DYING FOR THE PAST
A Stop on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour
Dying With The Paranormal At Heart
By Tj O'Connor
Dying is not for the faint of heart. Neither is being a dead detective—a Ghost Gumshoe. In fact, it’s downright unusual. Bizarre. Confusing. Often, just… weird.
Oliver “Tuck” Tucker is a dead detective—and often, a detective for the dead. In my first published series from Midnight Ink, Tuck is killed and returns to solve his own murder. What he doesn’t understand at first, is that his murder had to happen. It was ordained. There were victims waiting for him who needed him to solve their crimes, too. So, as the Ghost Gumshoe—a moniker I’m not entirely thrilled about (and neither is Tuck)—Tuck and his history professor wife, Angel, and his former partner Bear Braddock, solve murders. Oh, and Hercule helps, too. He’s Tuck’s dog—a black Lab with a nose for spirits and bad guys.
You see, Tuck has a gift. He can work with the living for the dead. For those wronged spirits—those murdered whose killers never faced justice—Tuck has become the detective for the dead. And, for his cases, there is no statute of limitations—in this lifetime or before.
With each of Tuck’s cases, my stories offer three important elements. First, there is the traditional murder that begins the case—Tuck’s murder in Dying to Know; a mysterious philanthropist in Dying for the Past; and in the upcoming Dying to Tell, the murder of a reclusive banker. There are historical subplots involving murders in years past—often decades past. In Dying to Know, Tuck chases a killer with connections to a Civil War gravesite and missing teenage girls from fifty years past. In Dying for the Past, Tuck searches for a 1939 gangster’s journal with the keys to crime families and spy rings in Washington DC. And, in Dying to Tell, there’s a World War II Egyptian treasure trove and German spies everywhere. And, finally, the current murder and the historical subplot all collide at the end to twist into a larger plot that connects the two. I don’t want to give away the endings so I won’t go into those details!
And how, might you ask, does Tuck and his partners solve murders from the distant past—Civil War graves? 1930’s gangsters? World War II spies? Easy. It’s the paranormal twist I add to each novel.
You see, being a dead detective is not offering up a ghost story. No. Tuck’s stories are traditional murder mysteries with a paranormal twist. Tuck uses some interesting skills in his living-challenged world to reach in and out of history to find clues and chase his killers.
For Tuck, being back among the living and not really one of them is a challenge. Not everyone can see or hear him. Those who can came by this connection very hard. It took an emotional connection—and sometimes a perilous one. And it’s the emotional side of Tuck’s existence that connects him to the dead. It’s their pain and their demand for justice that connects with Tuck and moves the stories forward.
Tuck learns more and more about his abilities with each book. At first, he’s just coming to grips with his new existence. He must learn to connect with people—whether they realize he’s doing it or not. Then he must learn what strange skills he has and how to use them to solve the murders. For instance, early on, Tuck learns that it’s emotions—hate, fear, love—that bind him to the world. And it’s those emotions that form the nexus between the historical murder he’s trying to solve and the modern one before him. Often, the dead seek him out and tell their own stories—not directly, mind you—but with snippets of their past and clues here and there. Tuck can often touch someone’s personal object—a ring, a necklace, letters, etc.—and he’s flashed to a place and time where something meaningful has happened in the case—a murder scene, a witness’s viewpoint, perhaps a lead on the suspects. Unfortunately for Tuck, the vignettes are not always clear. And they’re not always meaningful until the rest of his case plays out. His trips into the past and present taunt him and pull him through his investigation but never really lead him to the killer. Not until it’s time.
Then, wham. The historical murder collides with the present-day and the sparks start flying.
Tuck’s skills are not without error, however. He doesn’t have the gift of clairvoyance and has no claim to a crystal ball. Instead, it’s like watching an old movie that’s been damaged by the years. Sometimes the clues are there. Sometimes they’re missing. Sometimes what he sees is real—and sometimes it leads him down the wrong path. But always they have meaning. He just isn’t sure he likes it!
And Tuck has some help along the way, too. In each book, we learn more about Tuck’s family past. He grew up in foster care and never knew his family. Now, though, he’s learning that being a ghost is hereditary. He just isn’t sure he likes it. With each story, Tuck’s family lore comes out and tells the story of how Oliver Tucker and his family have been integrally linked to crime and adventure for generations. And not always on the right side of the law, either.
So for Tuck—who really tells the story, not me—it’s his life and death that make the mysteries. And to connect all the dots from past to present, he has a few paranormal tricks up his sleeves to bind history—and the killers—together.
But in the end, it’s the living, not the dead, who are most dangerous.
Tj O’CONNOR IS THE 2015 GOLD MEDAL WINNER OF THE INDEPENDENT PUBLISHERS BOOK AWARDS FOR MYSTERIES and the author of Dying to Know and Dying for the Past, available in books stores and e-books from Midnight Ink. His third paranormal mystery, DYING TO TELL, will be released January 2016. He is currently working on a traditional mystery and a new thriller. Tj is an international security consultant specializing in anti-terrorism, investigations, and threat analysis—life experiences that drive his novels. With his former life as a government agent and years as a consultant, he has lived and worked around the world in places like Greece, Turkey, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, and throughout the Americas—among others. He was raised in New York's Hudson Valley and lives with his wife and Lab companions in Virginia where they raised five children. Dying to Know is also a Foreword Review’s 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award finalist.
Learn about Tj’s world at:
Web Site: www.tjoconnor.com