Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Please Welcome My Guest, Chester D. Campbell, on His Blog Book Tour

Chester D. Campbell is the author of two mystery series featuring private investigators. The Surest Poison, first book in the Sid Chance series dealing with a chemical pollution case, is just out. He has written four Greg McKenzie novels featuring a retired Air Force investigator and his wife. Prior to turning to fiction writing, Campbell worked as a newspaper reporter, freelance writer, magazine editor, political speechwriter, advertising copywriter, public relations professional and association executive. An Air Force intelligence officer in the Korean War, he retired from the Air Force Reserve as a lieutenant colonel. Currently secretary of the Southeast Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and president of the Middle Tennessee Chapter of Sisters in Crime, he lives in Madison , TN with his wife, Sarah, and an 11-year-old grandson.

Miss Demeanor and Five Felons Poker Club

One of the major problems in writing a Private Eye series is how the detective gets reliable information on crimes and criminals out of the police. If the PI has no background in law enforcement, he’s at a real disadvantage. Even those who are former cops usually left the department under less than favorable circumstances, often making them persona non grata with their old employers.

In The Surest Poison, PI Sid Chance quit his job as a small town police chief under a cloud, though he was subsequently exonerated. I came up with an innovative subplot to provide him with sources for the inside information he needs in pursuing his investigations. It involves the Misdemeanor and Five Felons Poker Club. Back when I first completed writing the novel, I even used that as the title of the book. I knew it was awfully long to start with and, on more sober reflection, decided to scrap it for something better.

The “club,” of course, remained a vital part of the story. It is mentioned at the end of the opening chapter, though only in passing and not by name. The next occurrence comes in Chapter 8 when Sid discusses who will attend the next “meeting” with his part-time associate, Jaz LeMieux.

The members are identified as Metro Nashville Homicide Detective Bart Masterson, Patrol Sgt. Wick Stanley, retired newspaper crime writer Jack Post, former Criminal Court Judge Gabriel Thackston, and Jaz, a former cop now board chairman of a chain of truck stops, who invited Sid to join them. The group meets for a friendly game of poker whenever they can get enough together to provide for some lively competition.

Jack Post, the word merchant, originally dubbed them Miss Demeanor (Jaz) and Four Felons, but the ante went up when Sid joined the group. Although a Nashville native, he had been away for years, first as a National Park ranger, then as police chief in a small town fifty miles to the southwest. Jaz was responsible for getting him into the private investigation business and suggested he join the ersatz club as a way of establishing some good contacts in the law enforcement community.

As a subplot, it worked out quite well. Since I’m a seat-of-the-pants plotter, I had no idea what would happen in advance. I picked out some characters I thought would be interesting and started writing. They came through for me as I expected. Bart Masterson was the most helpful, since he investigated the first murder and assisted in tracking down information on the second. My PI happily shared information he encountered involving each of the murders.

The others played less prominent roles than Masterson but provided significant details that helped piece the puzzle together. The one meeting of the Misdemeanor and Five Felons Poker Club that takes place in the book set the stage for the players to provide various bits of information over the next few days.

I know there have been groups like James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club that work together to solve crimes, but do you know of other “clubs” created to assist the protagonist in gathering clues?

Buy link to Amazon:
Buy link to B&N:

Chester Campbell
Author of The Surest Poison
"A top rate mystery by a gem of a writer."
Jon Jordan, Crimespree Magazine

Today’s visit is part of Chester Campbell’s Blog Book Tour. He will give away several copies of his books in drawings at the end of the tour on May 1. Leave a comment here and you may be a winner. For more details click this link ( to the blog tour page on his website.


Anonymous said...

Clever, Chester. :) I'm also a "seat-of-the-pants" plotter - LOL

Hey some people think fast on their feet, we think fast on our seat!

Morgan Mandel said...

Hi Chester,
Welcome to Acme Authors Link. I hope you have a great time here.

Morgan Mandel

Chester Campbell said...

Thanks for the welcome, Morgan. And, Marvin, I like your idea of think on the seat instead of the feet. As any of my friends can tell you, I'm not much of a talker. I communicate best through my fingers.

Helen Ginger said...

I think it's great that you came up with a group that connected or convened for reasons other than solving crimes. Sounds like a good way to show them outside of crime fighting.


Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

sounds like the kind of book my Dad will enjoy. will make a note for my next visit to

Chester Campbell said...

Right, Helen. Banter around the poker table gives an opportunity to go into the characters a bit more deeply.

Hi, Ann. I've had several people mention getting one for Dad. I hope he enjoys it. I've also had positive feedback in the UK on my Greg McKenzie books.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Liked the name you came up with -Misdemeanor and Five Felons Poker Club! As always, I enjoyed your informative post.

Jane Kennedy Sutton

Debra St. John said...

Hi Chester! Thanks for visiting us today.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I like those names, too.

Go, Chester, go!!!

L. Diane Wolfe

Deb Larson said...

Hello Chester:
Sounds like an exciting book and the club is a great idea. Good luck with your blog tour. Be sure to visit us again.
DL Larson

Karen Brees said...

Like the concept, Chester. Also like the 'seat of the pants" aspect. I think we can too bogged down in plotting and lose track of the....plot! Kudos and much luck to you. Can't wait to read the book.


Dana Fredsti said...

What a great post as an introduction to this blog! Chester, it's nice to see you here and now I have yet ANOTHER book to read and another blog to try to follow regularly... writing for me...

Charlotte Phillips said...

When I first read your question, I thought - of course there are other 'clubs', but then I couldn't think of any. I came up with friends, family members and lovers who just happen to be in the biz and have the inside scoop, but no social clubs.

I love the idea of a group getting together for fun that ties into the plot so nicely! Another great idea Chester.

Margot Justes said...

Welcome to Acme.
I liked your original title.
A wonderfully clever idea and what a resource for the PI. Loved the post.
Margot Justes