Fresh Blood

Name: David Jackson

Title of Book: Pariah

'...exciting and different!'

It's a bad enough day for NYPD detective Callum Doyle when his cop partner is murdered. It's about to get a hell of a lot worse...When the dead man's replacement is also brutally killed, suspicion falls on Doyle himself. Then he receives an anonymous message. This is just the beginning, it says. Anyone he gets close to will die - and that includes Doyle's own family.

The only way to keep them alive is to stay away. For good. Doyle is desperate to find out who is responsible, but when his every move puts others in danger he is forced to back off. With the investigation getting nowhere and his isolation deepening, Doyle has to ask himself an uncomfortable question: just how low is he prepared to sink in order to get his life back.

Jackson falls comfortably into the role of highly polished and seasoned author, yet Pariah is actually first novel. However once reading this book you would be hard pressed to find any fault with either the prose or characters as it had a feel of experience to it. Perhaps the very climax of the book was a little weak, but somehow as most motives go they seem to be linked to love, money or greed and Pariah is no exception, just the route getting there was a little more exciting and different!

Doyle finds himself ostracised from his friends and colleagues as those around him are being murdered and he needs to find out who is killing everyone before his family gets hurts. As a generally straight shooter, he is given a moral dilemma, or solve the crime before he needs to make any decision. One by one his network of support is picked away until he has nothing left and he is having to try and get help from those he has previously locked up. It is a very exciting storyline and has an ending that you will be in a hurry to reach.

A great read from a great new author.

Reviewed by: H.A.

CrimeSquad Rating

Fresh Blood Questionnaire

1) How would you classify your writing, and do you consciously try to write to a certain style or genre?
A word that seems to crop up again and again when others describe my writing is ‘cinematic,’ and I would agree that I definitely aim to capture the speed and immediacy of filmed drama. Whether that will attract the movie companies to my books remains to be seen!
2) What type of crime novels do you like to read? Do you prefer series or standalone?
I like both, but I will certainly remain loyal to a series if I’m hooked by the writing and the characters.
3) ‘Pariah’ is a very accomplished novel for a first book. Was ‘Pariah’ your first attempt at a novel or have you written many other novels before this one?
Thank you for the compliment. I have a couple of other attempts at novel-writing sitting in my desk drawer. One of them is a techno-thriller that won second prize in a novel-writing competition sponsored by a publisher. I haven’t done much with the other one because of what’s happened with Pariah.
4) ‘Pariah’ has echoes of Harlan Coben. Was this deliberate and are you a reader/fan of this type of thriller?
I love this type of thriller if it’s done well, and Coben is certainly a master of that. Coben’s skill is to put ordinary people in extraordinary situations and see where that leads. One of my earliest decisions was to make Callum Doyle a fairly average joe. He’s not a superhero, but neither does he have outrageous quirks or gimmicky hang-ups. He’s a family man who makes mistakes, just as we all do. I hope that readers can identify more with that kind of protagonist. However, I also felt it important to make Doyle a member of a law enforcement unit of some kind. A hero who is neither a cop nor some other kind of professional investigator starts to stretch credulity if he or she constantly ends up stumbling across criminal plots.
5) Did you have good insider information within the NYPD?
Yes and no. Not a specific contact in the NYPD (although if there are any out there who would love the chance to pass on their inside knowledge, please get in touch!), but a ton of research. Books, newspapers, blogs by NYPD members of service, television (both fact and fiction) – I’ve devoured them all. I read several thrillers recently, all by major authors, and all of them making factual errors about the NYPD and its procedures. That’s not to say I don’t make mistakes too – I’m sure I do!
6) What makes a university lecturer in the Wirral want to write a novel based in the USA?
If I were to get all psychoanalytical about this, I’d say it was because of the way I was brought up. It seemed, during my childhood, that all the really exciting TV shows and movies came out of Hollywood. I loved the guns, the explosions, the car chases, and I think it’s stayed with me. I also wanted a setting in which the pace of life is furious, where violence and organized crime are part of normality, and where newsworthy events occur frequently. The Wirral tends not to be like that! Having said that, writing this type of book is a gamble. As R J Ellory and others have testified, there seems to be a resistance in the publishing world to Brits setting their novels in the US, although Ellory and a few others, notably Lee Child, have managed to break through in a big way. The Americans who have read ‘Pariah’ (including the talented Ryan David Jahn, who was interviewed on this website) have vouched for its authenticity, so I hope I’ve managed to pull it off.
7) Will Callum Doyle be a series character or is ‘Pariah’ to be a standalone?
A series character, absolutely. Again, that was an early decision. I’m just putting the finishing touches to the second Doyle novel, and I have plans for lots more to follow.
8) Who would be your dream cast of movie actors for an adaptation of your story?
I find this one of your toughest questions. I know that some authors put actors’ faces to characters when they create them, but I hardly ever do that. I know everything about my characters except exactly what they look like. Somebody like Mark Wahlberg would make a great Doyle, but there are so many terrific actors out there.
9) Without giving away the plot, which book included your favourite plot twist of all time?
I’d have to say Life of Pi, by Yann Martel. It’s not a crime novel, but the punch at the end hits you hard and lingers with you for a long time afterwards.
10) What is your favourite movie adaptation of a crime novel?
Silence of the Lambs is an obvious choice. Less obvious, perhaps, are ‘The Taking of Pelham 123’ (the original, not the remake) and ‘Gone Baby Gone’ from the book by Dennis Lehane. But above all these I would have to put ‘Marathon Man,’ the novel and the screenplay both issuing from the pen of the late, great William Goldman.
11) Would you describe yourself as a crime fiction fan in general and, if so, which authors do you most admire and why?
Yes, I read lots of crime fiction, mostly by US authors. Harlan Coben we’ve already mentioned, but I also love the writings of Dennis Lehane, George Pelecanos and Michael Connelly. I admire them partly for their writing style but also for their depth of characterisation. My favourite writer has to be Ed McBain. It is difficult to find a writer who can better him for his sharp prose, dialogue and humour.
12) What is your favourite read crime of all time?
I guess it would have to be any one of Ed McBain’s 87th precinct novels. The fact that I keep re-reading them says it all. Honourable mentions go to ‘A Simple Plan,’ by Scott Smith, and ‘The Juror,’ by George Dawes Green.