Targeted Age Group:: Adult
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
A feeling there are a lot of Jake Barnes in the world–people who take on rightuous causes not out of personal interest but because the job needs doing.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I started with a person who is so embittered by his relations with women that he’s capable of murder when he thinks he can get away with it. Then I needed someone who wouldn’t be satisfied when his own department placed “accidental death” on the case folder. That was Jake who is now retired and who decides when he learns the same person may have commited another murder that he has to do something about it.
Jake didn’t know Angela Boyer. Nor, for that matter, did he know any of the other names listed at the bottom of the obituary––except for one––Dr. Bernard Johns, a local dentist he had questioned seven years previously when a woman with whom Johns had been skiing fell to her death in Thatcher Park. Jake had never been satisfied with Dr. Johns’ rendition of what happened. Jake felt they had closed the investigation too early when his superiors at the Albany Police Department had declared the woman’s death an accident, clearing Johns of any wrongdoing.
That case would have remained filed among the many others where the pieces don’t quite fit, except for a second instance of an unexplained death with a connection to Dr. Johns. The body of a local woman was found at the bottom of a mountain trail in the Catskill region of New York State three and a half years ago. There were no obvious signs of foul play and again, the death was ruled an accident. Jake thought it suspicious that a hiking club member would have gone up a difficult trail without a companion. Following his hunch, Jake had obtained a list of the hiking club’s members. One name stuck out: Dr. Bernard Johns.
Now Johns’ name had come up again in connection with the death of yet another area woman.
Taken separately, each of the three deaths might seem to have logical explanations, but Jake hadn’t been a cop for thirty years without learning to detect guilt in a person’s bearing. Something in Johns’ demeanor had bothered him on that cold February afternoon seven years ago when he and his partner questioned Dr. Johns.
He still remembered Johns’ exact words: “If she hadn’t been so anxious to get a better view, she’d be alive today. Some women don’t know when to stop.” Later when he asked him to describe Feldman, he included the word “pushy” along with smart, athletic, and attractive.
Had the fact that he’d gotten away with murdering Joanne Feldman emboldened Johns to commit additional murders? Was Angela Boyer yet another of his victims?
The question was, what could he do about it and why should he bother? Jake had been forced to retire from the Albany Police Department three months earlier after having failed a medical exam. He had been given the choice of going out on disability or retiring. He chose the latter. As a result, he had no legal standing to investigate Bernard Johns on his own, and he doubted that Art Keller would welcome his suggestion that someone look into what happened to Angela Boyer.
In the Game is Peter G. Pollak’s fourth self-published novel. A resident of Albany (NY) for 40 years, he edited two alternative newspapers, worked as a lobbyist, an educator, and started a media business. He currently splits his time between upstate New York and Howard County, Maryland.