Genre Hopping with Bruce Robert Coffin

Bruce Coffin is a fellow Maine crime writer, one of many in a group that extends across all crime sub-genres. I invited him today because his sub-genre, the police procedural, is among my favorite types of reading. I started off on the British ones, P.D. James’ Adam Dagliesh and Ruth Rendell’s Reg Wexford, but now I love procedurals from all over the world, both in books and on TV. Bruce’s books in the John Byron series are excellent, full of strong characters, both male and female, and so real-feeling–for reasons you’ll soon understand.

About Bruce

Bruce Robert Coffin is the award-winning author of the bestselling Detective Byron mystery series. 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.

Winner of Killer Nashville’s Silver Falchion Award for Best Procedural, and the Maine Literary Award for Best Crime Fiction Novel, Bruce was also a finalist for the Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel. His short fiction appears in several anthologies, including Best American Mystery Stories 2016.

Bruce is a member of International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Short Mystery Fiction Society, and the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance. He is a regular contributor to the Murder Books blog.

Take it away, Bruce!

Name: Bruce Robert Coffin

Genre: Mystery/procedural

What drew you to the genre you write? It might be more accurate to say that the police procedural genre chose me. After three decades away from fiction writing, due to a law enforcement career, when I finally returned to writing, my muse grabbed me by the lapels and shoved me headlong down the murder/mystery path. 

What sets your books apart from what is out there? Admittedly, there are so many great mystery authors it is difficult to set oneself apart. If I have anything distinct to offer I hope it is authenticity. My decades as a detective have provided me with a wealth of insider knowledge and real life experiences allowing me to create and solve fictional murder mystery cases.

What are you currently writing? I am currently hard at work on the next Detective Byron novel, tentatively titled Under the Gun.

Do you write a series or standalones? Under the Gun will be the fifth book in the Byron series. Although I hope to see the John Byron adventures continue well into the future, I have begun writing several standalone books. With a little luck one or more of those stand-alone volumes will one day occupy a space on the shelf beside my other finished novels.

What are you reading right now? I just finished reading Karen Dionne’s wonderful novel The Marsh King’s Daughter. I heard Karen discuss the book at a writer’s conference and I was immediately hooked by the premise. I highly recommended it.

What is your favorite deadline snack? Whenever I’m under a looming deadline nothing beats homemade nachos. After completing a novel I always like to celebrate by hoisting a glass, or two, of Writer’s Tears Irish Whiskey.

Do you have a favorite quote or life motto? My love of the outdoors has led me to hike many miles and climb many mountains. One morning over breakfast at a remote hiker hostel the topic of conversation turned to the different ways that hikers treat their drinking water. Some use iodine tablets, while others like to filter or use UV waves. During that same conversation one of the hikers, whose trail name was Jingles, in a perfectly delivered deadpan said that he always treated his water with respect. Words to live by. I still smile when I think about his comment.

Favorite writing space? I have a designated writing den in my home, but I still enjoy writing while seated in a diner over coffee. Perhaps my favorite writing space is at one of the local libraries. I find that libraries provide a fabulous escape from distractions. And great WiFi!

What do you see when you look up from writing? The real world. When I write I really immerse myself in the fictional world between the pages of my stories where my characters reside. Pausing to look up from that can be jarring, like plunging back though the atmosphere into the real world and its inhabitants.

Many thanks to Barbara Ross and the rest of the Wickeds for inviting me to be a guest author on their fabulous blog!

Readers: Do you like police procedurals? If yes, which books, series, TV shows?

Be on the lookout for Bruce’s fourth Detective Byron novel, Within Plain Sight, winner of the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction.

Be sure to read Bruce’s award-winning novel, Beyond the Truth, winner of the Silver Falchion Award for Best Procedural, Agatha Award Nominee for Best Contemporary Novel, Maine Literary Award Nominee for Best Crime Fiction, and Maine Sunday Telegram #1 Bestseller.

“Authentic and gripping.” — Joseph Wambaugh, bestselling author of The Onion Field

36 Thoughts

  1. I enjoy police procedurals as long as they are not too gory or violent. I’ve read most of the book in Bruce’s series and enjoyed them all.

  2. I like the Bosch series by Michael Connelly. I’ll have to give Bruce Coffin’s series a try. I have loved all of the Law & Order tv programs and still watch the re-runs.

  3. Welcome back to the blog, Bruce! I think I might have missed Within Plain Sight and must remedy that right away, because I love this series. Best of luck with the standalones.

