Death Never Lies by David Grace – Janet Walker Book Review

Death Never LiesSince 9/11 Homeland Security has been at the top of every western nation’s clipboard – how to keep the bad guys out and foil terrorist plots before they can kill or maim law abiding citizens is a growth industry.

What do you do though, if seemingly good guys, who live nearby, are really bad guys with access to automatic weapons and prohibited substances?

Getting in touch with Homeland Security Agent, Greg Kane would certainly help. Greg, the main protagonist in David Grace’s new suspense thriller, Death Never Lies, is charged with the job of finding and stopping malcontents who want to wreak havoc on society.

A former Homicide Detective, Kane, in a shootout in which his partner died was clipped by a bullet.

The subsequent mild brain injury he suffered produced in him: a higher degree of investigative perception and a lower degree of tolerance for workplace associates.

A powerhouse crime solver, Kane is unable to find a new partner because of his anti-social attitude. He is asked by the powers-that-be to report for work someplace else.

He joins Homeland Security and is partnered with Grant Eustace, a guy with an ego as big as Texas and a brain the size of a pea. Kane, frustrated by his partner’s attention seeking style gets the investigating done, leaving the paperwork to Eustace.

David GraceWriter, David Grace does dialogue and character sketches really well; Kane’s terse conversations with and thoughts about ‘Useless’ (his name for Eustace) are funny and right on the money for a guy who not only doesn’t suffer fools gladly, doesn’t suffer them at all.

There are two story strands in this classy fast paced thriller: the disappearance of an HHS director who was about to issue a new list of prohibited chemicals and the coercion of a Supreme Court Judge with a view to altering his vote in a review of legislation which affects US gun laws.

Agent Kane is contacted by a friend who requests him to investigate the lack of communication by Health and Human Services, Deputy Director Brownstein.

Scheduled to review a list of biological agents and toxins to either ban or pass their usage, Brownstein isn’t answering his phone or anything else.

Kane gets involved and decides that the Deputy Director has probably been murdered to stop the items up for review being added to the HHS list of hazardous chemicals.

Without a clue as to which of the chemicals on the list might provide a lead to Brownstein’s disappearance or why the importation and sale would be important enough to demand his possible homicide, Kane plunges headfirst into the investigation. He discovers a more than likely link between a cold case: the escape of a federal prisoner two years ago and Brownstein’s no-show.

Kane’s nephew and another officer were transporting the dangerous prisoner when all three vanished. Kane is sure the prisoner, head honcho of an underground terrorist cell, organised his escape – the deaths of the officers, part of the plan. The fate of his nephew, an on-going heartache, Kane’s determined to find how the two cases intersect and solve the mystery behind all the disappearances.

FBIMeanwhile, partner Eustace, thinks that finding leads for the FBI in their investigation of a threat to harm a Supreme Court Judge will improve his chances of promotion. He asks Kane how to go about this. Kane, relieved he can get rid of ‘Useless’ for a while tells him to look into the security risk posed by the judge’s daughter, a former drug user. Eustace sets up surveillance on the daughter but alas, his dreams of promotion don’t come to fruition.

Kane lucks onto an affair with a hot babe who like himself has a flawed past but who cares? The sex is great and nothing or no one is forever. The meets between Kane and the woman who just might turn out to be a soul-mate are well written – the dialogue appropriate, the description steamy.

Kane gets seconded to the FBI to continue Eustace’s aborted investigation. His two investigations intertwine and the heat is on – the story pace increases to can’t-put-down got-to-know-what-happens level as in a hugely exciting conclusion Greg Kane puts his life on the line to make sure the bad guys get what’s coming to them and lay to rest the fate of his nephew and Director Brownstein.

City ScapeThe author of Death Never Lies, David Grace is the pen name for David M. Alexander.

Born in Upstate New York, he received a Doctor of Laws degree from the University of California and was licensed to practice law in California, and in 1977, was authorized to argue cases before the Supreme Court of the United States.

A writer of mysteries, science fiction, magazine short stories, a TV series episode and fifteen novels, the film rights for his book, My Real Name Is Lisa were optioned for a considerable amount of money for a television movie but because of casting issues the project was terminated. Initially published under the name of David Alexander, it has been re-published as Stolen Angel by David Grace.

Despite all these writing credits and David Grace continuing to write intriguing, suspenseful books he is yet to be where he belongs – on a bestseller list.

Books-and-ChocolaqteI put the questions below to David about his writing process and life as an independent writer:

1) Greg Kane is an interesting volatile kind of guy. When did he start telling you his story and what prompted a plot based around Homeland Security?

Many years ago I was thinking about a hero who was a brilliant, pain-in-the-butt detective. I outlined an entire book and wrote the first three chapters but the story wasn’t going in a direction that I liked. It became clear to me that it was turning into a rather typical thriller where the emphasis was on the clues and not on the people. Put another way, it was an intellectual, puzzle story, not an emotional story, so I put it in the drawer.

I never forgot the idea of that character but I didn’t know how to change it to make it work. When I realized that Greg Kane was the way he was because of a head wound and that he didn’t want to be a pain-in-the-butt guy and was trying to overcome his personality change I realized that I had something that could form an emotional core to the story. It was then that I began plotting Death Never Lies.

I knew that Kane’s becoming a difficult person had to have consequences, things that motivated him to want to change. Those consequences were the destruction of his marriage and the loss of his job with the Baltimore PD. Kane needed a new law-enforcement job so that left the FBI, DEA, etc. I thought Homeland Security would be an interesting place to put him.

2) Are we going to hear more from Greg – is there another story from Agent Kane in the pipeline?

There might be another Greg Kane story. I don’t have one in mind right this moment. I need something emotional to get my blood pumping. Writing a novel is a great deal of work. As an independent author it’s very difficult to sell books because you’re buried in a flood of other books. No one can find you. That means that there is no economic incentive to write. There’s no money in it for me. I need something else to motivate me to do all that work. My only incentive to write is the desire to tell an exciting, emotional story. I have to enjoy the process and I need to create something I’m proud of.

So, sure, if I could think of the right story I would bring Greg Kane back.

3) What’s next for you?

I’ve completed the outline for the next book and I’m just about to start writing Chapter One. For the first time I’m returning to characters from a previous book, namely Death Never Sleeps. The new book will feature Detective Chris Hunter and will start about a year after the conclusion of Death Never Sleeps.

The new book began with an idea that I’ve had for a long time but I never had a story to go with it. Ideas and stories are different things. Ideas may give rise to stories but they are not stories. Anyway, I spent a great deal of time figuring out a story that would fit with the idea and that would have an emotional core that excited me. It now looks like this will be a long book. I’m guessing over 120,000 words.

I’m hoping I can cut it down and still tell the story I want to tell but it will end up as long as it needs to be.

Thanks to David Grace for his insight into how an idea becomes a story and with a lot of sweat, blood and maybe a few tears becomes a novel.

Death Never Lies, a David Grace thriller, is great for holiday or any time reading; I liked it a lot.

Janet Walker, Special Features Victoria, The Culture Concept Circle, 2014

Title: Death Never Lies
Author: David Grace
Publisher: Wildside Press
Available: www.bookoffers.com.au

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