The proofread/clean-up/light edit for the PI novel I’ll make available for Kindle at month’s end is complete. Took me six weeks and included removing a chapter, adding a chapter, and cutting almost two thousand words from what I’d thought was a tightly-written 74,000-word manuscript. I take that as a good sign, that something written several years ago and edited at my then-agent’s behest didn’t measure up to my current standards. What that says about my standards will be up to any readers I accumulate.
I’m pushing this story out in advance of the November 21 release of Grind Joint for a reason. My first novels—two that will never see the light of day, and three more currently waiting on my hard drive—were about Chicago private investigator Nick Forte. Forte grew up in Western Pennsylvania and went to Northwestern for a music degree. Became a teacher in the Chicago Public Schools, then a cop when he decided he’d rather be armed and deal with criminals than defenseless in a room full of high school kids. Liked the work more than the discipline and drifted into becoming a PI.
Forte is divorced, with a young daughter he adores. He has separation and guilt issues, which have not led him into a bottle, but have created problems of their own. One way or another, he’s drawn to cases that involve parents and children, which not only rubs his nerve raw, but become increasingly violent. It’s wearing him down.
While drafting the outline for Grind Joint, I realized Forte could be from the same small town where the story takes place. Even better, his mother is the sister of Grind Joint’s main character, and the two cousins are close. Forte then became a secondary, but pivotal, character in Grind Joint. I’m hoping this earlier story will flesh him out a little, even though the events of A Small Sacrifice take place several years before Grind Joint. Anyone who reads both will see how far he’s slipped. Hopefully, they’ll want to read the other Forte novels to see how it happened.