Fall’s Chill Air of Mystery

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Fall is here, there is a hint of a chill in the air, and it is the perfect time to curl up in front of the fire with a cup of hot cider.  What better to pair with your cider than steamy intrigue served up courtesy of a good book?

Need a suggestion?  How about checking out the new murder mystery by Newport Beach author Jeff Sherrat?  His noir mystery “Detour to Murder” is the latest in the Jimmy O’Brien series, and will be released Oct. 12.

The novel takes place in 1970s LA, with flashbacks to the 1940s, and picks up where the movie “Detour,” a film noir classic, left off.  In the book version, we meet Al Roberts, a con who 30 years ago confessed to committing murder in a Los Angeles motel room, but now insists he is innocent.  Enter Jimmy O’Brien, the lawyer appointed to represent him at his parole hearing.

After doing a little digging, Jimmy becomes convinced that Roberts is telling the truth, and sets out to prove his innocence and figure out what really happened all those years ago.  As threats and bodies begin piling up, the race is on to solve the case before time runs out – for Al or Jimmy.

Sherratt has lived in Newport Beach with his wife for the last 15 years, but he grew up in Los Angeles.  His knowledge of the area lends an authenticity to his writing, as he really knows all the places he is writing about.

In the late 1940s, Sherratt and his family would frequently attend the movies, and he found himself loving the low-budget crime dramas set on the mean streets of LA.  It is from this early love of film noir that he draws the inspiration for his own crime drama stories.

Like many writers, he says that he gets ideas for his storylines from things he sees in the news.  But like any writer knows, once you start writing, the story often takes on a life of its own, and turns out completely different than you originally intended.

Similarly, Sherratt builds his characters from bits and pieces of people he has known in real life.  He feels that by using composites of real-life people, his characters become “interesting and realistic fictional people.”

I asked Sherratt how it is that he became a writer, since that was not his original career.  He shared with me that once, years ago, after having voiced his disappointment with the latest book by a favorite author, his daughter told him, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, that if he didn’t like that book, maybe he should write his own.

Figuring that his daughter was a pretty smart cookie, he took her up on her advice, and has been writing ever since!

“Detour to Murder” joins previous Jimmy O’Brien novels “Guilty or Else,” “The Midnight Madonna,” and “The Brimstone Murders.”  Although the lastest is only just being released, Sherratt is already hard at work on the next installment, “Cyanide Perfume.”

For more information about Jeff Sherratt, please visit www.jeffsherratt.com.

He can also be found at jeffsherratt.blogspot.com or on Twitter @Jeffsherratt.

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