Mike Stoneman Thriller Book 1
by Kevin G. Chapman Genre: Crime Thriller
" Move over Harry Bosch, there's a new guy in town. . . . Detective Mike Stoneman can match wits with Harry any day of the week." -- Authors Show Linda
Kindle Book Award Semi-Finalist / CLUE Book Awards Semi-Finalist
A MOB BOSS IS EATEN ALIVE BY TIGERS AT THE BRONX ZOO. . . .That was the fourth unsolved murder in four months - each on the last Saturday. The other three were even more unusual . . . .Could they be related? The victims share no similar traits and have no connections. Why would a single killer choose such strange and disparate methods? Why spread your victims across all of New York?
Each new murder adds a piece to the killer's jigsaw puzzle, but unraveling the clues and finding the killer's pattern may not be enough to catch him. NYPD homicide Detectives Mike Stoneman and Jason Dickson have to stop the elusive killer before he completes his decathlon of death. And, they have to deal with an FBI profiler, who has been called in to help. Mike must also avoid being distracted by Medical Examiner Michelle McNeill, who seems to be on his mind a lot lately. She's an asset to the investigation, but is this any time to be starting a romance?
The task force is racing against the calendar. Only one thing is certain - on the last Saturday of the month, there will be blood.
CRIME SCENES IN NEW YORK CITY are often bloody, regularly bizarre, and occasionally fascinating to the homicide detectives who are jaded to all but the grisliest circumstances. Detective Mike Stoneman had seen them all in his twenty-four years on the force. Stiffs in swimming pools, stiffs tied up in basement dungeons, stiffs with various parts of their anatomy removed, and stiffs fished out of the Hudson river with their eyeballs eaten away by aquatic creatures. This one, however, was a new variation – what he referred to as a “unicorn.” Eaten alive by tigers is not a cause of death often registered by the New York City medical examiner. Mike knelt down next to what was left of the corpse’s foot and examined the remnants of duct tape that had bound one ankle to the other. The tigers had left the tape mostly uneaten. Discerning palates, apparently.
“Just another routine murder in the Big City, eh, Mike?”
Stoneman looked up, squinting against the morning sun, and saw Detective Jason Dickson towering over him. Jason was six-foot-three, with broad shoulders that tapered down to a slim waist. Even wearing a suit, it was obvious that he was in great shape and had well-defined muscles across his entire upper body. He was a mountain compared to Mike’s five-foot-ten and slightly paunchy frame, even when Mike was standing. On this morning, Jason was wearing a blue pin-striped suit with a starched white shirt that contrasted sharply against his dark brown skin. His red-and-blue silk tie was expertly knotted and held in place with a gold tie bar, giving him an especially dapper appearance next to Mike’s rumpled jacket, wrinkled shirt, and scuffed loafers. Even at 9:00 a.m., the July humidity made Mike sweat as the temperature started its unstoppable rise toward too-damned-hot, but Jason seemed impervious.
Mike looked up at his young partner and smiled, which was a rare occurrence. “What? Never seen a stiff partially eaten by wild animals before?”
“Oh, sure,” Jason parried, “just not this early in the morning.”
Mike turned his attention back to the remnants of the body. The crime scene team was nearly finished, but the photographer was still taking shots all around the area. Normally, Mike would be worried about people walking around and contaminating the evidence, but in this case the press had been relegated to the spectator area above the tiger enclosure and the zoo security team had not allowed anyone but NYPD into the pit. The whole Bronx Zoo was closed for the day. Mike could hear the faint thumping of a chopper’s rotors somewhere overhead, but he ignored it. “Did we get a positive ID on the corpse?”
“Yes, we did,” Jason responded with his usual perfect diction. “You were correct, Mike. It’s Mickey Gallata. The family has not reported him missing, but his son confirmed that he left home yesterday evening and did not come back. I guess he’s not going to make it.”
