Welcome to our Saturday Spotlight, here on Alternative-Read.com – Today we are really pleased to welcome bestselling author, Michael Connelly!
Fair Warning by Michael Connelly brings back two of his best characters, journalist Jack McEvoy, and former FBI Agent Rachel Walling. Connelly, the master of mysteries, seems to have a ten-year-interval between series books. This hero and heroine were first introduced in one of the best suspense novels ever written, The Poet. Ten years later they came back in The Scarecrow, and now they are partners again in this book.
The book begins with the killing of a female during a sexual encounter. After being questioned by two police detectives, Jack McEvoy becomes a person of interest. It seems he had a one-night stand with the woman in the past. Against the warning of the police Jack decides to investigate and finds that there are other women killed in the same manner. Disguised as an accident, they have died of atlantooccipital dislocation, a broken neck, from a fall or by other means. What links the women together is that all of them had signed up for a DNA site called GT23. Jack believes they were victims of cyberstalking and convinces his skeptical editor that this indeed is a FairWarning story. GT23 charges users only $23, explaining in the fine print in its contracts that the low fee is possible because the company sells data to various users. It doesn’t disclose that such companies sometimes resell the information. What the women, DRD4 or “dirty four”, have in common is that they have an addiction gene, either alcohol, drugs, or sex.
Knowing he cannot investigate on his own, Jack asks his former girlfriend, Rachel Walling, to help out. The two pick up where they left off two years ago, both professionally and personally. Together they find that the women’s information is sold to incel (involuntary celibate) men, who blame women for their inability to find sex partners. One of these women-haters is the killer known as the Shrike. They race to find the killer before he strikes again, putting their lives in danger.
Connelly fans will not be disappointed with this gripping and riveting plot. The main characters are a fabulous team that makes the story stand out. Readers will be on the edge of their seats and can only hope that the next book with this duo happens much sooner than later.
Elise Cooper: Why bring Jack and Rachel back now?
Michael Connelly: This book is a reflection on what is going on with journalism now. This has always been an interest and focus of mine. The last few years there has been an era of “fake news,” and reporters labeled enemies of the people. It has bothered me because I had been a reporter for fourteen years. I know a free media is so important to society. I wanted to write a story showing an unbiased and undaunted journalist doing his job.
EC: The series with Jack and Rachel always seems to have warnings about technology?
MC: There is an evolution of technology in the series. For every great stride made with technology there has to be someone to figure out how to use it against us. The Poet, that came out in 1996, showed how technology was used by pedophiles. The Scarecrow was about digital security of information stored on the so-called “Cloud.” This book delves into privacy issues regarding DNA.
EC: Did something spark your interest regarding this storyline?
MC: Last year, I read a storyline where the Pentagon warned people about DNA sites. I put this quote in the book, “Did you know that this year the Pentagon told all member of the military not to do DNA kits because of the security issues they pose?” This sparked my imagination and interest. The old reporter in me found this world is pretty much unregulated. The government is studying what regulations should be put on this billion-dollar industry. Because the government moves slowly there has been no oversight and leaves a place for corruption. I put my research into the book. I like it when there is a blurred line between reality and fiction.
EC: Is the website true?
MC: FairWarning is a real news site offering tough watchdog reporting on consumer issues. It is a nonprofit founded by Myron Levin, who is Jack’s editor in the book. I am a member of FairWarning’s board of directors. To find out more information just go to FairWarning.org. I want readers to understand this is not science fiction.
EC: How would you describe Jack?
MC: Jack is a paranoid guy, but has legitimate concerns about how secure is any information. As a journalist he seeks to wander if that paranoia is valid. Because he has a single-minded drive and is so career-oriented he appears rough and is hard to like. He speaks first and thinks later. Since this is a book about DNA I would say that in the center of his DNA is ‘I must protect my story from everyone,’ including other reporters, the police, his boss, and even Rachel. This is not a great way to function, but he is set in his way. He realizes he is not bound by the ethics of law enforcement, but bound by the ethics of journalism.
EC: How would you describe Rachel, a badass who kicks butts?
