If you ever wanted an inside look into what it’s like to be a police officer in America, then Dark Nights by Robert L. Bryan is exactly what you’re looking for. This book is a collection of short stories that span Bryan’s career in the police and security forces. Twenty years is a long time to spend in such a dynamic field and Bryan shares his experiences with readers. Told in a fashion that makes it easy for those unfamiliar with police work to read, this book is a rare insight into the world of police officers. The way in which he writes shows that officers are human too, no matter what they face.
Reading a genre like crime can be intimidating: there is vocabulary to learn, culture to absorb and processes to understand. This can be a lot for someone who is reading in this genre for the first time. The reason why this book stands out is because it’s a prime example of non-fiction in the genre and it’s reader-friendly. There is no complicated vernacular that the layman would have a hard time understanding. The stories flow nicely and aren’t too jarring when we jump from location to location. The central character, the author himself, has a clearly defined role in each story that he tells. This might not seem like a big deal, but oftentimes autobiographical works, no matter how loose they are, can get away from the author. This is not the case in this collection. It is clear that Bryan’s paid attention to how he wanted to share his experiences with the rest of the world.
There is the right mix of macabre intrigue and humorousness in the stories that are shared. It goes a long way in showing that police officers are human beings like the rest of us. The fact that this is a non-fiction collection might tug at the heartstrings of readers because this means that the people we meet, the things that happen in these stories, all happened to real people. While we might understand that on a fundamental level, it’s another thing to read the accounts of such reality. It helps bridge the divide between a civilian and an officer. Showing the humanity, the slight ridiculousness and the sometimes inappropriate interactions makes the stories come alive and shows how real they are.
Police officers and everything they stand for seem so far removed from the regular civilian. Yes, we appreciate their presence and the work they do to keep our communities safe. But we generally don’t see them as ‘normal’ people like the rest of us. They are special, different, because they hold this position of power and trust. Robert L. Bryan takes his experience working in the force for twenty years and shares bits of it with his readers in Dark Nights. This collection of short stories told from his perspective is a clever way to break down those barriers between ‘us’ and ‘them’. He shows the humanity of officers and gives readers a taste of what they deal with every day. These short stories are fun to read and are worth picking up.
Pages: 345 | ASIN: B0711CB8K2
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My Name is Nelson is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a mystery, satire, and political thriller as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
I’d say it just happened. I started with a simple premise – an unstoppable weapon – and just went wherever the story took me. I have to admit I’ve been a little surprised by how focused readers have been on genre, (specifically, is a thriller supposed to be funny) because in my opinion, the style of the book really isn’t all that unique. Much like other satirical military works like Catch-22, MASH, and Doctor Strangelove, at various times it’s funny, poignant, romantic, absurd, heartbreaking, or action-packed.
The characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
Thank you for the compliment. It’s definitely hard to choose, because I’m extremely proud of all the characters. The socially dysfunctional mad scientist, the dejected, hard-drinking exotic dancer, the physics prodigy and her navy officer partner, the “jagoff” of a boss, the clever First Lady, the F.B.I. agents, the fighter pilots, the small-town sheriff…
The book is dedicated to all the men and women who work so hard to defend our nation, so there’s quite a few characters in law enforcement and the military. Ultimately, if I had to choose one, I really enjoyed writing the repartee between National Security Advisor Chet Addington and President MacIntyre. And Chet Addington gave us the book’s provocative subtitle!
What was your initial idea behind this story and how did that develop as you were writing?
I guess the idea was twofold. First, I had already written some very serious, intensely-researched novels, and I wanted to let my hair down and have some fun. I wanted to write a page-turning, popcorn thriller about politicians, a mad scientist, and an unstoppable weapon. Secondly, I started with the assumption that it’s impossible to write a modern page-turner without strippers. (Just kidding. Maybe.)
