Monday, October 13, 2014

Please Welcome Suspense Novelist Tom Savage

Omnimystery News: Guest Post by Tom Savage
with Tom Savage

We are delighted to welcome author Tom Savage to Omnimystery News today, courtesy of TLC Book Tours, which is coordinating his current book tour. We encourage you to visit all of the participating host sites; you can find his schedule here.

Tom's new novel of suspense is A Penny for the Hangman (Alibi; October 2014 ebook formats) in which an ambitious reporter is beckoned to an island paradise for the story of a lifetime. But this scoop might just be the death of her.

His guest post for us today is titled, "A Locked Room with a View".

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Tom Savage
Photo provided courtesy of
Tom Savage

If you were to search the wide world to find the perfect geographical location for a murder mystery or suspense thriller, you would be hard put to find a scene of the crime more suitable than an island. I should know — I'm a mystery writer, and I grew up on one.

Children absorb the details of their surroundings, none more than fledgling writers. Arriving in St. Thomas, U. S. Virgin Islands, from mainland America at the impressionable age of nine, I was struck by the island's staggering beauty, and I reveled in the hills and dales and water, water everywhere. But I was also aware, even then, that there was something rather sinister about the set-up. Unless you have immediate access to a boat or a plane, you're stuck there with nowhere else to go. One of my first feelings in my new home was a vague, undefined sense of claustrophobia. I didn't know that word then, but I would learn it, and I learned its value when I began writing mysteries. What you have is a locked room, ideal for cutting your characters off from the rest of civilization. And, unlike most locked rooms, you also have lots of exotic things to describe in voluptuous detail.

No matter where in the world it is, an island is surrounded by water, and that water crashes or smashes or pounds against the shore. In warmer climes, you will find interesting animals and birds and vegetation, not to mention mountains, ravines, thick jungles, jagged rocks, and treacherous reefs. Frozen islands have all that ice and snow, of course, and the occasional polar bear. The weather in arctic or equatorial settings is particularly unpredictable. Hurricanes, heat waves, blinding snowstorms: the list is endless. The environment itself can be your character's adversary, presenting unseen challenges at every turn.

As a writer, just imagine the various delicious problems you can drop in the path of your frightened hero or cunning villain. In a sense, the good and evil people in your story have met on level ground, as it were, and are equal opponents. An island — whether or not it's inhabited by humans — is a strange experience for most people, and disorientation can be a crime writer's best friend, especially if your protagonist is Mr. Rainsford, the hero of Richard Connell's immortal short story, "The Most Dangerous Game," trying so desperately to elude the malevolent hunter, General Zaroff. Or Lucy Rose of Ken Follett's Eye of the Needle, the lonely WWII British housewife on the aptly-named Storm Island, slowly discovering that her washed-ashore houseguest, Henry Faber, is a German spy on a deadly mission, and only she can stop him and (literally!) save the world. Or — my personal favorite — the entire cast of Agatha Christie's great masterwork, And Then There Were None, brought to remote Indian Island off the coast of England and murdered, one by one, to the strains of a creepy nursery rhyme.

Is it any wonder, then, that my first two novels, Precipice and Dance of the Mongoose, were both set in St. Thomas? My latest novel, A Penny for the Hangman, is set there, too, and on a fictional nearby islet, Hangman Cay. A Penny for the Hangman was inspired by the classic stories I've mentioned above. I placed my brave young woman journalist and my psychopath on a tiny rock in the ocean with a tropical storm bearing down on them. For a writer (if not his characters), what could be better than that?

I return to island settings again and again. Reading those classics while growing up in St. Thomas, I learned an invaluable lesson. Whether in the West Indies or Hawaii or Indonesia, off the stormy coast of a dark continent or rising in the center of a placid lake, oppressively hot or freezing cold, packed with hordes of angry natives or containing only one twisted soul with a deadly agenda: an island can be the perfect place for a mystery.

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Tom Savage Book Tour

Tom Savage is the author of six previous novels and numerous short stories. His books have been published in fifteen countries, and his novel Valentine was adapted for a Warner Bros. film. Raised in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, he now lives in New York City, where he worked for many years at Murder Ink, the world's first mystery bookstore.

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

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A Penny for the Hangman by Tom Savage

A Penny for the Hangman
Tom Savage
A Suspense Thriller

Fifty years ago, on the Caribbean island of St. Thomas, two teenagers born to privilege were convicted of slaughtering their parents in cold blood. Today the men are free and a Hollywood movie has been made about the murders. For Karen Tyler, an eager New York journalist, the case is irresistible. She has been invited to the Virgin Islands for an interview that's too good to pass up … and sounds too good to be true.

Karen packs her bikini and her digital recorder and follows an ingeniously designed trail that leads her to a wealthy, mysterious figure. The man claims to be one of the notorious boys, but Karen soon learns that all is not as it seems. On this isolated utopia of sun and surf, a young reporter far from home fights for the truth — and for her life. Because the shocking secret behind the infamous atrocities has remained hidden all these years. And the killing isn't over yet. Print/Kindle Format(s) Print/Nook Format(s)  iTunes iBook Format  Kobo eBook Format

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