MC: Rachel is not tough to like. I think readers like her on the first page they meet her. There has to be a DNA gene for female fierceness, which is what she has. She is fiercely protective of what is important to her. She fiercely has the ideas of fairness and righteousness. She is a great role model for anyone that sees women as fierce fighters who stand up for justice. I think Rachel is the ultimate hero of these stories. She is tough and is the centerline to keep Jack from flying out of orbit. Although no longer an FBI Agent, Rachel is able to give the law enforcement aspect with her connections.
EC: What role does their relationship play in the book?
MC: Jack is able to connect more with readers through his relationship with Rachel. They are made for each other in short bursts because they cannot go the distance. They always seem to be entangled with each other. Besides being a character in her own right, she is like the carnival barker that gets people into the Jack tent. They go in because of her. Unlike this couple, I do not have it in my own life. I have been happily married for 36 years. I am writing about something that is not akin to me, which for me, makes it fascinating to write about.
EC: In all the books of this series there is the “bullet quote?”
MC: You are referencing when Rachel told Jack that she believed everybody had somebody out there in the world who could pierce their heart like a bullet. Not everybody had the good fortune of meeting that person, and not everybody could hold on to that person if they did meet. For Jack and Rachel there had never been any doubt. Her name was on the bullet that pierced Jack and he was the one that pierced Rachel’s heart. I can still remember when I wrote those lines.
EC: There is also a quote that complements the “bullet quote?”
MC: Yes, this Jack quote, “My interactions with her had spanned nearly twenty-five years and had been hot and cold, intense and distant, intimate and strictly professional, and ultimately heartbreaking. From the beginning, she had left a hole in my heart that could never quite heal. I could go years without seeing her but I could never stop thinking about her.” It is filtered in the whole world of books that have Rachel and Jack.
EC: Would you ever consider a TV show with this series?
MC: I would love that. Over the years I developed it, but it has never gone forward. Jack does not carry a gun and his true role in society is to observe, not to push the action. He only pushes the action because Rachel is with him. I think a better thing to do is to serialize the story telling, like the Bosch series, where a book is carried over a whole season.
EC: In this season 6 of the Bosch TV series on Amazon the FBI Agent was not Rachel, as it was in the book, The Overlook?
MC: Yes, because I did not want to give Rachel’s character up in Bosch. Then I would never be able to make a TV show with someone else because Amazon would have all the rights to her character. I am thinking ahead that the books with Jack and Rachel would spawn some interest.
EC: Also, in the Amazon series you took a page out of Hitchcock, a “where’s Michael?”
MC: I implant myself, which was fun to do. I am not at the set every day so the director asked me if I wanted to be in it. Last year I made an appearance and this year as well.
EC: What about your next book?
MC: I do want to get back to Rachel and Jack sooner than the ten-year gap. I just do not have a plan yet, but am hopeful we will see them fairly soon.
My next book will have Mickey Haller, entitled The Law of Innocence. I try to make my books very contemporary, and so it was actually set in April of this year. Then the virus happens, and we just don’t know how we come out of this, or where we are going. It is a courtroom drama and there are no courtrooms because everything was shut down. I had to retool and rethink. So rather than it starting in April, it now starts in December or may go into next year. The plot has Mickey Haller accused of a murder and is jailed. He strategizes his defense from a jail cell.
HOW DO YOU FIND A KILLER WHO KNOWS EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU?
Jack McEvoy is a reporter with a track record in finding killers. But he’s never been accused of being one himself.
Jack went on one date with Tina Portrero. The next thing he knows, the police are at his house telling Jack he’s a suspect in her murder.
Maybe it’s because he doesn’t like being accused of a crime he didn’t commit. Or maybe it’s because the method of her murder is so chilling that he can’t get it out of his head.
But as he uses his journalistic skills to open doors closed to the police, Jack walks a thin line between suspect and detective – between investigation and obsession – on the trail of a killer who knows his victims better than they know themselves…
* * * * *
CRIME DOESN’T COME BETTER THAN CONNELLY.
‘One of the very best writers working today in any genre’ Sunday Telegraph
‘The pre-eminent detective novelist of his generation’ Ian Rankin
‘Crime thriller writing of the highest order’ Guardian
‘A superb natural storyteller’ Lee Child
‘A master’ Stephen King
‘A genius’ Independent on Sunday
‘America’s greatest living crime writer’ Daily Express
‘No one writes a better modern thriller than Connelly’ Evening Standard
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