A Wicked Welcome to Bruce Coffin! **And a Giveaway!**

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!


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)


Amanda Huebner Photography

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.
Website: brucerobertcoffin.com

41 Thoughts

  1. Welcome to the blog, Bruce! I was also a child hungry for books and found mine in our public library and on my parents’ many bookshelves. I know this book will be a huge hit – with good reason!

  2. Dr. Doolittle. I think I was seven and I borrowed it from the Haddonfield, NJ Firehouse Library.

  3. I started reading when I was 4, Dr. Seuss books being my first ones. I found Nancy Drew at my library when I was about 7 and my love of all things mystery began!

    1. Good for you, Deb! And there are so many great mystery writers to keep us entertained.

  4. Back in my early years, there weren’t libraries in schools. Instead we had this large van show up once every two weeks full of books. We stood in line and waited patiently for our true to venture into the land of make believe or adventures we had never experienced. Some how or other, regardless of where you were in line, there was always some fabulous book waiting for you. I can remember the feeling coming back out with our prized selection hugged to our chest not wanting to start reading but knowing we had to until class was over.

    Agree with you about reading becoming such an important part of our early lives because of no internet, few TV channels (and those were limited to a short bit after the news at night because daytime was time to be outdoors), and teachers that taught the three basics – READING, writing and arithmetic. I’m glad I lived in the age of proverty of the electronic age!

    WITHIN PLAIN SIGHT sounds fabulous and definitely like a book that I would enjoy. Love the title. It reminds me of a saying from my childhood about hiding in plain sight that always puzzled me about how you could hide with so many people around. Then I’d remember my Dad explaining by saying “If you act like you know what your doing, no one will question you”. 🙂

    Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy!
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  5. Welcome back, Bruce! Not only are you an amazing author but very generous with your time and knowledge for people like me. I remember my mom reading chapters on the Bobbsey Twins to my sister and I before I could read. And our house was full of crime fiction and we all exchanged books we loved. Mom and I still say, “Have you read this book.”

  6. My parents used to take us to the library. We also had a used bookstore one town over and the books were cheap.

    1. Libraries are the best, Sandy. I spend too much time there evidently. Earlier this week I was at a local library when the adult services librarian handed me a piece of mail that had been sent to me care of their library! 🙂

  7. Congrats on the release of Within Plain Sight, Bruce! I can’t wait to find out what John’s up to these days. My parents were voracious readers, so I grew up around books, newspapers, and magazines. The first author I remember being a fan of was Matt Christopher. I gobbled up his sports stories and especially loved Catcher With a Glass Arm and Ice Magic. Great memories!

  8. Great post, Bruce! It was Scholastic book fairs in grade school. Remember those? Or was that before your time? My mother would argue with me every month because I wanted to order 4-5 books and she wanted to pay for 1-2. I read them all, by the way, in those days. I didn’t just hoard them. (Hmm, I wonder if the book hoarding thing is another rebellion. No doubt.) Please give the book to one of the other commenters. Amazon assures me mine is on the way. But I wanted to drop in to say hello.

    1. Thanks, Keenan! I do remember Scholastic book fairs. We routinely ordered new books and magazines.

  9. I haven’t read any of your books, yet. I look forward to reading them all soon.

  10. Hi, Bruce!

    I’m sure it was my parents and grandparents reading to me from a young age that got me first hooked. Then I made the weekly trips to the library, where I devoured the children’s books – Amelia Bedelia, Encyclopedia Brown, etc. Then Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys.

    Then I found Agatha Christie and the rest, as they say, was history. 🙂

  11. I am old school, I too love everything about a print book! My Mom read a lot so maybe her love of books was instilled in me from her! I have read books pretty much since I could read. I did want to ask though if your books are stand alone books? Thanks for the chance! I hope it’s a print book, too! 😁

    1. Hey, Nancy! Old school rules. 😉 My Byron novels are a series. Within Plain Sight is book four in the series. And they are available in print!