“No,” Mike said without emotion. “Slick Mick will definitely not be having supper with his family ever again. It’s funny, you know. We’ve been trying to pin a conviction on him for what, a dozen years? And now, somebody has taken care of all that for us. I guess we should thank them.”
“When we figure out who’s responsible, I’ll send a fruit basket.” Jason walked away to talk with the uniformed officer who was patrolling the perimeter of the tiger enclosure looking for anything out of place. Mike was pretty sure that the beat cop from the South Bronx was not going to know whether anything he saw in the replica jungle was out of place or not.
Mike stood up and squinted again as he gazed out of the pit and saw the television news getting too close to the edge. They had jockeyed for position as soon as the cops had let them in an hour earlier. At the time, the low sun had made the left side of the enclosure the prime real estate for live remote shots. But now, as the sun rose a little higher in the sky, the crews were repositioning, staking out spaces and camera angles with the best backgrounds and lighting. Signs all along the bars reminded the public not to feed the animals. These particular tigers would not need feeding again for a few days.
Deadly Enterprise Mike Stoneman Thriller Book 2
"This is a stellar follow up to Righteous Assassin. The pacing is perfect and the character interactions are authentic and entertaining. With a tight plotline and plenty of action, this is indeed an excellent crime thriller. Can't wait to read more of Stoneman's cases. Highly recommend!" - Anna Willett, award winning horror and suspense author
Kindle Book Award Semi-Finalist / Chanticleer CLUE Award Short List
WHO IS THE DEAD GIRL THEY FISHED OUT OF THE EAST RIVER?
Is she just a drug-addicted hooker? Medical examiner Michelle McNeill thinks it's a murder, and NYPD Homicide detective Mike Stoneman agrees. When Mike and his partner, Jason Dickson, start to dig into the case, they run into unexpected obstacles that point in a disturbing direction.
In order to uncover the truth, Mike and Jason must go outside the lines and risk their own reputations, jobs - and lives. This case is one that Mike can't walk away from, no matter how much he wants to.
Harry Bosch fans will love this fast-paced police thriller from award-winning author Kevin G. Chapman. Book #1 in the Mike Stoneman Thriller series, Righteous Assassin, was named one of the top 20 Mystery/Thrillers of 2019 by the Kindle Book Review. The series continues here.
Check out the Audiobooks and listen to excerpts HERE!
Chapter 1 – A Very Bad Date
THE GIRL ON THE FLOOR in the skimpy red dress groaned softly and rolled her head to the side. The corner of her right eye was caked with dried blood. A gooey scarlet trickle ran down toward the dirty blonde hair hanging in unkempt wisps around her ear. One of the thin shoulder straps of her dress was snapped off, allowing the shiny material to peel down, exposing the top half of her small breast. A knot on her forehead the size of a golf ball throbbed an angry shade of red with each heartbeat.
“I’m not so sure about dumping her in the river,” a male voice said, without a hint of anxiety. He sat casually on the edge of a bare wooden desk in a Spartan room lacking any semblance of charm. The bed, covered with a drab brown comforter, was pushed up against the wall in front of an imitation leather headboard with large buttons holding in the padded surface. Next to it, a nondescript lamp glowed on a stained nightstand. There was no art on the walls and the floor was industrial-grade carpet with a swirling pattern that hid most of the remnants of prior visitors. The air smelled of musty sweat and industrial-strength disinfectant. The calm man, by contrast, wore an expensive suit and a gold Citizen watch. He was tall and fit, with graying black hair that was carefully groomed. He looked decidedly out of place in the dumpy room.
“We gotta make sure,” a different voice replied. “She’s not hurt that bad. Look, she’s coming around.” This second voice was agitated and came from a much shorter man, who paced within the cramped space. He was thin and wiry. He ran his hand through a head of brown curls, pondering his next move. He wore blue jeans and a plaid button-down shirt. His gaunt face looked like it was pushed together from the sides, with large bulging eyes and a bent nose. “We’ll make it look like an overdose, but make sure she’s dead. We don’t want her ending up in an ambulance like the last one.”
