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Most mystery and crime fiction is about solid citizens and police pursuing criminals and bringing them to justice.
Jesse Damon, the protagonist of my series of crime novels, is a criminal. He’s been released on parole after nearly twenty years in prison on a murder conviction he picked up when he was sixteen. Life is tough for a convicted felon, but it’s way better than being locked up, and Jesse is doing his best to hold down a job as a laborer in a steel fabrication plant, live with the restrictions of parole and avoid being returned to prison on a new conviction or a parole violation. He’s even met Kelly, a forklift driver at work who has two kids, and she’s introducing him to some of the things he’s been missing out on all those years. Like family time. And sex.
Jesse realizes that when you’ve got one murder conviction under your belt, you’re a natural suspect when somebody with any connections to you at all is murdered. And you’re in no position to complain if the detectives bend the rules investigating your involvement. If he’s not going to go down for crimes he didn’t commit, it’s going to be up to him to figure out what’s happened and hope the detectives are willing to listen to him.
In my writing, I want to give a voice to some of the people who live on the margins of our society and whose struggles are largely invisible to most of us. People who got a raw deal in life, either from being born into unfortunate circumstances or who have had setbacks we don’t want to even imagine.
I have a varied background, including working in a steel fabrication plant like the one that employs Jesse and operating heavy machinery to manufacture fiberglass. I have also worked in a medium security prison, supervising an inmate work crew, and in several county detention centers. My present position is as a special education teacher in an alternative high school. Many people with whom I have worked have steep uphill climbs if they are ever to reach any kind of stability in their lives.
Jesse Damon has spent most of the last twenty years in prison on a murder conviction. Now paroled, he's trying to beat the odds and stay out of prison with a pair of overactive cops watching him for mistakes. He's got a one-room apartment, a job working the overnight shift at a factory, and some-times girlfriend Kelly. If he can just stay out of trouble, he may even be able to join the union.
But when he pays his last respects to Mrs. Coleman, his foster mother, he finds out that her death is being investigated as a homicide. And he's the prime suspect.
Jesse's life is getting complicated fast, what with a group of religious fanatics in saffron robes opening a tabernacle in the abandoned pizza parlor over his apartment, problems at work, and Kelly's custody battle with her ex. It's a lot to deal with while he tries to find out who really killed Mrs. Coleman and get the cops off his back.