In The Assassin’s Trail, we follow Sean Kruger as he is now hunting down an assassin. What surprised me most about this book is how accessible it is. Many books of this genre get bogged down in jargon. What was the direction you wanted to take this novel that may have been different from the first novel in the series?
First and foremost, I want the reader to enjoy the ride. My primary goal, as I complete more books in the series, is to NOT repeat the same story in each book. I want the same characters facing different challenges. I will not name names, but so many popular authors repeat the same premise in each book, locations change, minor characters change, but the overall story arc is the same. I am determined not to follow this path.
The first book in the series is a ‘get to know you’ story. We meet the main characters and why they are who they are. The second book develops the relationship of Kruger and JR Diminski. JR is an equal partner in Assassin’s, he is critical to the flow of this story and future books.
Kruger’s marriage to Stephanie, an event which happens outside the narrative, is a critical part of how he starts viewing his world. He no longer has only himself to worry about, he has her. I believe this helps the reader relate to the character. Most of us struggle to balance work-home life. Kruger is no different than the rest of us, the only difference is his work is just a little more intense.
Again we’re following FBI agent Sean Kruger. While he might complain about his job he is excellent at it and his reputation precedes him. What themes did you try to capture while developing his character?
A reluctant warrior. Kruger is portrayed as a man who sacrificed watching his son grow because of what he felt was a higher calling. Now in his early fifties, he finds the sacrifice he made was an illusion, benefiting no one but others. I am not sure the word disillusioned is correct, but it is the closest I can come. I think a lot of us look back on our careers and ask the question, “If only I had…?” Kruger is given a second chance to answer this question.
He knows what he does is important, he just does not know if it was worth what he sacrificed. The underlying story is a metamorphosis of a career oriented individual into a man who cherishes family above all else. Stephanie joins him in this change, also realizing what she sacrificed.
What were some books or authors that you felt severed as inspiration for you?
Several come to mind. Frederick Forsythe for instance. I don’t pretend to write as well as he does, but I like the way his books are character driven with intricate plots. John Sandford and Michael Connelly are two others. Sandford inspired the concept of an ongoing series with a consistent title and a common protagonist. His Prey series follows the career of Lucas Davenport over the course of, currently, twenty-seven novels. Like Davenport, Kruger is a loner and not above stretching the rules to make sure an investigation moves forward. I do not anticipate the Trail series lasting twenty-seven novels, but you never know.
Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch character influenced Kruger’s dogged determination and sense of duty. While the above authors helped influence the Kruger character, I have strived to make him human and subject to all the emotions we all feel.
A lot of authors use protagonists who are superhuman and can keep on going after being shot or have a broken limb. You won’t see this with Kruger. While he does get wounded, like in book two and three, it has an effect on him.
Where will book 3 in the Sean Kruger series take readers and when will it be available?
The third novel in the series is titled The Impostor’s Trail. It features the return of a serial killer first introduced in my short story, The Forgotten Brother Affair. This is the first time I have expanded a short story into a full-length novel. It was a lot of fun weaving the novel around the events of the original story. Part one of the novel is the short story, part two occurs six years later when the killer returns to the United States after fleeing the country. I won’t give away any more of the plot, but my beta reader indicated she felt it is the strongest of my three novels. The Impostor’s Trail will be released July 25, 2017, as an eBook and paperback. It will be produced as an Audible.com book sometime in the fall of 2017.
FBI SPECIAL AGENT SEAN KRUGER IS BACK! The brutal assassination of two men has Homicide Detective Ryan Clark fearing the worst. A serial killer is on the loose in the Washington, DC area. Without hesitation, he calls an old friend at the FBI. FBI profiler Special Agent Sean Kruger is hesitant to become involved with another long and tedious investigation. He is in the twilight of his career and tired of the travel, bureaucracy, and politics of his job. He and longtime girlfriend, Stephanie, decide to marry and do something different with their lives. He wants no part of Clark’s serial killer investigation. But when the assassin strikes close to home, it becomes personal. With the help of JR Diminski, the computer genius from The Fugitive’s Trail, he identifies a suspect. When the attempted arrest goes horribly wrong, Kruger is suspended for disobeying a direct order from the Director of the FBI. Now outside the protection of the agency, he must decide to either walk away after twenty-five years with the agency or put his new marriage and life in danger as he continues to pursue the assassin. An assassin whose ultimate goal is an attack in the center of the United States. An attack that could result in more civilian casualties than 9/11.
