Meeting author Darcia Helle is one reason I enjoy being an author. She is so kind and supportive! And I’m pleased to have her on the blog for an interview about her suspense novel No Justice. But first here’s my review:
No Justice by Darcia Helle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Leaving Las Vegas Meets Dexter
In No Justice, Darcia Helle creates a gritty world reminiscent of the movie Leaving Las Vegas. Instead of alcoholic Nicholas Cage turning to prostitute Elizabeth Shue for solace, this time it’s hit man Michael Sykora falling for prostitute Nicki. Similar to the TV show Dexter, Michael kills bad men — like the one who murdered his wife.
From the first line…
Let him laugh. One more hour and he’d be dead.
…it’s clear a dark ride awaits. Somehow Darcia manages to show Michael’s integrity despite his sinister side vocation as hit man.
Although Michael first met Nicki when she serviced him as a prostitute, both developed genuine feelings for each other. He felt guilty for his attraction to her due to his allegiance to his dead wife, so he cut off all ties with her. But when Nicki later calls him, scared and on the run from her friend’s thuggish boyfriend, Michael can’t help but jump into the fray to help her. And when Michael goes in, he goes all in, encountering true danger from creepy Anthony Lott and his gang.
Michael’s day job is computer programming, and his office assistant Ruby is one of my favorite characters.
Ruby tapped on the side door, then, without waiting for Michael’s response, pushed it open and stepped inside. She said, “You’ve been locked up in here brooding all morning.”
Michael clicked out of the window he’d had open on his computer screen. He said, “I’m not brooding.”
“You prefer I call it pouting?”
Frowning, Michael looked up. Ruby had taken her non-nonsense stance, with both feet planted firmly about a foot apart and her hands spread out over her fleshy hips. “I do not pout,” he said.
“Really now? You look in the mirror yet today?”
“You come in here solely for the pleasure of giving me a hard time?”
“Course not,” Ruby replied. “It just comes so easy, sometimes I can’t help myself.”
Other well-drawn supporting characters include Michael’s two friends: Ruby’s son Isaac, a police officer, and Sean, a fellow hit man who Michael originally hired to take out his wife’s killer. I love the complexity of both of these characters. Lawman Isaac just might know about Michael’s secret penchant for murder but keeps it quiet. Sean is a ruthless killer who demonstrates admirable loyalty toward Michael.
I look forward to reading Michael’s future exploits in
Beyond Salvation — it appears Nicki will still be hanging around, worming her way into his cold, shattered heart. It’s wonderful to hear Darcia is writing book three in the series!
View all my reviews
And now welcome to Darcia Helle for an interview:
1. I loved hearing the story behind No Justice. Please tell us more about how you turned jury duty into a novel!
First, I want to say that a typical murder trial is nothing at all like the televised O.J. Simpson trial. Money buys an entirely different type of justice.
I took two very important lessons away from my experience: 1. The murder victim has no rights or protection during a trial, while the accused has all the rights and protection. 2. Jurors have to dig beneath the crap being flung to find the truth. Sadly, that surface crap is what most jurors base their opinions on.
I don’t remember now what prompted the conversation with my husband, but we were discussing my experience during that trial and the justice system in general. He’s ex-military and has a strong sense of protection toward those he loves. When I asked him what he’d do if I’d been murdered, he gave me a detailed and colorful reply. During that conversation, Michael Sykora was born.
In some ways, my husband and I are yin and yang. I’m a peacenik. I try to see the best in everyone, and I think, under the right circumstances, most people are capable of redemption. My husband, on the other hand, is all about an eye for an eye. Despite our different approach, we agree that our justice system is broken. The phrase that gave birth to this series is something my husband believes: There is no justice, only revenge.
** Readers interested in the piece I wrote about what inspired this book can find it on my Things of Interest page: http://www.quietfurybooks.com/thingsofinterest.html
2. My review compared this novel to Leaving Las Vegas and Dexter. Have you seen either? Do movies or TV shows inspire your writing?
I haven’t seen either Dexter or Leaving Las Vegas. I fail miserably at TV and movie trivia.
The Dexter comparison makes me chuckle. Several years ago, before I decided to self-publish, I sent the requisite query and synopsis for No Justice off to an agent. He rejected my query because he felt the concept was too similar to Dexter. I’d never even heard of the show or the novel, and had to Google it. I really need to rent the series on DVD one of these days!
I don’t watch many movies, so that’s not an area of inspiration for me. I do get occasional ideas and inspiration from programs like Criminal Minds and Perception. I’m fascinated by the psychology behind criminal behavior. Few people are simply evil. I want to see the shades of gray; the good within the bad. The legalities of the pursuit and arrest don’t interest me nearly as much as the emotional, psychological and sociological aspects of criminal behavior.
3. One of my favorite characters is Ruby, Michael’s assistant. What went into her character development?
I’d love to take credit for hours of character building and outlines, but the truth is I honestly don’t know. Like so many of my characters, she just appeared fully formed. Before I write, and during the process of the first draft, I spend a lot of time twisting ideas around in my mind. I knew Michael needed a small but strong support system. He needed a quasi family to give him stability and keep him from crossing all the way into the dark side. Beyond that, I had no real concept of her; not even a name. As I was writing, when I got to that first scene with her, she stepped into my mind as clearly as if she’d stepped into the room with me.
4. How sympathetic are you to Michael?
I’m extremely sympathetic to his character, which intrigues me. As I said before, I’m a peacenik. I don’t believe in the death penalty, so it’s odd that I can relate to and sympathize with someone who murders people.
When I decided to write this book, I knew my biggest hurdle would be in creating a killer that people would like. As his character took shape, I realized I really liked him and that gave me hope readers would as well. While he is, in essence, a murderer, he is also a man with morals and standards. He doesn’t kill for pleasure. And he only kills the worst of the worst, such as pedophiles and repeat rapists. The victims of these crimes are, in his eyes, failed by our justice system. He’s out to balance the scales and make the world a little safer for the good guys.
5. I hear you’re finishing book three of this series. What are your plans?
Book three has been too long in the making! I kept getting sidetracked with other projects. I’ve also been struggling with a lot of health complications this year, so this one has taken me longer to write than any other. I hope to have it complete and published in early spring of 2013.
I don’t have any specific plans for this series beyond completing the one I’m working on. I do have lots of stray ideas for future stories. With this book, Sean, a minor character in the first two, has a much bigger role. I see future books branching off with his character as a lead. Something happens within book three that gives me lots of room to expand on Sean’s life. I’d also like to bring Isaac, another minor character, in for a bigger role in a future story.
The main thing for me with this series is to keep it new and fresh. As a reader, I get bored when a series just rehashes similar plots with the same characters for 10 or 12 books. As a writer, I get bored when the characters have established themselves and have nothing new to say to me. In order to keep myself and my readers involved and coming back for more, I need to explore the supporting cast. I want to see how their actions might affect Michael, and how he reacts to the change around him.
Thank you Darcia! Can’t wait to read Beyond Salvation.
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