
About WITHIN PLAIN SIGHT:
The latest gripping installment of the award-winning, #1 bestselling Detective Byron mystery series: a grisly crime captivates Portland, sending John Byron and his team on a wild chase to catch the killer before it’s too late
“These books are absolutely superb, beautifully plotted. I can’t recommend them highly enough.” —Douglas Preston, #1 bestselling co-author of the Pendergast series
Amid the dog days of summer, Detective Sergeant John Byron is called to the scene of a horrific crime: a young woman’s body, dismembered and left in an abandoned Portland lumber yard. The killing shares striking similarities with a spate of murders committed in Boston by a serial killer known only as the Horseman.
As Byron’s team investigates the case, they quickly push up against powerful forces in town. But Byron will stop at nothing to find the truth, not when there is a killer on the loose and everyone is a suspect. Has the Horseman expanded his killing field? Is this the work of an ingenious copycat—or is nothing what it seems? One thing is certain: Byron must uncover the truth before the killer strikes again.
“Flawless prose, witty dialogue, startling twists. In Within Plain Sight, a cross-country hunt for a killer spirals dangerously out of control. Akin to what Michael Connelly does for L.A., Coffin fully immerses us in a gritty, realistic Portland, Maine. Authenticity seeps from every page, from the police work to the resonating emotions. Unforgettable.” (K.J. HOWE, internationally bestselling author of Skyjack)
“Within Plain Sight fires on all cylinders: a page-turning plot, compelling characters, outstanding dialogue, and an immersive setting. As usual, Bruce Coffin delivers. In spades.” (BARON R. BIRTCHER, LA Times bestselling author of Rain Dogs and Hard Latitudes)
“Within Plain Sight sizzles and pops like thick-cut bacon tossed into a smokin’ hot skillet. … This fast-paced tale has it all. … A mystery that will keep you guessing until the final bullet-riddled revelation.” (Jim Nesbitt, author of The Last Second Chance)
Bruce Robert Coffin is the bestselling author of the Detective Byron Mysteries. A former detective sergeant with more than twenty-seven years in law enforcement, he supervised all homicide and violent crime investigations for Maine’s largest city. Following the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, Bruce spent four years investigating counter-terrorism cases for the FBI, earning the Director’s Award, the highest award a non-agent can receive.
His most recent novel, Beyond the Truth, winner of Killer Nashville’s Silver Falchion Award for Best Procedural, was a finalist for the Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel and a finalist for the Maine Literary Award for Best Crime Fiction. His short fiction appears in several anthologies, including Best American Mystery Stories 2016.