  12. Congratulations on the new book Bruce!

    I’m sad to say that I haven’t read the series before but I’m quite intrigued and plan to pick up the books now that I’ve been made aware of them.

    By the way, thanks for the follow on Twitter. I don’t know how that came to happen but it’s always good when I see another author has followed little ol’ me.

    My parents were the ones that encouraged / insisted on all three kids in the family being readers. It didn’t matter what we read but we had to read. We got books as presents, went to the library (or in the summertime waited for the bookmobile to come to our neighborhood) and there was the monthly Scholastic book fair thing in school. It’s that initial encouragement that eventually wound its long and winding way to me reviewing books for Mystery Scene!

    There was the stuff we had to read for school which I almost never enjoyed and was responsible for a temporary death of my reading habits. But once I was free from the drudgery of school-enforced “educational” reading, my love came back.

    I read mainly mysteries and thrillers with the occasional science fiction (usually a Star Trek prose novel) thrown in as well. My parents got me into reading mysteries because they were the ones who introduced me to Sherlock Holmes (and later the Sherlock Holmes and Charlie Chan movies on late night TV). Then there was Encyclopedia Brown and The Three Investigators. As an adult, there are so many people I read that a list would probably break the Internet. I also read magazines and comic books. It’s all a matter of am I being entertained by what I’m reading.

    The only drawback to this love of the written word is not having nearly enough time (or money) to read everything I want to invest some couch time in.

    As I wrap up this probably longer than I intended reply, I’m adding your books to my list and will cast my hat into the ring for the one you are giving away today here on the blog!

    1. Thanks so much, Jay! It’s true, there’s never enough time to read everything we’d like. And the same applies to writing. Thanks for weighing in!

  13. Hi Bruce. I, too, started early with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, I also remember the Bobbsey Twins – I had an old book that probably belonged to my older siblings. Both my parents were big readers, mom with her mysteries and dad with his westerns (I still have some of his Zane Gray and her Agatha Christie collections). As a result, no books were off limits to me, I jumped to Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh and the classic mysteries early, then Dracula and Carrie and Salem’s Lot when I was in 7th grade.

    I never lost my love of mysteries, though and I am so looking forward to Within Plain Sight! I enjoyed the first three in the series very much and am sure this one will be excellent, too!

    Hopefully, I’ll see you again at Crime Bake and you will autograph this one for me, too. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Syl! I look forward to seeing you at the New England Crime Bake.

  14. Welcome, Bruce! It’s so great to have you here at the Wickeds!

    My friend Hilary had graduated to what the kids now call “chapter books” and was reading her way through Nancy Drew. I, being not the least bit competitive, of course had to do it too, and keep up with her. Then, a few years later on a rainy day at my grandparents’ beach house I found an Agatha Christie Miss Marple on a bookshelf and the die was cast.

  15. Thanks for having me, Barb! Ah, the competitiveness of youth. Good thing for all of us that you kept up with Hilary!

  16. I think I could have written your post. Days in the library and used bookstores. Those intriguing titles. And pages that transport me to another world.

    I’d rather read than do much else. Might be why I finally got my condo back to normal after Christmas last night.

    (And yes, please enter me in this giveaway.)

    1. Consider yourself entered, Mark! Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve kept one Christmas tree up. 😉

  17. Great post, Bruce! I remember how thrilled I was to receive my five-years-older cousin’s collection of Nancy Drew mysteries when I was 9 or 10. That’s where it all began for me!

  18. Thanks for visiting the Wickeds today, Bruce! It is always lovely to “see” you! We always had a lot of books in my house when I was growing up and I don’t actually remember a time whenI wasn’t an enthusiastic book lover, even before I could read. I do remember that The Bobbsey Twins at the Seashore was the first chapter book that I read on my own and I can still recall how proud of myself I was to be reading it.

    1. Thank you, Jessie! It is amazing how clearly those moments remain with us.

  19. I was not a good reader when I was young. My class would get to walk to our local library once a week to check out books. I would check out my share but never end up reading them! Now I love to read–especially mystery books! Thanks for the chance to win your giveaway!

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