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John M. Wills

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Great New Author

It’s always exciting to discover an author who has the ability to capture your attention immediately and then hold it through 400 pages. That’s exactly what happened when I began reading Shot To Pieces by Michael O’Keefe. I initially balked at the length of the story, thinking it might bog down simply because of its page count. I was wrong. O’Keefe turns out to be a terrific writer who has penned a fantastic murder mystery/thriller.

A1Oen5HN44L._UX250_O’Keefe’s protagonist, NYPD Detective Paddy Durr, is a multi-faceted individual. In a sense, he’s a throwback to the days when cops did what needed to be done and damn the bosses and political correctness. His gruff aggressive nature turns some people off, but no one can question Paddy’s heart or his ability to get the job done.

Paddy has a myriad of problems in his life that complicate his world. From his relationship with his wife, to the bureaucracy of big city policing and interference from politicians, his daily journey is a minefield that threatens to explode with the smallest misstep. He has no tolerance for any colleagues that don’t give their all or who take shortcuts. When Paddy is on a case, be assured he won’t rest until he solves it. His total attention to his job, while being a positive attribute professionally, means his private life is practically nonexistent.

Complicating matters is Paddy’s inability to forgive himself for past transgressions. He so desperately wants to please his estranged wife that he convinces himself the only solution is to let her go. Since she has always been the love of his life, he’s wracked with guilt and self-recrimination. He sees no possibility of reconciliation, thus he lives day to day with the proverbial dark cloud hanging over his head.shot to pieces

It’s easy to see that O’Keefe is a tough street-smart cop. Shot To Pieces reads like non-fiction. The characters, settings, and situations jump off the page. The author has a gift for storytelling—allowing the reader to visualize every character, from the punk on the street to the mayor of New York. The scenes and locations are beautifully written so that readers almost feel like they’re watching the action unfold as he writes.

Not only does O’Keefe do a masterful job in describing the murder investigation, but in describing several scenes with his wife I had to reach for a tissue. This tough ex-cop has a romantic side to him that puts him right up there with romance novel writers. To be able to go from describing a brutal murder to developing a tender love scene with a spouse is a remarkable gift. Such talent!

Based on Michael O’Keefe’s debut novel, I predict much success for this writer. It’s hard to imagine that his work can get much better, but I have to believe that we’ll be hearing many good things about him in the future. Well done, Michael!

 

Shots Fired: The Misunderstandings, Misconceptions, and Myths about Police Shootings (book review)

Today’s newscasts and papers are rife with reporting on police involved shootings. Preliminary coverage seems to always be negative, insinuating that police were wrong or perhaps too quick to use deadly force. Even worse, when deadly force is employed the news is quick to opine that it was either not justified or too much force was used. We still see those insane questions from some reporters and journalists—“Why didn’t they shoot him in the arm or leg?” Insanity. Social media is the worst. Monday morning quarterbacks and cop wannabes analyze and criticize decisions that an officer has a split second to make.

In that regard, Joseph K. Loughlin and Kate Clark Flora have authored a book that is long overdue. In Shots Fired: The Misunderstandings, Misconceptions, and Myths about Police Shootings, the authors offer a clear answer as to why cops are forced to respond to situations using deadly force. They illustrate why at times even though an officer’s decision is totally justified and within the parameters of law and department policy, some are pilloried by politicians, the news, and citizens. Recall the Ferguson, Missouri incident involving Michael Brown. Officer Darren Wilson acted within the law, yet calls for his indictment sprang up before many of the facts of the case were even known to those investigating the shooting. The rationale was Brown was unarmed. However, as police officers we know that any altercation is always an armed one by virtue of the fact that we ourselves are armed, and that weapon can fall into the hands of the subject we’re involved with.

In their book, the authors present a lucid view about the reality of police-involved Shots Firedshootings. They break the book down into four sections: Myths and Misconceptions; Training and De-Escalation; Stopping the Threat; and Loss and Redemption. To bolster their claims regarding the misreporting and misconceptions about police shootings, they offer many actual cases and court rulings. One of the most important rulings comes from the Supreme Court of the United States which said, “The reasonableness of a particular use of force must be viewed from the perspective of a reasonable officer at the scene, rather than with 20/20 hindsight.” And that “allowance must be made for the fact that officers are often forced to make split second judgments in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular incident.” (Graham v Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989).

Shots Fired points out a misconception the general public has regarding officers’ use of force training. While training academies offer intensive firearms and judgmental training for their students, once the officer graduates and hits the street the intensity and frequency of training is greatly diminished. Many departments only require a yearly qualification with a firearm. Unless an officer is in a specialized unit like SWAT or a tactical team, enhanced or dynamic training is not available. Thus, the officer is forced to employ deadly force with very little and infrequent training. The public might wonder why this is so, and they’d be surprised to learn that it’s mostly a function of budget constraints. Yes, people, if you want a highly trained department, the only way to get that is through taxes.

