Author of the Month

Name: Joseph Finder

First Novel: Red Carpet

Most Recent Book: Suspicion

'It has been a long wait for his ardent fans, but ‘Suspicion’ is definitely a book worth waiting for.'

Danny Goodman's nightmare began with a quick handshake and a friendly smile.

Danny’s teenage daughter, Abby is the light of his life. Her mother died last year, and he is desperate to keep everything as normal as possible. But the situation is bad. Danny can't afford the private school Abby adores, and he can't bear to tell his daughter he has failed her.

By a stroke of brilliant luck, Danny meets Thomas Galvin, the father of his daughter's best friend and one of the richest men in Boston. But when Danny accepts a loan from him, the authorities turn up at his door. Now Danny has a choice. Face prison, or become part of a sting operation to bring down his new best friend - and one of the most dangerous men in the country.

Due to one reason or another it has been three long years since Joseph Finder’s last book. It has been a long wait for his ardent fans, but ‘Suspicion’ is definitely a book worth waiting for.

From the first page until the last my attention was held in a vice-like grip as Finder toyed with my emotions and ratcheted up the tension to unbelievable levels. The way he created the tension and suspense is a masterpiece of writing as the story wasn’t all car chases or gunfights. (A trigger isn’t pulled until the final stand-off). Murders happen off the page and the one torture scene is so wonderfully done it’s almost understated despite being utterly terrifying.

Danny Goodman is a likeable chap, in a terrible situation and as the story progresses his true character is revealed. Thomas Galvin is a good foil for the lead and the other characters all play their parts ably. For me the standout character among the supporting cast was the chilling Dr Mendoza who is one of the best baddies I’ve read this year.

As you would expect from someone of Finder’s standing, the prose is faultless, but as far as I’m concerned, the plotting and narrative is where the author’s greatest skills lie, the way he drew me in and then twisted my emotions while tricking me with twists and double crosses left me marvelling at his ability.

Reviewed by: G.S.

CrimeSquad Rating


1) What first attracted you to crime writing?
The same thing that attracted me to reading crime novels: the opportunity to experience danger without actually putting myself in danger. As a kid in upstate New York, I was as far as anyone could get from the glamorous lives of the hard-boiled private eye or the international spy, but I could live those lives vicariously on the page. Then I realized I could take that one step further and actually make up my own stories.
2) ‘Suspicion’ is a very tense and fast-paced novel, yet you have left out almost all of the usual elements such as car chases, ticking clocks and acts of violence. Why did you choose to write a novel this way?
I wanted to write a story that was rooted in everyday life - an ordinary guy dropped into extraordinary circumstances, but not so extraordinary that readers couldn’t relate. It’s a powerful connection when a reader recognizes elements of his or her own life in the pages of a thriller. That’s why psychological suspense is the purest form of suspense.
3) In ‘Suspicion’, there is a wonderful bond between Danny and his daughter Abby which is matched with Thomas Galvin and his daughter Jenna. Was it important to you that both Danny and Galvin had to have similar relationships with their daughters?
Yes, it’s central to the plot, because those similar relationships form the basis of Danny’s first connection with Galvin. Without their daughters’ friendship, these are two men who might never know each other at all and certainly wouldn’t recognize anything they had in common. But Galvin recognizes Danny’s commitment to his daughter as something that’s powerful within his own heart, and that recognition sparks the friendship.
4) There’s a torture scene with Dr Mendoza which is eerily terrifying in its simplicity. Without giving any spoilers, is that part of the novel true or is it just your own creation?
I’m known for hands-on research, but in that case, the scene came from my imagination. However, it’s inspired by real-life accounts of similar practices among the drug cartels.
5) It has been three years since your last release. Why has there been such a delay between novels?
Midway through my 3rd Nick Heller novel, I changed publishers. My last publisher was extremely successful in building my brand and establishing me as a bestseller, but I disagreed with their direction. They wanted me to be ‘the CEO of suspense’, meaning novels set in the corporate world. That’s only part of what I do. I see myself as writing about ordinary people in extraordinary situations, plain and simple. And my new publisher wanted to launch me in the biggest way possible, with a standalone novel rather than with another in the Nick Heller series.
6) You are best known for standalone novels but also have a series character in Nick Heller. When can we expect to see the next Nick Heller novel?
I love Nick Heller, who was the protagonist of the last two books before ‘Suspicion’ (Heller titles: ‘Vanished’ and ‘Buried Secrets’). In many ways, it’s easier to write a series character; I’m not reinventing the world in each new book. I already know Nick and his colleagues and his family. I’m writing another standalone now, because that’s what my publishers asked for — but that third Nick Heller novel is still on my computer, and I’m looking forward to getting back to it. I can’t tell you exactly when. But soon!
7) The aforementioned Nick Heller does appear in a short story alongside Lee Child’s Jack Reacher in the ‘Face Off’ anthology. Can you tell us a little bit more about the anthology and how you got involved?
‘Face Off’ is a publication of the International Thriller Writers, an organization I’ve been involved with from the very beginning — I was one of its founding members, and this year I’ve been the Publications Chair, so ‘Face Off’ has been a pet project. I’m very proud of it. The stories are great, and it made the New York Times bestseller list. Of course the best part, for me, was writing with Lee Child. Lee and I are friends, but neither one of us had collaborated on anything like this before. It was a lot of fun, and I know I learned some things from Lee.
8) What are you currently writing?
I’m currently finishing my next standalone, whose title I can’t tell you yet. Finalizing the title of a book is one of the last things I do before I turn it in, so stay tuned.
9) What three questions do you have for any of your readers you meet? (Answers supplied by Graham Smith)
a. What’s your preferred book format: hardcover, paperback, e-book or audio?

I prefer hardcover/hardback as it usually means that I’ve got the book as soon as possible. Paperbacks are a close second and e-books have their place although I’d choose a physical book every time given the choice. I’ve never listened to an audio book as my brain works far better when connected to my eyes than my ears.

b. What book have you given most frequently as a gift?

There is no one book I habitually give as I try to match the gift with the tastes of the person receiving it. A lot of the books I’ve reviewed and enjoyed are loaned to friends or family once I‘ve read them. In many cases my friends and family have gone on to buy more of the authors’ books after getting a copy from me which is a gift which gives to everyone. As far as actual purchases go, I tend to buy celebrity chefs’ books for my father who loves cooking and is impossible to buy for.

c. If you see a film based on a book, do you want to read the book before you see the movie, or after, or not at all?

I spend more time reading than watching movies, so ideally I’d always like to read the book first, preferably shortly before seeing the movie. This can’t always happen and the best instance I can think of in the reverse case is ‘Die Hard’. It is one of my favourite movies and I’m more than a little scared to read the novel by Roderick Thorpe as I know the film so well. Should the movie have taken liberties with the novel, reading the book may tarnish my love of the movie.
10) Which three crime fiction books have left a lasting impression on you and why?
This is the hardest question, because on any given day, it’s three different books. I learn something from every book I read, even (sometimes especially) the ones I don’t enjoy so much. But I have to include Frederick Forsyth’s ‘The Day of the Jackal’, of course; I’ve read my copy so many times it’s fallen apart. Robert Ludlum’s ‘The Bourne Identity’ or ‘The Matarese Circle’. I devoured both of those while traveling around Europe after college, and they had a lasting impact. In a very different way, I was greatly influenced by John le Carre’s ‘The Spy Who Came In From the Cold’, which was sleek and moody and cynical. William Goldman’s ‘Marathon Man’ is a masterpiece of pacing and plotting, with the perfect ‘ordinary guy’ protagonist and a truly memorable villain.