Milli Vanilli Sequelae: A Cynical Approach to Art


In 1990, the rock music industry was scandalized with the revelation that Germany’s answer to Michael Jackson, Milli Vanilli, was a farce. Jackson, the African-American pop icon was on the top of his game at the time. His Thriller album was a huge hit in the early 80’s, and in 1987, he followed it up with the mega-hit Bad.

The year after Bad was released, Milli Vanilli released their debut, All or Nothing at All. In 1989, their single “Girl You Know It’s True” hit the charts. Also in 1989, they won the Grammy for Best New Artist.

And then the record skipped a beat. Literally. They were performing an MTV live concert when their soundtrack skipped over and over again, including their vocals. Fab and Rob were not what they seemed.

As it turns out, the act was the creation of a German record producer, Frank Farian. While rumors swirled over the lip-synch mishap, he admitted that Fab and Rob had not sung on their albums – instead he had used studio musicians to lay those tracks. Apparently, he had hired the duo as front men because of their Jackson-like dance steps. Lawsuits galore were filed under the United States consumer protection laws against their label. Comeback attempts ended in failure. The Grammy was revoked.


Fast forward to 2008: the English version of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was published sparking the female-centric psychological thriller subgenre and it’s still going strong. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins soon followed Dragon Tattoo. Just this year, The Liar’s Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard was nominated for an Edgar.

On January 29, 2019, Publishers Weekly announced the birth of a new suspense imprint: Scarlet, a joint venture between Pegasus Books and Otto Penzler, owner of Mysterious Press. One of the publishers was quoted as saying: “Psychological suspense that features complex women is one of the most dynamic categories in popular fiction right now, so the time is right for an imprint dedicated to this genre.”

All well and good. Or is it?

Recently a rumor began circulating that the two books set for release by Scarlet in 2020 would not be written by women – instead the authors were men posing as women. On June 3, 2019, author Lisa Brackmann tweeted Pegasus asking if these rumors were true. And this is what happened:

Pegasus tweeted back that one of their new authors, Stephanie Buelens, was indeed a real human being. A twitter account was opened in her name, apparently to prove it. Then on June 6, Slate posted an article in which the reporter affirmed that there was a real Stephanie Buelens. She knew it because Stephanie had called her speaking with a heavy French accent laced with Poirot-esque idiom-slaughters and flourishing the frequent Voila! This interview hardly constitutes proof beyond a reasonable doubt: even if there is a real woman with that name, it doesn’t prove she wrote a book.

Interestingly, in that conversation, the woman calling herself Stephanie claimed she had just opened a Facebook account. There isn’t one as of this writing. She also admitted she didn’t know who was operating her newly-opened Twitter account, speculating it was her publisher. She claimed that she co-wrote An Inconvenient Woman with an established male author, who she needed because of her difficulties with the language, and that he wished to keep his involvement secret so as not to damage his brand.

However, the Slate article confirmed that the second Scarlet book to be published, You Will Never Know, will be authored by a man writing under the fictitious female name, Sophia Prentiss. Again, this male author wishes to hide his identity to preserve his brand.

Note: not even the titles selected by Scarlet are original. An Inconvenient Woman was the title of a 1990 Dominick Dunne thriller. And, You’ll Never Know Dear, a psychological thriller by Hallie Ephron, a huge success, was nominated for an Edgar in 2018, just twelve months before the Scarlet imprint announcement.

To be fair, there are many fine male authors writing female characters and female protagonists, and the reverse is true too: many fine female authors write male characters including male protagonists. But these authors don’t hide their gender.

Why would they? What is the point of trying to deceive the crime fiction readership (predominately female) about the gender of their authors? Could it be that the male publishers and their male authors, like Frank Farian before it, are merely trying to cash in on the hot new ticket, espousing the view that the “psychological suspense that features complex women” is an exploitable market trend.