It may also be useful for the public to know about fear and perceptual distortions (Chapter 11). Even though people suffer the same effects when they’re scared, e.g., being alone at night and getting lost, an auto accident, a family tragedy, they rarely equate their confused behavior with those an officer faces in a deadly force situation. Fight-or-flight instincts are triggered in everyone who confronts a threat. Cops are no different—except they cannot flee. They must stay and take control of whatever threat faces them. And they must control the situation despite the changes they experience via the autonomic nervous system. Tunnel vision, auditory exclusion, slow motion, etc., all combine to hamper the performance in a potential life and death struggle.

What many don’t realize is that some officers that have been involved in shootings carry some mental baggage with them for years. PTSD is a frequent by-product of officer-involved shootings. Officers may suffer from sleep deprivation, acute anxiety, crying, appetite loss, nightmares, and even thoughts of suicide. They worry about possible future litigation and the moral questions surrounding taking a life. Recent postings on social media allude to officers enjoying shooting people. Nothing could be further from the truth. On the flip side, lately it seems these unsubstantiated accusations have spawned a spate of ambushes on cops resulting in deaths and injuries.

Shots Fired is another of those books I must add to my personal collection. It contains much food for thought, as well as actual cases reinforcing the topics discussed. Moreover, this book is ideal for anyone who has questions about officer-involved shootings and deadly force, particularly the general public.

Meet Pat McCarthy

 

Hi Pat, I’m honored to host you on my blog today. Having been a Chicago police officer myself, I was anxious to read your book. I found it drew me in immediately with its action and authenticity. The cop jargon, in particular, is spot on and pulls no punches. Please tell my readers a little bit about yourself and your journey in writing your first book, Chicago Street Cop.

Thanks, John. I’m a lifelong resident of Chicago and a retired Chicago police officer. My great grandfather came from Ireland in the late 1800’s and became a Chicago cop; my father was also a Chicago cop. My son Ryan is the 4th generation Chicago police officer in my family.

Pat_M_author_picI grew up about two miles from Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs. From my earliest memories, I always wanted to be a cop like my dad and great grandfather. I remember watching my dad suit up to work the streets, and I’d stare out the front window and watch him drive away in his powder blue 1959 Chevy to police the mean streets of the Windy City.

I admired my father and knew some day, I too, would become a cop. The dream came true when I finally pinned on the star. I truly believed it was my destiny—my calling in life. I enjoyed every day I was a cop-even the bad and sad days I endured. The fact I was paid to live my dream was fantastic. Truth be told, I would have been a cop even if they hadn’t paid me, it meant that much.

In the back of my mind, I always knew someday I’d write about my experiences. Throughout my career, particularly when I worked undercover in the gang unit, people told me I should write a book. I’m glad I took their advice. Chicago Street Cop is about the crazy and often unique incidents I was involved in during my career. My journey involved stints as a uniform patrol officer, gang specialist, undercover in the gang unit for five years, six years on SWAT-three as a sniper, eleven years detailed to the FBI on three separate federal task forces-six years on the Asian Gang and Organized Crime Task Force, two years on the FBI’s I.C.E ( International Criminal Enterprise ) Task Force, and three years on the Violent Gangs and Hispanic Task Force.

Like many first time authors, when I began writing the words flowed easily. Then, they slowly tapered off, and at times I didn’t write for months. Having never before written a book, I found it a bigger challenge than expected. Life and my police training business also got in the way. I was traveling 30 weeks a year across the country presenting my three-day Street Crimes Seminar.

One day I had this crazy idea to travel overseas to concentrate on my writing—no chgo_street_cop_coverdistractions and no excuses. I went to Australia and Thailand twice, then to China, once to Beijing and once to Hong Kong. I went to these countries simply to write—no site seeing, no vacation. I know it probably sounds a bit bazaar, but I totally concentrated on writing my book. I’d write as much as possible on both the flights from Chicago and the return flights home. I’d hunker down in my hotel room and do nothing but write for five days straight.

Finally, when I thought the manuscript was ready, I hired an editor who referred me to content editor, Jill Welsh, to evaluate my book and offer some advice. At first, it was tough to hear, but she told me my manuscript was written like a journal rather than a book. She also said it was much too long.

Additionally, she said I needed to include dialogue. My stories, though interesting, would probably not work well without it. That turned out to be great advice and believe it or not, I read a couple of books to understand the dialogue concept. One of the books was Dialogue for Dummies, and it really did help hone my writing skills. Jill was also helpful in providing advice on what to keep and what to eliminate.

