Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Please Welcome Crime Novelist David Hagerty

Omnimystery News: Guest Post by David Hagerty

We are delighted to welcome back author David Hagerty to Omnimystery News.

David's second in his trilogy of crime novels featuring Illinois governor Duncan Cochrane is They Tell Me You Are Crooked (Evolved Publishing; September 2016 trade paperback and ebook formats) and today he tells us the inspiration behind his first two books.

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David Hagerty
Photo provided courtesy of
David Hagerty

As a child of Chicago, I came of age amid many bizarre local crimes, from John Wayne Gacy to the Tylenol murders, but none as odd as a series of sniper killings in the city's most notorious housing project that induced the mayor to move in. In a town known for political theater, it struck everyone as a desperate scheme.

The time was 1981. I was 13 years old, living in Lincoln Park, only a mile from Cabrini Green, though a long mile socially. While I played in Oz Park, named for the illustrator of the Wizard, children in the projects feared going outside. For those old enough to remember the era, think of the opening to Good Times. That village of massive concrete towers shown during the credits are it.

During the first three months of that year, eleven people died and thirty-seven were injured by shootings in Cabrini. Several bullets launched from atop the towers, which held up to 15,000 residents in an area not much larger than a square mile.

Suspicion centered on two street gangs that warred for control of the complex. People assumed that members were shooting at each other and instead hitting bystanders, but since no charges were ever filed, no one knows for sure.

Into the crossfire stepped Jane Byrne, the city's first female mayor, and by most accounts a "tough broad." To earn the office, she beat an offspring of the political machine built by Richard J. Daley. In her first three months, she stared down strikes by teachers, firefighters, and transit workers. Even so, no one expected that two years into her term she'd take a fourth-floor apartment in Cabrini.

Journalists dismissed her move as a publicity stunt, especially since she stayed only three weeks. Except once she arrived, the shooting stopped. The entourage of police and security she brought with her probably helped, not to mention added garbage collection, parking enforcement, and other city services. Yet most people agreed that her presence drove the gangs underground, at least for a time.

As someone who often writes about true crimes, I thought it a worthy subject for a mystery.

My first novel, They Tell Me You Are Wicked, was inspired by the murder of Charles Percy's daughter six weeks before his election to the U.S. Senate in 1964. The story features Duncan Cochrane, a prosperous businessman who decides to run for governor, only to find his adult child bludgeoned in her bed. After the local police bungle the case, he uses the bully pulpit of the campaign to hunt her killer.

For the second book in my series, They Tell Me You Are Crooked, I drew inspiration from Byrne. In my version, Duncan moves in with the criminal underclass after a young woman is shot just outside Cabrini. Instead of relying on the local police, who fear and avoid the place, he uses his political savvy to seek the sniper.

After I grew up, the city demolished those towers and dispersed their residents. They hover in my memory, though, as a haunted fortress where few outsiders ventured. They represented a boundary neither I nor my friends would cross. That they lay so close to our home made them that much more menacing. Riding the El trains to downtown, I'd see that complex and wonder what made it so dangerous.

For crime writers, fiction offers the chance to reimagine our fears, to explore them in ways we never would in real life. Thus, Duncan can act more bravely than I ever did, and more selfless. He is the man I wish I'd become.

Evolved Published has released both books, and plans to carry the third in the trilogy in 2018.

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Stories about crimes have always resonated with David Hagerty. Maybe it's because he started his career as a police reporter, or because he worked for a time as a teacher in the county jail. More than a decade ago, when he decided to finally get serious about writing, he started with short stories based on real misdeeds he'd witnessed. Over time these got picked up by various magazines online and in print. More than a dozen now exist, with most of the latest in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine and Big Pulp.

For more information about the author, please visit his website at DavidHagerty.net and his author page on Goodreads, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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They Tell Me You Are Crooked by David Hagerty

They Tell Me You Are Crooked by David Hagerty

A Duncan Cochrane Mystery

Publisher: Evolved Publishing

Amazon.com Print/Kindle Format(s)BN.com Print/Nook Format(s)iTunes iBook FormatKobo eBook Format

Two years after the murder of his daughter, Governor Duncan Cochrane must hunt down a sniper and a blackmailer.

Two years have passed since the murder of Duncan Cochrane's daughter. As governor, he now holds the power to punish all criminals, yet he cannot prosecute her killer without destroying his political career.

Then two new threats emerge: a sniper begins targeting people in Chicago's most notorious housing project, Cabrini Green; and a blackmailer plans to reveal his ruinous family secret.

To protect his own family and those he governs, he moves into the tenements and begins parallel manhunts for both enemies. Along the way, he faces menacing gangs, a mysterious layman, indifferent police, and self-serving politicians, all of whom impede his investigations.

They Tell Me You Are Crooked by David Hagerty


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