Guest Blog by Author Jeffrey J. Mariotte

I have been chatting with Jeffrey for about a month now.  His new novel “Empty Rooms” will be published Feb 8, 2015 by WordFire Press.  We talked about the possibility of doing a guest blog and this is the result. We decided on a few topics to hit, but, overall I asked Jeffrey to write about his passion.

Thank you, Jeffrey!

Here is his blog…..enjoy:


The Author Who Wasn’t There

By Jeffrey J. Mariotte

empty roomsHaving been kindly invited to provide a guest post for what is one of the best blogs out there about our mutual passion—and I think “our” in this case means everyone who’s reading this—is an honor. And a little scary, because a lot of people will read this who might not know my name or my work, and I only have a few paragraphs to convince them that they should give my new book a try.

But then, scary is kind of what I do. Most of my novels have been supernatural thrillers or straight-up horror. I like combining elements of horror fiction with some of the aspects of thrillers that keep us up late,turning pages. Empty Rooms (published February 8 by WordFire Press), by contrast, is a pure thriller, with nothing supernatural about it. And it does, by all reports, keep people up late turning pages.

Writing the book was a step outside my comfort zone in multiple ways. It is, if the fates are kind, the first of a series, and I’m not typically a series guy. It’s a departure from my usual turf, which can also mean saying goodbye to some number of regular readers (and, one hopes, hello to a larger group of new ones). And it was a particularly challenging book to write, because it is, in large part, about two men’s search for a predator who preys on children, and has been doing so for a long time. I had to thread a needle, because I wanted it to be true and terrible without being exploitive or triggery. I’m told that I pulled it off, which is a relief, because that by itself was a scary thing to tackle.

But it’s also about much more than that. It’s about how the two characters, ex-cop Richie Krebbs and former FBI agent turned Detroit police detective Frank Robey, team up to find out what happened to Angela Morton, missing for thirteen years. It’s about how they stay human when they’re immersed in the worst of human behavior. It’s about courage and betrayal, honesty and stealth, love and hate. It’s about how men form friendships with each other, and maintain relationships with significant others. It’s about comic books and soul music and crime, and it’s informed, in part, by much of a working life spent in the comic book publishing and writing business, and by having written a true crime compendium of the worst of the worst.

I don’t know if this is how every writer works—in my experience, every writer’s approach is completely different from every other writer’s, although I feel instinctually that there must be some similarities somewhere. But in my case, writing a book (which I’ve done a lot—Empty Rooms is my 50th novel, or thereabouts) is a matter of combining the right set of ideas. No book—no good book—of more than 20 pages or so is born of one idea. And a lot of books start to be written (many of them by me) but are then abandoned, because it turns out that the ideas aren’t working together, aren’t gelling into a cohesive whole. The trick is to let one idea bounce around in the brain for a while, and at some point it’ll slam into another one and they’ll get along, and then they’ll sidle up to still another, and the next thing I know, that idea orgy is spilling out onto the page.

Empty Rooms grew out of the research I did for that true crime book, which required me to spend months studying the worst acts humans can commit. That research combined, after a while, with curiosity about how real-life investigators maintain some degree of humanity when those horrible things are their job, day in and day out, and not just an intellectual exercise. When what they do matters to actual humans. Then other ideas came along: the two characters, and how they would perform the delicate dance that happens when adult men meet and become friends; the idea that I wanted, after fifty-some books, to finally write about comic books; the fact that I wanted to explore Detroit in a fictional way (after exploring it in a physical way), and to let that troubled city serve as a metaphor for the lives of characters who were troubled themselves, but trying to rebuild.

Writing a book, basically, is the way that I figure out the world around me, and what my place in it is. It’s a way of trying on other lives, like suits of clothes, to find out what works and what doesn’t. It’s a way of creating some order from the chaos of life—and then, having plotted carefully and examined every component of the fictional work, making it look a little more chaotic than it really is, so readers recognize something of their own lives in it.

I write to find out who I am. To explain myself to myself, and then to the rest of the world. I write for my ideal reader, and I write to be widely read (or so I hope), because, after all of that organizing and ordering, I think I have something to say. And I think I can say it while keeping my readers up late, or ignoring household tasks, or skipping work, because they want to find out what happens next. After all, once I’ve written it and it’s out there, it belongs to the readers. Who I am isn’t their concern. They want to follow the characters, to celebrate their successes and mourn their failures and, most of all, to be surprised when they think they’ll be doing one and wind up doing the other.

jeffrey mariotteSo that, in the end, is the trick to the writing life. I write the book that could only come out of my head, making sense of the world as I see it, but then I have to disappear so the readers can put the story into their heads and allow it to help them make sense of their worlds.

