Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Please Welcome Author Gil Reavill

Omnimystery News: Guest Post by Gil Reavill
with Gil Reavill

We are delighted to welcome author Gil Reavill to Omnimystery News, 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.

Gil's debut thriller is 13 Hollywood Apes (Alibi; December 2014 ebook formats), a chilling tale of murder and mayhem among humans and their closest evolutionary relatives — a primate family that may just be too close for comfort.

Gil titles his guest post for us today, "Cops I Have Known and Loved".

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Gil Reavill
Photo provided courtesy of
Gil Reavill

Sooner or later, if you write about crime, you find yourself dealing with officers of the law. There doesn't seem to be any way around it. Mostly, I've had tremendous luck, met some really good police officers and even gotten to know a couple of truly great ones, but still … The prevailing street wisdom seems to be that one should avoid police as much as possible. As Woody Guthrie sang in Hobo's Lullaby (a song by Goebel Reeves): "I know the police cause you trouble/They cause trouble everywhere/But when you die and go to Heaven/You'll find no policemen there."

I never had the honor to meet my favorite cop of all time, Sergeant Ed Croswell of the New York State Police. Croswell was the investigator who single-handedly busted up the infamous 1957 mob conference in Apalachia, NY. Ed Croswell died in 1990, before I ever had a thought to do a project on the summit. But I feel I know him better than any other law officer. I went in deep researching his actions and character for my book, Mafia Summit: J. Edgar Hoover, the Kennedy Brothers, and the Meeting That Unmasked the Mob.

"At the core of Apalachin," I wrote, introducing Croswell in the book, "there is a bedrock-basic story, one of the oldest known, a hero's tale, the always heartening, always startling phenomenon of a good man in the right place at the right time doing the right thing." I got to know Ed through his son, Lt. Robert Croswell, also of the NY State Police. Bob kept his father's archives and told me a lot of stories, so he figures in as another one of my favorite police officers.

When I did a series of crime articles for Maxim magazine, I met a lot of homicide detectives. One of the finest was NYPD Detective Jim Hawkins, whom I worked with on a story about a cross-dressing smash-and-grab gang leader (honest). When Jim read the piece, he called me up and told me he was very disappointed in it.

"Why?" I asked, my heart sinking.

"Because you didn't actually come right out and call me Superman," he said, laughing.

Well, I had laid it on pretty heavy about how great the guy was.

At times I've gotten in trouble hanging out with law enforcement through no fault of the officers themselves. I wrote a piece called "Drugfellas" for Maxim magazine on Operation Magnolia, one of the DEA's biggest coke stings. Mark Minelli of the DEA's South Florida office was great, a superb source all the way. Here's how I intro'd him the article.

"Everybody said the same thing about special agent Mark Minelli of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Miami field office: He was open and personable, a decent guy. But underneath he was a bulldog. Once he got hold of something, he didn't let go. Minelli was 5'8", but he wasn't the kind of man anyone would describe as short. Besides, he was a lot taller standing on his badge."

The story came out pretty well. The DEA supplied us with a sheaf of visuals, photos of people interviewed in the case. The editors neglected to vet them, and neither did I. Dave Hilton of the Maxim art department unknowingly cooked up a fine double-truck spread of the all the photos the DEA provided, with the title "Drugfellas" splashed across the page in lurid red letters.

There was only one problem. Not all the folks in the photos had been convicted, indicted, or even arrested. We send a rough of the article to Minelli, who caught the screw-up just in time. Maxim was looking at a dozen million-dollar libel lawsuits. The issue had been printed but, luckily, had not been yet distributed. The magazine made a bonfire of the offending copies, reprinted the whole issue, and the publisher spanked me for being the cause of the whole mess.

Usually the relationship between cop and writer is not especially cozy. When I was researching my book on crime-scene clean-up, Aftermath, Inc.: Cleaning Up After CSI Goes Home, I called the public information officer of the Evanston, Illinois police department and inquired about a murder case that had gone six months cold.

"It's an ongoing investigation," the p.i.o. told me.

I just need to know how many detectives were involved in the investigation, I told him.

"It's an ongoing investigation," he repeated.

Are there any police on the case from outside Evanston?

"It's an ongoing investigation."

I asked him a lot of other questions, too. Officer Stonewall always had the same four-word response (five if you count the contraction as two).

"I'm sorry," I told him as I rang off. "I must have gotten connected to the public dis-information officer." The case, by the way, remains cold and unsolved.

Another police encounter that left me scratching my head happened when an art director whipped up an imaginative graphic to illustrate a magazine article about a torture-murder in Elephant Butte, New Mexico. The killer had a small soundproofed trailer parked in the back of his mobile home, a little shop of horrors that he named the Toy Box. We gave the description of the trailer and all its ghoulish contents to a graphic artist, who came up with a superb visual imagining the scene of the crime as seen via X-ray vision. All the toys were there, the whips, the chains, the re-purposed gynecological chair, seen in ghostly outline.

After the piece hit the newsstands, a representative of the Albuquerque police called the magazine, wanting to know how I had gotten access to the trailer, which was still in police custody. The query didn't exactly give me a lot of confidence in the reasoning powers of the police, at least not in this case.

For my crime novel, 13 Hollywood Apes, I got to imagine my own detective, an investigator for the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department named Layla Remington. She probably isn't the last police officer I'll get to know. As Raymond Chandler has it in The Long Goodbye, "I never saw any of them again — except the cops. No way has yet been invented to say goodbye to them."

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Gil Reavill Book Tour

Gil Reavill is a journalist, screenwriter, and playwright. He lives in New York with his wife, Jean Zimmerman, and their daughter.

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13 Hollywood Apes by Gil Reavill

13 Hollywood Apes
Gil Reavill
A Layla Remington Mystery

As a wildfire rages outside the Odalon Animal Sanctuary in the rugged Santa Monica foothills, the retired Hollywood movie chimpanzees housed there are shot and left for dead. When Malibu detective Layla Remington reaches the grisly scene the next morning, she's deeply disturbed — and even more confused. The victims are not human, so the attack cannot be classified as homicide. Yet someone clearly wanted these animals dead, and executed them with ruthless efficiency. Miraculously, there is one survivor: a juvenile male named Angle.

But as Layla reaches the veterinarian's office where Angle is recovering, a man with rock-star good looks and a laid-back Southern California attitude swoops in and removes him. And just like that, an unusual case turns truly bizarre. Soon reports surface of ferocious attacks against Odalon employees … with Angle as the prime suspect. As a wave of senseless violence reaches its apex, Layla chases a mystery man and his chimp — but everything comes back to that terrible night at the sanctuary. Print/Kindle Format(s) Print/Nook Format(s)  iTunes iBook Format  Kobo eBook Format

1 comment:

  1. Hey ON & Lance Wright,
    Thanks for letting me ramble on a bit about my cop friends and for the notice about Thirteen Hollywood Apes, just published yesterday and available wherever fine e-books are sold.


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