Necessary Ends by Tina Whittle
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Necessary Ends by Tina Whittle highlights Tai Randolph and Trey Seaver, detective partners and partners in life. Whittle’s writing style pulls readers into the story from page one. This novel combines an action-packed plot with great banter dialogue and a psychological aspect.
Trey Seaver is haunted by the one that got away, a murder of a Hollywood producer’s wife in Atlanta during a filming. Now, about four years later it appears someone wants the producer, Nick Talbot dead. Trey is asked to investigate since he was one of the officers at the crime scene and now is working for a corporate security firm. He tries to use all the skills learned as a former SWAT officer with the Atlanta Police Department. Forced into retirement by a horrific car crash that gave him TBI he now has a new skill, being able to detect someone lying with a high degree of accuracy. His girlfriend, Tai, an amateur sleuth and a gun shop owner is helping him solve the mystery.
This series explores what happens to someone with TBI. Since Trey has frontal lobe damage his cognitive impairments include language processing and executive function, the control centre of the personality. There is also an exploration of PTSD which Tai has after being kidnapped and almost killed. At night she experiences nightmares, an increase in her heart rate, and becomes delirious. Readers will learn about re-enactment therapy, dissociation, a psychological reaction to overwhelming stress, and decompensation.
All of this plays out in the Southern setting. The characters must navigate lies, lust, and betrayals to find who is behind the original killing and the attempted murder. The powerful theme of vengeance, justice, and playing by the rules keeps the intensity of the plot.
Interview with Elise Cooper: How did you get the idea for the series?
Tina Whittle: I was reading ‘Scientific America’ one day. In it was an article about people who have damage to a very specific part of their brain. They have a hard time expressing language, but were better at telling if others were lying. I wanted a character with some cognitive problems and unable to tell their story.
EC: Is that how Tai is born?
TW: Yes. I thought who would make a good partner for someone recovering from this psychological issue. This is when Tai came into my fictional world. She became the narrator for the story and it is filtered through her perspective. I want to emphasize that Trey is as much a part of the plot as she is. They are both partners in solving a crime and are involved in a relationship.
EC: You show that even civilians can get PTSD?
TW: As a consequence of violence people can get PTSD even if they watched it or are threatened by it. I think PTSD has the brain go into protective mode as it tries to keep that person alive and safe.
EC: Did you know anyone with TBI?
TW: My very close friend has it. Watching him negotiate his life afterwards was profoundly inspiring. Every day he requires a dose of courage. Another friend of mine, after reading the first book, told me she had it. She explained that when she returned to her house the first time she felt it belonged to someone else. I saw how it is really challenging for the loved ones. One of the questions I try to explore is, what makes us who we are? The brain is the great unchartered world of science. We can explain more about the universe than what goes on in our own skulls. I think the psychological aspect in my books runs hand in hand with the mystery.
EC: There is a lot of information on guns in this book. Are you a gun person?
TW: How do you define a gun person? I grew up with guns, have owned guns, and practice regularly with guns. The only gun I currently own is my grandpa’s antique revolver, but I do rent weapons at the range. I also spoke with a friend who ran a gun shop for a while, with ATF agents, and with police officers. There is a divide between myself and my some of my characters since I do not carry a firearm every day.
EC: In this book you do have some gun commentary?
TW: I am a gun owner and I do support the Second Amendment. I hope to show what responsible guns owners look like versus those who are not. Tai considers guns to be tools, yet she also says, “Some people poured all their crazy into whatever they touched, and a gun sopped up crazy like a sponge.” I show Tai training regularly because I see what happens to those who do not. I did the Firearms Simulation Training at the Writers’ Police Academy. I was in a room and my body responded as if it were real: my adrenaline kicked in, my heart started pumping, and I began to sweat. I lost all of my targeting skills and I could not see the peripheral. I did shoot up the bad guy but also took down a TSA agent, a random businessman, and a honeymoon couple.
EC: You also had a scene about a straw purchase?
TW: Yes, when someone wanted to buy a gun. Tai knew the woman was buying it for her boyfriend who was waiting in the car outside. She emphasizes that as a responsible person who follows the law, she is not going to sell a gun to that person. I really hope to show that there are certain people who should not have one, there should be places where they are not allowed, and times that they should be off limits. I think we can create legislation that doesn’t infringe on anyone’s Constitutional rights and also keeps society safe.
EC: How would you describe Trey?
TW: Confident, patient, organized, and clear headed. He is really good with anything he has muscle memory for. Off the cuff stuff tends to trip him up. He has learned to get better with emotional expression, putting a lock on whatever it is that comes out of his head and into his mouth. He is now contained and in control. At times he can be awkward, unsure of himself and passive.
EC: How would you describe Tai?
TW: She is Trey’s counterpart emotionally. She can express herself easily and is assertive to the point of aggression, very direct.
EC: These characters have very different personalities?
TW: They perceive the world differently. Trey is a Virgo and Tai is an Aires. My editor said this about both of them: Trey has armor on the outside, but once you get past that you have full access to all of him. Whereas, Tai is easily accessed, but has built a wall around her heart. They are challenged with their past pain but deal with it very differently.
EC: Please explain the book quote, “Life could go sideways in the blink of an eye.”
TW: It is a world view that my characters and I share. Life is divided into a before and after moment, whether an accident of the loss of a loved one. Everything gets flipped in a second. This is what my characters wrestle with and something I think about philosophically. Yet, we still have to make plans, make choices, and move forward. There is a famous philosopher who said, ‘know the tides to which you move.’
EC: You also have a quote about Hollywood: “Maybe they existed in a world where things were true simply because they wanted them to be.” Please explain.
TW: I think when people become very successful they can lose the ability to empathize or connect with others. They surround themselves with people who tell them just what they want to hear and quickly develop a warped sense of reality that includes a warped sense of themselves in that reality. They are disconnected.
EC: Are you a math person?
TW: You are referring to the trigonometry reference in the book. I find it fascinating just as much as words and sentences. At Writers, I took a session on sniper craft. I met this guy who I based Trey on. He was a sniper and he had the same personality and demeanor. He built this bubble around his perimeter. When he showed us his rifle it had these tiny algorithms on the side that he calculates mainly in his head. I wanted to show that Trey knows that a sniper is a mathematically oriented job and he also can use his ability to think mathematically, the logical progression, in his investigations.
EC: What do you want readers to get out of the book besides good entertainment?
TW: What are the similarities and differences between vengeance and justice? Both the murderer and the victim are disrupters of order. The job of a sleuth is to put the order back by figuring out who is the killer. People cannot step outside the law and decide for themselves what rules will apply and what rules have failed them.
EC: What about your next book?
TW: Both characters will go in a different direction professionally and personally.
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