Author of the Month

Name: Gregg Hurwitz

First Novel: The Tower

Most Recent Book: We Know

'The storyline plays out in your minds eye like the best thriller movie you’ve ever experienced.'

Nick Horrigan was a normal kid of seventeen until his stepfather, Frank, is killed one night, supposedly by an intruder at their home. But Frank wasn’t a normal guy who lived a normal life. He was in the Secret Service and looked after an eminent politician with many enemies. Was Frank dispatched because of his loyalty and allegiance to the man he was paid to protect?

Years later Nick is visited during the night by a SWAT team who have cornered a terrorist on a nuclear plant. The terrorist has requested to talk to Nick. But Nick has never heard of the man in his life. How does this man who has threatened to blow up the whole state know someone who lives a simple life? Facing the terrorist, their meeting is all too brief, but it proves to be the catalyst that changes everything in Nick’s life. Nick has had enough of running away from situations when he or his family were threatened. Now he is determined to get to the truth of what happened all those years ago. He knows he wasn’t to blame and now he will find out who is. But he is up against some very powerful people who will stop at nothing to keep the truth hidden. They know everything about him…and they will use everything they know to stop him…

Given the right push Gregg Hurwitz will, without doubt, be among the big breakthrough crime/thriller authors of 2008. We Know starts breathlessly and concludes 350 pages later with all the pace of a galloping racehorse nearing the finishing line. Many writers find it difficult to continue such fast momentum over a considerable length of book. Hurwitz has clearly mastered the art with his last book, I See You and this, his latest. The storyline plays out in your minds eye like the best thriller movie you’ve ever experienced.

With all the current global interest in the election of the new American president, it is interesting to see that the storyline in this book is played out during the run up to an election – a race for the White House. Aside from being a blistering read, We Know is also topical and takes a shrewd look at politics, especially when we have seen already this year what some politicians are willing to do to hold on to their mantel of power. And Hurwitz shows this unseemly side of politics which is enwrapped in a powerful, fast paced thriller.

Nick Horrigan is everyman; he represents you and me in the most extreme circumstances imaginable, and because he’s doing it for us we’re willing him to win out ‘til the very last sentence. As with many thrillers that are produced these days, you can be assured that it won’t be long before ‘We Know’ is on the silver screen. However, I think any film studio will most probably wait until after the final count has been verified come November!

'We Know' you'll love this book!

