Conversation with the Author

It’s a question as old as time I suppose, but where did you get the idea for Easy Evil? Is it
a real story turned into a novel?

Several years after I started reporting on crime for WMAQ Radio in Chicago, I covered a young woman’s murder in one of the northern suburbs. She was shot to death while unloading groceries from her car in her parents’ driveway. We discovered she was the wife of a soldier stationed overseas and he had hired one of his stateside buddies to kill her and make it look like a professional hit. Those aspects of the case stayed with me along with the location: beautiful house, nifty driveway, exclusive neighborhood. That’s where reality ends and fiction begins because the real murder resulted in a court martial and Easy Evil progresses and ends…more unconventionally.

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Is “Wisaka” a stand-in for that particular suburb?

No. I moved the plot to another community.
I originally planned to use that village’s real name, but given the political climate in Wisaka and the fact I have more diabolical stuff planned to happen there in upcoming books I figured it prudent to create a fictional town.


So, Wisaka isn’t just a sleepy little bedroom community?

Actually it is. But, you know what happens in those places. All sorts of angst and secrets and nasty little violences.

Is that a conclusion drawn from covering crime in real Chicago suburbs? It was also sort of your focus in Every Secret Crime, wasn’t it?

It’s funny. People often say that nothing ever happens in the suburbs. They must not follow the news. The most garish stuff I’ve seen happened in suburbia. A few years ago, just a few blocks from my house, a homosexual love triangle led to a torture murder and an arson fire. And a couple of blocks in the other direction, a young man got tired of the way his father played the piano and stabbed him a couple of dozen times. Just recently, a young man I know was arrested for a murder that also happened near where I live. My suburb is like most. The politicians try to convince you it’s a bucolic haven of peace and joy but…all I’m going to say is…keep your doors locked and stay on good terms with your family and neighbors and you might be okay. Until the zombies start climbing out of your lawn.

Harry Cork, your protagonist in Easy Evil, strikes me as the kind of guy you’d want backing you up in the zombie apocalypse. But he has some interesting flaws…

Harry’s definitely got stuff in his background that gives him nightmares and sets up a whole lot of trouble for him as the book progresses. I think he’s a very human, moral guy. He knows what some might consider his “evil” actions have consequences and he’s not unwilling to accept those consequences if he must. In his mind, he’s done the right thing. But it sets up some interesting internal conflicts for him. It also makes him very driven to find the killer. I think most cops who handle homicide cases feel the same way, though. It may not get quite as personal for them as it does for Harry but it’s far from just—quote-- the job. They get seriously involved in their work.

You bring quite a bit of reality to your fiction. Or does it just seem that way?

I think crime fiction needs a realistic base. DNA experts tell me, for example, that the processes used in TV programs like CSI
are real. They just get speeded up and transformed a bit for dramatic effect. I know from working and covering murder cases that most are about as exciting as a drive to the store. But, an investigation can swerve fatally off the road in an instant. That’s what we read police novels to see. I try to use as much correct day-to-day procedure as I can. The radio calls, the report writing, the interactions between the investigators and the political crap. But at the point where a real cop might say, “Hey…that’s not how we do it!” is the place where I can wink, smile and say, “That’s because it’s fiction!”

Harry seems to have some qualities in common with your earlier protagonist, Reno McCarthy.

They are both passionate about what they do and they both detest the bureaucracy and political correctness that attaches to their work. That’s not uncommon in the real world, either. Cops and reporters have similar qualities. They deal regularly with people who are having the worst days of their lives and with brutality so heinous, and sometimes so casual, that it truly can be called evil. Old movies and TV shows portrayed the cop/reporter relationship as a little too chummy, however. Most cops regard reporters as pests. Harry takes that same view, but has developed a good working relationship with Reno who, in act . . . spoiler alert . . . makes a guest appearance in Easy Evil. Theirs is an interesting friendship and one I plan to explore further.

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