Or, could it be that the publishers believe that women don’t want to read about the female experience as told by a man? It kind of smacks of mansplaining, doesn’t it?






Deconstructing Mystery Fan Conventions

Ellen Byron with Agatha Award for Mardi Gras Murders.

Whether you’re an author or a fan and whether your particular cup of tea is cozy, traditional, or thriller, there is a convention for you. If you are non-writing fan, these conventions cater to you. There is no such thing as “just the reader”. You are the people we are writing to and writing for. Without you, authors would be releasing the fruit of their suffering into nothing but a void. How sad. Never forget, we love you and we go to these conventions to meet you.

I’ve been attending conventions since 2015 and it is so exciting to follow author careers, hear about their newest book, read it, see it nominated for an award, and see them win. When you become a convention regular, you soon become a part of the big crime fiction family. You will make forever friends. You will get to see what your FB friends really look life in real life. And you will laugh all weekend long and go home even more inspired by crime fiction that you were before.

Cost can sometimes be a factor, but checking out the conventions on line costs nothing. After your travel expenses, the largest cost will be the registration fee which can run a few hundred dollars. But – and this is an important but – that cost is offset by convention rates for your hotel room and at least some meals may be covered in the cost of registration. I, personally, pack a lot of beef jerky and instant oatmeal so that I’m eating only one restaurant meal a day. If you go, don’t forget to pack your favorite tea and spoons. I always forget the spoons and end up eating the oatmeal with little wooden coffee stirrers. Another tip: pack light. When you arrive at the convention, you’ll be given a tote bag loaded with books and there is always a tempting book vendor with the most recent crime fiction titles penned by the authors in attendance.

There are many conventions offered throughout the year which I previously listed on Mysteristas: Mystery Conventions.

Today I want to talk about the three particular fan conventions with which I am most familiar: Left Coast Crime, Malice Domestic, and Bouchercon.

Left Coast Crime (LCC) is held in a new location every year, generally in March. In the past couple of years, registrants averaged around 500-600, a medium-sized convention. It’s a nice size because even if you are busy going to various panels, you will run into your friends in the hallways. If you don’t have any fan friends yet, you make new ones. It is inevitable no matter how introverted you are. LCC was held in Vancouver BC in 2019. Like many conventions, awards are given out for the best in a variety of categories. The nominations are made by those registered to attend the convention by a certain date. Then, at the convention the registrants vote upon the short-list of nominees and the awards are bestowed at a banquet. Left Coast Crime has a good mix of traditional and cozy mystery authors who attend and serve on panels discussing various subjects. There is often a law panel upon which I have served along with other attorneys and police officers. Other panels this year included researching, supernatural mysteries, creating three-dimensional characters, religion in mysteries, culinary mysteries, social issues in crime fiction, on and on. Check out LCC 2020 website: Left Coast Crime 2020.

Malice Domestic is another medium-sized convention. It is held in late April or early May in Bethesda Maryland. Many LCC fans and authors also attend Malice so it’s another great opportunity to see old friends and make new ones. While Malice serves both traditional and cozy fanbase, it is known as “the cozy” convention. Like LCC, the nominations are sent in by people who registered by a certain date, the votes are collected during the convention, and the awards bestowed at the banquet. Again, there are many panels on many subjects and it is sometimes hard to choose which panel you want to go to. Fortunately, the panelists are not offended when they see attendees diving in and out of the room, knowing they’re trying to catch it all. Check out the MD website at: Malice Domestic.

Bouchercon is a larger convention. The next one is scheduled for October 2019 in Dallas, Texas. Whereas most attendees to LCC and Malice are American, there are more authors from the UK, Ireland, and Australia. Also Bouchercon leans towards the traditional and thriller fanbase. Again, there are panels and awards. Nominations for the Anthony (the Bouchercon award) are expected to be announced next week. Bouchercon 2019’s website is: Bouchercon 2019.


