Sunday, November 28, 2010

Alex Markman: Inspired by real terror

The Age of Crime

Personal and international problems of modern times are so inter-related that sometimes it is not easy to separate them. On this premises I write crime novels evolving around contemporary moral, political, and philosophical conflicts, an individual confronts in everyday life one way or another. Messenger of Death is one of these. Inspired by biker gangs’ war in Quebec, it is a work of fiction, telling the workings of the underworld thriving on the ills of our affluent society.

Biker gangs have emerged as a new form of organized crime in the modern age. International in scale, well organized, disciplined, and adaptable to any changes in legislation and police tactics, they appear to be the most powerful structure in the history of underworld. As penetration into their close circle is mission impossible, writing a truthful story about their life is a prodigious task.
Messenger of Death is one of a very few gangsters novels inspired by actual events. It depicts terror and tragedy of the gangsters’ lives and the innocent people close to them amidst a tough and dangerous environment.

A significant part of the novel is dedicated to government politics and problems associated with adoption of laws facilitating the fight against organized crime and bikers’ gangs in particular. Due to self-imposed restrictions on democratic procedures, constitutional rights of individuals and associations, fighting the new form of organized crime was an overwhelming task.

I tried to make the story entertaining, yet it revolves around serious problems of our society. Those who like an easy read will follow the action layer of the plot, with its intricacies of criminal dealings and the political struggle surrounding organized crime. More cerebral readers will recognize many contemporary social problems, which have no easy solutions.

Coming soon: Contra-ODESSA, inspired by a true story. In 1960s KGB sent their agents to Argentina to find former SS members who kept their fortunes in Swiss banks, and extort from them under gunpoint and torture their secret account numbers. After encounters with CIA operatives and former ODESSA members, the KGB agents took the money and disappeared. They have never returned back to the Soviet Union, and have never been found by the KGB.

Alex Markman is the author of fiction books, main subject of which is adventure, romance and integrity of human mind and soul. His drive to discover new places has brought him to such locales as the vast, unspoiled wilderness of Russian Ural and Siberia to the refined urban areas of Los Angeles and San Francisco. His adventures, often dangerous, and familiarity with people from different cultures have given him abundant material for his highly entertaining stories.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Vicki Delany talks shop with cops

Writing Canadian Cops

When I decided I wanted to write a police series of the style of the British ones I like to read and I wanted it set in Canada, I faced two problems.

I have no law enforcement experience whatsoever.

I want as much veracity as possible in books I write.

Everything I knew about policing I know from watching American TV and movies and from reading British novels by the likes of Peter Robinson, Ian Rankin, Susan Hill. I’ll bet the situation is the same for most of us. Once in a while a Canadian cop show comes along, but how much can you trust TV for reality anyway?

I realized that if I was going to be able to write the sort of books I wanted to write, I needed help.

And I got it.

I’ve been very lucky, and have been able to write, so far, four novels about a small town police department in the Interior of B.C. I’ve met a detective constable who cheerfully answers any and all of my procedural or legal questions with good humour. And if he doesn’t know the answer, he’ll check with his boss or even the department lawyer to find out. I’ve been on ride alongs and walk alongs, I’ve toured police stations, met many officers, talked to dog handlers and met their dogs, been to observe in-service training, been to the firearms training course (where they didn’t let me touch a weapon, you’ll be pleased to hear). I’ve been taken step-by-step though fight moves and lent books about police psychology.

I’ve had some really boring nights too. As I try to explain when the nice officer assigned to take me out apologizes because nothing at all happened, if I want to see a gun battle or a bank robbery in progress, I’ll watch TV. It’s the everyday details of the ordinary cop’s job that I’m interested in seeing first hand, that I want to give veracity to the books.

The protagonist of the Constable Molly Smith series is young, green, a bit naïve. When the series begins, in In the Shadow of the Glacier, she is still on probation. She walks the beat on a Saturday afternoon, attends fender-benders, throws drunks into the drunk tank, tells people to empty out their cans of beer, helps confused old ladies cross the street, answers domestic calls, and stands outside crime scenes not letting anyone in.

This is the detail of day-to-day policing I’m trying to get right for my books. That as well as the way the officers relate to each other, the jokes they tell, how they balance families and young children, how they train (or not). My books are about murder and kidnappings and tragedy, yes, but they are also about people and relationships.

There are considerable differences, I have learned, between Canadian and British or American policing. For example, British police normally do not carry firearms, American police are required to carry their guns at all times, even when off duty. Canadians, as seems to be our national characteristic, are somewhere in the middle. Canadian police carry their guns when they are on duty and are (in almost all cases) forbidden to carry them when not working. Thus at the climax of In the Shadow of the Glacier, Molly Smith is off duty when she has her final confrontation with the bad guy. And all she has to defend herself are her stiletto shoes, her cell phone, and her considerable wits. In one of the other books, she is working at the climax and so she is able to use her gun to end the situation.

Canadian police (so my police friends tell me) are likely to be better educated than American police. In one of the Decker books by Faye Kellerman, when Cindy Decker becomes a police officer she finds it hard to be accepted by her fellows because she has a university degree. Among my police contacts are a Masters Degree in Industrial Relations and an MBA. Canadian police are better trained (again, so the cops tell me) and well paid. There is no such thing in Canada as a part-time police officer and Canadian police very rarely have to take other jobs to make ends meet. A cop is a cop.

Here’s a picture of a handsome officer I met on my travels.
I’ve also learned things I’ve decided not to incorporate into my books. For example, it is the norm in most US police K9 units for the dog to live in the house with the officer; in Canada they follow the RCMP model in which the dog lives in a kennel outside the house. I decided in this situation I’d go for atmosphere and colour rather than veracity and so I let Norman, my RCMP dog, stretch out on the rug beside the fireplace.

Sometimes the story has to come first.

Vicki Delany writes everything from standalone novels of psychological suspense, such as Scare the Light Away and Burden of Memory, to a light-hearted historical series, Gold Digger and Gold Fever, set in the raucous heyday of the Klondike Gold Rush. The Constable Molly Smith books, a traditional village/police procedural series set in the B.C. Interior, include In the Shadow of the Glacier and Winter of Secrets. The fourth book in the Constable Molly Smith series, Negative Image, was published by Poisoned Pen Press on November 2, 2010. Kirkus Reviews said Negative Image “…combines the crisp plotting of the best small-town police procedurals with trenchant commentary on such universal problems as love and trust.”

Visit Vicki at

Next: Leslie Bendaly has Deadly Mementos.