Genre Hopping — Guest John Nardizzi

We met John at Crime Bake a long time ago. Before we knew his name we called him “the man with the great shoes who’s a PI.” He’s also a great writer and I’m happy to welcome him back to the blog. The first time he visited, in 2014, John talked about being a private investigator. You can read that post here. We should probably have John back to talk about being a PI now and how things have changed. John’s newest book, The Burden of Innocence came out December 5th.

Name (s)

John Nardizzi


Crime fiction / noir

What drew you to the genre you write?

Growing up, I always loved reading books, especially anything with a mystery or fantasy theme. I loved J.R.R. Tolkien, classic fairly tales, the Hardy Boys mystery adventures. Then I started digging into my dad’s bookshelf and came across Robert B. Parker’s Spenser series. That put me onto the trail of contemporary crime fiction, (if the 1970s can be called contemporary).

What sets your book apart from what is out there?

People tell me my writing evokes vivid imagery of real PI work—walking up to people’s homes, the verbal kung fu of the interview. I’m not prolific. But I’m passionate about getting the words exactly right. I work as an investigator, so my stories come right from the source—conmen, criminals, police, witnesses. I hear the dialogue first-hand and tweak it to fit the book (in other words, I steal…) I try to become each character and then get out of the way. Let them tell their story.

What are you currently writing?

I am working on the third book in the Infantino Files series. And I’m writing a non-fiction account of starting out as an investigator working for the controversial PI Jack Palladino.

What are you reading right now?

My Heart is a Chainsaw.

What is your favorite deadline snack?

Wine. Usually leads to a new deadline.

Do you have a favorite quote or life motto?

“If I read a book… If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.

Favorite writing space?

A heavy leather chair in my office, music playing.

What do you see when you look up from writing?

Darkness over the ocean.

Here’s a bit about Burden of Innocence:

Investigation is continuing with the return of PI Ray Infantino in a crime thriller written by “a bold new poet of American noir – This is the book Chandler would have written if he’d been a real-life private eye.” – Ellen McGarrahan, Author of NYT Editor’s Choice Two Truths and a Lie

Innocence is pain-when you’re locked in a cage.

Private investigators Ray Infantino and Tania Kong take on the case of Sam Langford, framed for a murder committed by a crime boss at the height of his powers. But a decade later, Boston has changed. The old ethnic tribes have weakened.

As the PIs range across the city, witnesses remember the past in dangerous ways. The gangsters know that, in the new Boston, vulnerable witnesses they manipulated years ago are shaky. Old bones will not stay buried forever. When a vicious gangster and a corrupt cop team up to derail the investigation, the stakes are higher than ever.

Can Ray and Tania solve the case in time to free an innocent man?

Readers: Is there a city or town that fascinates you that you love to read about in books?

Bio: John Nardizzi is writer and investigator. His crime novels have won praise for crackling dialogue and pithy observations of detective work. He speaks and writes about investigations in numerous settings, including World Association of Detectives, Lawyers Weekly, Pursuit Magazine and PI Magazine.

His work on innocence cases led to the exoneration Gary Cifizzari and James Watson, as well as million dollar settlements for clients Dennis Maher and the estate of Kenneth Waters, whose story was featured in the film Conviction. Prior to his PI career, he failed to hold any restaurant job for longer than a week. He lives near Boston, Massachusetts.

20 Thoughts

  1. John, welcome back and congratulations on the new book! I somehow missed the first one – must remedy that, stat. I’m currently writing about (fictional) crime in the Boston of a hundred years ago and have dug up lots of fascinating stuff.

  2. Sounds like an interesting read, John. Your career supplies ample ideas and details, too! I’m fascinated by small towns with big secrets—hidden truths that defy the frequent cliches.

    1. Thanks, Grant. Many of these innocence cases do emanate from small towns, where training may have lagged in the past, or the close-knit nature of a small town led to things being buried to avoid uncomfortable conversations.

  3. I write about Salem (Witch City Mysteries) and find that magical city is a never-ending source of inspiration. New series (Haunted Haven) takes place in small-town Florida and I’m learning more about my adopted state every day. Love your method of listening to your characters and then getting out of the way!

    1. I am in Salem frequently (the old courthouse always felt like a trip back in time); it is one of my favorite cities to visit. The Salem witch trials are the original wrongful convictions cases. Good luck with your series, I will look them up. Just had the good fortune of traveling on one of these cases to beautiful Key West.

  4. Welcome John! I’ve never heard of these books before so I’ll put them on my pile right away.

    I don’t have a preferred city, but I love places where there is such history to mine, such as Boston. I’m finding a lot of unknown history for Buffalo, NY for my historical series and I’m enjoying it.

    1. Thanks Liz. Setting a series in a city like Buffalo can lead to some wonderful discoveries for you and your readers. Jim Thompson tips his hat to small town corruption in his book “Pop. 1280″ (the fictional town of Pottsville, Texas). Thompson wrote lines like this: ” I told her the world was full of nice people. I’d have hated to try to prove it to her, but I said it, anyway.”
      Good ol’ cheery Jim…

  5. Thank you for the wonderful interview. Love learning more about the man behind the book. Can’t wait for the opportunity to read “The Burden of Innocence”.

    Love any location that the author can bring alive making me feel like I’m walking the streets and know it well.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  6. Good morning John, and welcome back. I don’t have a preferred city per se, but an area, South Florida where no one has a past, anything is possible, and if all else fails, the ocean is deep!

  7. It’s great to “see” you here! I, of course, love stories set in Boston. I fell in love with it when I moved there. I can’t wait to read this book!

    1. Sherry, thanks so much for inviting me on the wickedauthors site again! Your reminder of how we met cracks me up– will be sure to wear some new shoes I got in Florence for Crime Bake.
      Without the gum…

  8. Hi, I enjoyed this interview. I like any city or town, which the author just makes it come alive and makes me feel like I am right in there. Have a Very Merry and Blessed Christmas. This book sounds and looks very intriguing, thank you for sharing about it.

  9. I love to read about places I know well. There’s a thrill of seeing something you recognize on the page. Granted, I still read plenty of books about places I do know at all or the author has invented the location. I think that’s what makes the others so much fun.

  10. I cannot think of one particular town. I fall in love with most of the towns when I read a book. Thank you for sharing. Merry Christmas. God bless you.

  11. Welcome! I actually enjoy reading about small towns where everyone knows each other. I just enjoy that close, neighborly vibe.

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