Tiberius the Terrible, the Tale of a Lonely Pup

Last fall, Tiberius the Terrible, a German Shepherd puppy, came to live with us. My grandson had wanted a dog of his own and a friend of mine had a litter. At the time, we were living with a five-year-old Irish Wolfhound, Fitz. At first, Fitz would have nothing to do with Ti — I think he was too little to play with — but eventually they became buddies. Every morning and evening, they roughhoused in the yard and in the house.

Over the winter, Fitz’ health declined and he went to doggie emergency three times. On the last visit, about six weeks ago, he didn’t come home.

Tiberius was distraught. Every chance he got, he pushed past me into the garage and searched the car. He quit eating. He panted a lot. The housebreaking went totally out the window.

So now I have a lonely seven-month old puppy who needs a lot of attention and needs to be housebroken again. In the mornings, my grandson plays house soccer with him. The boy kicks or throws a toy across the room and Ti brings it back. In the afternoon, the same thing. Sometimes Ti likes to drop a slobbery ball in my lap when I’m trying to read or watch TV. Uh, not in my job description.

Ti can be a little destructive. A few weeks ago, he was neutered. He didn’t like the cone. So he beat it to smitherings. Also, he has gnawed all the woven grass off my chest/coffee table.

Now that the ice is gone, I take him for walks on his new harness. We are mastering “don’t pull me down the street”. When he first came to live with us, we had mastered “stop nipping at me” and we almost got “stop jumping up and punching me in the solar plexus with your front paws” although there are occasional transgressions.

We watch TV together. Being a guard dog, he doesn’t care for any form of conflict and he will bark at arguments, fights, car chases, and gun battles. Star Trek Discovery is not on his play list. (I can cope with this. Honestly, have you watched it? When I do, I hear the screams of my plotting brain cells dying in agony.) So we watch a lot of British Baking Show and nature shows. (Off topic: did you know that you can order corn-free powdered sugar from Amazon? Well, you can. Be prepared for a series of gluten-free cupcake with corn-free buttercream posts in your near future.)

So everyone is getting loads of exercise entertaining Ti. Lately, I started giving him massages after dinner to calm him down and try to establish a routine of laying around in front of the TV.  I’m so worn out with getting that slobbery ball dropped in my lap during the British Baking Show. Also, I bought another baby gate and blocked off the upstairs — one of his favorite toileting places. Today, I’m going to rearrange the living room furniture so he can’t hide behind the sofa and toilet there. It’s amazing how quickly he can do his business without one noticing even when you are in the room, perhaps glancing at Facebook on the phone. I shall prevail.

Yet, one question remains: do you think Tiberius needs a puppy of his own?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day: A Survey of Female Irish Crimewriters

Lying in Wait US coverIn honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I bring you my most recent discovery: a bevy of brilliant female Irish crime writers. Tana French is not alone. These women have a unique perspective on the dynamics and tensions ubiquitous during the late 20th century seismic cultural shifts in Ireland, and a talent for revealing the complicated workings of the mind.

Liz Nugent is the author of UNRAVELING OLIVER, LYING IN WAIT, and SKIN DEEP. These three powerful and creepy standalone psychological thrillers have won awards in Ireland both in paper and audio forms. Told from first person point-of-view, the characters are highly complex and believable. In each book, a murder is committed on the first page by the point-of-view character. The whydunit is the story. The author is the master of first lines:

“I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.” (UNRAVELING OLIVER).

My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.” (LYING IN WAIT).

“Once I had cleared the bottles away and washed the blood off the floor, I needed to get out of the flat.” (SKIN DEEP).

If you like traditional mystery check out Dervla McTiernan, the debut author of THE RUIN. A traditional police procedural with well-defined characters told in multiple third-person points-of-view. I may have developed a crush on the protagonist, DI Cormac Reilly, a big Irishman who loves his wife and cares about the people he meets. The author has a talent for escalating stakes organically and for such vivid storytelling that third person feels like first person.