“Not many people accidentally go in the river, Eddie,” the first man said, still without emotion.
“She’s an addict. She can OD, then there’s lots of reasons somebody might toss the body in the river.”
“All of those reasons involve somebody trying to hide something.”
“Yeah, I know, but what other options have we got? She was gonna run. She knows who you are, so sending her into lockup ain’t gonna be safe.”
The first man stood up, stretching his arms above his head. He was much bigger than his companion and thick, like the trunk of a sturdy tree. He looked down at the woman, who had brought one arm up to her head. She was clearly going to open her eyes in a few moments, but she was no threat to jump up and run away. “I don’t want to get in the habit of just shooting up every girl who gets out of line.”
“Nobody has said boo about the others,” replied Eddie, who stopped pacing. “I can go upstairs and get it from the doc.” He glanced nervously down at the figure still sprawled on the floor, then back up at his comrade. “I’ll go right now.” The taller man nodded, and then Eddie scurried to the door and disappeared into the dimly lit hallway beyond. The heavy door slammed behind him with a loud thump.
The woman partially opened her eyes, then blinked several times. Once she focused on the tall man, a shadow of fear passed over her expression and she started to cry. “I’m sorry,” she sobbed, her body shaking, causing the remaining fabric of her dress to fall completely off her left breast. “Please. I won’t say anything. I promise. I’ll be good. I’ll be–”
Her voice was snuffed out by the man’s vicious kick to the side of her head, which then lolled in the opposite direction as her eyes re-closed and she sank back into unconsciousness.
The tall man looked down, dispassionately. “You’ll be dead, Sweetheart.”
Mike Stoneman Thriller Book 3
"Filled with action, drama, and surprising twists, "Lethal Voyage" is a captivating addition to the Mike Stoneman series, guaranteed to delight readers old and new!"- InD'Tale Magazine (5-star Crowned Heart)
Finalist - 2021 RONE Award / Finalist CLUE Award
A DEAD BODY can ruin a vacation. . . .
It was a suicide, wasn't it? . . . Maybe the on-board production of Chicago isn't the only place people are getting murdered!
NYPD homicide detective Mike Stoneman and medical examiner Michelle McNeill just want a relaxing cruise. But, Michelle is convinced that there is foul play at work in the death of a Broadway talent agent's wife.
The ship's head of security wants to keep it quiet. But, how many bodies can he cover up during one sailing? When it looks like Michelle might be the next victim, Mike needs to find the killer and keep Michelle alive for the end of this Lethal Voyage.
"Move over Harry Bosch, there's a new guy in town. Detective Michael Stoneman can match wits with Harry any day of the week." -- - "The Authors Show"
Don't miss the next installment in the Mike Stoneman Thriller series!
Check out the Audiobooks and listen to excerpts HERE!
Chapter 2 – The Lullaby of Broadway
March 16, 2019
New York, NY
MAXIMILLIAN HORACIO BLOOM lounged on the king-sized bed, his head nestled in the plush feather pillows. The late afternoon sun peeked through the thin lace curtains of the Milford Plaza Hotel. Turning his head toward the sunbeam, he could barely make out the dark streak of the Hudson River in the distance, between two buildings. The cold March wind whipped the flag atop an office tower across Eighth Avenue. He yawned and stretched his thick arms over his head as the sound of the shower suddenly stopped. Max smiled and rolled ponderously onto his side so he would have a better view.
A few seconds later, he was rewarded when a woman emerged from the bathroom, dabbing at her wet hair. Even in such a mundane act, she looked graceful. She had a white towel wrapped around her slender torso, suspended above her half-exposed breasts. Her fingernails, painted bright red, contrasted against her pale skin. She was not tall, but her long, lithe legs gave the illusion of height. The fresh scent of lavender soap reached Max’s nostrils.
“You are amazing,” he said softly, admiring her glistening skin and wondering if he could manage another erection so soon. In his younger days, he could always get it up on command, but his younger days were behind him.
