In The Impostor’s Trail, we find Sean Kruger living out his golden years when a culprit Kruger feels responsible for losing six years ago pops up on the radar. What were the driving ideas behind Sean Kruger’s development throughout the story?
The concept of the novel originated with a short story written in 2013 titled, The Forgotten Brother Affair. The short story was featured on my website for about a year. After I completed the second book in the series, I was looking for ideas for the next one. Keeping in mind Kruger retires at the end of The Assassin’s Trail, there had to be a compelling reason for him to get back in the game. The return of the only serial killer to elude him during his FBI career seemed appropriately compelling.
In this installment, we find Kruger torn between righting a mistake he made six years prior and keeping his family safe. Facing pressure from his wife to stay retired and fighting his own internal need to bring the killer to justice, Kruger embarks on a journey of self-discovery. This journey finds our hero dealing with the conflict of seeking revenge and righteousness. I won’t reveal any more of the plot, but his journey gets intense.
You do a great job with descriptions as usual. It’s easy for the reader to picture either characters or settings in their mind. What is your writing process like?
Thank you for the compliment. I read a lot, making note of how other authors describe their settings and characters. During the journey to improve my writing techniques, more than one book on the craft of writing was consumed. Without exception, they emphasize a good writer must read. Read as many books in the genre you write as possible. I continue to do this, and try to learn from the best.
The majority of the settings used in my novels are places I have lived near or visited during a period of time when I traveled extensively. For instance, JR’s building in the downtown area is a real place. While in college, I thought it would be a great place to live. Alas, I could not afford the rent as a student. As a writer, the process of describing locations is how I see them in my mind’s eye based on personal experience. If I need to utilize a place I have never been, Google Earth is a great tool.
Describing characters is different, in my opinion. How a reader envisions a character is influenced by two factors. How the character acts and hints the author offers in the novel. I am not sure anyone has noticed, but I have never given a clear description of what JR Diminski looks like. This was done on purpose. He is a computer geek. But he is also self-assured and able to handle himself in dangerous situations. Let the reader fill in the blanks.
I enjoy the large cast in this story. If Hollywood came knocking who would you cast as the leads?
An interesting question. I really have not given it much thought. However, there is one character in the story who is already cast. Joseph’s character is described as bearing a remarkable resemblance to the actor Morgan Freeman. He is one of my favorite actors with a remarkable body of work depicting a wide range of different characters.
The rest of the cast I’m not sure about. Kruger would need to be a tall individual with an air of quiet self-confidence, Liam Neeson, Hugh Jackman, or even Christian Bale come to mind. Kruger’s wife, Stephanie is a woman who survived and prospered in the cut-throat world of big corporations. She would need to be an actress who projects a strong will and intelligence. Someone like Natalie Portman or Jennifer Connolly perhaps. JR Diminski is a tough call, maybe Titus Welliver or maybe Daniel Day-Lewis.
If the opportunity ever materialized, I am sure I would have little say in the matter.
How long do you see the Sean Kruger series going for? When will the next book be available?
Right now, with The Impostor’s Trail finished, I am working on a stand-alone JR Diminski manuscript. My oldest son suggested doing one and several friends agreed. However, the next Sean Kruger book already has a concept written, which is my version of an outline. The working title is The Cold Trail. Of course, this is subject to change. But with luck, and a lot of early mornings, I hope to have it out late 2018.
As far as how far will I take the series? Good question. My best answer is when the ideas for a good story stop, the series will stop. As an Indie Author, I don’t have a staff of assistants sitting around thinking up plot ideas, it just me, myself and I. Plus I am not subject to the demands a traditional publisher puts on popular authors. I don’t want to be, what I call, a book factory. Traditional publishers make their money by publishing books. There are a number of very popular authors and some Indie Authors who publish two and in some cases three or more books a year. How is it possible? If you write full-time, maybe. But I am not sure the plots are well thought out.
