Buck, the often exasperated, ever devoted ex-husband of Raine Stockton, was an enormously popular character with readers. In fact, when I took a poll some time back about whether Raine should marry her new, rich boyfriend or go back to Buck, the results were enormously in Buck’s favor—despite the fact that he had cheated on her not once, not twice, but three times (that we know of!) About five books ago I came to realize that Buck needed to have his own series. After several years and a lot of struggles, this is what I came up with:
Former Hanover County Sheriff Buck Lawson leaves the mountains of North Carolina to take a job as the police chief of the small South Georgia town of Mercy, and soon finds himself in over his head. For one thing, his predecessor has been murdered...
Leaving behind two failed marriages and a job that almost cost him his life, all Buck wants for himself and his new family is a fresh start. But Mercy is a town with a past as dark as the Blood River that runs through it, and the crime that resulted in the death of the beloved former chief of police may have its roots in an evil that goes back generations.
Buck discovers he has inherited an unsolved homicide, a house that may well be haunted and a police department that is almost certainly corrupt. It falls to Buck to free an innocent man and bring the former police chief's killer to justice while he wades through the quagmire of incompetence and dishonesty that permeates his office. His only true ally, Buck comes to understand, is the dead man himself.
Blood River, as the name might imply, is a slightly edgier type of mystery than my readers are used to, and I felt I was taking quite a chance nudging them out of their comfort zone. Moreover, I had to take a secondary character from a very popular ongoing series and make him substantial enough, and interesting enough, to carry his own series. Buck played a pretty important role in the Raine Stockton series, but the truth is we didn’t know that much about him. In previous books, he’d been portrayed as a basically good guy with some rather substantial flaws. We knew he was naturally charming and popular with just about everyone. He had a reputation as a philanderer, which cost him the love of his life. Women, dogs and children loved him. He had strong leadership qualities, and he didn’t mind breaking the rules now and then. And that’s basically it– not a lot to go on when it comes to building a three-dimensional character. But when you also consider the fact that in the past two years Buck had lost his mother, a child, and two wives; that he had changed jobs twice, left town and returned, and almost died in a shooting incident, there were plenty of questions left answered.
I began to discover who Buck was by exploring what he experienced behind the scenes in the Raine Stockton books, and how that shaped him into the kind of man who was ready to take on a town like Mercy. One of the tenets of good storytelling is to start your story at the moment of change. Buck Lawson is one of those rare characters who had the courage to change his life. UNFIXABLE begins when he decides to do so.
UNFIXABLE has the same humor, atmospheric setting, quirky characters and unexpected twists that readers have come to expect from me, only more of everything. It’s not a cozy. It’s not a dog mystery. But it may well be my favorite book of the past ten years.