Today, author Kristoffer Gair is guesting. He’s here to talk about his latest release Falling Awake IV: Retribution, a m/m suspense. Don’t forget to check out the excerpt.
Justice, Loyalty, and A Reason to Live
Every book or short story I’ve written is something I challenged myself with. Whether writing historical, a comedy, something more dramatic, science fiction, western, sequel, series or anything else, I’ve always tried to make sure I’m ticking a box of something I’ve not done before. The Falling Awake series is the first time I’ve expanded the number of characters into a larger cast, and managed to maintain equal interest in those characters. I’ve also tried to keep their relationships as real as possible. If I don’t believe them, readers won’t believe them. Falling Awake IV: Retribution offered a new challenge with this.
The three main characters in Retribution were introduced in Falling Awake II: Revenant, and they were secondary characters in that book. The first challenge was making them relevant to the new story, and then letting them gel as if they’d been there together all along. If I could do that, then I needed to meet a second challenge head on in making their mission believable.
Retribution picks up a short time after Revenant ends. Retired police captain Joe Murphy finds out about the deaths of Lawrence Boggs and Andrew O’Donnell, and decides to head to Waco, Texas and poke around. What he discovers is a mystery left over from the second book. Only, to solve it, he’ll need help.\
Enter Roy Girard, the man Joe trained and who took over as Captain. One of Roy’s officers is Frank Margason, who had gotten very, very close to Andrew in the second book. Frank is a broken man in Retribution because of Andrew’s death, and he’s turned to alcohol to numb the pain.
Joe and Roy had been part of an investigation fourteen years earlier that remained unsolved, and the information Joe finds in Texas points to a possible solution. Joe’s blood burns for justice for the unsolved crime, and he won’t settle for less than finding those responsible. Roy, meanwhile, won’t abandon his former friend and commanding officer. Loyalty still means a great deal to them.
And Frank? Joe and Roy need Frank’s youth, his abilities as an officer, and also his rage. By utilizing these facets, they give Frank direction and a distraction from his current self-destructive habits. Frank has a reason to live because he’s promised revenge on the one who may have ended Andrew’s life. It’s not perfect motivation, but it’s enough.
These three characters become united in purpose, and the story moves to its climactic showdown. Justice, loyalty, and a reason to live bond these people in their mission, and their fate. They are also facets we can all identify with whether through friendship or family. If we can identify with them, then we have a better chance of sticking with them through their story.
We’ll see if I’m right.
Book Title: Falling Awake IV: Retribution
Author: Kristoffer Gair
Release Day: June 19, 2021
Genre/s: M/M Suspense, Thriller
Trope/s: The hunt begins now.
Themes: Loyalty, friendship, sacrifice, love
Heat Rating: 1 flame
Length: 74 000 words
Some people are so low, they gotta look up to see Hell.
Blurb: The death of Thomas Reis continues to ripple through the lives of those connected to his case fourteen years later. Andrew O’Donnell and Lawrence Boggs have already fallen, but three more pick up where the others left off, and each for his own reason.
One believes in justice, the second loyalty, and the third desperately seeks a reason to live. All three, however, share the same final end game; Retribution.
The hunt begins.
Note: There are three prior books, Falling Awake, Falling Awake II: Revenant, and Falling Awake III: Requiem which need to be read first.
“I’m glad I caught you before you left then. I’m truly sorry.” He bowed his head. “I held your husband in the highest regards.”
“He respected you, too. Can I get you something to drink? I’m afraid I don’t have much. I’ll be leaving in the next day or two, but I think I have some orange juice, and I just made a fresh pot of coffee.”
“No, thank you.”
Norrma led him into the kitchen and sat down at the table, one of the few pieces of furniture left behind until the day she left. Various paperwork lay in little piles on the table, some it from the landlord, and others from the movers, bank, and relatives who’d sent cards.
“Lawrence’s funeral was this past weekend, then I insisted the kids head back to school. I know they wanted to stay with me and help out here, and maybe it was cruel to send them away, but I think staying busy and being around their friends will help them more than being here right now.” She sniffed. “Lawrence would have insisted they get on with their lives as soon as they could. ‘Death,’ he told us many times, ‘is a natural part of things. Living is for the now. Mourning can always be done later.’ He always made sure we knew exactly how he felt. None of us had to guess whether or not he loved us.”
Joe nodded. “His directness is something I appreciated immensely.”
She took a sip of coffee. “The police came, had a look at his case files, and couldn’t really make heads or tails out of them.” Norma chuckled. “Lawrence always had a unique way of organizing things in life that sometimes only he understood. I packed up what they didn’t take. Honestly, I think they confiscated a few things here and there just so it looked good in their report. I don’t believe they’ll ever find anything, though. Nobody really understood what Lawrence worked on, not in the big picture way.”
Joe grinned. “I know the type. Law enforcement through and through. Takes one to know one, I guess.”
“That’s what I was thinking.” She peered down at her cup. “Do you know what might have happened to him?”
“Maybe.” Joe leaned in. “I sent somebody down here from Iowa, a young man named Andrew, who was looking for a case file I’d loaned Lawrence. Honestly, I figured things would go one way, and Lawrence would swat the boy on the ass and send him back home. Turns out the kid had a way about him, and I think they started working together. This tells me Lawrence was already working on a case and they somehow connected, or he found a use for Andrew.
“The problem is, I don’t have a lot to go on. Something isn’t feeling quite right. The parts aren’t adding up, only I’m not getting a big enough glimpse of the picture.” Joe leaned back in his chair. “I need a bit more.”
“Would these help?” She reached under the stack of folders and paperwork, pulled out two large envelopes, and handed them over.
Anybody who knew Lawrence would recognize his handwriting in a heartbeat. Same perfectly shaped letters. Same size. Unmistakable. And the words written on the front? JOE MURPHY.
Joe’s head cocked to the side. Curiosity? Disbelief? Both? And then she saw something else, a tensing in the man’s posture and narrowing of the eyes.
The predator senses prey?
Joe hefted the two envelopes in his hand. “Lawrence left these for me?”
The lump in her throat returned. “That’s why I was hoping you’d come. I think he knew what he was working on might not end well, and he once told me if anything ever happened to him, you’re the only one he trusted to look into it.”
She watched the man run his fingers across the surface of the envelopes, across his name.
“You didn’t give these to the locals?” he asked. “Or show them?”
She shook her head. “Lawrence trusted you. I’ll put my trust in you before them, too.”
“I don’t know what’s in these.” Joe patted the top envelope. “I can’t promise anything.”
“Don’t expect you to.” Norma sat up straight. Strength. Maybe a little pride. “Maybe one promise. Someone took away my husband, my children’s father. Someone took our love, my happiness, and future. Whoever it is ain’t no better than a roaming, rabid dog, and those kinds of dogs get put down.”
He stared at her. He stared long and hard. “Yes. Yes, they do.”
Kristoffer Gair grew up in Fraser, MI and is a graduate of Grand Valley State University. He is the author of 8 novels—some written under the pseudonum Kage Alan—been a part of 6 anthologies, and currently lives in a suburb of Detroit.