So for now, I will continue to take my time with each book and strive to produce quality, well-edited manuscripts, possessing realistic character driven story lines.
Over the Indian Ocean a Malaysia Airline jumbo jet drops from radar. Three hundred twenty-seven souls disappear with it; a woman in Rockford, Illinois is brutally murdered. Unrelated news events? Retired FBI agent Sean Kruger doesn’t think so. He suspects it’s the work of serial killer Randolph Bishop.
Now a college professor, Kruger has tried to live with the mistake he made while investigating Bishop six years earlier. It looks as though the only man to elude him, in his twenty-five year tenure with the FBI, has returned to seek vengeance on those who forced the man to flee the country. With his family in danger, Kruger comes out of retirement to find Bishop’s trail. A trail that leads Sean to question his own humanity.
Randolph Bishop joins the ranks of fictional serial killers such as Hannibal Lecter, Patrick Bateman and Anton Chigurh in this tale of revenge and justice. The Impostor’s Trail will keep you turning pages late into the night.
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FBI Tracker Cat Morgan has an unusual talent, one she has successfully concealed, even from her fellow agents. That is—until she finds a body with a strange symbol carved on the forehead during a stop in Clinton, Mississippi and crosses paths with the town’s rugged police chief, Kevin Hunter.
Despite his instant attraction to the sexy agent, Kevin is suspicious of her presence at the crime scene and isn’t buying her dubious explanations. He wants her out of the investigation and out of his town.
The discovery of another mutilated body with the same symbol sends Cat back to Clinton, and this time she isn’t leaving. To stop the killer, Cat must find a way to overcome Kevin’s distrust and will face an impossible impasse—truth or lies.
But will either one matter, when the killer fixates on her for his next sacrifice?
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Michael Pronko is a scholar and an on Japanese culture. He is also an excellent story teller that captivates readers and takes them on an adventure through his words. The Last Train is set in Tokyo, and even if you have never been to Tokyo, don’t worry, Pronko draws you into the life there. His attention to detail is not limited to the scenery, but the customs and mannerisms that make up the Japanese’s culture. There is extensive time devoted explaining the life and world revolving around the hostess clubs, not sex clubs, rather clubs where men go to find a woman to entertain them for a period of time, while drinking and getting their ego stroked. It is within this society of hostess clubs that murder mystery is flushed out. A killer, targeting foreign investors is using the trains as her weapon of choice.
The story revolves around Michiko Suzuki and the team of detectives that are investigating the train murders. Michiko is the daughter of a factory owner whose mother died when she was young. She was raised by her father and his workers. She learned early that business is not always neat and clean, and that sometimes getting their hands dirty and making backdoor deals is the norm there. As Pronko tells Suzuki’s story he alternates between current events and her memories of the past, telling how she got to where she is, and how she has picked her victims. The main detectives investigating are Hiroshi and Takamatsu. Hiroshi is an accountant that due to spending part of his life in America is fluent in English so he works white collar crimes for the police. Takamatsu is a homicide detective that pulls together his own dream team to work on this case. Their case takes a high profile turn and soon they’re dodging politics as well the cultural need to keep everything neat and tidy. Michiko tries to keep her activities low key but when several of her victims survive her plot, things get messy for her and the police.
One of the most fascinating things about this novel is not the mystery aspect. The murder is not a secret from the beginning. What is a mystery is why she is killing people, figuring out what drove her to this life. Hiroshi is a complex character as well, and his dynamic interactions throughout the investigations add to the plot as well as provide an unique look at the culture. Even though he is from Tokyo, spending time in America gave him a different perspective on the way things are done; whereas Takamatsu comes off as the typical Japanese man. They make an interesting and effective partnership. Having the diverse views interacting with witnesses and other characters makes for a dynamic story line, it is diverse and provides multiple views from different cultural perspectives. Much of the story takes place in Roppongi, here you see all the varieties of hostess clubs, the basic lounge style, mud wrestling, nude women, and the high-end invite only David’s Lounge. Each club gives readers a different taste of the culture.
