OK, I need to back up a bit before I annotate the second chapter. The first chapter introduces the plot, and maybe you wonder where that came from.

Superior Justice was actually inspired by a true event. In the 1990s, in a small town in Northern Minnesota (though not on Lake Superior), a teenage girl was kidnapped and killed. Eventually, the killer was caught. While he was awaiting trial, he called a Twin Cities news station and confessed. But later, he retracted the confession. My conspiracy-prone mind starting ticking. One night, watching the news, there was a picture of him being led toward a courtroom, wearing a flak-jacket. I thought it was silly. In the 90’s they did not have any flak-jackets capable of stopping an ordinary hunting-rifle bullet. The retracted confession, and the idea of someone shooting a prisoner with a hunting rifle started bouncing around in my mind, and formed the kernel plot of Superior Justice.

I took several runs at the first chapter. First, I wrote in third-person, and detailed how the killer got away with it. It was great. But, like Stephen King says, sometimes you have kill your writing babies. It just didn’t work for me as part of the book. So even though it is quite clear to me how the killer managed to kill Spooner and get away, it isn’t actually described in detail in the novel. Eventually, I decided I wanted a tightly-focused first person perspective, so I had to scrap that scene anyway. I wrote again in first person, and the result was – OK.

But about that time in my life, I started reading Raymond Chandler and Robert B. Parker. I knew then that Jonah Borden was going to be something like Philip Marlowe or Spenser, with a little more of a conscience. I don’t believe I am a copy-cat, but I fully acknowledge my debt to Chandler and Parker for helping me to discover my “hard-boiled” voice.


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