Technically this next book is literature, but I liked it anyway. MILKMAN by Anna Burns won the 2018 Man Booker literary award. The narrator is a young woman living in a Northern Ireland in the 1970’s who is being stalked by the Milkman during a time when murder, suicide, assault, and other heinous acts were the unquestioned norm.

Are you a Mary Higgins Clark fan? Then you’ll love Jane Casey’s THE STRANGER YOU KNOW, the winner of the 2015 Mary Higgins Clark award. Maeve Kerrigan is a spunky and rogue police detective in London tasked with finding a brutal serial murderer of young women as she is experiencing problems of her own, not the last of which is that her partner, DCI Josh Derwent, is the prime suspect.

Claire McGowan’s THE KILLING HOUSE is the sixth and final installment of the Paula McGuire series. When an unidentified female body turns up in her old hometown, Ballyterrin, Northern Ireland, forensic psychologist Dr. McGuire returns with her three-year old daughter hoping to solve the mystery of her mother’s disappearance twenty years before.

In Claire Allan’s APPLE OF MY EYE, Nurse Eliana Hughes and her husband Martin lead a charmed life in Derry, Northern Ireland, and are expecting a baby girl in two months. This will be the first grandchild for Angela, Eliana’s mother. Meanwhile, some strange woman named Louise is plotting to kidnap a baby and raise it as her own. Slowly, Eliana’s life unravels, Angela becomes more possessive, and Louise carefully plots her crime. And then it gets really creepy.

If you’re an Agatha Christie fan (who isn’t?), you’ll love Jo Spain’s THE DARKEST PLACE: AN INSPECTOR TOM REYNOLDS MYSTERY. Tom’s been having problems on the force lately and as extra punishment, he is sent to an island off the coast of County Kerry to investigate a forty year old cold case in an asylum.

More  female Irish crime writers I’m looking forward to reading include Fiona Davis, Alex Barclay, Sinead Crowley, Sam Blake, Louise Phillips, Niamh O’Connor, Arlene Hunt, Andrea Carter, Andrea Mara, Cat Hogan, and Karen Gillece.

To Mysterista Readers: Have you read books by any of these authors? What did you Full Irish breakfastthink? Or, tell us what you’re planning for St. Patrick’s Day. I’m eating mass quantities myself. Pictured: Full Irish Breakfast including black pudding, baked beans, rashers, fried tomatoes, white pudding, and sausage. Not pictured: Irish soda bread. I’ll be eating that too.

An Unexpected Journey: From Inspiration to Nomination

original_516676762Recently, my first book, Deadly Solution, was nominated for two awards, the Left Coast Crime Best Debut (Lefty) and the Malice Domestic Best First Novel (Agatha). This is a really big deal for me.

Now, I’ve been to a few awards ceremonies and I’ve seen a few awards shows on TV, and when I heard the winner say, “It is just such an honor to be nominated along with these talented people,” I thought “yeah, right.”

But you know what? It’s true! I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t care if I won. I want to win, sure, but it is an amazing honor to be nominated.

In 2009, there were a dozen homeless deaths in Anchorage, Alaska, where I live – most of them in the summer. Letters to the editor declaimed a serial killer was on the loose. The authorities’ response was that the medical examiner had ruled all the deaths as naturally caused. Really? Thing is, if a homeless person survived an Alaskan winter living outdoors, why would a dozen of them suddenly drop dead in the summer?

And as quick as these summertime deaths started, they stopped.

Several years later, I was in a seminar when the presenters talked about a little known law: that the Medical Examiner had the authority to declare a death as naturally caused without doing an autopsy. I slapped the table and yelled, “that’s how he did it!” startling the lady who was knitting beside me.