Overall The Last Train by Michael Pronko is a well written and enticing look into the culture of Tokyo. The story behind Michiko Suzuki is compelling and engaging, you can’t help flipping the pages to see what she is going to do next and find out why her victims were chosen. Hiroshi connects well with everyone he interacts with so there is an emotional response from the reader. Pronko uses emotion, mystery and attention to detail to keep the reader engaged and wanting more. I look forward to seeing more from Pronko and hope he has more stories to tell with Hiroshi.
Pages: 348 | ASIN: B071DPXP7M
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One of the most interesting, and potentially terrifying, fantasies is to view the world through a serial killer’s eyes. The thought is frightening in the sense that the process of a murderer goes against the grain of those of us who are morally at odds with the desire to kill others for entertainment. Brian Gallagher explores this idea in his novel Serial K which follows the path of new-born serial killer Craig Breedlove as he embarks on his journey of perfection. A damaged individual from a relatively tame home, Breedlove has long admired the handy work of famous serial killers. He’s admired them for so long, that once he ties up a few loose ends upon his release from juvenile detention, he begins to literally carve himself a path to becoming one. Paying homage to his idols and tossing in bits of his own style he brings his reign of terror on America to the FBI. Notably agent Ryan O’Callahan and his ex-wife/current flame agent Lea Pucci. So begins the chase of cat and mouse.
Gallagher knows how to appeal to readers. The chapters are short and easy to digest while still maintaining substance and purpose. Murder-mystery-esque books can get buried in their own intrigue, but Serial K doesn’t go down that path. Every sentence is deliberate and the fractured story-telling allows readers to get both sides of the story. We see things from the eyes of Breedlove and we see things through the eyes of the agents assigned to catch him. It’s an interesting take on the serial killer idea. There are no attempts to humanize Breedlove or justify what he’s doing. He’s a young, very rich man, with a very odd sense of admiration.
However, there are a few spelling and grammatical issues that can detract from the tale and the use of vulgar language in the narrative that seems out of place. There are times when it is acceptable, expected even, and Gallagher uses it then. However, he uses some of this language in spots where if this tale were told solely from the mind of Breedlove it would make more sense. There are some questionable stylistic choices, but they shouldn’t be considered deal-breakers.
Aside from the rough patches Gallagher takes us on a wild ride with a serial killer and the FBI agents following close behind. There is an instance where Breedlove is within breathing distance from the agents yet he is able to remain undetected. Whether that is due to brilliance or sheer luck, the fact remains that our killer is still able to remain undiscovered. There are some aspects of the story that seem a little unbelievable; like Breedlove being released from juvenile detention with zero follow-up or monitoring, but that may just be a comment on the state of the justice system.
If you’re looking for an interesting take on the cat-and-mouse game you can definitely find entertainment with Serial K by Brian Gallagher. It’s an easy read with an ending that leaves an opening for more. While it may be lacking in some departments, the concept is still interesting and decently executed.
Pages: 295 | ASIN: B01N6P4RCU
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Do you like TV shows like Psychic Detective, The Dead Files or Medium? If you do, this book is for you. A team of psychics, telepaths and remote viewers—along with police support—investigate several cases of disappearances, murders, and missing persons.
The author opens the book with a foreword with many examples of actual cold cases, murders and disappearances that were solved by psychics. Some of them went on to fame and fortune, while others work quietly with police, presumably to this day. However, the fictitious psychics at this agency have skills and near-future technology that gives them powers above and beyond what famous psychics can do.
The founders, Richard, Honey, Rose, and Chuck, are joined by Joe Fraser, a billionaire from the U.S., joins the firm to help them make connections with local law enforcement. Their first case is a real challenge, involving a contentious divorce rife with infidelity and manipulation. Could Ms. Nicky Lestrange be married to a psychopath, or are there even darker things afoot? Honey’s psychic trail leads them into the life of a man who is hiding more than a much younger girlfriend. This case is the longest and most detailed of all, and the rest of the book delves into cold case files and unsolved mysteries, and the individuals on the psychic teams that resolve them.
