Today we are really pleased to welcome bestselling author, Marc Cameron.
Open Carry and Stone Cross (Arliss Cutter Series) by Marc Cameron
Kensington Pub. #Mystery #Thriller
Arliss Cutter is the main character in a new series by Marc Cameron who has spent 29 years in law enforcement. In early 1991, he accepted a position with the US Marshals Service where he moved through the ranks to finally retire as chief of the District of Alaska. With his vast experience, Cameron is able to create realistic stories, characters, and descriptive settings.
The main character, somewhat based on Cameron, has a strong sense of doing the right thing in the name of justice. He deals with bullies in a swift, uncompromising manner, and is not afraid to put his life on the line to protect and defend the innocent. Able to exude competence, he is smart, experienced, capable, and now is part of the elite Fugitive Task Force. After enlisting in the military, fighting in the Middle East, and working three field positions for the Marshal Service, Cutter requests a transfer to Alaska to be closer to his late brother’s wife and children.
The first book in the series, Open Carry, introduces very intriguing secondary characters. Cutter’s partner, Deputy Lola Fontaine, is gutsy and a good contrast to Arliss. His grandfather, Grumpy, raised Cutter and his brother, teaching him rules of life that are now being passed on to the nephews he is helping to raise. There are two strong women in Cutter’s life, Chief Jill Phillips and his sister-in-law Mim.
Open Carry has Cutter and Fontaine trying to find three people who have disappeared on the Prince of Wales Island in Alaska. Two are crew members of a reality TV show. The other is a Tlingit Indian girl who had the misfortune of witnessing the drug cartels horrific acts. Cutter’s job is to find them, and track down those responsible.
Stone Cross, the next in the series, has Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal Arliss Cutter and his partner, Lola Teariki, reluctantly escorting a federal judge, who has received a death threat, to the rural village of Stone Cross. Their assignment is to protect him. But it takes a chilling turn, when they learn that a local couple have gone missing and their handyman murdered. Cut off from any immediate help due to inclement weather, Cutter and Lola must brave freezing snow and ice to go after a killer and probable kidnapper.
The author brings the Alaskan setting to life with the freezing storms, deep water, and dark, old-growth forests. The characters are multi-dimensional, quirky, and have traits that make readers care about them.
Elise Cooper: How did you get the idea for the series?
Marc Cameron: I worked for the US Marshals where my assignments spanned protective details of Supreme Court justices and foreign dignitaries, Witness Protection details, and boots-on-the-ground law enforcement in the aftermath of hurricanes like Andrew or Katrina. Twenty years ago, I was on a tactical tracking unit in Alaska. This was the first time I was in Alaska. I knew then that it would make a great setting for a book.
EC: What about the second book, Stone Cross?
MC: Stone Cross describes the protection detail of a Federal Judge, which is a big part of what Marshalls do. I think in the book it was a realistic portrayal. The Judge was based on judges I know, some quirky, some arrogant, some caring, and some kind.
EC: Does the Alaska setting play a role in your books?
MC: In all the books in the series, Alaska will be a main character. There are so many places to write about including the Southeast, western interior, the arctic tundra, the cities, and the rainforest. In the first book, Bush Alaska is the setting with endless miles of tundra, herds of caribou, salmon-choked rivers, and some really big bears. I felt like I’d been dropped into the pages of a National Geographic magazine. We’ve lived here 20 years now, and I still feel that way. In the second book, Stone Cross, I wanted to show the culture, the dog-sledding, fights, sexual assaults, and the tattoos. It is called the Last Frontier because people who want to make a new life come here as well as those who want to hide form their former life. Fugitives are fairly common because they come here to hide.
EC: Is that why you made Arliss Cutter a tracker?
MC: Yes. A team is sent to track a fugitive. Some who are not tracking have their eyes up searching. We would rotate out and take a position of guard. A lot of the characters’ adventures are drawn from my time in Alaska.
EC: How would you describe Arliss?
MC: He is a Gary Cooper type of hero: quiet, an observer, inquisitive, and hard-nosed. He wants to help others, strong, courageous, protective, someone who loves his family. He rarely smiles so it seems like he has a bad temper, but that’s not it at all. He’s a big, imposing guy who will suffer virtually any insult against himself personally, but he will not allow another to be bullied. There is a line he will not allow others to cross, no matter the consequences. He’s the type to put himself in the middle of a confrontation. He has built barriers and is troubled, trying to redeem a wrong action, even though he was not in the wrong.
EC: Why make him an Afghan vet?
MC: I have plenty of friends in this position. I wanted him to have this incident that makes Arliss not put up with any wrong doing, ever. It is all in his mind that he did something wrong and wants to make amends now.
EC: Please describe Lola?
MC: Strong-willed, young, addicted to exercise. She is Polynesian because my wife and I spend two-three months of every year in the South Pacific, and I wanted a character with a different backround. She is Cutter’s “Jimmy Cricket.”
EC: Jimmy Cricket?
MC: Arliss jumps to help others to quickly. He goes after bullies. From Lola’s point of view, she thinks he might fly off the handle. She becomes his extra conscience and is able to say, “slow down.” She is his extra balance, while he is her mentor.
