|Last Shanahan, May 1 Release|
My new book, Killing Frost won’t be released until May 1. The good news is that Amazon and B&N are offering pre-release discounts on advance orders. Some bookstores might do so as well if you place an advance order through them. This is good for collectors, I suspect. So too is the fact that this is the last Shanahan novel and also celebrates the veteran detective’s 25th anniversary in print.
It’s a fairly big deal for me. The first book, Stone Veil made a good impression back in 1990 when it launched, and the reviews of all 10 published so far — Killing Frost being the 11th — have encouraged me and its publisher, the UK’s Severn House, to keep the Shanahan books coming. Some writers say they don’t read reviews. That’s probably true in some cases. I won’t pretend I don’t care about reviews. I do care. I eagerly and anxiously await them for this new book as well, understanding that just because I believe it is one of my best doesn’t make it so. But I do believe it is.
Why is this the last in the series?
|The First Ten Shanahans|
There have been discussions about how many books are reasonable for any given series. The authors of the excellent Martin Beck novels said that ten was enough. Writers disagree. So do readers. Agatha Christie wrote 33 Hercule Poirot mysteries and 12 featuring Miss Marple. There were 75 novels in Georges Simenon’s Maigret series. Robert B. Parker wrote 40 Spenser novels. His series, like Mickey Spillane’s legendary Mike Hammer, continues beyond the creator’s death. Other writers stepped in (good ones, thankfully), pushing for an endless series of each – immortality of sorts.
But Shanahan was 69 when he first appeared (don’t try to do the math) and I was very interested in the aging process as part of his character and perspective on the times. I knew there weren’t that many stories. I can’t be sure what I would have done if Shanahan had achieved the status of some of the other fictional private eyes. Even so, there is a kind of emotional satisfaction having come full circle, having finished what I started, being able to wrap it up myself.
|First Shanahan, 1990|
When I heard about the authors pulling Beck after ten, I was ready to do the same. I did some tidying up at the end of Bullet Beach, my tenth novel about Shanahan and his love, Maureen. However, I had spent a couple of decades writing about the elderly detective, when at his fictional departure, I began to personally experience what age really does to our ability to function. After all, I began writing about the 70ish private eye when I was in my forties. I’ve now caught up with my aging protagonist. I wrote a novella to incorporate this new perspective. But the unexpected continued to intrude and there was a separate, more substantial novel brewing even as I finished the novella. The novel became Killing Frost.
As the Shanahan years end, I continue to write. In May Killing Frost will appear. This fall, the novella, Blue Dragon, will be released by Raven Books, an imprint of Canadian publisher, Orca. This marks a focus on different people and different places as well as different approaches to the mystery genre. And all this brings with it a kind of excitement that my aging gray matter could use.