Author Spotlight no.117 – Rick Reed

Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the one hundred and seventeenth, is of crime thriller author Rick Reed.

Rick Reed was a member of the Evansville Police Department and Vanderburgh County Sheriff Department for 30 years.  He worked as an investigator in the Criminal Investigations Unit from 1987 until 2003 when he was promoted from Detective to the rank of Detective Sergeant. He also served as a lead negotiator with the Hostage Negotiation Team.  He is also a handwriting expert and received his training from the U.S. Secret Service Academy in Georgia.

His last position was commander of the Internal Affairs Office.  That was what finally drove him out of police work and into an assistant professor position at Ivy Tech Community College in Evansville.

During his time in law enforcement he was lead investigator on several homicides, rapes and battery cases.

His acclaimed book, BLOOD TRAIL, is the true account of one of the homicides he investigated in 2000 that unearthed a serial killer with fourteen victims.

He retired from teaching in 2011 and moved to San Francisco, California, where he writes a serial killer-fiction series for Kensington Books.

His first fiction book, THE CRUELEST CUT, introduced detective Jack Murphy and his partner, Liddell Blanchard.

THE CRUELEST CUT has been translated into German and Polish.

The most recent release, THE COLDEST FEAR, is the second in a series of detective Jack Murphy novels and was released in September 2011. All books are available as e-books.

Reed is busy with the third book in the series, and is working on three more.

And now from the author himself:

I didn’t start out to be a writer like most authors, but I have always been a voracious reader.  In 1999, while living in a cramped apartment, working third shift as a police detective, newly divorced and trying to find ways to burn off the stress, I discovered that I enjoyed making up police stories.

Since I never expected to find an agent, much less a publisher, I started an underground police department newspaper.  It was short and crude and was written as a celebrity roast.  The celebrities were whatever unlucky police officer, or politician, I had in my sights for some mischievous—not malicious—fun. The paper was called THE MONKEY BOY GAZETTE, and there was an issue every month for ten years before my identity was discovered and unable to continue.  Before that happened though, I had a circulation of about one thousand readers, including the entire police department, city government, and local FBI.  After I was put out of the underground press business, I was told that my stories were being mailed all over the country to other law enforcement agencies, including the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. My paper had become a collector’s item, and the victims of the stories were framing them and hanging them in their offices and homes.

In 2000 I had the distinction to be one of the law enforcement officers to ever catch a serial killer.  My guy was Joseph Weldon Brown, whom I captured in Ohio where he had fled after killing his 14th and final victim.  And that was where I got my start as a published writer.

So my first book was a true crime and was co-authored with a writer from Pennsylvania who continues to write true crime.  I didn’t enjoy writing true crime and finally convinced my editor, Michaela Hamilton, at Kensington Books, that I could write fiction.

Over the span of my almost thirty years in law enforcement, I have pretty well seen and done it all.  That’s important because I have an unlimited amount of material to bring to my fiction.  I still have some of the tapes of my interviews of suspects, victims and witnesses.  When I need a new character, I don’t have far to go.

The interviews with the serial killer gave me a lot of insight into the mind of someone that has little to no conscience.  I thought that only described my ex-wife until I met Joe Brown.  I interviewed Joe inside the Chaplains Office of Indiana’s Supermax prison, Wabash Valley Corrections.  This is the same prison where the Oklahoma City Bomber, Timothy McVeigh, was housed and executed in 2000.

During one of the marathon interviews with Joe, he suddenly lurched out of his chair, grabbed me by the throat with both hands, and yelled, “I killed her just like that!”  He didn’t hurt me, he was trying to scare me.  It worked.  But the interview continued, and he repeated his reenactment one more time before he agreed not to choke me while we were talking.

You can find more about Rick and his writing via his website He’s also on Twitter as JMurphy1010 and Facebook as Rick Reed.


The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with mystery author James M Copeland– the four hundred and eighty-fourth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me. I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

Guest post: Politic Timing, Political Fiction by Paula Friedman

I’m delighted to bring you tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of political writing, by Paula Friedman.

Politic Timing, Political Fiction

Well, that’s a big title. But one meaning is that political context changes even while one writes.

Certainly it changed between 2002, when I began my The Rescuer’s Path, and this autumn of 2011 as the book nears publication.

The Rescuer’s Path is a short novel of love, family, non-violence — and a few other issues like war, Jewish-Arab relations, adoption, refugees, the Holocaust, and legacies of loss thrown in. I wrote the first draft during two or three weeks of that first year after 9/11, when racism and xenophobia ran rampant, and a “homeland security” apparatus encroached across the U.S., U.K., and the rest of the world. Since some wonderful Arabic friends had enormously helped me during one lonely period in my life, I changed a planned novel, about a young woman who aids a wounded fugitive, into a political tale with a half-Arab hero. Aided only by a Holocaust survivor’s daughter who loves him, the hero flees police and FBI alike.

Thus the book takes a stand against the xenophobic reaction of its time. But, like most of us, I had no publishing connections, only a few blurbs from noted and less noted authors that might make publishers read my query. And as a working woman in economic hard times, I had few free hours for querying.

A few near hits, two nearly-won prizes — years passed, the film Children of Men came out, The Shock Doctrine came out, in the U.S. Obama came in (on a wave, though brief, of hope), one publisher held the manuscript for months of internal discussions, one publisher would accept it if rewritten to a genre.

Only in 2009 did one publisher, progressive and feminist Plain View Press (cooperative and now a nonprofit), take the novel on.

By then, with many American liberals still believing the nation’s first Black president must be Left-leaning despite certain policy indications, my novel seemed to some less leading-edge. But as administration policies tightened further, preaching a security that drained more and more resources from whatever ordinary securities real people had, The Rescuer’s Path remained among the relatively few voices seriously speaking, in the U.S. publishing universe, for peace and justice.

But now it is October. By January 2012, when The Rescuer’s Path is published, Occupy Wall Street and the related movements evolving from this year’s Arab Spring may already have created serious changes and openings to heal the past ten years of oppression. If so, my novel won’t be so leading-edge anymore — but I shall gladly count that for a victory.

Let’s hope so. Thank you Paula!

Paula Friedman teaches fiction and memoir writing in Hood River, Oregon, and edits books for university and trade presses. Previously, she directed public relations for the Judah Magnes Jewish Museum, directed the international Rosenberg Award for Poems on the Jewish Experience, and founded and managed the collective literary magazine The Open Cell. She has run poetry readings and writers workshops in the Bay Area, Paris, and elsewhere, and has recently compiled an anthology of West Coast Jewish women’s poetry. She holds an MA from San Francisco State University and a BA from Cornell University. Active in peace and justice issues, she received the 2006 award of the Columbia River Fellowship for Peace.

Paula Friedman’s honors include Pushcart Prize nominations and New Millenium Writings, OSPA, and other awards and honors, as well as Centrum and Soapstone residencies and fellowships. Her short fiction and poetry have appeared in numerous print and online literary magazines and anthologies. Her novel The Rescuer’s Path is forthcoming in January 2012 and a poetry chapbook, Time and Other Details, appeared in 2006. Advance orders welcome from Plain View Press or from Paula (her website is  she can also be found on LinkedIn and Facebook) and thereafter will also be available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other good online retailers. 🙂

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me at with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please” (while quietly bouncing up and down in my seat with joy!).

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with D V Berkom – the one hundred and sixty-sixth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.