The woman lifted her foot onto the corner of the bed and leaned into a deep hamstring stretch. “Did you tell that director friend of yours how amazing I am?” Her fingers reached out beyond her toes and softly stroked the hair on Max’s leg, sending a tingle up into his groin. The reaction was immediate, but only momentary.
“Oh, you can be sure I’ve been singing your praises, Sweetheart. I’m working on several wonderful opportunities for you.” Max’s baritone was as smooth as a 21-year-old single malt. “I know you’re impatient, my dear, but you’ve been in town barely half a year. These things take time.”
The woman pressed her mouth into an exaggerated pout as she switched legs, allowing her towel to fall to the floor. She stretched the other leg, then stood up, ignoring the fallen towel. “Do I really have to go on that stupid boat?”
“It’s a ship, my dear, a cruise ship, and a very large one. If you call it a boat, people will think you’re a first-timer.”
She found her black panties on the nightstand. “It is my first time. Are you sure it’s really a credit that Broadway producers will care about?”
“Absolutely!” Max swung his legs over the edge of the bed and scanned the floor for his trousers. “This is a Broadway-quality show.”
“I’d rather have actual Broadway. I want to stay here – with you. Call them and tell them I got a part here and I can’t go.”
“Sweetheart, you signed the contract. It’s too late to change your mind. Your reputation would be sullied if you didn’t fulfill your contractual obligations. You said you performed it in college, right?”
“Sure I did – I played the lead. Well, one of the leads. I love the show; it lets me sing and dance.” She balanced on her left foot while slowly raising her right leg until it was parallel with the floor. She then reached out to thread the panties over her foot, before returning the leg to the floor in a smooth motion.
“I think I’d be better off staying here with you and auditioning instead.” She fastened her black bra and stood with her arms akimbo, staring at Max. “I’m beginning to think that you don’t love me as much as you say you do. It’s like you’re trying to get rid of me for six months by sending me away.”
“Nonsense,” Max replied quickly. “I love ya, Baby. This gig will be great for your career. The director on board, Brandon Marshall, is a good friend of mine. I’ve told him you’re a tremendous talent. He’ll take good care of you.”
“Do you promise?”
“Of course. I’m not trying to get rid of you. I’m trying to advance your career. While you’re gone, I’ll be working on my divorce. With any luck, when you get back, I’ll be free of that shrew I’m married to and you’ll be able to come to my apartment.”
She smiled sweetly, slipping into her heels. “I’d like that.” She floated across the floor to where Max was standing and slithered her arms around his neck. With her lips inches from his, she whispered, “When we’re married, I’ll do things that will make all your producer friends envy you.” She pressed her palms against his chest and traced tiny circles in his graying hairs. “I don’t see why we have to wait. You can just divorce her now.”
Max took a step backwards and gazed out the window. A pigeon perched on the ledge, staring back at him. “I’ve told you, my pre-nup will make my life very difficult if I leave without her agreement. Her family had money, not that I married her for it. I was successful enough on my own, but I’m stretched thin now and I need her to part amicably. It may take some time, but it will happen, I promise you.”
Mike Stoneman Thriller Book 4
He took a knee for social justice. Now he's dead. Controversial quarterback Jimmy Rydell’s body was found naked – on the Central Park carousel. Who killed him? How did he get there two days after he disappeared? . . . And why was the body frozen? Jimmy’s team just wants to move on, after collecting on the $20 million insurance policy. Jimmy’s teammate – the one who threatened to kill him – swears he wasn’t there. Jimmy’s bodyguard had the night off. Somebody is going down for this if NYPD homicide detectives Mike Stoneman and Jason Dickson can find a theory that explains all the bizarre facts. They just hope the case doesn’t tear the team, and the City, apart first.
Check out the Audiobooks and listen to excerpts HERE!
Chapter 1 – Team Chemistry
EVERYONE AGREED THAT JIMMY should not have slept with Nate’s girl. Within the team, some things were out of bounds. As the quarterback and leader of the offense, Jimmy should have known better – or at least kept it a secret. Nobody was surprised when it blew up.
