Sept 24, 21014
I’m in the final stages of coming out with a print version of A Layer of Darkness . Available everywhere. Soon.
Sept 10, 2014
A Kirkus Review just came in
In 1945 San Francisco, a police detective’s investigation exposes a tangled political conspiracy and international espionage in Niles’ debut crime/political thriller.
With its opening line, this novel gets off to a dramatic start: “They said the cleaning lady had run out of the house, screaming into the street.” When police inspector Andrew Johnson arrives at the scene, he sees why: There’s a horribly burned corpse on the garage floor, curved around a small sledgehammer. From above, it looks like a Soviet hammer and sickle. But nothing is what it initially seems in Johnson’s investigation—not even the cleaning lady. (Indeed, not even Johnson himself: He looks African-American but is also half-Irish.) The overall mystery encompasses elements that initially seem as foggy as San Francisco itself, including a secret radio, a Chinese launderer (of both clothes and money), mysterious foreigners, Italian fishermen, a femme fatale, a sketchy bartender and a Cuban law student named Fidel. In his debut, Niles shows great skill in characterization, deftly sketching the players’ back stories to help readers make sense of their present actions. Johnson, for example, has some faults, but he’s compassionate, observant, brave and clever. He’s no idealistic dreamer, though; when he was 5, he saw his father murdered by Chicago drug dealers. The plot is tricky but not overly contrived, and it never relies on cheap narrative devices. Niles uses his historical and geographical settings well; there are even a few deliberate anachronisms, explained in an afterword. For all the novel’s high drama, however, it thoughtfully explores questions of morality and the human condition: “I think there are a lot of people with maybe some good intentions at some point in their lives who come to realize they’re nothing but suckers….Maybe we’re all suckers, but if we can find just one thing—one good thing—we should hang on to that and the hell with all the rest,” says Johnson.
A sophisticated, deft and exciting thriller and a great beginning for a planned series.
Sept 9, 2014
A Layer of Darkness is gaining some traction. Thanks to those of who have purchased it.
If you haven’t already seen it take a look at the trailer I just had made by Enigma audio recording. Jason Forbis there did a great job in getting the feel for the story.
Some quotes from “A Layer of Darkness”
July 16, 2014
The truth is hard. It causes trouble; it brings pain; and it’s always messy. Most people don’t even want it. But it also has a force—a brutal purity and a relentless and nasty way of finding its way out of hiding.
And then we find we don’t need it. We want to stuff it away, but it won’t go back.
A dark truth hidden eats away at—and sucks the very life from those who conceal it, and it makes us wonder sometimes if it even exists.
But it does.
The sales have started coming in.
June 19, 2014
A Layer of Darkness is out! You can now purchase a copy at Amazon .com . If you are an Amazon Prime customer, you can borrow it at no cost at the Kindle lending library. Let me know how you like it.
In Chapter 32 I describe an oval office meeting on April 24 which is 12 days into the story and the death of FDR. Truman was left out of some key discussions in the Roosevelt administration and it was considered to April 24 when Secretary of War, Henry Stimson briefed Truman on the project details. It wasn’t in the oval office in the meeting, but I picked that day to keep the timeline intact.
Probably the most interesting part is that through spies, Joseph Stalin knew about our atomic project before Truman did.
Feb 19, 2014
In the neighborhood where I grew in Santa Rosa, lived Nick De John who was was Capone Lieutenant from Chicago. Although he told people in the neighborhood he was a retired real estate investor from the midwest, in truth, he had stolen money from the mob. He was found garroted in the trunk of a Chrysler after a few drinks at La Rocca’s.
I was newly born at the time so didn’t read about it in the papers. The De John family stayed in the neighborhood and I only knew Nick junior. My mother advised me to avoid him.
Feb 17, 2014
La Rocca’s Corner a bar at the corner of Columbus and Taylor is what I would describe as a “Real Bar” If you don’t know what that means- you’ve never been to one. It is Andrew Johnson’s hangout and is not without it’s own stories.
Feb 11, 2014
Just for some side interest, Mario Romano is a childhood friend of Joe Dimaggio although closer to Joe’s brother Dominic. Dimaggio makes an appearance at a funeral later in the story.
Feb 5, 2014
The setting is San Francisco’s North Beach. At the end of World War II the early beginnings of the beat movement were appearing. I created a scene where Allen Ginsberg reads from his poem Howl
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