Auntie M is happy to have interviewed author Jeffery B. Burton, whose first thriller, The Chessman could be a game of chess, with strategy needed when ex-FBI agent, Drew Cady, finds himself on the trail of serial killer who left him physically and emotionally damaged, the reason for his early retirement.
When an SEC commissioner is murdered, a chess piece, this time a clear glass queen, is found inserted into the wound. This is the MO of the serial killer known as The Chessman, Cady’s nemesis.
But is the notorious killer back at work? Or is someone copycatting his methods, and how will the real killer react? And how does this all tie in to a host of investment CEO’s who can out Madox the real Bernie?
Cady will find himself mixed up in a far-reaching conspiracy as the chase to save lives heats up and takes him on a roller coaster investigation to bring down all of the players in this fast-paced thriller.
Burton follows this enthralling debut with The Lynchpin, out now, bringing back Cady and his fiancee’ Terri Ingram, just the right kind of love interest for the FBI agent who keeps trying to retire.
Recuperating from his injuries in the first book, Cady is helping Terri run her resort in northern Minnesota and works only part-time for the FBI’s Medicare Fraud Strike Force there. He should be low key now, he’s convinced, facing white collar criminals, and Cady is enjoying an easier lifestyle.
Then a young woman’s body is pulled from Lake Superior outside Duluth, and her manner of death bears the hallmark of a sadistic killer. Just as Cady is sucked back in to this investigation, he learns that his former boss, Assistant Director of CID Roland Jund, has killed a fellow agent and is accused of being a spy.
Cady knows nothing could be further from the truth, but even as he tries to clear Jund’s name, he must pursue this brutal murderer. Another fast-paced and compelling thriller.
Now let’s hear from Jeffrey Burton:
AUNTIE M: You Iive in the Minneapolis area as does some of my family. It seems such an innocuous, wholesome place for crime, yet John Sandford has made it seem downright obnoxiously filled with criminal activity in his Prey novels and you’re doing a grand job with Drew Cady in this second book. How much does writing about your own area feel comfortable and also spooky? Do you ever get hate fan mail from your neighbors?
JEFFREY BURTON: Nearly half of The Lynchpin takes place in northern Minnesota, predominantly in Duluth. I lived in Duluth for a couple of college years, absolutely loved the city, but noticed that on overcast, foggy or rainy days, if you spotted a mansion on a hillside with Lake Superior in the background, it had the look and feel of a castle from one of the old Hammer horror films (starring Peter Cushing or Christopher Lee) where Van Helsing and company would have to journey their way through in order to find the vampire’s lair. And though The Lynchpin doesn’t contain a supernatural element, it does contain a certain amount of creepiness, and I always thought it would be fun to weave that kind of imagery into a scene. Needless to say, the Duluth City Council will not be voting to have a parade in my honor anytime soon.
My favorite neighbor stopped by after reading one of my novels and said, “Jeff – you’re an awesome neighbor and I enjoyed reading your mystery, but, based on your writing, I think I’m going to get a restraining order.”
I like to think he was joking.
AM: Your publisher is from the Isle of Man; how did you connect?
JB: MP Publishing, based in the Isle of Man, is relatively new to the scene. They began acquiring and distributing e-books in 2008. They released their first original title, a touching collection of essays by the likes of John Grisham and Pat Conroy called Don’t Quit Your Day Job: Acclaimed Authors and the Day Jobs They Quit in 2010.
The first book in the Agent Drew Cady series, The Chessman, was published by MacAdam/Cage Publishing. MacAdam/Cage had some great success with novels like The Time Traveler’s Wife, but, sadly, David Poindexter, MacAdam/Cage’s President—nice guy and incredible mentor—passed away in 2013 and MacAdam/Cage spiraled into bankruptcy in 2014 (twists and turns not only exist in mystery novels). The Lynchpin then worked its way from MacAdam/Cage to MP Publishing through mutual editors and I signed with MP in the fall of 2013.
AM: An an author I tell people all that time that each writer must find the routine that works for him or her and that these vary widely. Tell readers what a typical writing day for Jeffrey Burton is like.
JB: I’ll jot ideas down on a piece of scratch paper and toss them in my idea drawer. Then I’ll let them ferment for a while in order to frame the rest of the story. A few years back I’d jotted down “serial killer in hot pursuit of his own copycat.” Originally it was going to be a short story, something like Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado,” where the killer has caught his copycat and, while slowly obtaining his vengeance, he explains exactly why the copycat should never have insulted him by stealing his M.O. But the story kept getting longer and longer, and eventually it grew into The Chessman.
I’m a bit of a binge writer where, if I get in the zone, twelve hours fly past and I have to remind myself to let the dogs out. Usually this occurs when I get it stuck in my noggin that it’s of paramount importance that I complete a series of related scenes or chapters before my ideas fly away or my brain leaks out of my ear. Sometimes this goes on for days, which is a good thing as I’m able to make huge strides. And the dogs have for the most part been good – only a few messes.
AM: As a mystery writer, I know the ending when I start: who is the murderer and why–but I leave what I call the ‘muddled middle’ to figure out as I write. Are you a writer who plots and outlines the entire novel or do you allow for happenstance?
JB: When I begin writing a mystery novel, I’ll come up with a concept that I feel would be interesting to pursue. I’ll put together an informal outline as everything is subject to change once I begin writing. Sometimes I’ll head off in a completely different direction – uncharted territory – and then I’m forced to go back and update my outline.
AM: What’s on your nightstand To Be Read pile?
JB: I’m all caught up on Michael Connelly, Lee Child, John Sandford, Gillian Flynn, and Barry Eisler, but I’ve just begun reading novels by James Ellroy and William Kent Krueger. Plenty of page-turners to keep me up all hours of the night.
AM:Finally, what’s next for Drew Cady?
JB: I’ve begun work on the next Drew Cady mystery, tentatively titled The Eulogist.
Author Bio: Jeffrey B. Burton’s mystery/thriller, The Chessman (a serial killer is in hot pursuit of his own copycat), came out to excellent reviews in 2012. Jeff’s short stories have appeared in dozens of genre magazines (mystery, horror, sci-fi, literary). Jeff’s short story, “The Soul Fish,” received Honorable Mention in Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year in 2010. “High Score” and “In This the Era of the Great Wilting” were both published in Murky Depths in the time period that Murky Depths won the British Fantasy Award for Best Magazine. “The Mourning” and “Letters of Transit” were miniStory winners in the MNArtists.org MNLit contest in 2008 and 2010, respectively. Jeff is an active member of the Mystery Writers of America (MWA), the Horror Writers Association (HWA), and International Thriller Writers (ITW).