A Glenn Beckert Mystery
by Cliff Protzman
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
He becomes willingly embroiled in the investigation by the not-so-innocent widow. The list of potential suspects is long, gleaned from the numerous extramarital affairs of the victim and widow. The pending sale of the radio station has created friction between his now dead friend, Richie Zito and the major stockholders. Motives for murder becomes increasingly murky after the search reveals an encrypted file on Zito’s laptop.
Beck enlists the help of an old flame, Irene Schade, to break the code, revealing a money laundering network leading to the financial and political powers of his beloved city of Pittsburgh. Their collaboration ignites the flames of passion each had considered extinguished.
A former college teammate, police Lieutenant Paglironi delivers a message to back off. Arrogantly, he ignores his friend’s advice. The threats from less friendly sources are more ominous, forcing Beck to move in an unfamiliar world. A startling revelation from his client forces Beck to deal with his inner conviction of right and wrong, challenging the gray areas of his ethical principles. Betraying his client’s confidence could expose the killer. The alternative is to confront the suspect and take matters into his own hands. Either way his life is in jeopardy.
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Cliff rekindled his passion for writing acquired as a reporter for his school newspaper. He published his first novel, DEAD AIR: a Glenn Beckert Mystery in September 2017. Cliff also writes short stories. He was a winner in the Unfinished Chapters anthology in 2015. Cliff is a member of the Mystery Writers of America and Pennwriters.
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I prefer to write murder mysteries. They can occur anywhere, committed by anyone, in any time in history. The selection of scenes, characters and plot are diverse. The characters can be cunning, stupid, disgusted, charming, confused, and down-right angry. The motives explore a wide range of human behavior and emotions. The possibilities for a compelling story are endless.
How does someone get started creating a masterpiece? Writing a novel is not that hard. Your first sentence has to be the best you’ve ever written. Every sentence after that has to be better.
The mystery writer starts with an idea, someone is killed for an unknown reason. Some authors like to work from an outline. I am what is known as a pantser, writing by the seat of their pants. I sit down and start writing.
A plot is the first step, keeping in mind there is no plot that hasn’t been already done. Plots can be update by new technologies, advanced weapons, and forensic improvements. It still boils down to the motive for murder. Possible motives fall into three categories, love, greed, and to cover up a crime.
Love can include jealousy, infidelity, or the woman scorned. The reason is still connected to a love relationship. An inheritance, a theft, a business takeover can all be classified as greed. Also, the opportunity to deprive someone of a treasure can be greed. Covering up a crime is simply a case of the victim knowing too much.
Plot is only a part of the story. An intriguing saga is built by the development of characters, setting, and action. Authors rely heavily on one of three to attract the readers.
In Dead Air: A Glenn Beckert Mystery, I focused on the characters. The story is set in Pittsburgh, almost becoming a character itself. Creating suspense requires action scenes. Beck is compelled to confront increasingly physical challenges, placing himself outside his comfort zone.
The creation of characters can be the most daunting challenge facing a novice writer. They must be believable, not robotic. The main character must be someone the reader wants to succeed. The protagonist does not necessarily have to be likeable. He can even be disliked. The hero must have a personal flaw that complicates his search for justice. The writer has to resolve the flaw in a manner that allows the hero to solve the case.
Secondary characters need to be equally developed. They assist the investigator, on occasion providing the critical clue. In my novel, I use Irene, a tech wizard, to assist Beck and provide romantic tension. A former teammate and police Lieutenant becomes a competitive antagonist. These people provide an opportunity to tell back story to better illuminate the characters.
Walk-on individuals need proper attention as well. Although their appearance may be brief, I like to give them a full name and describe their appearance. This assists the reader to envision the scene, becoming a part of the action.
Characters should drive a novel. The original plot for Dead Air contained a victim, killer, and PI. I followed the lead of Beck and found out that the killer I envisioned was indeed innocent. Imagine an ending that surprises the reader and the writer.
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