The most exciting experience of the process was when I received my first physical proof. As I leafed through it, I felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment. I realized with just a bit more work I would have my first book published and be able to proudly say, “I’m a published author.”

Presently, my book is only available in e-book form, but the hardcover version is in the printing process and will be available soon. Once the hardcover is out, I plan on scheduling signings and events.

I’m working on a second book titled, Chicago Gang Cops. I’ll take what I’ve learned from my first book and make my second one even better.

Thanks, Pat, for sharing your experience about your career and book. I’m certain readers will enjoy your honesty and marvel at your courage as they read Chicago Street Cop. I understand the book is available on Amazon and from your website, streetcrimes.com. Thank you for your service, my friend.

 

 

Meet Hard-Boiled Detective, Ben Solomon

Please introduce yourself, when you began writing, etc.

I’d first like to thank John for this swell interview. A little further on I mention encountering plenty of gracious and generous folk online, and this is a prime example.

As for me, I’m a lifetime Chicagoan. I’ve always had my hand in one art form or another—call me a renaissance hack. I can’t say I’ve done it all, but I cherish some experiences uncommon to most hog butchers to the world. For example, I’ve danced as an extra with the Bolshoi and Joffrey ballet companies, performed in David Mamet’s only children’s show, worked tech for The Steppenwolf Theatre, and sang “Happy Birthday” to Paul Newman on the set of “The Color of Money.”ben solomon author pic

I’ve been writing since grammar school, everything from stories to comic books to poetry—such as it was. In my time I’ve founded a literary journal and a critical guide to video releases, and I penned regular columns for Hollywood Online, AOL and Chicago Parent magazine. But I’ve never touched operettas—can’t say I’ve ever done that one.

Have you written any novels?

No, I haven’t. Short fiction and commercial assignments make up most of my recent output. It’s a cliché, but sweating out a 3,000–9,000 word piece gives me all kinds of respect for anyone who can craft a complete novel in any way, shape or form.

I know you have an interesting website. Give my readers an overview of what it’s all about.

“The Hard-Boiled Detective” takes it own unorthodox slant on publishing. (Or maybe I’m just an upstart.)

In a nutshell, the site offers an ongoing subscription series of hard-boiled adventures. Every month, subscribers download three works of short fiction in their format of choice: ePub, mobi or PDF. I’ve fashioned the stories in the old-school tradition, very “retro detective.”

In addition to the detective stories, the site features a hard-boiled glossary, a long-lost interview with Dashiell Hammett, and a fabricated interview with Raymond Chandler.

What else do you write?

Lately I’ve been dabbling with short works of a macabre nature, sometimes in a hard-boiled style, sometimes not, but always with a twist.

What is your most rewarding writing experience?

What comes to mind may sound like the smallest of things, but I especially dig discovering a minor moment that reveals a character and/or reveals a sense of ourselves.

For example, in one detective story, the P.I.’s in the bathroom just before a climactic confrontation (it’s a glamorous profession). He removes his jacket and shoulder holster, and plans to walk out with the gun hidden beneath a hand towel. Just before he leaves the room, he catches sight of himself in the mirror and tosses himself a quick grin. Maybe it comes off a bit silly in this context, but I felt very proud of capturing that brief moment.

Do you belong to any writing groups, or critique groups?

I’m getting to know a community of writers at local, ongoing readings in the city. I’ve also met quite a number of the most generous and gracious people on-line through social media and listserv’s. I’m very interested in pursuing professional affiliations as I become more established and generate a little more scratch.ben solomon book cover

Are you working on any new projects?

It’s a bit early to give too much away, but I am beginning a new series of sorts. The fantastic nature of the main character allows for the stories to take place in any setting of place or time, and that’s intriguing.

Is there anything you would like to share with our readers?

I’d like to humbly thank them for reading, period, whether they come anywhere close to my work or not. I’ve been removed from being a “regular” audience member for so long that I truly appreciate anyone who reads simply to read, whatever they read, on whatever level they read.

Please provide the readers with a link to your website.

Series info, subscription info and links to features can all be found on The Hard-Boiled Detective homepage:

http://thehardboileddetective.com/

 

Ben, thank you for visiting my blog. You are an interesting man, and based upon what we’ve just read, I can imagine your characters and stories are riveting. Much success to you in your present and future endeavors.

 

Police Week

If you have not had the chance to attend any of the ceremonies at the Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C., you have missed out on meeting a superb group of individuals. The Candlelight Ceremony in particular is moving and profound, as tribute is paid to our fallen heroes and their families. My article this month on Officer.com relates to the Memorial and the heroes who have given all. Please take a moment to read it: “Why I Became A Cop.”National_Law_Enforcement_Officers_Memorial_Lion

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