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: http://bit.ly/18pmDM
Buy link to B&N: http://tinyurl.com/aw5x8d
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 (http://bit.ly/8F7eK) to the blog tour page on his website.