TROUBLESHOOTER launches tomorrow night at Dutton's in Brentwood, then I'm on the road from there - Bouchercon, Phoenix, Boston, Seattle, Palo Alto, San Jose, Orange, Costa Mesa, San Diego and more. To find out where else, check out "the tour" section of my site. Before I head off, I wanted to post this interview with Tess Gerritsen, one of my favorite writers - and people.
Tess Gerritsen Speaks With Gregg Hurwitz About Troubleshooter,
Outlaw Biker Gangs, and Liquid Heroin
TG: You decided to bring back the infamous Tim Rackley in this novel. Why now?
GH: I never set out to write a series, but Tim got under my skin in a way that no other character of mine had. After THE KILL CLAUSE, I had another story I wanted to write, but Tim kept worming his way into the plot. I found that including him in THE PROGRAM gave me a lot of great creative opportunities. By the time I began TROUBLESHOOTER, Tim was fully in the driver’s seat. It’s the first time he’s truly back with the Marshals, with complete federal resources behind him, working his deadliest case yet.
TG: TROUBLESHOOTER focuses on outlaw biker gangs of California. What kind of research did you do to learn about these gangs?
GH: First off, I learned how to ride a Harley (badly). And I rode a lot of the biker routes through the LA canyons, including the Malibu trail where Tim’s first confrontation with Den Laurey takes place. I also spent a lot of time interviewing cops and FBI agents who worked biker units. Some specialized law enforcement articles about handling outlaw biker gangs filled in the blanks.
TG: Who was the most interesting person you met in the course of your research?
GH: One former agent was of great help, having ridden undercover with biker gangs for seven years. I flew out to meet him in Miami and spent a few days drinking beers with him and swapping stories (his were much better than mine).
TG: The use of a very technical, and gruesome, medical procedure in this novel ties together the mysterious death of underprivileged women and the distribution of a highly advanced form of liquid heroin – where did you come up with this idea?
GH: This was another of the fun parts of my research. I wanted to find an ingenious smuggling device, something worthy of Den Laurey and the Sinners. But everything I came up with felt somehow standard. I was doing some related research and a bunch of different ideas all came together at once. A medical journal article I read collided with an agency document I’d gotten ahold of about airport security and the idea was born. I don’t want to give anything away, but let’s just say that the more I looked into my fictional scenario, the more plausible—and unique—it seemed.
TG: You’ve put Rackley in some truly horrific situations, from losing his daughter to being manipulated by a mind control cult. Now in TROUBLESHOOTER you make Tim face the possible loss of his wife and unborn child. Why do you choose to interweave the personal and professional life of Rackley so tightly?
GH: The Rackley series is really an action-meditation (how’s that for an oxymoron?) on vigilanteism. Because of that, I wanted to raise the stakes on the factors that tempt Tim to act outside the law. At the end of THE KILL CLAUSE, he returns to a position he previously held, but with newfound conviction—he recognizes the importance of the law, sometimes even over justice. That conviction is tested in TROUBLESHOOTER in an entirely different manner. And the question becomes: with so many deadly skills at his disposal, can Tim hold on to lawfulness?
TG: Can we expect to see Rackley on the big screen any time soon?
GH: Here’s hoping! I had a lot of fun adapting THE KILL CLAUSE for Paramount, and am looking into opportunities for the other books in the series.