  4. Hi, Bruce!

    I love police procedurals, Bruce’s among them. I’m also a fan of M.E. Browning’s Shadow Ridge. I’d list more but it would go on for days and I’d still leave off someone.

  5. We are hooked on crime procedurals on television, just finished Line of Duty and now are watching Silent Witness (forensic pathology). Fascinating! Good luck on your new book!

  6. Great to see you here Bruce! Your signing event at the New England Mobile Book Fair last year for Book 4 in the Detective Byron series was the last official signing I went to before the world went to pieces. It was great to meet you and get my books signed. Plus you had so many other authors in attendance that it was like a mini-convention too.

    I do hope to see you continue the Byron series and that a standalone or two ends up hitting store shelves as well.

    As for whether or not I like police procedurals, that’s a big 10-4! I love them. I read books in a lot of different subgenres but being the son of a cop, I do like police mysteries a lot.

    The list of book series and TV series is far too long to type out here (or probably anywhere) but I did grow up watching Hill Street Blues and I’m slowly getting the DVDs to rewatch it because I don’t have a lot of memories. However, I do worship at the altar of NYPD Blue and rewatch all 12 seasons every so often. Beyond that, the list is probably endless.

  7. Great to see you here, Bruce! In print, your Byron series is my fave. On screen, I loved Homicide: Life on the Street. I also have to mention The Brokenwood Mysteries for a police procedural on the more “cozy-ish” side.

  8. Obviously, as a writer of procedurals, I enjoy them. Bruce’s Byron series is fantastic. On the screen, I loved the job Titus Welliver and crew did with Bosch.

  9. I do enjoy reading police procedurals and whether on the screen or in a book form, I love when the events are based on correct details. In appreciation to your career background, I know that the attention to detail in your books has to be wonderful. “Within Plain Sight” is most definitely on my TBR list.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  10. Definitely high on police procedurals. Like Barb, I started out in Great Britain, but I’ve moved far closer to home now. I’m currently reading Kate Flora’s Joe Burgess series and I’m working my way through Bosch after having watched the series. Just added your Byron books to my Kindle. Looking forward to more time in the southern part of the State.

  11. I DO like police procedurals. I love, love, love Texas native, Deborah Crombie’s Gemma James and Duncan KIncaid series set in London and other locations throughout the Bristish Isles. I am also a huge fan of Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch, I’ve read them all and wathed the tv show. I enjoy a couple of British police procedurals, as well. I adore James R. Benn’s Billy Boyle WWII mysteries. I’m not too sure if that quite is what you mean, but he is a detective who investigates criminal activities and murders as a member General Eisenhower’s staff and is sent all over Europe to solve crimes.

    I am glad you were a guest here this moring. I’m off to find your books right now! Where do the John Byron stories take place? in Maine? Small town or city. I always begin with book #1.

      1. With Jim’s Billy Boyle books, start with book #1 if you can, but know that they just get better and better! I just ordered the first John Byron book!

  12. Welcome, Bruce! It’s so great to “see” you here. I so appreciate the advice you’ve given me with my books especially Let’s Fake A Deal. There it wasn’t only police procedure advice but the go for it I needed to hear. Bob and I think your books are top notch reading. I’ve read all the Bosch books and enjoy the Amazon series too.

  13. Great interview and nice to meet you, Bruce. I just found Writer’s Tears whiskey, or rather my daughter did and gave some to me. Love that and have a bottle for when I finish my WIP. I love, love, love police procedurals ever since the first Ed McBain book I read eons ago. Like others have mentioned here, I also enjoyed the police shows on TV, especially Hill Street Blues and Homicide on the Streets. I thought that one went off the air much too soon. I’m not familiar with Brokenwood, but will check it out to see if it streams on Netflix or Hulu.

    Also making a list of your books to start reading.

  14. Hi Bruce! Nice to learn a little bit more about you.

    I do enjoy police procedurals as long as they aren’t too graphic. Having said that, I don’t tend to read them much. Too many cozies calling my name. The biggest exception is Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch series, which I listen to on audio via my local library. Occasionally, he gets right up to the line, but he manages to stay away from being too graphic for me.

  15. I started reading police procedurals with Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct series. I’ve also enjoyed series by Bill Knox, Dell Shannon and Steven Havill

  16. Yes. The last one I read was Charlie Crawford – New York Homicide by Tom Turner

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