Did I say there’s nothing supernatural in Empty Rooms? Maybe not in the story—but the act of writing it, or any book, becomes the greatest vanishing act of all.

“The Author Who Wasn’t There.”  That’s a pretty good title. I might have to use that one someday.

Empty Rooms online:

Amazon  (if purchased on you will help provide scholarships and spread the word for teens to Drive Safe!)

Barnes & Noble

February 2015 Thrillers


Happy reading!

January 2015 Thrillers

Firs time in a long time I received an email from the Thriller writers.

Happy Reading, Happy New Year.

“P is for Peril” by Sue Grafton

4-Watertowers (Kinsey is in Peril)

Genre: Mystery

Longtime Santa Teresa Geriatric Doctor, Dr. Dowan Purcell, is missing and his ex-wife has hired Kinsey Millhone to find him.

As Kinsey starts her investigation the complexity increases, as do the suspects.  Dr. Purcell has been running a local nursing home since his retirement and is embroiled in a possible fraudulent Medicare billing issue.

Some think that Dr. Purcell skipped town to avoid prosecution, others think he is dead. Either way, he has been gone for over 9 weeks now and he has never been gone that long (he has a history of leaving for periods of time).

In a side plot, Kinsey is looking for another office and finds herself involved with two brothers who are her future new landlords.

Kinsey has to find the one thread that unravels Dr. Purcell’s mystery and she needs to survive the brothers.  Does she?

“P is for Peril” is one of the best Sue Grafton books.  Sparkling mystery from beginning to end.  Only one problem….it does not end, it just stops.  Arrrghhh.

“The Cure” by Robin Cook

4-Watertowers(Laurie Montgomery Returns to Work)

Genre:  Medical Thriller

Rival gangs and rival companies in Japan and the U.S. are competing in the race to secure licensing rights to the next big thing:  regenerative medicine using pluripotent stem cells.

As the competition heats up…..death follows.

New York City Medical Examiner, Laurie Montgomery, returns to work after taking over a year off to care for her ailing baby.

Her first case back is an easy one:  A natural death of a young Asian man in the subway.

But all is not what it seems.  Laurie’s natural curiosity and determination turn up inconsistencies that lead her to believe this man died of causes other than natural.

Searching the tapes of the subway station, Laurie sees the man being chased and apparently injected with a substance before the muggers take his wallet and other valuables (..they are hoping to get his lab notebooks detailing a major breakthrough the man made in pluripotent stem cell technology).

“The Cure” is an interesting medical thriller reaching beyond the world of medicine into organized crime, corporate greed, and…….family.

“The Casual Vacancy” by J.K. Rowling

2 Watertowers(Confusing and Stiff)

Barry Fairbrother had a headache all weekend long.  He did not want to go to dinner at the golf club, but, felt he had to.

In the parking lot, Barry died from a brain hemorrhage.

His death left a vacancy in the Pagford City Council, and “The Casual Vacancy” goes on to follow several families until that vacancy could be filled.

I put this book down several times to read another book, but, being loyal to J.K. Rowling, I did not stick the bookmark on a page and put it away for good…until the last 100 pages.  Now the bookmark is stuck, never to be moved again.

I did not understand the need to wander through so many lives, in such detail, based on just a vacancy in the city council.  Maybe I totally missed the point, but, this book is like the “Game of Thrones” in confusion. At least “Game” has a list of characters you can refer to occasionally…..”Casual” does not.

J.K. Rowling struggles mightily with this book. And I struggled too…

I am going to try the first Robert Galbraith book and will still keep reading new Harry Potter related short stories on Pottermore.

“The Hit” by David Baldacci

4.5-Watertowers(Will Robie meets his match)

The government sometimes assassinates those who the U.S.A. does not want in power.

Jessica Reel is one of the best government assassins.  She is in an unspecified country all set up to kill an undesirable.  Doug Jacobs is her controller.  Thanks to technology, Doug is located several thousand miles away in Washington DC.  Doug is thankful that he can simply pack up and go home after the hit.

As the time ticks down for the hit Doug expects to see video of the assassination.   Three, two, one……boom.

Doug dies from a bullet shot from another building.

Jessica Reel is a suspect, and Will Robie (who is the only person close to Jessica’s skill level) is tasked with finding her.

Several days later, the #2 person at the CIA,  Jim Gelder, was ambushed on a Washington DC street and killed.  Then a Federal judge barely escapes some time later….the hit list is paring down.

Jessica nearly kills Will as well, but, thinks better of that tactic as she decides she might need his help later on.  The two of them play cat and mouse saving each others lives in the process.

Is Jessica trying to stop something bigger than Will and his employer, the Blue Man, realize?   You will have to read “The Hit” to find out.

Eventually, Will and Jessica team up….

