Welcome to Shelfbuzz, Russell. You are probably best well known for your high-octane action/adventure series JET which has spanned 10 books, but today we’d like to head into edgier territory and discuss Fatal Deception, the second book in your Fatal series (but which can be read as a standalone). This crime novel presents us with two very different types of characters. Start us off with an introduction to them.
Tess Gideon is a former Manhattan bike messenger with a taste for the wild side who’s returned to New York following a three month absence to resume her life after the brutal murder of her family. She had been involved with a NYC detective, Ron Stanford, and they have some unfinished business. Both characters are complex, battling with contradictions and personal demons, and unsure about their mutual attraction.
Tess is definitely not the typical thriller heroine. What makes her tick?
Tess grows into an awareness of her own limitations as well as her changed romantic taste over the course of the novel. She also grapples with the question of whether or not to level with Ron about the parallel investigation she’s mounted into the killing of a loved one.
The pacing of this novel is swift and there’s a lot going on, but the characters and themes provides a layer of resonance which makes this book stick with the reader—even after the Kindle has been powered off. Tell us a little about that.
I included themes of redemption and hope. Both characters have been to hell and back, and the possibility of a life together in the face of malevolent evil was worthy of exploration. I’ve been told that nobody sees the ending coming, which was what I was after, and so far reviews have been extraordinarily positive, for which I’m grateful.
Fatal Deception is set in New York city. What made you choose that setting?
It would have been hard to set it anywhere else, due to the confluence of Wall Street wealth, sexual depravity, and extreme performance art that co-exist in just a few square mile area. I spent considerable time in New York, so the locale was easy. The research into snuff films and bizarre performance art probably landed me on several watch lists.
Is it true that you wrote Fatal Deception in less than a month?
Fourteen days to be exact. But afterwards I used an editor, a proofreader, and a cover designer to help polish it. I further had a working police officer beta read it to ensure I hadn’t made any procedural mistakes.
Obviously you are a very prolific author–with six or seven multi-book series and many standalone novels (including two co-authored with Clive Cussler). If readers are just discovering you now, which books would you recommend they start with?
If they haven’t read the first novel in the Fatal series, Fatal Exchange, that would be the one to hit. If they have, and they enjoyed the grittiness of this one, I’d point them to my Assassin or JET series, both of which move like a runaway train.
This is probably a dumb question, but are you working on anything new?
I’m currently writing a new post-apocalyptic trilogy, titled The Day After Never. The first installment, Blood Honor, was just released last month. I’m extremely excited about this story, so much so I’ll be releasing all three novels over 90 days. The story follows the trials and tribulations of a former Texas lawman, Lucas Shaw, who’s drawn into a battle that isn’t his in order to save a woman and little girl from an evil so powerful it threatens to destroy the world. Really epic stuff set in a Road Warrior near future that’s chilling in how plausible it is.
Sounds fantastic. Thank you very much, Russell.