Nate Bedford, a five-year veteran wide receiver, was nearly dressed when Jimmy Rydell strolled into the locker room at the practice facility. A dozen players lounged in the comfy chairs in front of the video game consoles, shouting at the screens and at each other. A dozen more were in various stages of undressing or dressing. They were halfway through their three weeks of voluntary spring practices. Jimmy was accompanied by four offensive linemen who had been lifting weights with him after the organized drills ended. Jimmy’s shirtless upper body glistened with sweat, emphasizing each cut in the dark muscle of his chiseled physique.
“Lookin’ good, Jimmy,” linebacker Billy Davis called out as he wagged a finger at the quarterback.
Nate nudged Austin Riley, a rookie free agent who was trying to make the team. “Look at him. Showin’ off. There’s more to life than muscles.” Riley smartly said nothing and turned away.
Jimmy took two steps toward Nate, holding his workout jersey in his left hand. “Some people prefer some muscle instead of your skinny white ass. I know Candi does.”
“You shut yer mouth!” Nate’s Louisiana accent always became more pronounced the angrier he got. He took a stride toward Jimmy, fire in his eyes. A large arm, belonging to the all-pro center, Kevin Mahwah, reached out and blocked him momentarily.
“Keep a lid on it, Nate.”
While Nate stopped, Jimmy kept walking. Five feet of carpet and one low wooden dressing bench separated them. “You got a problem with me? Huh, Nate?”
“You’re damn right! Somebody’s gotta teach you some respect.”
“You want a piece of me?” Jimmy flung his jersey to the floor and held up a hand, gesturing for Nate to step forward.
Nate showed off his cat-quick reflexes by stepping onto the bench and launching himself toward Jimmy in the same motion. As a quarterback, Jimmy was accustomed to large men hell-bent on his destruction assaulting him. He took a quick half-step back, planted his left leg, and landed a right jab dead center on Nate’s nose before the two athletes went tumbling to the floor in a knot of arms and legs.
Nate was an inch taller than Jimmy, but leaner and lighter. When Jimmy rolled on top of him, a dazed and bleeding Nate had no chance of gaining the upper hand. Jimmy delivered two sets of right-left combination punches to the side of Nate’s face before a gang of teammates grabbed him by the shoulders and pulled him off.
Nate struggled to his feet, a stream of blood from his nose covering the front of his face, neck, and white polo shirt. As he gained his balance, he spewed a torrent of expletives and lunged toward Jimmy, but two large pairs of arms held him back. “You bastard! You don’t touch Candi again, ya hear me?! I’ll kill you! I’ll cut your dick off!”
Everyone in the locker room was silent as the two men stared at each other across ten feet of empty space. Nate had caught nine touchdown passes from Jimmy the prior season. The team was counting on him to be their primary deep threat in the season ahead. Chemistry between a quarterback and a wide receiver was both essential and fragile. This wasn’t good. But it was private. What happened inside the locker room stayed between the players. That was an unwritten rule. Of course, so was the rule about not sleeping with other players’ girlfriends.
Jimmy shrugged off the hands that were lightly restraining him and waved dismissively toward his most reliable receiver. “Candi’s all yours.”
“Yer damn right she is!”
Jimmy walked away toward the showers, accompanied by three of the offensive linemen with whom he had entered. Everyone else exhaled and returned to the normal buzz of conversation, now a bit more hushed. Someone tossed Nate a white towel, which was quickly stained red as he attempted to wipe the blood off his face and shirt. He said nothing, but glared at Jimmy’s back until the quarterback rounded a corner of green-tinted marble tile and disappeared from view.
Every player in the room had an opinion about Jimmy – and about Nate. Most were worried the two teammates might not be able to put this incident, or their underlying conflicts, behind them in order to move forward on the field. None of them imagined it would be the last time they saw Jimmy alive.