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Homicide Detective Ryan Clark has a problem. A prominent businessman has been assassinated by a drive-by shooting. Two weeks earlier another man, in the same industry, was shot and killed. He suspects the assassinations are related and calls an old friend with the FBI.
When FBI profiler Special Agent Sean Kruger arrives at the scene of the second murder, he agrees with Clark but is hesitant to get involved. After twenty-five years with the FBI, he is tired of the bureaucracy and politics of the job. His constant traveling has kept him away from the woman he loves and he is contemplating retiring to start a new life with her.
A week later, while home in Kansas City, the assassin strikes again. Only this time close to where he lives and suddenly the search becomes personal. With the help of JR Diminski, the computer genius from The Fugitive’s Trail, Kruger identifies a suspect and travels to Alabama for the arrest.
Politics and micromanaging complicate the situation. Kruger is ordered to wait, but disobeys and proceeds with the arrest. When everything goes horribly wrong, he is suspended by the Director of the FBI.
Now outside the protection of the agency, he must decide whether to walk away from his career or put his new marriage and life in danger by pursuing the assassin. An assassin whose ultimate goal is an attack in the center of the United States. An attack that will result in more innocent casualties than 9/11.
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Once again we are plunged into the world of Sean Kruger and his particular brand of justice in The Assassin’s Trail by J.C. Fields. While reading the first novel in the series is not necessary, it does provide excellent backstory for those who like to know everything. We follow Kruger once again as he gets pulled into another debacle. While he might groan about it, Kruger is excellent at his job and his reputation precedes him. With such greatness comes great expectations. Can Kruger deliver? Or will the case be his undoing? Hold on tight for a wild ride as we follow our favorite FBI special agent as he hunts down his prey. Fields shows us crime drama at its best: twists, turns and heightened anticipation for the good guy to win. The question then becomes, at what cost?
You can tell this is not Fields’ first time writing a book. A lot of attention and care went into the crafting of this story. A complication that can arise when writing a book in a series is losing track of subtle details and hoping your readers don’t notice. Happily, there is none of that in this installment of the Sean Kruger novels. The way Fields’ crafts the world of Kruger is deliberate and very well done. There is no shortage of action and readers will find themselves glued to the pages in order to find out what happens next. Some true crime stories can lag in the middle or when there is no action present making them almost a chore to read. You won’t find that here and even if crime drama isn’t your thing, this is a hard book to pass up. It’s not filled with useless jargon or procedures and policies only die-hard fans or those who work in the field can understand. This was truly a piece meant for the reader.
What makes a good story in this genre is suspense, action and realism. If the crime is too outlandish or the way the criminal is discovered is too unrealistic it can ruin the entire experience for the reader. Fields understands this and crafts the tale to reflect that. Readers will need to prepare their hearts for the twists and turns in this book as Fields’ expertly dangles disaster in front of us. There are no complaints about this easy to read and equally easy to enjoy story.
There is so much to gain and so little to lose from enjoying The Assassin’s Trail by J.C. Fields. The action is well paced and the story doesn’t suffer for it. The realism makes our main character, Sean Kruger, that much more relatable. While he is a special agent with the FBI he really just wants to enjoy his life. That is something we can all relate to. Kruger doesn’t seem able to catch a break on the work-life balance of things. Things will come to a grinding halt though as Kruger is faced with the greatest decision of his career. Is this the end of Special Agent Sean Kruger? You’ll have to read it to find out! You won’t be disappointed.
Pages: 317 | ASIN: B01JAW1VI8
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