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.
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.