Sunday, 30 July 2017 00:45

Mystery Scene continues its look at authors’ writing process. Today, Jason Pinter shares how he wrote The Castle, a political thriller.

Politics With a Twist

By Jason Pinter

pinterjason thecastle
How do you write a political thriller about a billionaire businessman who runs for president on a populist campaign, upturning the political landscape like a bull in a china shop, and not have it feel a little too familiar?

That was the question I faced while writing my new novel The Castle, which centers a young man, Remy Stanton who joins the campaign of billionaire Rawson Griggs and watches the country nearly tear itself apart.

So how do you make a story that’s led the news every day for two years feel fresh?

First off, you take everything people will think they know about the characters, and make them do a 180 degree turn.

So “you know who” in the White House appears to lack impulse control?

Well, there’s a method to Rawson Griggs’s madness. If Rawson appears unhinged—that may be how he wants to appear.

He’s thought this through. He knows how to play emotions—and voters—like a Stradivarius.

And what about Alena Griggs, the brilliant, poised heiress to one of the world’s biggest companies?

Does that person familiar? Well, not in this book.

You see, in The Castle, Alena may be the billionaire’s daughter, but she has some serious reservations what money and fame have done to her personal life.

She may be her father’s daughter, but Alena has serious reservations about following in his footsteps.

In fact, she married an accountant (yes, an accountant) because she wanted a normal life.

And how’s that regular dude holding up in the face of the media and political scrutiny? Not so great…

So, as a writer, how do you stay away from political reality?

Well, Rawson Griggs isn’t running for President as a Republican. But he’s not running as a Democrat either.

So how is he running? Let’s just say he’s looking toward America’s past to pave its future. What came before the tea party?

As for Remy Stanton, my protagonist, well, Remy is just like us. He works a soulless corporate job.

He didn’t expect to find himself in the eye of the hurricane of the most controversial election ever.

Part of Remy, a big part, loves the power and attention that comes with being in Rawson’s campaign. But when he starts to notice a nasty undercurrent, he may have to give it all up to protect the ones he loves. And that might just include an heiress.

The Castle is a thrilled that takes today’s headlines and your expectations, throws them in a blender, and presses puree.

 I hope you enjoy the read. And just remember: Politics is War.

Jason Pinter is the author of the new novel The Castle, as well as the bestselling author of five novels in his Henry Parker series, which have been nominated for the Thriller, Strand Critics, Shamus, Barry and RT Reviewers Choice awards, with over a million copies in print worldwide. He is also the founder and publisher of Polis Books. Visit him at or follow him at @JasonPinter.

Sunday, 16 July 2017 20:51


The International Thriller Writers (ITW) 2017 Thriller Awards winners were announced on July 15, 2017, at the Grand Hyatt in New York City during the ITW Thrillerfest XII (July 11-15, 2017).

Congratulations to the winners, marked below in bold red.

You Will Know Me, by Megan Abbott (Little, Brown and Company)
Where It Hurts, by Reed Farrel Coleman (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
Before the Fall, by Noah Hawley (Grand Central Publishing)
Arrowood, by Laura McHugh (Spiegel & Grau)
Underground Airlines, by Ben H. Winters (Mulholland Books)

Deadly Kiss, by Bob Bickford (Black Opal Books)
Type and Cross, by J.L. Delozier (WiDo Publishing)
Recall, by David McCaleb (Lyrical Underground)
The Drifter, by Nicholas Petrie (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
Palindrome, by E.Z. Rinsky (Witness Impulse)

In the Clearing, by Robert Dugoni (Thomas & Mercer)
The Body Reader, by Anne Frasier (Thomas & Mercer)
The Minoan Cipher, by Paul Kemprecos (Suspense Publishing)
Kill Switch, by Jonathan Maberry (St. Martin’s Griffin)
Salvage, by Stephen Maher (Dundurn)

"The Business of Death," by Eric Beetner in Unloaded: Crime Writers Writing Without Guns (Down & Out Books)
"The Peter Rabbit Killers," by Laura Benedict in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine
"The Man from Away," by Brendan DuBois in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine
"Big Momma," by Joyce Carol Oates in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine
"Parallel Play," by Art Taylor in Chesapeake Crimes: Storm Warning (Wildside Press)

Morning Star, by Pierce Brown (Del Rey)
Holding Smoke, by Elle Cosimano (Disney-Hyperion)
Steeplejack, by A.J. Hartley (TOR Teen)
Thieving Weasels, by Billy Taylor (Dial Books)
The Darkest Corners, by Kara Thomas (Delacorte Press)

Romeo's Way, by James Scott Bell (Compendium Press)
The Edge of Alone, by Sean Black (Sean Black)
Untouchable, by Sibel Hodge (Wonder Women Publishing)
Destroyer of Worlds, by J.F. Penn (J.F. Penn)
Breaker, by Richard Thomas (Alibi)

Tom Doherty

SILVER BULLET LITERARY AWARD (for charitable work)
Lisa Gardner

ITW 2017 Thriller Award Winners Announced
Sunday, 25 June 2017 20:15

Loch Ness on Acorn TV Laura Fraser as Annie Redford Siobhan Finneran as DCI Lauren Quigley EPISODE1 15
The Loch Ness Monster is one of those monster tales that has always fascinated me.

Does it, or did Nessie ever exist? Could it have been a dinosaur that somehow survived? A real monster lurking under the water? Or a figment of many imaginations? A legend that somehow became more real than reality?

The myth provides some of the backstory for the atmospheric new six-part crime drama Loch Ness that will stream on Acorn TV through July 24. It began June 19 so now you can start bingeing, because you will not be satisfied with watching just episode at a time. (A screener of the first four episodes was provided for review.)

Scotland’s famous loch is a stunning place to visit, so naturally it makes an evocative setting for the imaginative Loch Ness, written by Stephen Brady (Fortitude, Vera). The small town of Lochnafoy relies on its monster, Nessie, for its tourist trade. Without the legend of Nessie, most people would not have heard of the town. And local residents aren’t above “creating” their own monsters, cobbling animal skeletons to resemble a Nessie, and posting the photos. It brings in the press, and visitors. It’s good for business.

But murder isn’t good for business.

lochness acorn2
D.S. Annie Redford (Laura Fraser) is called in to solve her first murder case—or maybe cases. The body of local resident Niall Swift, a piano teacher, is found at the foot of Carn Mohr Mountain and, in an unrelated situation, an isolated human heart turns up on the loch shore. The deaths rock the small town’s residents who wonder if the killer is one of them.

Suspicion falling on local residents is a common theme in crime fiction, but Loch Ness rises above the clichéd for a gripping tale of a community and a woman juggling her career and her family life, especially her stubborn teenage daughter, Evie.

Loch Ness also becomes a female buddy series as Annie Redford teams up with DCI Lauren Quigley (Siobhan Finneran, who played Clare on Happy Valley and scheming maid Sarah O’Brien on Downton Abbey).

The series also features Don Gilet as forensic profiler, Blake Albrighton, who assists on the case. He has an unusual way of working but is known for getting results.

Laura Fraser—so terrific as the coolly lethal Lydia on Breaking Bad—is equally effective as an insightful detective trying to prove her skills to her colleagues, and herself. The scenes with Fraser and Finneran provide some of the most tense and intelligent.

The shots of the untamed nature near Lochnafoy are gorgeous and will make you want to book a trip to Scotland tomorrow—or after you’ve seen all six episodes.

Photos: Laura Fraser, left in both photos, and Siobhan Finneran right in both photos; photos courtesy Acorn TV

TV Series “Loch Ness” and Real Monsters
Oline H. Cogdill