Dark and, at times, amusing fiction from award-winning author Dave Zeltserman

Sunday, March 17, 2019

About my Morris Brick serial killer thriller series

I’d had fourteen novels and dozens of short stories published by the time I sold my first Morris Brick thriller, Deranged, to Kensington Books, and my editor, Michaela Hamilton, thought it would be a good idea to differentiate this new thriller series by using a pseudonym. It made sense. While the Julius Katz mystery stories published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine turned into an accidental series, and my ‘man out of prison’ books published by Serpent’s Tail could be looked at as a noir trilogy, this will be my first planned thriller series. The tone of these books are also going to be different than my darker crime noir novels, or my moody and supernaturally-tinged A Killer’s Essence, or my metaphysical crime thrillers Bad Thoughts and Bad Karma. My Morris Brick thrillers will be suspenseful crime thrillers with a dark edge, humor, lots of surprises and twists, and rapid-paced plots. They’re also going to be written more along the lines of the stories I write for Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine: little to no profanity, no onscreen sex, and while the violence will by horrifying and gruesome it will either take place off screen or be described with minimal detail. Also the protagonist, Morris Brick, will be someone the reader will want to root for, as will his bull terrier, Parker.

So how did I come up with the pseudonym Jacob Stone? Well, it was a team effort with Kensington Books! I also liked the symmetry between Brick and Stone, and that Stone suggests someone solid. Also, after using my long and somewhat difficult name, Zeltserman, with my other books, I liked the idea of a simple author name for these thrillers. Why Jacob for the first name? No idea. It just sounded right.

A little bit about these books. My protagonist, Morris Brick, will be a former LAPD homicide detective who has recently started his own investigative firm, Morris Brick Investigation (MBI). When Deranged begins, Morris is working as a consultant on a serial-killer film. Morris is smart, tough, resourceful, and dogged when he’s on a case. He is described physically as follows: ‘Well, he certainly wasn’t handsome, not with his big ears, thick, long nose, spindly legs and short, compact body. Maybe more comical looking than unattractive. In many ways Morris proved the old adage about a dog owner resembling his pet, since he looked quite a bit like his bull terrier, Parker.' Hollywood, the film industry, and the obsessive desire for fame and notoriety will be an undercurrent running through these books.

While Morris, the supporting cast, and Morris’s inimitable bull terrier, Parker, remain constant, I’ve written a very different type of crime thriller with each book in the series. The first, DERANGED, flips the readers expectations halfway through. CRAZED uses my favorite plot device—an interloper that messes everything up for everyone. MALICIOUS is constructed as a devious Rube Goldberg machine. CRUEL is written as a series of cascading mysteries. The final book in the series (so far) UNLEASHED is more psychological suspense and crime-oriented. While they’re very different from each other, I use the same structure for each of them, mixing in chapters from past and present, and by doing this I can dig deeper into the killer’s evolution and his motivations.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

My 5th Morris Brick crime thriler UNLEASHED out today!

Scream Magazine on UNLEASHED: "This was my first experience with a Stone novel, but it’s made me an instant fan. His writing style reminds me of Jim Thompson, Dashiell Hammett, and other veterans of hard-boiled detective and mystery stories. His style is no frills, tough, and gritty, and he’s not averse to breaking a few conventional rules and unleashing some unexpected surprises. As far as detective mysteries go, Unleashed is a winner that keeps you on your toes and guessing throughout."

My own opinion--this has some of my best writing and is one of my best crime thrillers.

Jeffery Deaver on UNLEASHED: “A roller coaster ride between covers! A skillful blend of psychological and investigative thriller writing, Unleashed brings back the great Morris Brick and his crew, who have to stop a horrific series of murders in L.A. Rarely is an author so skilled at portraying such unremitting evil and the poignant, human side of his characters in a single tale.”

UNLEASHED has been unleashed today. I hope folks give it a read.