More About the Author
I've learned a thing or two after writing four unpublishable novels and then four modestly successful mysteries, plus having a new one poised to go.
I've put everything I've heard about, and learned through hard experience, into writing three short eBooks on the craft of writing mysteries.
These eBooks will not teach you to write. You can't really learn that from any book. I wrote hundreds of thousands of words to teach myself how to write anything someone would want to read. It takes practice and learning the craft.
Writing Your First Mystery is a free download on my website. http://marpreston.com The companion volumes are available on Amazon and they're cheap.
One writer's voice may not ignite the spark to write your first mystery. If this turns out not to be the book for you, try another craft book. Study the first 50 pages of mysteries that you love. Figure out why you like them. But keep writing.
As to my mysteries:
What if a major gambling outfit tried to build a high-rise casino in downtown, upscale Santa Monica? What if one of the city councilmembers, like the ones I knew well, was murdered before she could cast the deciding vote? This is the basic plot of my first Dave Mason mysteries called No Dice. Readers call it a financial thriller. I think of it as a novel about a social issue, one with meat on its bones.
The second one, Rip-Off, tells what happened when a wily pair of high-tech burglars encounter Chechen organized crime in Detective Dave Mason's Santa Monica. The most recent Dave Mason novel is called On Behalf of the Family.
A car arson fire claims the life of a beautiful young girl, a rich Muslim student at Santa Monica College. What is this? Is it a hate crime? Domestic abuse, honor killing, or what? Detective Dave Mason must break through the family's silent conspiracy surrounding her vicious murder. He is handicapped by fact that the eleven members of her family who share the mansion in the high-end real estate section of Santa Monica do not speak English. Or so they say.
The city is in turmoil, accusing the department of racism and worse. Mason makes a promise to a girl he never met that he will bring her justice; yet, he is drawn away from the turbulent investigation with a promise to the love of his life. Can he keep his promises to both of them when political blow back and an escalating demand for answers threaten every step he takes?
Joseph Wambaugh fans will enjoy this behind the scenes look at a police department in a liberal city which cannot accept that an honor killing has come to the glitzy shores of upscale, tourist-destination Santa Monica.
I am a long-term Santa Monica resident, and student of the Santa Monica Police Department, as well as the worldwide incidence of the killing and maiming of women who violate fundamentalist cultural norms.
In Santa Monica development politics are blood sport. I love the city. It's built out to its glamorous edges, one of which is the Pacific Ocean. What gets built--and doesn't get built--stirs up hot disputes and marathon city council meetings. I loved the idea of playing with the dynamics between big money and big ideas that change the urban landscape. Just as fascinating are the interactions between cops, celebrities, tourists, and community activists.
I was a burnt out academic researcher for decades, then grant writer, editor, and creative writing teacher. At the same time I was a political insider during Santa Monica's rent control and living wage wars. Getting a good mystery out of what goes on behind the scenes makes all those dreary council meetings worthwhile.
In the meantime Payback, my third novel is the debut of a mystery suspense series which takes place in the mountain village somewhat like the one where I live in the Los Padres National Forest. I hope you will like Payback, featuring Detective Dex Stafford of the Kern County Sheriff's Department and his prickly ally, Holly Seabright of the town's patrol department.
Their adventure begins in a forest fire when the mayor's beheaded body is found with a note reading "payback" stuffed in his mouth. And ends where a much grimmer shadow looms over the town.