As the novel progressed, I found myself lurching into some weighty issues. Childhood trauma. Wealth inequality. Racial strife. The weight of the presidency. Particle physics. Broken lives renewed. Ultimately, I think there’s quite a bit packed into 222 pages.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I genuinely don’t know. We’re clearly well-positioned for a sequel to Nelson, so we’ll see. I’ve written quite a lot over these last two years, so I may just enjoy some well-deserved vacation time.
The audiobook for Nelson should be available this summer, however. To say I’m excited about the narrator would be a huge understatement. I never dreamt one guy could single-handedly do all the voices this novel requires, (not to mention the singing) but I think I’m about to be proven wrong.
From The Indie View: “A brilliant and unique novel…in terms of sheer storytelling mastery, it’s one of the best books we’ve seen in a while. We give ‘My Name Is Nelson’ five-plus stars and look forward to an equally well-written sequel…it’s a tremendously entertaining storyline with rich characterization and cinematic action scenes. It’s safe to say the author’s crafted a potential bestseller — and, possibly, a hit movie.” (Don Sloan)
President Andrew MacIntyre was having a pretty good first year in the Oval Office. Suddenly, during what should have been a peaceful Christmas season, he’s facing one of the worst national security crises in American history. And it’s being masterminded out of a sleazy, New Mexico strip joint? What the hell?
Is this a political thriller? Or is it science fiction? A zany comedy? Perhaps it’s a love story. Whatever it is, it’s a riveting page-turner with a little sex appeal, and a lot of laughs. If “Doctor Strangelove” can find the humor in nuclear war, then surely there’s a little bit of laughter lurking in unmanned aviation, as well as some serious, heartfelt moments.
It’s little wonder White House National Security Advisor Chet Addington* said this was, “Pretty much the best novel ever.” **
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The Tenth Nail revolves around a homicide detective Nate and his new partner Manuel as they work together to solve the murder of a beautiful young woman. Where did the idea for this novel come from?
I spent several years in law enforcement both as a civilian and military. I carry a deep pride and love for the officers of today and respect what they have to survive. Much of that challenge is to survive the emotional impact of witnessing just how ugly and cruel people can be to each other, day after day. I don’t think the story of the true impact this has on officers has ever been told. Over my years in law enforcement I witnessed too many officers die emotionally. This death could be seen through sexual affairs, abusive drinking, physical violence, reckless behaviors, and even stealing. A quick tally to illustrate this is I knew five officers who died while “on the job.” Two of them died in the line of duty, and three of them died by their own hand. The Tenth Nail is an attempt to introduce the stress of being a cop to those who don’t know.
One of my primary goals when I write a story is to get the reader emotionally involved. Via, the victim of this book is introduced as a common street walking prostitute. A kind of victim that is easily forgotten relatively quickly in our society. In these days of limited budgets and overstretched manpower, she represents the kind of crime that is soon to be a cold crime if not solved in the first few days. Nate, the lead detective assigned to the case, shares a private moment with the dead girl and due to a shared injury promises her he will bring her killer to account for her death. This sets up conflict from many directions. The fact is, if it’s not another girl, who killed her, or her pimp, the odds of finding and convicting the killer of a prostitute is difficult, at best. The department wants Nate to shelve the case to free him to handle cases with a higher possibility of solvability. Manny, Nate’s new partner, and new to homicide, wonders if he should request another training officer. The more he is pushed to release the case, the more resistant Nate becomes. He refuses to break the promise he made to the dead girl.
The Tenth Nail is a edgy crime novel that throws readers right into the action with a murder in the first pages. How did you balance mystery with answers with crazy twists?
I grew up reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novels and I was determined to solve the case before the “great detective.” My mother and I watched hours of Raymond Burr as Perry Mason and we discussed the cases as the show progressed. To balance the mystery without giving the story away to soon requires work. Truthfully, I hope I got the job done.
Detectives Nate and Manny are entertaining and intriguing characters that I felt were well developed. What was your inspiration for their characters and their relationship?
