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What Drives the Serial Killer

Lynn-Steven Johanson
Lynn-Steven Johanson Author Interview

Havana Brown follows detective Erickson on a bloody case to find a serial killer preying on women in Chicago. What were some sources that informed this novels development?

Since this was a prequel to my novel Rose’s Thorn, there were only a few references to the backstory in that novel: Joe’s prior relationship with Destiny, his nervous breakdown, and the serial killer. So, when I decided to write a prequel, I had to construct the story around those things. But the story itself came strictly out of my imagination.

What were some new dimensions of detective Erickson’s character that you wanted to explore in this book?

Joe won’t let go of a case and will do whatever it takes including working himself into the ground to solve it. A paradox exists in that he decides to make a life change and begin taking good care of his physical health while at the same time ignoring his psychological health. And he begins a romance with a woman who is an intellectual and physical match for him. She will be a recurring character in subsequent mysteries. In addition, I wanted to explore his relationship with his father, since it was only touched upon in Rose’s Thorn.

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

Oddly enough, I don’t think of themes in my writing. I focus on characters and telling the story but not so much on theme. Now that I think about it, I guess I would say that obsession is the main theme. Joe’s fixation with catching the serial killer leads to his self-destructive behaviors. And obsession is what drives the serial killer to continue murdering young women.

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

I recently finished the first draft of the third installment in the Joe Erickson Mystery series. It should be published by Level Best Books next spring.

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In this prequel to Rose’s Thorn, Detective Joe Erickson discovers a clever and vile serial killer preying on women in Chicago. Only a few cat hairs provide clues to the perpetrator of six mutilation murders. Joe’s razor-sharp intuition and unorthodox methods ultimately lead him on a trail fraught with twists, turns, and close calls. But pushing himself day and night begins taking its toll, and his obsession with apprehending the killer will be his undoing.

Havana Brown: A Joe Erickson Mystery

Havana Brown: A Joe Erickson Mystery by [Lynn-Steven Johanson]

Havana Brown, written by Lynn-Steven Johanson is a fast-paced mystery suspense novel that is part of the Joe Erickson mysteries. The novel has well developed characters, is well structured and has an interesting setting. All the elements of a great read!

The characters in this novel are well developed and authentic. Characters are described in detail, from their physical appearances to their personality traits. Homicide detective Joe Erickson is the main character in the story. He is supported by his partner Sam Renaldo on a hunt to find a serial killer. Joe meets someone along his journey and starts to develop a romantic relationship with her. Joe’s character is kept grounded and relatable by the way in which he deals with difficulties both in his work and personal lives.

Havana Brown is a compelling crime novel that kept me coming back to see the unique ways in which Joe pieces the mystery together. The dramatic opening ensures readers will be immediately engaged in the story and perpetually guessing as the novel twists in wild directions. There are almost two story lines in Havana Brown – the journey to catch the serial killer and Joe’s journey as he navigates his personal life. There are plenty of twists in both storylines to keep the reader engrossed, but the combination of these two parallel stories serves to provide a respite from each one when needed, provide more depth to Joe’s character, and ultimately keep the reader immersed in this riveting story.

This is a contemporary crime thriller set in Chicago. Buildings such as apartments, gyms, medical offices, basements, police stations and funeral homes all feature in the story and feel real and like they are part of the story, rather just the background.

Havana Brown is a murder mystery that will appeal to readers who enjoy police procedurals, or anyone looking for a dramatic crime novel with authentic characters. This book was difficult to put down! I look forward to reading more books in the Detective Joe Erickson series.

Pages: 288 | ASIN: B09138DYHC

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A Joe Erickson Mystery

Lynn-Steven Johanson
Lynn-Steven Johanson Author Interview

Rose’s Thorn follows a homicide detective that’s thrown into an enigmatic murder case that turns into a race against time once the killer strikes close to home. What was the inspiration for the setup to this riveting novel?