That was the beginning of Deadly Solution. I took writing workshops. I bought every book available and read them. I wrote every day, usually from 4:30 AM to 7:30 AM before work and then six hours each on Saturday and Sunday. Frankly, I didn’t expect it to be published. My plan was to learn how to write during the course of the Maeve Malloy series, then write another book (still being worked on) and focus on getting that published. However, part of the process is rejections. So I racked up rejections like a crazy woman! And every once in a while, an agent or a publisher would take the time to give me advise.

Then one day, Level Best Books offered me a three-book deal which is now the Maeve Malloy series.

Along the way, I have encountered many generous authors who were only too happy to extend a hand to a new writer. Were it not for these people, I would not have won the 2015 William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic grant, been nominated for the PNWA Literary Contest in 2014 and 2015, the 2017 Al Blanchard Short Crime Fiction Contest, the Lefty, and the Agatha.

The day after the Agatha was announced, I found myself floating through the house, dancing and singing, “I am an Agatha nominee” when my grandson asked me what was for dinner. And I said, “do Agatha nominees cook?” As it turns out, they are capable of baking a frozen pizza.

So, as I re-enter the orbit of real life, working, laundry, baking frozen pizzas, training the puppy not to jump on me, and writing in my spare time, I can honestly say to you: it is a real honor to be nominated.




Mysteristas Welcomes John Beyer

Iquitos (002)What’s your idea of a perfect day? Not having an alarm clock reminding me of something imminent that I must be doing. Then, a leisurely cup of coffee with my wonderful spouse, Laureen, interspersed with exciting conversation. And then getting behind the keyboard and dutifully knocking out 2500 words on whatever I am currently working on. The afternoon would then be spent relaxing with a cool beverage by the pool and then later standing by the barbeque with family and friends.

Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase/expression, or meal? I enjoy wearing hats of all types; cowboy, drivers or baseball caps. I use the reason of protecting my head from the sun but I just truly like the looks of the various hats in my collection.

Which books/authors inspired or influenced you the most?  Ray Bradbury was easily my single-most influential writer – but not for the reasons one might think. I interviewed him for a magazine article in the mid-nineties and continued our friendship until his passing in 2012. He was the one who convinced me to branch out and start writing fiction. I had been writing non-fiction for newspapers and magazines but on his advice, I tried fiction. It was great advice. As a voracious reader, there are too many great writers to list, but the classical writers such as Steinbeck and Hemingway always seem a great re-read at any time. Their style was simple but always thought provoking – a good writer should always strive to make their reader scratch their heads and look at things in a different light.

Do you listen to music when you write? No, my characters are always chatting away in my head and music for me would be a distraction from what my characters are saying and doing. I must pay attention to the world I am creating at the moment – be that a short story or a novel.

If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why? It would be madeJohn Beyer (002) from almost pure cacao. Perhaps like a bar of Dagoha Eclipse – with only organic ingredients like fruit, clove and other spices. It is natural and real just like my novels. Fiction should sound like non-fiction and thus the writing must be made of real ingredients so the reader does not know if what they are seeing on the pages of my novel is real or make-believe.

What made you interested in writing this particular story? We had been to Peru before and since Jonas Peters has been a protagonist in a couple of my other novels, I decided to ask myself – what would Jonas Peters do if the past came back to haunt him? That past took place twenty years earlier in the harsh realm of the Peruvian rain forest when Jonas was working on a joint law enforcement operation. The answer was simple, he would investigate, kick whatever needed kicking to get the job done and then return with a smile on his face.

What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing? The theme of good vs evil in human nature. What horror people will do to each other – even their loved ones — has always intrigued me. Perhaps it is because of my prior career as a law enforcement officer or having a doctorate in clinical psychology. Unfortunately, that theme never seems to diminish in the non-fictional or fictional world.

Tell us about your main character. Jonas Peters is a retired homicide detective from Southern California who has started his own private detective business. He is tough, flawed and dangerous. He carries the vision of watching his own young daughter being gunned down in front of him. It wasn’t his fault, but he cannot seem to allow himself to be convinced of that truth. The burden is his to carry, and the truth is he will never forgive himself. He won’t and he can’t.

Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.  Jonas, because he does have a bit of an edge, could be a combination of Clint Eastwood, Bruce Willis and Mark Wahlberg.

If you could host a mystery-author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include? Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Paul Theroux, Ray Bradbury, Jack London, and myself.

What’s next for you? To keep writing. I have two novels in the works now. A fictional ‘cop’ one but with a twist from my regular style, and a historical fiction dealing with Vlad Dracul. My spouse and I also have a blog concerning exploration and research: J and L Research and Exploration (

Tell us a bit about your new book. The novel begins in Riverside, California where Jonas Peters is to meet up with his fiancée at a coffee shop. Suddenly the shop explodes and dozens die. Sam, his fiancée, is severely wounded. Jonas takes it upon himself with the help of his friend, Frank Sanders, to find out who was behind the terrorist attack. The book moves at a rapid pace while Frank looks for leads locally and Jonas travels to the far reaches of the Amazon rain forest where he had once worked on a joint task force with the Peruvian military.  Intrigue, death, sorrow, and danger are all wrapped up in this mysterious adventure before the final conclusion where good finally crushes evil.

What inspired you to write it? Having previously visited Peru for vacations and loving the people, culture and beauty of the country I knew there was a story to be told. I asked myself what if Jonas had been there. What would he have been doing there and with whom? What could cause him to reach into the bottom of his soul and risk everything to return there for answers to something I wasn’t sure of? I started the novel to see where Jonas would lead me – to the very interesting and frightening world in which he had once lived.

How did you get started writing? I cannot remember a time I did not write. As a young boy I would write stories of adventure and exploration. I would think to myself ‘what if?’ and then a story would show itself to me. It still does – I’ve always written.

What is your favorite/least favorite thing about the writing process? My least enjoyable aspect of writing is editing. I know it is a must, but after editing my writing three or four times and then having my editor do it a few more times I get sort of tired mentally. It also takes time away from writing new stories — my favorite thing about the writing process. To create new worlds with strong characters is so wonderful for me and I want to share that with my readers. I want to take people on a journey holding my book in their hands from the comfort of their home.

What do you think makes a good story? Intriguing characters, a fast moving interesting plot and realistic dialogue.

How do you incorporate that into your books? When I write, I pretend that I am the reader and if it doesn’t interest me then how could it interest anyone else? Dialogue must be real, emotions tender and sometimes raw, characters who are human in all qualities, and a story line that is a page turner. That’s how a good story is written.

How long have you been writing? As long as I can remember. There are even short stories hidden away in a closet at our house from when I was in junior high. Being creative and using my imagination has always been a part of me.  I was always the one who built forts, described scenarios for my friends to play, and knew how things would finish. Well, most of the time – sometimes imagination and play take on a life of their own.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started out? That getting published was such hard work. I love writing and telling a story isn’t difficult for me but to get that tale in front of readers sometimes is. Rejection slips come with the territory. I have won awards for my writing but even with that, I still have short stories that don’t get published. It’s a crazy world, this writing industry. But, and this is a must –never give up.

Has that changed the way you write or market your books? No, I write like I always have – with purpose and with a story to tell. Marketing – a writer must realize that to truly get their work in front of the reading public every aspect of marketing must be investigated. A publicist is certainly one way to go. They have the connections for radio guest spots, podcast interviews, magazine/newspaper pieces and possibly a television appearance here and there.

About the marketing thing—love it, hate it? I actually love it. To speak or write about my love of the art is one thing I never tire of. Discussing my work with others is a great release of positive energy to hook a new reader, entertain a current fan, or perhaps even get someone to think about sitting down and telling their story.

Would Jonas Peters like you for a friend? Dish the details here. I would think Jonas and I would get along well. Both former cops and perhaps flawed in different ways but with similar ways in which to deal with the pain caused by such. We would laugh, have a beer and be friends. We would definitely cover each other’s back – and isn’t that what a true friend would do?

