Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Checkmate (The Harry Starke Novels Book 4) by Blair Howard

Harry Starke is a hard-boiled private detective, an ex-cop, a tough guy from the right side of the tracks with finely tuned senses, good instincts, and friends in high places. He’s single, successful, well educated, and yes, he will hurt you if he needs to.


Published: February 16th, 2016

Checkmate is the fourth standalone novel in the Harry Starke series of mysteries.

Angela Hartwell lay dead in the shallow waters beside the golf course. There was not a mark on her, yet she had been strangled. How could that be?

Once again, it’s up to Harry Starke to find out. The investigation takes him into a world he’s very familiar with, a world of affluence, privilege, and corruption.

To solve the mystery, he must deal with three murders, a beautiful used car dealer, her lovely twin sisters, and a crooked banker. Not to mention Burke and Hare, two crazy repo men who will stop at nothing to protect their employer’s interests. There's also the matter of an ingenious, sadistic killer. But nothing is ever quite what it seems....

Harry Starke is a hard-boiled private detective, an ex-cop, a tough guy from the right side of the tracks with finely tuned senses, good instincts, and friends in high places. He’s single, successful, well educated, and yes, he will hurt you if he needs to.

My Writing Process

Of all the questions I get asked about writing, the one I’m asked most is: Where do you get your ideas for the Harry Starke mystery novels? The quick and simple answer is, I don’t. They are manufactured. They always begin with a single thought or scene. For instance, in Harry Starke, the first book in the series, I was in Downtown Chattanooga taking photographs of the Walnut Street bridge. I was almost underneath it when I looked up at the bridge high above and I had a sort of vision: it was dark, mid-winter, the wind and sleet were howling through the ironwork, and then, in my mind’s eye, a body, arms flailing, came hurtling down to smash into the water. It lasted only a couple of seconds and then it was gone, but the memory, as they say, lingered on and become the opening sequence in the novel.

Hill House was different only in that the house itself never existed. The inspiration for the story, a house on McCallie in Chattanooga, did exist: an ancient three-story structure, long abandoned, stood on the corner of Central and McCallie. Local folks will remember it well. It was, for many years, an eyesore that I passed by on my way into downtown Chattanooga, and I wondered…. Well, my imagination took off and the result was Book 3, Hill House.

The idea for Checkmate, number 4 in the series, came from a photograph I ran across while searching for something else. It’s the one I used on the cover. When I first saw it, it asked the question: what the hell happened to her? The answer? You’ll have to read the story.

A second question I’m often asked is: how do you decide who done it? No one ever believes the answer: I don’t. It just happens. When I begin a new story I create a list of characters, usually five, sometimes more. Those characters drive the story. I know their problems, weaknesses, strengths… and in one way or another they are all connected to the crime, or crimes. And then I just write, building one scene on top of another until finally, just when I’m about to despair and give up, it happens, usually two or three chapters from the end. It’s a crazy way of doing things, I know, but it works for me.

Finally, a word about writer’s block. I never suffer from it. Oh there are days when I don’t want to write, and when that happens, which is not often, I don’t. I don’t suffer from writer’s block because I can always find something to write about. The nearest I get to it is when I get hung up on something within a story. When that happens, I leave it and begin another chapter. Sooner or later, usually in the shower, or just as I’m about to fall asleep, it comes to me. So, if you suffer from writer’s block, don’t accept it. Go online. Find a photograph, maybe like the one you see here. Look at it. Ask yourself questions, and then… write. It works.

About the author:
Blair Howard is from a small town in England, near Stratford-upon-Avon, on the edge of the English Cotswolds. He is Kentucky Colonel, an honor bestowed upon him in 2008 by the then Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Steven L. Beshear. Until 2015, he wrote sweeping historical epics, and is the author of five historical novels. In July of 2015 he decided to try his hand at writing mystery novels, thus we have Harry Starke. The first in the series, Harry Starke, was released in mid-September 2015. The second novel, Two for the Money, was released October 19 the same year, Hill House, in mid-December 2015, and Checkmate in February 2016, and there are more to come.

Blair is the author of more than 40 books and more than 4,500 magazine, newspaper, and web articles. His work has appeared in many national and international publications, including Delta's Sky Magazine, PHOTOgraphic magazine, The Mail on Sunday, The Walking Magazine, Petersen's Hunting Magazine, The Boston Herald, The Detroit Free-Press, The Anchorage Times and many more.

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