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The Truth Is More Sinister

Chris Kelsey
Chris Kelsey Author Interview

Ain’t Nothin’ Personal follows a suspended police chief who is pulled into an old unsolved case that turns into a murder investigation with ties to powerful people. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

In a somewhat oblique way, the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre inspired this one. I grew up in Oklahoma in the 1970s, a time when explicit racism in the south (and I consider Oklahoma part of the deep south) was a way of life. I was in my 40s before I ever heard of the Tulsa massacre. Can you imagine something like that being covered up for so long? The coverup in Ain’t Nothin’ Personal is similar. The only African-American family in town has their house burned down. They disappear and people think they just moved away. No one talks about if for years, until an old racist makes a death bed confession and everyone realizes the truth is more sinister.

Emmett Hardy is an interesting and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character’s development?

Emmett’s a mixture of crime fiction/film archetypes: the plain-spoken dispenser of frontier justice in the tradition of Will Kane in High Noon or the title character in Shane; the enigmatic, emotionally tortured detective in Phillip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther novels; the socially conscious righter of wrongs that you find on Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowell’s Beck mysteries. I should also mention Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn in Tony and Anne Hillerman’s books, Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire, as well as all the classic hard drinkers in noir literature, from Sam Spade to Phillip Marlowe to the twisted misfits found in every Jim Thompson story. What they all have in common (with the exception of Thompson’s creations), is their drive to do what they think is the right thing, regardless of the consequences to themselves.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Do the right thing. Love each other, love yourself. Greed is not good. Power corrupts. Be kind; we’re all in this together.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

My next one is the fourth Emmett Hardy mystery, Junker Blues. It’s in the hands of my beta readers as we speak. It fast-forwards from where Ain’t Nothin’ Personal ends in the late ‘60s to the day Richard Nixon resigns the presidency in 1974. The OPEC oil embargo has rejuvenated the oil industry. Emmett’s Burr, Oklahoma is now a boom town. With the boom come ingredients for the inevitable bust, however—not least, an illegal drug problem and attendant violence the small rural community is ill-equipped to deal with. It’s scheduled to be released in June 2022 by Black Rose Writing.

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After a kidnap-for-hire plot results in the death of a young boy, Burr police chief Emmett Hardy blames himself and has an alcohol-fueled breakdown. His life at a crossroads, Hardy checks into the hospital for treatment, only to discover upon his release that he’s been suspended from duty. When a dying prisoner contacts him about a long-forgotten unsolved case, Emmett-temporarily at loose ends-begins an informal investigation.

Soon he becomes a target of violence himself, as his investigation becomes a murder probe implicating the most powerful men in town. Hardy is forced to relive one of the most traumatic events of his childhood, and faces the possibility that members of his own family may have been involved in the crime.

Ultimately, with Emmett’s tenuous grasp on sobriety slipping and his moral foundation shifting beneath his feet, the answer to the question, “Who do I trust?” becomes a matter of life and death.

Ain’t Nothin’ Personal

Ain't Nothin' Personal (An Emmett Hardy Mystery Book 3) by [Chris Kelsey]

Ain’t Nothin’ Personal by Chris Kelsey is the third book of a trilogy. It takes place in Oklahoma in the 1960’s with a, sometimes hard to love, police chief name Emmet Hardy. While Hardy was taking some mandatory time off of work when he was assigned to an inmate who wanted to provide the details of an unsolved murder from several decades earlier. Hardy struggles throughout the book, whether it is with the locals of the town or his own internal conflicts. Throughout this murky crime thriller author Chris Kelsey is able to make the character relatable and fun to follow.

Ain’t Nothin’ Personal is a riveting page turner that made it hard for me to find a good spot to put the book down. One thing I really enjoyed about this mystery novel is the quick but thorough character development. We are easily able to picture the characters with a quick setup before moving along into the heart of the story. This help keeps the story moving while ensuring the characters are intriguing nonetheless.

This is book three in the enthralling Emmett Hardy Mystery series and I would recommend reading the firs two books in the trilogy before reading this one. I enjoyed this immersive story, but I felt that the end of the book was slightly rushed, or maybe I was just left with an unquenchable thirst for the story to keep going. In either case I hope this story continues with more books.

Ain’t Nothin’ Personal has a persistent air of intrigue throughout the entire story, bordering on the noir genre I think, but never losing focus on the mystery driving this story. Hardy always has alternative agendas making it so a reader is not bored by just reading about one or two events that are happening. This is an engrossing whodunit novel that will certainly satisfy crime fiction fans looking for a well developed mystery.

Pages: 277 | ASIN: B08YLNJQM6

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