Harry Starke Book 1
It’s now been just a little more than 15 months since the first book in the Harry Starke series of mysteries was published, and that to me is unbelievable. How could I ever have known how well he would be received? The series is doing better than I could ever have hoped. Tens of thousands of copies have been purchased and Harry is already being referred to as a “modern Mike Hammer,” a huge compliment for me. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a huge fan of the old masters of the game, especially Mickey Spillane, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, etc., and I badly wanted to join that club, but I didn’t think I had what it takes. Not only that, I seriously wondered if such a character would work in today’s politically correct world. Finally, after more than 30 years of “writing about what I know,” (non-fiction, travel, etc., and historical fiction – The Civil War), I took the plunge and Harry Starke was born.
That first book was a tribute to my own dark hero, Mike Hammer, and I think it shows. Over the next eight novels, however, Harry has morphed into a totally different character. Yes, the old, tough Harry is still there, but he’s developed a softer side. I was quite unaware that it was happening; the character just took on a life of its own and, judging from the reviews – now more than 300 five and four stars – the change has been good for him. But how did it all come about?
I knew I didn’t want to write the overdone CSI-type story, and I also knew I wanted a lead character, a detective, who doesn’t have to play by the rules, so the police procedural wasn’t an option. Having said that, Harry, being an ex-cop, is all about the science of deduction. He has a gifted team working for him and, through his many contacts, he does have access to all that fancy tech stuff, but in the end he gets the job done the old-fashioned way: pure detective work.
Harry Starke is a larger than life private detective in a small town – Chattanooga. I say small town, we have a population of about 175,000, with a county population of 350,000. The Chattanooga PD has some 500 sworn officers and a great bunch of folks they are. He’s an ex-cop turned PI, a tough individual, wealthy with not too many personal issues. He’s reluctantly famous, notorious, well educated, dresses well most of the time, has a beautiful home on the crest of Lookout Mountain overlooking the city of Chattanooga (the view from his home is the background for this blog page). He drinks moderately (loves that Laphroaig Malt Scotch), thinks too much, loves his women, also too much, was until book 8, Calypso, involved in several on again off again relationships, has a conscience, a sense of justice, and is willing and quick to use violence as a means to an end. All nine books are stand-alone, as will be those that are to come. They can be read in any order, but it makes sense to begin at the beginning, right?
When I wrote the first book in the series, Harry Starke, I stepped way out of the box. Not only is the story written in the 1st person, I had no idea of the plot. I began with a situation: a beautiful girl commits suicide. That’s it. That’s all I had. The story grew from that. I was more than two thirds into the story before I knew how it was going to end, “whodunnit.” I figured that was a good thing: if I didn’t know who done it, there was a good chance the reader wouldn’t either. The second book, Two for the Money, was no different. This time the situation was a late night phone call. I didn’t figure that one out until I was writing the penultimate chapter. Book 3 is more of the same. The opening chapter: two low-life’s stealing floorboards in an abandoned house find a long dead body. Again, I had no plot, just a bunch of characters, and a place to start. And so it continued, one story after another and never a thought as to what the solution will be until those final few chapters. I love it. Each book, for me, is a new adventure, a journey, the outcome of which I have no idea. The writing is easy. The plotting and planning is not. My office looks like one of those police homicide departments you see on TV: papers, notes, everywhere, a large planning board cover with photos, scribbles, thoughts, ideas (the best of which usually arrive when I’m in the shower). Hey it’s great fun.
So now you know all about me and Harry, how about you say hello too? I’d like to know what YOU think about Harry Starke. Just put a note in the comment box below, or send me an email. I will will respond… I promise.