Detective tries to find his murderer in new book

Posted: January 31, 2014

The Winchester Star

Tj O’Connor

Winchester — Detective Oliver “Tuck” Tucker has a doosie of a murder to investigate — his own.

On top of adjusting to life as a ghost and all that comes with that, “Tuck” is determined to find out who shot and killed him in his own home.

How well he fares with both monumental tasks is the driving force behind author Tj O’Connor’s mystery novel, “Dying to Know,” released Jan. 8.

O’Connor of Frederick County will have a book signing for the novel from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Winchester Book Gallery, 185 N. Loudoun St. The book is $14.99.

The author considers “Dying to Know” a traditional mystery with a paranormal twist rather than a ghost story.

Even in death, Tuck has a cop’s instinct, O’Connor said. He wanted the character to be a realistic small area cop with both a serious and a flippant side.

“With thrillers, the main character has to be super sexy and smart. That is great, but I wanted Tuck to be more down to earth,” he said. “I wanted him to be flawed. When he dies and comes back, those flaws come out.”

“Dying to Know” is the first book in a series featuring the ghostly detective that will be published by Midnight Ink Books in Woodbury, Minn., an imprint of Llewellyn Worldwide that prints mysteries of all kinds.

A second book, “Dying for the Past,” has already been sent to the publisher and he started on a third in late 2013, O’Connor said. Each book will have both a current murder and a historical component.

Midnight Ink wanted to publish O’Connor’s novel because it offers a point of view the publisher hadn’t seen in its other books, said Amelia Narigon, publicist. There is a strong subset of mystery fiction that features ghosts or other supernatural entities as characters, but there aren’t as many books where the main character is both a ghost and a detective.

The book gives the traditional police procedural story a much needed twist and “offers a host of unique obstacles for the protagonist,” she said. “In this book, we saw the potential to draw in a wide range of readers because it is such an interesting mix of traditional police procedural and edgier paranormal fiction.”

A detective story, featuring a ghost, wasn’t a book O’Connor was looking to write. He had already written three thrillers that have yet to be published when he told his daughter about a recurring nightmare he had for about 20 years “that I was killed and came back to try to find my killer.”

She talked him into exploring the idea for a book, and he surprised himself by liking it. He didn’t go too deeply into the world of the paranormal in his research, wanting to keep the mystery the focus, but he got up to speed “on what types of things were considered reasonable.”

Tuck is a mix of experiences and characteristics that the author sees in himself or other people he has known in his career in law enforcement.

O’Connor is currently an independent security consultant in Northern Virginia. His practice works with government agencies and private businesses providing anti-terrorism consulting, security programs, and all types of investigations.

Prior to that, he worked as a senior executive of a global risk mitigation firm and a government agent in the anti-terrorism field, he said.

He has always loved writing, but between working and raising five children with his wife, it usually took a back seat. He started taking more time with it about a decade ago but focused on thrillers.

“I am new to the marketplace. I really am a thriller writer who by accident wrote a cozy mystery and enjoyed it,” he said.

Information

The Winchester Book Gallery, 185 N. Loudoun St., will host a book signing for Tj O’Connor’s “Dying to Know” from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. For more information, contact 540-667-3444.

— Contact Laura McFarland at lmcfarland@winchesterstar.com