Nate and Manny are combinations of several police officers I have known over the years. I admit that both carry a little bit of me in them, as I have been in both positions as senior and junior partner. I wanted officers (in all cases) who represented more than just the stereotype of cops. I also expected the same from the other characters. One of my favorite scenes is when Manny arrives home after a day much too long and he is still adjusting to his first murder, his first victim, his first expose to Nate and all the rest. Selma, his heavily pregnant wife allows him to lay his head on her lap and stretch out on the sofa. When he kicks off his shoes, she scolds him for wearing socks with a hole in the toe. To me, that is the center of the Tenth Nail, trying to balance extreme violence with complete love.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
My next book is called Dead Men Walking and it is a continuation of the story of Nate and Clare. Several of the characters from The Tenth Nail will return though the are many new ones as well. The plan is to release the book by early summer.
“Nate knelt beside the dead girl. This wasn’t his first homicide, it wasn’t even the first dead prostitute he’d investigated. It wasn’t the first strangling death he’d been assigned to. But, this one bothered him.
Maybe it was her youth, she appeared to be in her early twenties. Maybe it was her looks, as death had yet to rob her of her beauty. Maybe she reminded him of his own daughter, Lizzie, who was only a few years younger. Maybe it was something else entirely.
The big detective looked over the body, careful not to touch or disturb her. He had one of the best crime scene technicians, Winston Rawls, and he did not want to make his job harder.”
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Author Interview with Ian Patrick
Plain Dealing is a suspense novel about a group of cops in South Africa that are caught executing criminals and then must try to cover it up. This is the third book in the The Ryder Quartet series. What is the central theme that you have tried to carry through all four books?
The central theme I have pursued through the four books is about crime, justice and morality: at what point do the police (and many readers) eschew morality for the sake of retribution? What is the tipping point for officers of the law when the institutions of law and justice are unable to contain heinous crime?
The story takes place in South Africa. I enjoyed the detail of that backdrop, it seemed more exotic than most urban cities. What was the decision for that setting?
The decision for the setting of the four books in KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa, is that many people consider this area to be the crime capital of the world (with the dubious distinction, in recent years, of having the highest murder rate for a country not at war).
Plain Dealing addresses the emotional and ethical choices that law enforcement officials handle on a daily basis. Were there any elements in the story that you pulled from real life, or was it all just fiction?
Although the books are fiction, almost every single crime depicted in the books has its counterpart in real life. Thorough research was undertaken, including tours to the front line of crime and discussions with forensics experts, detectives, and victims of crime. Almost every crime scene was personally visited by me in order to check on the veracity of the physical descriptions.
In the story, six cops execute some criminals and Detective Jeremy Ryder must try to stop them. What was your inspiration for Jeremy Ryders character and his approach to solving crimes?
My inspiration for the character of Jeremy Ryder was multifaceted. My father was a police detective. I have interviewed many detectives. And I have been influenced over many years by characters that I have enjoyed in literature. There is in Jeremy Ryder a little of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher character, a little of my father, a little of my wife, a little – I suppose – of myself. But he is in essence entirely a character of fiction. I took great care to ensure that he is not guilty of typical macho or even misogynist behavior. One way I have tried to do this is to depict his wife and other women in the stories as strong, perceptive, and original thinkers and women of action.
The Ryder Quartet is a collection of 4 books. Death Dealing being the last one out. Do you see a chance to continue the story in a different storyline or are you working on a completely new novel?
I am currently working on a fifth novel that is set in the same location. This one is based around one of the characters that we meet in the quartet, but it will not involve Ryder and his companions. I will, though, return to Ryder and his colleagues in a future work. He is now under my skin and I think of him daily.
After midnight on a moonlit beach six policemen led by a top detective execute four criminals who have perpetrated the most heinous rape, mutilation and murder of a young woman. The police are unaware that there is a witness to the executions. The action that follows is set against dubious tactical, ethical and sometimes criminal choices faced by the central characters. The reader is left with a stark image of moral ambiguity as the police struggle to maintain courageous and precarious control of the crime that engulfs them, and the work of ‘plain dealing’ cops comes under scrutiny.
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