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Friday 3 July 2015

ℚ The Widow's Son: Rare Book Mystery [3] - Thomas Shawver

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about The Widow's Son, which will be release on  Alibi (206 pages) a Mystery / Thriller, and the third book in the Rare Book Mystery series.

A furious man from nearby Independence, Kansas demands that Michael Bevan return a rare first edition of the Book of Mormon, claiming that it was mistakenly sold by a disgruntled descendant of A.J. Stout.

Contained on the frontispiece are a list of Ford names dating from 1845 to the present.  Beside each name, save the last two, is a check mark - but what could the checks signify?

With this discovery, Michael Bevan stumbles onto a trail of hatred and murder stretching back to 1844.

Author Q&A | Synopsis | Teaser | The Series | About the Author | Tour Stops

Without further ado, let's welcome Thomas Shawver to BooksChatter.What was the inspiration for The Widow's Son, the latest book in your Rare Book Mystery series?
"A few years ago an attorney representing his client came into my bookshop to see if I was interested in purchasing a first edition Mormon bible with an inscription dated 1844 (the year of Joseph Smith’s martyrdom) from Sidney Rigdon, an early and controversial elder of the Church.

It was the Palmyra edition printed by E.B. Grandin “for the author” and therefore extremely rare.  The latter was important in identifying it as a true first, because later editions attributed the author to be Mormon himself, not Joseph Smith, Jr.  According to Smith biographer, Fawn M. Brodie, one of the original founders pledged to revenge the prophet’s death by killing Thomas Ford, the then Governor of Illinois and his descendants “to the fourth generation.” "
How much of yourself is reflected in the Rare Book Mystery series, and how?
"Like Michael Bevan, I was a Marine JAG officer, a trial lawyer, and owner of a used & rare bookstore in Kansas City.  I also have played rugby for many years.  Although I was never disbarred, there came a point in my career when I became totally burned out in my profession.   My remedy was to open Bloomsday Books with the idea that if it didn’t succeed after two years I’d go back to the legal trenches.  Fortunately, the shop prospered from the very beginning, enabling me to enjoy a very fulfilling second career that lasted fifteen years.   The series is a love letter to that little shop on the corner in the beautiful Brookside neighborhood and the wonderful people who frequented it."
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover.  Can you tell us about your cover for The Widow's Son - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"I’m glad you liked it.  The artist for all three books is on staff at Penguin Random House and I couldn’t be more pleased with the results.  Unlike the covers of the first two books in the series, however, I wasn’t keen on the original offering for The Widow’s Son.  The main reason was that the figure of a buxom Irish dancer with flaming (literally) red hair seemed a bit much.  My editor and agent agreed and so we got what you see."
Why should we read The Widow's Son, what makes your series unique?
"What reader has not experienced a certain ebullience of spirit upon entering a cozy second-hand bookshop, a feeling of being snatched from the problems of workaday life to enter a quieter, saner world of the mind?  My series represents a golden era of bookselling that will soon be gone.  Consider it a timeless period piece that shares a lot of secrets of the trade.  It is an accurate representation of the business and the collectors who value the written word, as well as those who value rare books far too much—enough, in certain cases, to lie, cheat, steal and even kill for. "
Can you tell us something quirky about The Widow's Son, its story and characters?
"The story of Mormonism has enough interesting and quirky tenets to fill a myriad novels beginning with A Study in Scarlet, the first Sherlock Holmes mystery by Arthur Conan Doyle.  I live in Jackson County, Missouri, where Mormon founder, Joseph Smith, Jr., declared that the righteous would gather to greet the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.  The site of Independence, Missouri, is where he said the Garden of Eden existed.  About 70 miles north of Kansas City is where he claims Adam and Eve were banished after their fall from grace.  Can’t get any quirkier than that.

Where the early saints saw western Missouri as a final gathering place, modern Mormons think of Zion more metaphorically, as a state of spiritual being.  Nonetheless, there are still those who follow the old tenets and even some who believe in ‘blood atonement’—where some sins are so heinous that they can only be atoned by having the perpetrator’s blood spilled upon the ground as a sacrifice.

I also take on the Irish-American community in Kansas City; a group of which I am a proud member having served on the board of the local Irish Center for years.  Plenty of charisma, charm, and goofiness to be found there. "
Who would you recommend your The Widow's Son and the Rare Book Mystery series to, and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"I recommend it to readers of John Dunning’s Cliff Janeway series, Lawrence Block’s Bernie Rhodenbarr stories, as well as anything by Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep, and Jen Banbury’s Like a Hole in the Head.

The series contains rather strong violence, candid sexual references, general orneriness and some raunchy humor.  Despite the bookstore setting, it is far from being classified a ‘cozy’ mystery. "
If you could / wished to turn your series, Rare Book Mystery, into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"Director: Michael Mann (Last of the Mohicans and Thief), Peter Weir (Master & Commander), or John Cleese (Fish Called Wanda).
Actors: Michael Bevan—Ben Affleck
Natalie Phelan—Jessica Chastain
Josie Majansik—Annet Mahendru
Emery Stagg—Russell Crowe
Dennis Dietz—An actual double or triple amputee veteran with potential acting ability.
Porter Grint—Jeremy Renner
Norman Tate—Wes Studi
Uncle Lamar Stagg—Christopher Walken"

What do you like to write and read about? Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?
"I like to write about a normal individual who finds himself/herself in abnormal, usually dangerous, situations preferably in interesting locales.  Apart from mysteries and spy novels (Ian Fleming and John LeCarre), I am a big fan of historical fiction, particularly the works of Patrick O’Brian, Bernard Cornwell, and the late, great George MacDonald Fraser of Flashman fame."
What is your writing process?
"Get up at 8 a.m. or so, read the local paper and the N.Y. Times over coffee, then up to the salt mines—a thirty foot commute to my office.  I read the previous day’s effort, set Pandora to Crosby, Nash & Young or the Chieftains or chamber music depending on the mood, then sit at the computer and make up stories until the cocktail hour beckons."
What is in store next?
"I plan to let Michael Bevan rest for a while to concentrate on a new series involving a former French commando who solves crimes in a Missouri river town.  I’ve also finished a spy novel set in the early 1920’s Japan and Micronesia."
Thank you again for joining us and sharing so much with us.   We look forward to reading The Widow's Son and to hopefully catch up with the rest of the series.  We wish you all best with the remainder of the tour and with the new release!

The Widow’s Son
Available 7 July 2015!

UK: purchase from purchase from Nook UK purchase from Kobo UK purchase from iTunes UK purchase from Google Books find on Goodreads
US: purchase from purchase from Barnes & Noble purchase from Kobo purchase from iTunes US

1 comment:

IronChefWannabe said...


Good picks, but I might pick Sarah Shahi for Josie, and maybe John Malkavich for Uncle Lamar.