Sunday, August 2, 2009

Book release week

This is the first time I've ever had two editions released in the same week. On Tuesday, the mass market paperback of Envy the Night will hit shelves, along with the hardcover release of The Silent Hour, the newest book and a return to Lincoln Perry. There's also an audio edition of The Silent Hour available -- you can hear a sample, the opening of the novel, at

A few words about The Silent Hour: the idea had its genesis, as many of mine do, in a merging of two memories. One was a criminal justice class I took years ago discussing the issues of reentry for violent offenders, the challenges we face in transitioning back to society people who have been isolated from it for decades. (I never made it through a day of this class without thinking of the character of Brooks from The Shawshank Redemption. That's a sign of good storytelling, I believe. Well done, Mr. King.) I was particularly interested in the people who made this issue a personal crusade, and wondered what drove them. I found myself fascinated by the idea of a woman who'd grown up in a crime family, had seen the price of their decisions and then the difficulties they had trying to return from prison and find a life that wasn't destined to send them right back. You'll meet such a woman in The Silent Hour. Her name is Alexandra Sanabria.

The other memory, more personal, less abstract, came when I was a newspaper reporter and tagged along with another writer on a story she was writing about an incredible, expensive house that had been abandoned by its owners and would soon be coming up for sheriff's auction. I just wanted to see the house, but once we got there, I was gripped by the haunting quality of such a beautiful, costly home left empty while the grounds grew up and engulfed it. There were clear answers to the "where and why" questions of the abandonment in that case, but as I walked around the property, my storytelling brain immediately began to wonder "what if those answers weren't so clear? What if they were entirely unknown?" Within the first three chapters of The Silent Hour, you'll see how that eventually gave me the start of this novel.

I'd taken a book off from the Lincoln series -- Envy the Night is a standalone -- and from the style of writing I use in the series -- Envy is third-person, multiple point of view, and the Lincoln books are first-person, with one point of view. Contract called for me to return to the series, but I wanted to be careful about how I did it. I didn't want to just shove him into another case. Lincoln had been through a grinder in the last two books, and I thought that in any attempt at honest fiction I had to deal with the burden those cases would have left on him. In real life, people don't just bounce off trauma and go grinning on into the world, whistling and cheerful until the next crisis arises. We are shaped by the experiences of the past, and I've always thought the difference between a really good series and a mediocre one involves how well the writer honored that from book to book. (Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch, for example) Once I began to explore this idea in The Silent Hour I found a character who was having a crisis of conscience, not just for what he had done, but for what he did every day, for his profession and the impact it had on the people he loved. From that came the notion that I could use this story to explore detectives as a sort of joint character, to study how the work impacts each one differently. For that reason, there are a lot of detectives in this book. We've got Lincoln and Joe, sure, but I also imported a handful of others, some police, some private, some FBI...I consider this book a character study, absolutely, but not just of my protagonist, more a character study of "The Detective," writ large.

I hope you get a chance to check this one out, and I hope you enjoy it. Let me know what you think, and, as always, thanks for reading.