The Deaduction Agency had a slow start that bogged down the opening of the novel. The first two chapters seemed caught up in describing every detail of the office and their technology but didn’t flesh out the characters very well. Some of it was high-tech and interesting, but I found myself wanting to get back to the “Case of the Deranged Husband.” Once that first case gets underway, we get to know the characters very well, and the rest of the story shines through.
The many the cases undertaken by the psychics range from very quick and easy, like the “Case of Spontaneous Eruption,” to edge-of-your-seat cases, where one of the team members places herself in danger to catch a serial killer. My favorite was the “Case of the Prodigal Son” which offered a surprising conclusion. Each case is like a series episode, which makes it fun and easy to read. One involved a scene of vigilantes murdering two men. In another, a pedophile ring is broken up, and after the perpetrators are arrested, their memories (and their quite literal demons) are destroyed by a machine called a “spectrometer.” Later, we learn what became of those men, and while it doesn’t absolve the Agency, the mediums would be able to use their machine for a different purpose. Indeed, by the end of the novel it’s clear that the Agency is changing its focus—for better or worse, it remains to be seen—and greater things lie ahead for Richard. With all of this there’s still a primary plot that develops throughout the course of each investigation.
If you like tales of paranormal activity, remote viewing and the powers of the mind, The Deaduction Agency is a multi-layered story with intriguing characters that you’ll enjoy.
Pages: 316 | ASIN: B00Y2I8DB4
A REPLY FROM THE AUTHOR:
A final, general observation on the review itself. The opening scene is criticized for its excess of descriptive detail, That is almost a verbatim criticism made by another reviewer, Marta Cheng in 2015, who stated: In some places, such as near the beginning of the book, there is an inordinate amount of detailed explanation provided as to the set up of the agency’s offices – details that detract from the momentum of the story. In response, I cut down the detail to a mere 360 words, which is hardly inordinate! It also became apparent that Marta (who got fond of changing her surname to put me off the scent) had not read the book in its entirety and was intent on having a dig at another reviewer from the same stable as herself.
To emphasize why it was done, I then suffixed the description with the following sentences:
Richard, the most senior partner in the agency, was busying himself constantly re-arranging brochures on a side table in the waiting area in reception. It was a quirky habit of his that Honey found most annoying. It also reflected his fussy preoccupation with orderliness and exact measurements.
Naturally, he was the architect of the office layout, which Honey was often tempted to rearrange, solely to unsettle him.
Love scenes soon followed as well! Some of this preoccupation is revisited later, as part of Honey’s tangled love life. What more can an author do?
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Would you like to try the 13 seed Remedy? It dates back generations and hails from Scotland. These seeds are the greatest of all Superfoods! If I were you I would steer far far away from those seeds. Like the olden days of the bible, beware the peddler selling snake oil, if it sounds too good to be true, it is, and will just land you in trouble. This is what happens in Seed Me by Konn Lavery. Unfortunately, for Logan and Janet the warning came too late and they ate the mysterious black and red seeds. This brings the unlikely pair closer than they ever intended to be, and into a world of magic, mystery and murder.
The story takes places in Alberta Canada, in the town of Edmonton. Edmonton is a tiny town where nothing exciting ever happens. The story is told from the perspective of Logan who is a recovering drug addict that plays in a band with his best friend Skip. Logan has a lot of emotional baggage from his drug addiction days, mostly the loss of his longtime girlfriend Emily that became one of the victims of the legendary 4-20 killings. These killings were thought to be done by a serial killer that is called the drainer because all the blood is drained from the victims. They are either covered in puncture wounds or partially ripped apart and still drained of all blood. The story line really takes off after Logan and Skip are out at a bar. While they are outside smoking and police chase ends across the street. When the police stop the truck a headless body is found in the back. Later behind the bar Logan starts kissing a girl who he later discovers looks exactly like the dead girl in the truck. This leads to Logan wondering if he is crazy, done too many drugs, or if he is really involved in some crazy plot.