Kevin G. Chapman is an attorney specializing in labor and employment law. He is a past Chair of the Labor & Employment Law Network of the Association of Corporate Counsel, leading a group of 6800 in-house employment lawyers. Kevin is a frequent speaker at Continuing Legal Education seminars and enjoys teaching management training courses.
Kevin’s passion (aside from fantasy baseball, golf and tournament poker) is writing fiction. Kevin’s first Novel: Identity Crisis: A Rick LaBlonde, P.I. Mystery, was self-published through Xlibris in 2003, and is now available via Amazon.com as a Kindle e-book. His second novel, A Legacy of One, published in 2016, was a finalist for the Chanticleer Book Review’s Somerset Award for Literary Fiction. A Legacy of One is a serious book, filled with political and social commentary and a plot involving personal identity, self-determination, and the struggle to make the right life decisions. Kevin is currently working on a re-writing and re-editing of A Legacy of One, scheduled for re-launch in the summer of 2021.
Kevin’s current project is a crime-thriller series that will have a least five installments. Book #1 -- Righteous Assassin (A Mike Stoneman Thriller) -- has some serious sub-themes, but it's a serial killer chase and it's intended to be enjoyable and easy to read. It was named one of the top 20 Mystery/Thrillers of 2019 by the Kindle Book Review and a finalist for the Chanticleer CLUE award for mysteries & thrillers. Book #2 in the Mike Stoneman Thriller series, Deadly Enterprise, was published on December 2, 2019 and was named one of the top 20 Mystery/Thrillers of 2020 by the Kindle Book Review and is currently Short-Listed for the 2020 Chanticleer Book Review CLUE award. Book #3, Lethal Voyage, was published November 22, 2020 and is already generating stellar reviews and is Short-Listed for the Chanticleer CLUE award.
Kevin has also written several short stories, including Fool Me Twice, the winner of the New Jersey Corporate Counsel Association's 2010 Legal Fiction Writing Competition, which was the genesis of the character Mike Stoneman, the protagonist in Righteous Assassin. Fool Me Twice is available as a stand-alone short story free on amazon.com, or you can get it free from Kevin’s website. He has also written one complete screenplay (unproduced so far) and has another screenplay and two more novels currently in the works, one of which is a sci-fi space opera epic.
Kevin is a resident of Central New Jersey and is a graduate of Columbia College (‘83), where he was a classmate of Barack Obama, and Boston University School of Law (’86). Readers can contact Kevin via his website at www.KevinGChapman.com.
These days, the subject of how police officers treat suspects – particularly non-White suspects – is very much in the news. What factors cause police to have conscious or unconscious bias against Blacks and other minority groups? How to we deal with this as a society? Tough questions, for sure. As a writer and reader of crime fiction, I’m very much aware that stories about cops (in books and in movies and TV shows) mostly portray the “bad” guys as guilty and the cops as the “good” guys who strive to protect the public and uphold justice. Sometimes the cops are corrupt and are really “bad” guys, or they have drug or alcohol problems. Sometimes the criminals have ambiguous motives. But few stories, my own included, include “good” cops behaving in overtly (or even subtly) racist ways. It doesn’t make for great fictional storytelling, in most cases.
When I started working on the outline of my newest book – installment #4 in my Mike Stoneman Thriller series – I decided to address the racism issue, as well as others, within the context of my existing characters. When my readers first met NYPD homicide detective Mike Stoneman in book #1 (Righteous Assassin), he was giving a hard time to his new, young, partner – a newly-promoted Black detective named Jason Dickson. Mike called him “Kid” or “Rook” and treated him with distain at times. Jason pushed back and their relationship was tense. We found out that Mike thought Jason was the unfair beneficiary of a departmental affirmative action program that gave him the promotion to detective when he didn’t deserve it. Other candidates who were White scored higher on the detective’s exam, but Jason jumped over them so that not all the new detective promotions would be White. Mike thought that was unfair. Later in the story, Mike’s very recent love interest, medical examiner Michelle McNeill, points out that Jason didn’t do anything besides apply for the promotion and score as high as he could on the exam. It wasn’t his fault that he got selected.