What advice would you like to give Jonas Peters? He doesn’t take advice that well so I would tread lightly. I would suggest that he love Sam, his soon-to-be-wife, well and make sure never to go to bed angry next to her. Life is short and sometimes love can be too. Make the best of the time we have on this floating globe.

What advice would Jonas Peters give you? As a friend he would also probably treat me as I would him. Love with all your heart and treasure the time we have. We have both seen how quickly death can take loved ones away so we must make the best of it.

If you couldn’t write, what would you do? Be a dirt-digger. I love researching and exploring so to have a career in archaeology would be a great fit for me. I also love the outdoors – what a great combination – learning about past civilizations while sleeping under the stars.

Tell us a bit about yourself. I believe in the saying (I made this up), ‘Don’t be afraid to take a step off a ladder and into the unknown’. That is how I’ve lived my life – different careers, different paths but they all seem to lead me into the most interesting existence. I’ve traveled the world, seen things most will never see, and am able to write about those experiences both in fiction and non-fiction. Each day is a new adventure – good or bad. I’ve made mistakes and try to never repeat them but sometimes fail in that aspect. But I never blame others – and move on to the next adventure.

On a more personal note – I have a beautiful supportive spouse, four amazing adult daughters and great sons-in-law. Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t state that within the Beyer household there are four mostly well-behaved canines which makes life rather interesting at times.

Where do you see yourself in five years – this is the time to dream big! To have great health as I have now. To be with the woman I love as I have now. To continue writing as much as possible. To always remember that I am writing for a faithful audience and as an artist to please them with wonderfully rich stories which allows them to escape into the real world of fiction.


Former street cop, training officer and member of SWAT John Beyer has been writing most of his life. He’s traveled to at least 23 countries (and was actually shot in the head in Spain in 2000 during a march between Neo Nazis and Communists two days after running with the bulls in Pamplona). He was caught in a hurricane off the coast of east Baja (Bahia de los Angeles) while kayaking and lived to tell about it. Essentially, it’s hard to tell where experience leaves off and fiction takes over. You’ll want to read his books.

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Twitter: @Drjohnrbeyer


Iquitos: The Past Will Kill buy link: Iquitos

 Operation Scorpion buy link: Operation Scorpio

Hemlock Needle

Hemlock-Front-Cover-DraftSeveral years ago, when I was working on a fishing rights case, I visited the western Alaska village, Kwethluk, with other members of the law firm. Kwethluk is a spot far away from the tourist industry. To get there, we flew an hour and a half on a jet to Bethel and then traveled fifteen miles by riverboat.

The village, a collection of small houses, is built on stilts, allowing for freeze, thaw, and flooding of the river. During this visit, my group was taken to a nearby fishcamp where the locals live during fishing season and where they harvest and dry king and red salmon on outdoor racks, tossing scraps to the puppies hanging around the racks.

This is how the Yup’iks have lived for centuries, traveling the river, fishing, hunting. It is their heritage and their legacy, and it was quite an honor to visit their home. The fishcamp scene became the prologue of my second Maeve Malloy novel.

HEMLOCK NEEDLE is about a young Yup’ik chief financial officer and single mother, Esther Fancyboy, who walks out of party and into a blizzard. She is never seen again, leaving behind a seven-year-old son, Evan.

The local cops say she’ll come home when she’s done partying, but family friend Maeve Malloy doesn’t think it’s that simple. She goes looking for Esther just as she’s getting bad news of her own, a career-ending accusation.

When Esther’s body turns up in a snow berm and a witness is shot to death in front of Maeve, she suspects Evan is in danger. Maeve must race against time to save the boy – along with her career, and maybe her life.

HEMLOCK NEEDLE is being released today by Level Best Books. Available in paperback and e-book: Buy here!