“The Hit” is one of Baldacci’s best.  Thrilling and believable.

Here is a cool interview.

“The Mayor of Lexington Avenue” by James Sheehan

4-Watertowers TracyReaderDad Book Reviews(Excellent South Florida Thriller)

Mikey and Johnny were boyhood friends on the streets of New York.

Mikey took the rap for an automobile theft (that they were both involved in) and ended up having a very rough life in prison and out.  Johnny, on the other hand, grew up to be a respected attorney in Miami.

In Bass Creek, Florida in 1986 a young man, Rudy, who is described by everyone as “slow”, is invited to the home of a very attractive woman, Lucy.  Lucy gets mad at Rudy (because Rudy is feeling sick) and tells him to leave. As he tries to leave he trips over a table and cuts his hand. He leaves the house and is spotted by Geronimo and his two compatriots (and several other witnesses).

Geronimo visits Lucy, has sex with her, then slits her throat. He then promptly disappears.

Detective Sergeant Wes Brume is assigned to the case and quickly suspects, then arrests, Rudy. After a dubious investigation by a dirty cop (Brume), a dirty DA, and others, Rudy goes to trial where he is convicted and sent to death row.

Fast forward 10 years and Johnny is sick of his law practice and leaves.  He decides to become a country lawyer in Bass Creek and learns of Rudy (his time is almost up).  One thing leads to another and Johnny starts working Rudy’s case.

Unknown to Johnny….his two worlds (boyhood in NYC and Bass Creek) are about to collide…..tragedy and murder follow.

“The Mayor of Lexington Avenue” is James Sheehan’s first book (paperback in 2005) and it is a gem.


“Buried Secrets” by Joseph Finder

4.5-Watertowers(2nd Nick Heller)

Genre: Thriller

“Buried Secrets” is the second (and so far last) of the Nick Heller series.  A few years back, Joseph Finder sent me an ARC of  “Vanished” which was the first Nick Heller.  See my review of “Vanished” here.  In the meantime, soooo many books so little time, I have not gotten back to Joseph Finder, until now.  I will read more, he is an excellent writer.

Nick Heller is a “private spy”.  He is an ex-Special Forces intelligence officer who recently moved to Boston after quitting his job in Washington, DC.

An old friend, billionaire Marshall Marcus’ daughter, Alexa, is missing (but, only for the past few hours) and Marcus thinks she has been kidnapped (it has happened before, but, she was released almost immediately).  Nick likes Alexa and knows she can be a handful, but, agrees that something bad might have happened to her.

He starts an investigation.

Marcus eventually gets an email with a link to go to.  Rather than acting on it immediately, he calls Nick, and when he arrives, they connect.  What they find is Alexa on a video conference from a coffin! She is frantic and wants her Dad to give the kidnappers anything they want.

Problem is…….he can’t give them what they want, so it is up to Nick to find Alexa before she dies.

There are a number of people, and organizations, involved (or not involved) but with the help of his ex-girlfriend, FBI Agent Diana Madigan, and his office assistants, they just might find Alexa in time.


To see how this thrilling adventure ends, you will have to read “Buried Secrets”.  Joseph Finder is terrific.

“Dumbledore’s Army Reunites at Quidditch World Cup Final”

4-Watertowers TracyReaderDad Book Reviews(Catching Up with the Gang)

J.K.Rowling wrote this on her web site,, giving us an up-to-date look at some of the most famous of the Dumbledore’s Army members.  (FYI…I joined Pottermore and have been placed in Ravenclaw by the Sorting Hat)

Harry, Ginny, Hermione, Ron, Neville, and Luna (my fellow Ravenclaw) are all at the Quidditch World Cup where Rita Skeeter is reporting about their attendance and giving us her skewed version of reality.

Harry is now 34 with some gray in his hair and a new scar on his cheek.  He is still an Auror with the Ministry of Magic.

Ginny is reporting on the World Cup with the Daily Prophet and Rita is jealous that she got this plum assignment.

Hermione is rising rapidly in the Ministry (of course) and is the Deputy Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.  Rita dishes some dirt about her flirtations with Harry when they were in Hogwarts.

Ron left the Ministry to join George (who is now wealthy) running the Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes joke shop.  His famous red hair is thinning!  He and Hermione are still married.

Neville is now a Herbology teacher at Hogwarts.  He apparently drinks more than he should and is married to Hannah.

Luna (my fellow Ravenclaw) is still “delightfully eccentric” and is married to Rolf Scamander.

J.K.Rowling’s writing of this new Harry Potter adventure is smooth and familiar unlike the “Casual Vacancy” where she struggles mightily (and I am likewise struggling…I am halfway through it but keep putting it down in favor of another book).

Will there be more?  Will there be a new movie?  Time will tell.



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