Author Guest Post
Book Title: Telegraph Hill
Last week, I sat down at a Tenderloin bar with crime fiction writer John Nardizzi, who stands in good company with another San Francisco scribe, Dashiell Hammett: both worked as real private detectives. John was back in the city after speaking at a writers conference in Monterey.
When we met in 1992, you were neither a published writer nor a PI. How did it start for you?
My first publishing credits came in San Francisco. I had just driven across the country in an RX-7. Small car, you remember it? Everything I owned in the hatchback. I went to law school at Hastings College and each day cut through a rough section of downtown, the Tenderloin, where I set many scenes in the book.
Tenderloin, what does that name mean?
The Tenderloin took its name from a section of old New York City. A cop was promoted to midtown, which was filled with gambling & prostitution. He told a reporter “Now I have a chance to eat some tenderloin.” Reporters took this as a reference to taking bribes. The word came to mean the red light district of a city. I worked at legal clinics in the Tenderloin in San Francisco and a lot of my early writing was inspired by people I met there.
What inspired you about this section of the city?
People were real. The simplicity maybe that some of them kept. Writers, gangsters, prostitutes, homeless people. Some of these people had a great joy in living a simple life. Some were down and out. And falling deeper. But others did it by choice—off the grid as they say now,except they were right in the middle of a city. So it all started for me in San Francisco. I had some poems, word-pictures, published in Oxygen Magazine, edited by a fine writer named Richard Hack.
How did you go from being a PI to writing a mystery novel?
Obsession really, preserving my youth [laughs]. I got a job working at a PI firm in San Francisco. The PI work was fantastic. I never knew a job like this really existed. We went out and interviewed people, like investigative reporters, except our reports went to small audience, our clients. Later on, after I moved from the city, my father said—only your father says this stuff to you—'Hey, poetry is great but you ever think of writing something that might make you some money.” [laughs]
Around this time, I had case involving a con man who had defrauded people up and down both coasts. And he bottomed out in my old city of San Francisco. So I went back to investigate. The city I had known was changing. Didn't recognize anyone on the streets anymore. I used to walk and talk to a dozen people. Now they were gone, moved on, dead. And I felt this obsession to write it down before it all faded away.
A lot of reviewers are commenting on the great dialogue in Telegraph Hill as the detective rambles across the city—
I wanted to keep true to aspects of the genre but explore new ones, moods of the city, how a PI talks to witnesses. I don't read mysteries for plot, personally. I like Patricia Highsmith's Ripley, Jim Thompson's novels.
Robert B. Parker's Spencer series is one you mentioned before.
Parker really captured the strange rhythm to a PI's life. Talk to a witness, get some good info. Then the next guy lies to you for an hour. A month later, you go back and the first guy is running out the back door while the second guy won't shut up for some reason. I love it.
So is the detective Ray Infantino really you?
In part. Coming up with a fictional character is a strange process. Ray is a real person in my mind, but in shadows—obsessive dreams about things that happened to me or my clients. I never experienced a loved one killed like he does in the book. But I'm intrigued by the intersection of justice and revenge.
Agents gave you varying advice on the book didn't they?
Some agents wanted me to spice up the plot with current events. Or do the book from the perspective of an amateur sleuth. I'm thinking, do you know I do this detective stuff for real? I walk into housing projects investigating murder cases in Boston—you think I'm making my protagonist a dentist? No way!
How do PIs get people to open up?
Be polite. People like to be experts, so that can be an angle. A group of us were talking shop one day, wondering if people will still answer their front doors anymore after 2005. We had concerns. But if anything, now when you ring, people freak out: A MAN IS AT THE DOOR. AND HE'S WELL DRESSED! They take it seriously.
John, we spent a lot of time down here in the Tenderloin. How does it feel to be back in the city on an expense account?
Awesome, except its my own expense account! I take it from that question I'm picking up this tab, right brother? [laughs].