Logan’s partner in all this is Janet, the hippy college girl that turns out to be a lot smarter than anyone anticipated. Character development on both Logan and Janet is slow going and your over halfway through the novel before you get a real idea of who Janet is and not the ‘dumb blond groupie’ she is portrayed at the start. Konn does a great job introducing the reader to the background and really gives a feel for the small town world. His attention to detail on developing the character of Logan and Janet and even Skip to a point, is meticulous. It does take a while to get the full picture but that’s because so many little details are filled in and really give the characters a full spectrum of characterization so that you can relate to them.
Janet and Logan start investigating the strange seeds and the murdered girl, revealed as a local named Vicky, and decide to talk to the truck driver. From the driver they learn about the strange group of people called harvesters. They ware long black trench coats, and have a tattoo and scarification of plants on them. They refuse to talk about these things and are very mysterious. Yet they keep showing up where Logan is.
Who are the harvesters, what is going on with the strange seeds, and why is Logan hearing voices? What is going on in him, and who is doing the draining on the bodies that keep showing up around town? Konn answers these questions and leaves the readers looking for more answers by the end. While the theme has a lot of Pagan and Vampirism traits, this is a unique twist and its own direction. An engaging read that will draw you in and connect you to the characters.
Pages: 228 | ISBN: 0988116081
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There is madness in the world that few can ever understand. What drives a person to get out of bed in the morning or take a life in the evening is different for every person. Steven Pajak carefully crafts a story for us that involve mindless torture; endless agony and that special breed of mental instability psychological thrillers enjoy so much. While Wolves Among Sheep is meant to be a book introducing Jack Monroe, a United States Deputy Marshal, it really focuses on the relationship between Jack’s brother Michael and unstable, disgruntled former employee Robert Elliott Lang. As readers we are roped into a fascinating situation where a single man seeks to completely destroy the life of another for reasons only he could possibly understand. With heart in throat and eyes glued to the page readers will want to desperately know the why and crumble when it’s finally revealed.
Pajak knows his craft well and is very good at describing the slow, torturous break down between Robert and Michael. Michael has the things that Robert wants and is seen to be the one who has denied our antagonist all that could have been his. Robert desperately needs help and the signs pointing to his devolution have been visible for a long time. Perhaps it’s because he’s just another name in the email directory or because he’s that difficult, creepy guy that no one really wants to befriend but the fact remains that Robert does not get the help he needs. Instead, he gets a target: a person whose life he can work towards crumbling as carefully as possible. We know quite early on in the tale that Robert is a man who is not below putting dead rats in cars and forwarding incriminating emails in order to destroy a relationship. We know all of this but the hypnotic destruction pulls the attention and causes us to question what we read.
If there were to be any areas where Pajak could improve it would be simple editing. There are a few spelling mistakes and words that are potentially mistyped. This is not Pajak’s first time at the rodeo so he knows how to write a good story. That is what makes the minute, yet noticeable, editorial issues stand out even more. Unless you’re extremely particular about these sorts of things they will not ruin the story for you, but they will be obvious.
Wolves Among Sheep takes its readers on a dangerously slippery trail. There are aspects of Robert’s behavior that seem almost normal; those small little tics that are easily over looked. While Jack is instrumental in hunting down Robert after he has successfully destroyed any semblance of a ‘normal’ life for Michael, the story truly revolves around our protagonist and antagonist. The tale would not be the same if Jack were not in it, however, so it is important to note that his existence is necessary to reach the conclusion Pajak came to.
Readers who enjoy a good psychological thriller along the lines of Dean Koontz and Stephen King will not be disappointed with the creepy tale Steven Pajak offers for consumption.
Pages: 220 | ASIN: B01LYY5ZJ1
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