Reviewed by: C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating


1) How would you classify your writing, and do you consciously try to write to a certain style or genre?
I think “crime fiction” is the easiest label, because my books, though they’re mostly thrillers, have mystery elements as well. They’re fast-paced and mayhem ensues, but I try to focus on character in a way that “whodunnit” or “whydunnit” isn’t the only aim.
2) What type of crime or thriller novels do you like to read? Do you prefer series or standalone?
I like gritty, character-driven stuff, with a bit more darkness to it. And language is important to me - I like reading authors who take the extra step, who have an ear for cadence and poetry. Lehane is a favourite. I just discovered Jesse Kellerman, who is a terrific talent. And though I probably prefer standalones, there are a number of series I love - the work of Robert Crais and Lee Child particularly.
3) 'We Know’ takes place during a Presidential race for the White House. Was this written with the forthcoming US Presidential election in mind?
Not specifically. But I must say, although this is not a book about politics, I think it examines some of the frustrations and apathy that are making this election such a watershed one. At the end of the day it is Nick’s story, about the choices he makes and risks he takes when immersed in danger of the highest order. He is confronting power, and this power, this threat, seems to be connected with the Secret Service and something they are protecting. And here’s Nick - an apolitical guy yanked into the middle of this deadly game.
4) You write at a breakneck speed. How difficult is it to maintain this pace in a book?
It’s one of the biggest challenges - to make the right choices and the right cuts to keep the story hurtling along. My aim is always to do enough work on my end to make readers lose themselves in the story, to forget they’re even reading. And to try to have there be enough cliffhangs and twists, but to make sure that they don’t feel contrived, that I’m not just twisting the plot for its own sake. I always want the action and danger to feel real, like the reader’s been dropped into the middle of something they have to sprint to keep pace with.
5) Nick Horrigan isn’t exactly the most endearing of characters. What made you decide on such a damaged man to play the central role in your book?
Endearing isn’t always primary for me. What’s essential is that he’s compelling, that he’s likeable, and that readers feel connected to him and what he’s going through. Because of the traumas Nick has survived in his past, I hope that readers are pulling for him as the book opens - on what will prove to be the most dangerous day of his life.
6) How much research do you have to go through to make your books authentic? Do you have contacts in different areas of ‘the system’?
I do a lot of research - it always takes a ton of research to pick the one or two telling details that best serve the story. Over the course of writing my books, I’ve sneaked onto explosive ranges with Navy SEALs to blow up cars, gone undercover into mind-control cults, and stood in on autopsies. And I’ve also built up a really good group of contacts over the years, so I can pretty much get to an expert in whatever field I need to at this point—anyone from explosive breachers to spies to SWAT marksmen. This has been one of the most rewarding parts of my job, and I’m pleased to count a lot of these men and women as my friends. I find if I do the legwork and research before I get to them, they’re always happy, even excited, to help, particularly when we’re having a conversation at a higher level than batting around stuff you can dig up on the Internet.
7) You have also worked for Marvel comics and resurrected a comic character. Do you think that your enthusiasm for comics gives you the edge to write fast paced thrillers?
It probably went into my mental blender back when I was reading Spiderman and the Punisher as a wayward youth. I was - and am - addicted to narrative. I love it. I’d written seven novels by the time Marvel approached me to write some comics for them, and it was interesting to reexamine how comics influenced me as a kid, and to re-immerse myself in them as an adult - to bring the skills I’d developed to crafting comics.
8) You have written four books featuring Tim Rackley and previous stand alone novels. Is it easier to write stand alones rather than books containing a series character? Or vice versa? What are your reasons for preferring to write one to the other?
I gravitate to stand-alones. My first three novels were stand-alones, and I actually conceived of the first Rackley book as a stand-alone as well. I’ve been told that for a series, the Rackley books read as stand-alones. I did enjoy working with Tim and Dray over the course of four books, and especially tracing Tim’s development as pertains to vigilantism, the central theme of the series. But I think something really broke loose with I See You and - especially - We Know. You can put characters in incredibly unique situations and find really powerful hooks when there is no pressure to make the story adhere to previous (and future) mythology. There is just this one story, this one character on this given day. And for Nick, as we see in the opening chapter, that given that provides him the challenge of a lifetime.
9) Without giving away the plot, which book - yours or by another author - included your favourite plot twist of all time?
I thought Connelly’s second-act turn in Bloodwork was a thing of genius.
10) What is your favorite movie adaptation of a crime novel?
Apocalypse Now would have to top that list. The Stepford Wives was fairly spectacular. And recently, I thought Gone Baby, Gone was really solid, and portrayed Boston beautifully.
11) Would you describe yourself as a crime fiction or thriller fan in general and, if so, which authors do you most admire and why?
Yes. As I’ve mentioned, I’m a big fan of Dennis Lehane because he stretches each time out, and tries new things. Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn blew me away. His focus on character and language is spectacular. And always and of course, Thomas Harris. Red Dragon is a flawless novel, and the greatest thriller I’ve ever read. Harris has the whole package - his plotting and structural sense are superb, and he writes with a depth of knowledge and an empathy for character that outpaces most authors read at university. His dialogue too - and the poetry of his prose - totally unique and compelling and sophisticated without losing their gut appeal.
12) What is your favourite crime read of all time?
Red Dragon. And Macbeth has gotta be up there. In some ways, it’s the perfect mob thriller.