By the end of Righteous Assassin, Mike and Jason had fully bonded into a partnership. Jason, despite Mike’s sometimes harsh treatment, learned from his experienced partner, and in the end had his back. Mike recognized that Jason could have thrown Mike under the bus, but he didn’t. Then, in book #2 (Deadly Enterprise) we learn along with Jason that Mike had another reason for his treatment of his young partner that had nothing to do with discrimination or racism. I won’t spoil it for you, but it explained a few things. Still, the undercurrent of Jason’s struggle to be a great detective while also being the only Black detective in the upper Manhattan homicide division is always there. So, tackling the subject in book #4 was not a huge stretch.
The main plot of book #4 (Fatal Infraction) is the murder of a Black NFL quarterback named Jimmy Rydell. Jimmy was already a lightning rod of controversy for taking a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality toward Blacks and racial justice in general. (Sound familiar? Jimmy is not supposed to be Colin Kaepernick, but in a very real way, the NFL “murdered” Colin’s career by running him out of the league for his protests.) Naturally, one theory about who might have murdered Jimmy is that it was some racist who was out to get him because of his protests. The story includes a player on the team who is a good ol’ southern boy with KKK roots and a racist background. He also threatened to kill Jimmy. Yep, he’s a suspect. So, racism, protests for social justice, and violence against Blacks are all built into this story line.
As Mike and Jason investigate the case, I have an opportunity to have Jason (and others) show Mike how racism creeps into things, and how Mike may not be as non-racist as he thinks. I have Mike attend a mandatory training course on unconscious bias. I have a scene where Mike deals with overtly sexist (and perhaps less overtly racist) behavior within the police group toward a Black female detective who was recently promoted. Mike has to confront every day incidents of racist behavior that he had been overlooking. Then, he has to confront his own failure to do anything about them. All this gets baked into the plot and gave me the opportunity to explore the issues a little bit, without making them the focus of the book. Mike’s not perfect, and by the end of this story, he is more aware of how imperfect he is. Going forward, he has to make a decision to be better and not just think about it. Both Jason and Michelle tell him this.
The challenge for a fiction writer is how to avoid making your hero protagonist look unsympathetic. He’s your hero. You can have peripheral characters who are racists and who can get their comeuppance, but that’s easy. They were “bad” guys. The hard part is to have “good” guys who aren’t always part of the solution. And you know the saying – if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. The good guys can become part of the solution – but first they have to recognize the existence of the problem. The problem, I would argue, is not the bad, racist cops who beat the Black suspects (or shoot them). The problem is that they are allowed to get away with it and are not called out by the supposedly “good” cops, who tend to protect their fellow cops rather than weed out bad behavior. I’ve written about a bunch of corrupt cops – even cops who murdered innocent people to protect themselves. But in all those cases, the bad cops got caught and punished (or were killed themselves). What about the bad cops who get away with it because other cops protect them? Now there’s a story – but it’s hard to write it and still be entertaining. I’m not writing literary fiction with a serious dramatic edge. I’m writing crime-thrillers intended to be escapist entertainment (and maybe a Netflix series?). But, that doesn’t mean I can’t have a little big of edge.
Fatal Infraction has allowed me to get a little serious within the confines of my characters and their fictional universe. I’m pleased with the final result. I’m hoping that the small percentage of overly-sensitive (or racist) readers who will give me poor reviews because they don’t appreciate the subtle acknowledgements that systemic racism is real will be balanced out by readers who appreciate the reality baked into this book. I hope you will read it and enjoy it – and also think about it a little bit. If I get a few people to think, then I’m happy.
Fatal Infraction, and the other three books in the Mike Stoneman Thriller series are available as ebooks, paperbacks, and hardcovers from Amazon, and as audiobooks wherever audiobooks are sold (including Audible). Book #5 in the series, Perilous Gambit, will be out in late 2021.