Chester Campbell's The Good, The Bad and The Murderous

My guest today is Nashville mystery writer Chester Campbell. Welcome to my little corner of cyberspace, Chester. Let’s not waste a precious second of our time together and talk writing!

Anne - When did you first realize you were destined to be a mystery/suspense writer?

Chester - I wrote my first "murder mystery" in the summer of 1947 while going to journalism school days and working as a newspaper reporter nights. Somehow I found time to pound out a novel on my portable typewriter in my basement room at a fraternity house. The second, a Cold War spy story, came in the middle sixties while I was editor of a local magazine. But work and family kept me too occupied to think about destiny until I was near retirement. That's when I realized I wanted to devote the rest of my allotted time to writing novels. Counting those first two, I've written sixteen, with seven of them published. A few of the early ones are destined for e-book status.

Anne - Tell us about your book.

Chester - The latest is The Good, The Bad and The Murderous. A wrongfully accused ex-con, dirty cops, Medicare fraud, racial tensions, false accusations, and a gun for hire are just some of the problems Nashville PI Sid Chance encounters as he and his sometimes associate Jaz LeMieux seek to prove Djuan Burden innocent of killing a medical equipment dealer. Their first dilemma concerns Burden's recent release from serving thirteen years for a murder committed at age twelve, leading a pair of detectives to put him behind bars quickly based on seemingly obvious clues.

A wealthy businesswoman when not pursuing her love of the chase, Jaz finds herself in trouble with the law as the pair begins to peel away layers of deceit. A false accusation of racial slurring morphs into a serious charge against her. As they move toward a closing the investigation, Sid realizes a hit man has him in his sights.

Anne - Is it part of a series? If so, include other titles. What do you enjoy most about writing a series? What do you loathe?

Chester - This is book two in the Sid Chance Mystery Series. The first was The Surest Poison, in which Sid and Jaz solve three murders as they track down the man responsible for a toxic chemical spill poisoning the water supply of a small community near Nashville. In writing a series, I get to explore the characters over a range of situations. The only drawback is the necessity of taking great care to keep all the details consistent from book to book. I have five books in my Greg McKenzie Series, and there are several recurring characters to keep track of.

Anne - Of all the characters you've created, does one hold a special place in your heart? Why?

Chester - I'd say Greg McKenzie is the most special, since I gave him a Scottish name and background and created him out of my Air Force experience. He was also my first protagonist in the ranks of older adults, being sixty-five in the first book. I was ten years past his age when I started writing about him, and I wanted to portray older people as just as sharp and able as anybody else. I get lots of comments from readers that Greg and his wife, Jill, are like the people next door.

Anne - Tell us about the defining moment when you felt as if you'd finally made it as an author.

Chester - "Made it" is a rather indefinite term. If it refers to monetary success, I haven't reached any best seller lists. But if it refers to acceptance as an accomplished author, I look no further than comments by two veteran reviewers who have reviewed nearly all of my seven published novels. Here's what Sylvia Cochran wrote of The Good, The Bad and The Murderous:

"Kind readers know that I am a fan of Chester Campbell’s writings. He 'gets' detective fiction on a gut-level. There is no contrived dialog, questionable literary tactic or predictable plot turn. Mystery buffs, who are strong aficionados of the Chekhov’s gun technique, most certainly celebrate the author’s solemn dedication to not litter the plot with confusing and pointless elements. Instead, there is no hole in the plot and all loose ends are tightened neatly before the last page. (Did I mention that this book is superbly edited?)"

Patricia Reid wrote:

"Chester Campbell’s books always make good reads but the Sid Chance series is special."

Anne – Those sound like “made it” moments to me! Congratulations. Now, would you share an excerpt of The Good, The Bad and The Murderous with us? 

Chester – Here it is…

He was a young man, dark as the back side of the moon, dreadlock tentacles crawling down his shoulders, brooding eyes filled with questions. Djuan Burden hesitated just inside the small medical equipment store in Nashville’s Green Hills section. It resembled the aftermath of a spring storm, shelves bare as though swept by the wind, scattered trash on the carpet. A stack of boxes tumbled in the doorway to the back room. An acrid odor added to the confusion. Splayed on a small desk at one side lay a few papers and yellow No. 2 pencils piled as if for a pick-up-sticks game. Were they moving out? He approached the desk, where someone sat facing the other direction, his head barely visible above the back of an executive chair.

Djuan tossed the document he’d brought onto the desk. “Sir,” he said in a deep but subdued voice, “we have a problem.”

The man said nothing. Didn’t move.

Djuan was about to speak in a more strident tone when he realized the smell he had first noticed was gunpowder, a once-familiar odor he had not experienced in years. He edged around the desk until a lifeless face came into view. A bullet hole in the forehead glared back at him like a vacuous third eye.

Face flushed with panic, Burden broke into a run for the door. He darted a frantic glance toward the street as he dashed from the building, headed for the old Ford with the bruised front fender. Blinded momentarily by the afternoon sun, he groped for the door handle, crammed himself into the small sedan. The tires screeched as he swirled around, corrected, and veered toward the street. Too fast, he realized, as it attracted the attention of a tall man in a dark business suit who glared at him from the sidewalk. Though he had been driving only a short time, the skill had come naturally to him. Now his driving instinct held but one message—get the hell out of here!

Traffic along Hillsboro Pike slowed his progress, although it hardly rivaled the impending home-bound rush hour. He ducked his head as a police car passed, traveling in the opposite direction. The specter of that cold, dark prison cell still haunted his befuddled mind.

Anne – Thank you! What a ride. One final question, Chester. Where can readers find you online?

Chester – At my website, blog and on Facebook.

Anne – Thank you so much for dropping by today, Chester. I wish you every success with The Good, The Bad and The Murderous.

Readers, as always, your comments are welcome and appreciated. Become a follower to ensure you receive every author interview, announcement and/or blog post. Stay tuned for the Spring 2012 Mystery We Write Blog tour April 16-28. More info to follow, but for now, enjoy the slideshow below. J

Until next time, happy reading!

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Susanne Drazic said...

Enjoyed the interview.

Chester Campbell said...

Thanks, Susanne, it was a pleasure to be here. I enjoy talking about books and writing, especially my role in the process.