Monday, December 29, 2014


The best part of practicing law was the stories.

Not the lifeless facts distilled for legal briefs, or what you fed juries to fit evidentiary rulings won or lost.  I’m talking about the stories heard in client intake from human beings unloading fear and pain, hatred and love, and the evil in their souls.

The stories found in raw documents dug out of dusty file cabinets, in police reports, witness interviews, depositions, photographs of crime and accident scenes.

The stories lawyers share over lots of alcohol.

It’s what drew me to investigative reporting.  I could go straight at the stories, nail them cold, push them out to traditional media, over the Internet, through social networks without having to worry about judges and opposing counsel sandpapering the facts.

It’s what got me writing fiction.

That and Unknown Man #89.

I’d never read anything like it.  In Elmore Leonard’s 1977 novel about a Detroit process server, characters leaped off pages fully formed with just words from their mouths.  No narrator steering us around.  No half-page physical description of each character as they stepped on stage.  All sorts of rules I’d learned in Mrs. Roth’s English class and legal composition courses were broken for the sake of telling—strike that—revealing the story.  Remember, no narrator.

Only later, when I discovered Elmore Leonard’s rules for writing, did I learn his rule-breaking was intentional.

No way I could ever touch his writing.  I don’t think anyone can.  But Elmore Leonard struck the spark that got me sitting down at night after a long day thumping opposing counsel to record the stories swirling in my head.

I’ve been writing mystery/crime stories since I was an Assistant Philadelphia District Attorney.  Lately, my muse has been New Mexico.  What a place, especially Santa Fe.  There’s more to the nickname “The City Different” than a marketing ploy.

So here goes.  I have an agent, Elizabeth Kracht of Kimberley Cameron & Associates, Tiburon, California.  I have two completed novels.  I have this website.  I have another book started.
I have you reading my stuff, right here, even before I’m published.  Thanks for that.

So please check in again.  I’ll be blogging about crime and criminals, the legal system (sometimes rightly confused with the preceding subjects), my new life on the Olympic Peninsula and what I’m reading and viewing.