I’ve been a fan of police procedurals ever since I read my first Joseph Wambaugh novel, back in my twenties. Later in life I got to meet and spend time with Joe, and he’s just as entertaining and pleasant as one could hope for. There are lots of great writers working in the field, among them pals Michael Connelly, Robin Burcell, Paul Bishop, Don Winslow, T. Jefferson Parker, and many more. It’s a natural genre for former law-enforcement officers like Wambaugh, Burcell, and Bishop, because they’ve already learned the ins and outs of police work and can convey it with absolute credibility.
It’s harder for some of us, who have never been cops and may or may not have spent some of our younger days avoiding them.
I’ve done my homework, I think. I’ve been on ride-alongs with the San Diego Police Department’s gang unit, in Arizona with the PDs of Douglas, Sierra Vista, and Gilbert, and with the Border Patrol. The chief of police in Douglas was a good friend and I’ve spent hours talking about the job with him. Another friend was a police officer there. And one of my good college friends became one of the most celebrated detectives in the history of the LAPD, and an advisor to Michael Connelly and James Ellroy, among others. I’ve taken Citizen’s Police Academy courses in Sierra Vista and Gilbert, and have been through the Writer’s Police Academy. We have an entire bookcase at home devoted to police procedure and true crime nonfiction.
In the world of tie-ins, I’ve written novels based on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and CSI: Miami (I’ve also written comics/graphic novels based on both), NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS: New Orleans, and Narcos, and of course I wrote the nonfiction true-crime tie-in to Criminal Minds.
But I’ve only really written original procedural thrillers twice. Of my first attempt, Empty Rooms, Michael Connelly said “Empty Rooms is a searing, no-holds barred journey into darkness. Jeffrey J. Mariotte knows the key is character, character, character and has delivered a story about men who relentlessly work the case at the same time the case works them. I was pulled in from the start on this one and it never let up. I highly recommend it.”
T. Jefferson Parker added this: “Empty Rooms is as good and moving as a thriller can be. Keenly observed and deftly written, it’s something you’ll want on your shelf as long as you have one. Mariotte’s characters come off the page at you, and through them, the author spins a tale truly of our time. I couldn’t put this one down.”
My second is the one that’s currently being serialized on Kindle Vella, Flesh of All Sorrows. I don’t know if anybody’s read it yet, because Kindle Vella doesn’t seem set up to tell people that yet (or if it’s there, I haven’t found it). I think it’s safe to say that if you liked Empty Rooms, you’ll like this one. It’s set closer to home, in fictional Sossaman, Arizona, and involves a compelling and diverse cast of characters.
But that’s not what I’m here to talk about.
I’m here because I’ve just sold a brand-new police procedural series to Wolfpack Publishing (also the publishers of my soon-to-be-released Cody Cavanaugh series of semi-traditional Western novels)! Wolfpack is one of the fastest-growing private companies in the country. Although originally established as a publisher of Western fiction, it’s branched out into mysteries and thrillers, action-adventure, and other genres, and I’m honored to have a second series in its lineup.
My forthcoming series is called Major Crimes Squad: Phoenix, and the first three books (which I’ll be writing starting in November and wrapping up by August 2022) are tentatively titled The Squad, The Storm, and The Castle. They revolve around Detective Russ Temple, who’s been tasked with forming and running the new Major Crimes Squad, the jurisdiction of which ranges across the whole of Phoenix, AZ. Temple operates in a police department firmly in our present moment, torn between reformers and defund-the-police movements and police unions trying to protect their own by any means necessary. His anti-corruption stance just might make him the target of some of his brothers and sisters in blue, but he’ll do what he thinks is right–even when he’s wrong. His fellow members of the MCS have their own ideas, of course, and they’re an interesting lot (one of whom is Detective Deacon Glass, who has moved from the Sossaman PD to this one (and therefore from Flesh of All Sorrows to MCS: P). There will–I promise–also be some connection between MCS: P and Empty Rooms. It’s all one world!
More detail to come, of course–I haven’t even started writing yet, and can’t until I finish the third Cody Cavanaugh novel. But I’m anxious to get going. This is going to be a wild ride! I hope you’ll join me.