EC: How would you describe Mim, the sister-in-law?
MC: Sweet, trying to overcome hardships, a peaches and cream kind of girl. I think she is a calming influence in Arliss’ life. As a nurse she has learned to be a healer.
EC: How would you describe Chief Jill Phillips?
MC: She is based on a female chief I had after moving to Alaska. She has no filters and says what is on her mind, a straight-shooter. A boss who wants to nurture and mentor people. She keeps her private life private.
EC: In the book you explain the hierarchy of the Marshall service?
MC: The position of a US Marshall is filled by presidential appointments that change with the tides of whoever is in the White House. Chief Deputy, like Jill Phillips, is a civil service position. The position she is in, I held for the last six years of my Marshall service. The chief is the boss’s boss where the supervisors like Cutter report to her. The deputies report to Cutter. It is like the Marshall is the CEO and the Chief is the COO. There is currently a good Marshall in Alaska who is a West Point grad and a former police chief. He is non-partisan.
EC: Arliss has a Colt Python?
MC: He is old school. It was his grandfather’s weapon that ties him to his grandfather. When I started out in law enforcement everyone carried revolvers. I did not carry a Python because I could not afford one. Now everyone carries a Glock. I think Arliss wants to hold on to the old ways, similar to a gun fighter of the Old West that carries the gun on his hip.
EC: How would you describe Grandpa Grumpy?
MC: He was a Florida Marine patrol officer who never put up with BS. He raised Arliss and his brother with these rules that he made up as he went along. Most of them were how a man should comport himself: always look sharp, show gratitude, be slow to anger, be quick to action. For boys to become men that had to have the skills to start a fire, sharpen a knife, saddle a horse, navigate by the stars, and cook.
EC: Is it true about eating the fat behind a Caribou’s eyes?
MC: Yes. If will keep someone warm after eating it. Those who work in the cold burn about 5000 calories a day. It is called Eskimo Ice Cream that has the Caribou fat, berries, and sugar. I think it tastes like butter crème frosting. It will warm someone from the inside out.
EC: You are pretty brave since you wounded two dogs?
MC: I dedicated Stone Cross to the Anchorage Police Department K9 dog Midas, his partner Officer Brandon Ottis and all the K9 teams at APD. Readers should remember the bad guys wounded them not me. I am a dog lover. I consider dog and handler to be equal partners.
EC: What is a VPSO, like Ned Japer in Stone Cross?
MC: They are the village public safety officers. They only have a taser and a stick, no gun. Many times, they have to arrest their own family members. Most of them, probably 90%, are native Alaskans.
EC: A shout out about your next book?
MC: It is titled Bone Rattle and is set in Southeast Alaska, the Juno area. There will be a lot of tracking because the mines there are deep and underground. It is a murder mystery.
If you liked this interview
Open Carry by Marc Cameron
“Cameron creates sympathetic heroes, depraved villains, and nail-biting action.”
—Publishers Weekly,STARRED REVIEW
ALASKAN CRIME, AMERICAN JUSTICE
Raised in the swamplands of Florida, U.S. Marshal Arliss Cutter is a born tracker. After enlisting in the military, fighting in the Middle East, and working three field positions for Marshal Services, Cutter is sent to the icy wastelands of southeast Alaska. Three people have disappeared on Prince of Wales Island.
Two are crew members of the reality TV show, Alaska Adventure Jobs. The other is a Tlingit Indian girl who had the misfortune of witnessing their murders. Cutter’s job is to find the bodies, examine the crew’s footage for clues, and track down the men who killed them. Easier said than done. Especially when the whole town is hiding secrets, the trail leads to a dead end—and the hunter becomes the prey . . .
MORE PRAISE FOR OPEN CARRY
“A terrific new series. Cameron brings the Alaskan wilderness to life.”
—The Real Book Spy
Stone Cross by Marc Cameron
“Cameron’s books are riveting page-turners.”
—Mark Greaney, #1 New York Times bestselling author
In a remote Alaskan village, Deputy US Marshal Arliss Cutter searches for a stone-cold killer amid a hotbed of corruption, lies, and long-buried secrets . . .
Winter comes early to the rural native community of Stone Cross, Alaska—and so does hunting season. Caribou and moose are a major source of food through the long, dark months ahead. But Arliss Cutter has come here for a very different game. A federal judge is receiving death threats and refuses protection. Cutter and his deputy Lola Teariki have been assigned to shadow him on his trip to this icy outland to make sure that he’s safe. But they quickly discover that no one is ever really safe in a place like this. And no one is above suspicion . . .
When Cutter and Lola arrive, the village is already gripped with fear. A young couple has disappeared from their fishing lodge, just eight miles upriver. Their handyman has been found dead, next to a crude drawing of a mysterious symbol. To make matters worse, a dense fog has descended on the region, isolating the town from civilization. With the judge’s life still at risk, and two people still missing, Cutter and Lola have their work cut out for them. But navigating the small-town customs and blood-bound traditions of this close-knit community won’t be easy. When the secrets come out, the deadly hunt is on . . .