Fifteen years ago, I wrote a screenplay which is the initial story for Rose’s Thorn. It sat languishing in my database for years, and one day my wife suggested turning it into a novel. I scoffed, saying I could never write anything that long. Then one day a few years ago, I had dried up on ideas for a new play and remembered what she said. So, I pulled up the screenplay and began adapting the opening scene into the first chapter. I found I could do it. Then I moved on to the second chapter, then the third, and thirty-some chapters later, I had the first draft.

Joe is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?

You know the old adage, “write what you know.” I’m from Marathon, Iowa, a small town in the northwest part of the state. So, I made Joe from there, too. As a result, I instilled in him the same values and ideals I grew up with. His parents raised him to be honest, moral, sincere, and with a positive outlook on life. But I am far from the tough, intense guy he is.

I enjoyed the mystery at the heart of this story. Did you plan the story before writing or did it develop organically?

I use the same three-act structure for outlining a novel that screenwriters employ. And I outline the story in detail before I ever start writing chapters. That way I know where all the major plot points exist and all the minor events that lead to them. I am one of those writers who needs structure. But it has to remain flexible because if something changes while I am writing a particular chapter, I go back to the structure and make changes.

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

My next novel, Havana Brown, is the second in the Joe Erickson mystery series. It is a prequel to Rose’s Thorn, and it is due to be published by Level Best Books in March. I am presently working on the third book in the series, but I have just begun writing it. It is scheduled for release in March of 2022.

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The last thing homicide detective Joe Erickson needs is to get involved in murder investigation. On a medical leave from Chicago PD after developing acute stress disorder, he has returned to his hometown in Iowa to settle his father’s estate.

But when he learns two teenage girls in neighboring towns have been abducted, murdered, and found posed nude along a riverbank, he takes notice. And when his former lover and criminal profiler is brought in to consult, she talks him into joining the investigation.

Known for employing unorthodox methods, Joe throws himself headlong into a case that will test his mental stamina. But when his neighbor’s daughter is abducted, his razor-sharp intuition and keen investigative skills kick into high gear as he races against time to find her before she becomes the killer’s third victim.

Rose’s Thorn: A Joe Erickson Mystery

Rose's Thorn: A Joe Erickson Mystery by [Lynn-Steven Johanson]

Rose’s Thorn is a wonderfully suspenseful and creative murder mystery. The plot centers around everyone’s worst nightmare: a seemingly quiet town turned into a hunting ground for a dangerous predator. Someone is violently abducting, raping, and killing the town’s young women, but there are so many clues that are missing. Not even the town’s police force is exempt from suspicion. Joe Erickson and Destiny Alexander must work together to create a profile of this vicious killer and put him away. But they have some chemistry of their own to spice up the plot.

Rose’s Thorn is fantastically woven with twists and turns that keep the reader guessing and on the edge of their seat. Each character is introduced in an artful and believable manner that gives the reader a sense of who they are right away. Even if that character does not stay in the story for very long. The action scenes as well are very compelling; it comes quickly and with heart-pounding intensity. There is also an element of dramatic irony that will make the reader want to shout at the characters and tell them what is going on! The characters are realistic and most are likable and relatable which makes the story that much more enjoyable.

It is a funny coincidence that a lot of these characters have names beginning with “J”. Joe himself is a unique take on the hardened cop in that he is not overly so. The audience is able to relate to Joe and see how he is affected by events and emotions unlike the common version of the trope, but we still get the sense that he is a tough guy who will get the job done. Even the minor characters who make small appearances are unique and realistic which draws the reader into the book even further as it appears to be completely plausible.

Rose’s Thorn is a riveting crime fiction that lures you in with a seemingly simple yet complex murder mystery and delivers an absorbing investigation for those that love police procedurals. I loved the plot, the characters (especially the strong female co-lead, Destiny), and the twists and turns. Author Lynn-Steven Johanson has written an thriller that anyone, teenage and up, could enjoy at any time. Just be sure to lock the door!

Pages: 271 | ASIN: B085SX5WNN

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