About The Author
In May 2003, John founded Nardizzi & Associates, Inc., an investigations firm that has garnered a national reputation for excellence in investigating business fraud and trial work. His investigations on behalf of people wrongfully convicted of crimes led to several million dollar settlements for clients like Dennis Maher, Scott Hornoff and Kenneth Waters, whose story was featured in the 2010 film Conviction.
Telegraph Hill by John F. Nardizzi
Publisher: Merrimack Media (Paperback) / Libboo (eBook)
Publication Date: January 1, 2012 (1st edition) / April 26, 2013 (2nd edition)
Format: Paperback - 232 pages
Kindle - 380 KB
Nook - 330 KB
Genre: Crime Fiction / Mystery / Suspense
BUY THE BOOK: Telegraph Hill by John F. Nardizzi
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours.
Meeting with various witnesses-ex-cops, prostitutes, skinheads-he relentlessly tracks the evidence. But the hunt for Tania fires his obsession with avenging the murder of his fiance. When the triad retaliates, and blood begins to flow, Ray must walk the knife edge between revenge and redemption on the streets of San Francisco.
My Book Review:
In his debut novel, Telegraph Hill, author John F. Nardizzi weaves an exciting crime fiction thriller that transports the reader to the seedy side of San Francisco as they follow Boston private investigator Ray Infantino on his latest case.
Ray is hired to find a missing Chinese woman in San Francisco. This will be his first trip back to San Francisco in over five years since the murder of his fiancee Diana at the hands of a white supremacist group. While searching for the missing woman, Tania Kong, a prostitute who was a witness to a murder by The Black Fist Triad, a Chinese crime gang, he continues his own personal investigation into his fiancee's murder with the help of his old flame, Dominique Arnello. Dangerous criminal activities lurks around every corner of the gritty Tenderloin neighborhood ... will Ray solve the case of the missing woman, and his own personal need to seek revenge for his fiancee's death?
Telegraph Hill is an intriguing novel that easily draws the reader into private investigator Ray Infantino's investigative adventures. This fast-paced crime thriller transports the reader back and forth between Boston and San Francisco as Ray works to solve the complex mystery of the missing prostitute, and his own personal investigation into his fiancee's murder. There's enough action and suspenseful twists and turns that keeps the reader guessing what will happen next as the investigations unfold on the gritty streets of San Francisco.
Author John Nardizzi utilizes his extensive legal and investigative experience to weave a thrilling tale that takes the reader on one hell of a roller coaster ride. He captures the essence of the settings with a very detailed descriptions of the sights and sounds of both Boston and San Francisco. You can't help but feel like you are walking the streets with Ray as he goes about his investigations. There is a great mixture of intensity and humor to Ray's character, plus a quirky cast of supporting characters, witty dialogue and dramatic interactions, and a riveting multi-layered and complex storyline that easily keeps the reader's attention throughout the whole book.
If you are looking for a riveting dark noiresque crime thriller featuring a snazzy private investigator that will keep you sitting on the edge of your seat in suspense, then Telegraph Hill is the perfect book to read this summer!
RATING: 5 STARS
Virtual Book Tour Schedule
6/02 Review by Carol Wong
6/02 Showcase @ The Opinionated Me
6/03 Review @ Hotchpotch
6/04 Review @ Views from the Countryside
6/05 Review @ Vics Media Room
6/07 Showcase @ Hott Books
6/08 Review & Giveaway @ Minding Spot
6/09 Guest Post @ Writers and Authors
6/10 ~ Interview & Showcase @ CMash Reads
6/12 Review & Giveaway @ Deal Sharing Aunt
6/16 Interview & Review @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews
6/19 Review @ Book Dilettante
6/23 Review & Giveaway @ Marys Cup of Tea
6/24 Guest Post @ The Book Divas Reads
6/25 Review & Giveaway @ 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, MOmmy, & Sissy, Too!