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My love affair with the mystery genre started with Ian Fleming’s James Bond gems when I was in graduate school at Berkeley. The paperbacks were easily concealed, and I was usually packing one in those days. In the eighties, I lived in the espionage capital of Europe–Geneva–so naturally I turned to the spy thrillers of Greene, le Carre, Travanian, and Furst. When I repatriated, I was thirsty for American novels. I lived Mosley’s and Connelly’s L.A., Paretski’s Chicago, Hillerman’s Four Corners and Burke’s gulf coast. Now my reading time has heavy competition from my writing, but I love the Northwest mystery writers like Crumley, Ford, and Margolin. Clearly, the Northwest’s unique blend of eye-popping natural beauty, optimistic, resilient people, dark winters and crazy beautiful summers has inspired some great crime fiction.
I started writing my own mysteries five years ago. I moved to Oregon intent on reinventing myself, so it was only natural that I had my protagonist, Calvin Claxton III, do the same, although I moved from the deep south and Cal from Los Angeles. However, Cal’s motives were born of tragedy–the suicide of his wife. A workaholic prosecutor for the city of L.A., Cal underestimated the depth of his wife’s depression and missed the danger signals. So as a guilt ridden, shattered man, he moves to the small town of Dundee, Oregon, in the heart of Oregon’s wine country, starts a one man law practice and buys an old farmhouse up in the Dundee Hills he calls his Aerie. He has a daughter in grad school at Berkeley, and his only companion is Archie, a precocious Australian shepherd. Cal’s a lonely man who takes solace in the ever changing natural beauty of his surroundings and the meditative relief he finds in fly fishing.
Struggling to regain an emotional foothold, Cal develops a reputation as a man who will fight for his clients, even if they lack financial resources. He’ll take on cases no one else will touch, and go the extra mile to get at the truth no matter what the cost. The cases often put him at odds with the code of his profession and in incredible danger. In this way, Cal begins to find meaning in his life and maybe even a shot at redemption.