Detroit homicide Detective Bonnie Benham has been transferred from narcotics for using more than arresting and is working the case of the killer of adolescent girls. CSI collects DNA evidence from the scene of the latest victim, which has not been detected on the other victims. But no suspect turns up in the FBI database. Due to the notoriety of the crimes a task force is put together with Bonnie as the lead detective, and she implores the D.A. to authorize an as yet unapproved type of a DNA Search in an effort to identify the killer. Homicide Detective Neil Jensen, with his own history of drug and alcohol problems, understands Bonnie’s frailty and the two detectives become inseparable as they track this killer of children
Claire's Review 4 of 5 Stars
The death of anyone is a very powerful gritty police drama. Based on Detective Bonnie Benham after she came off drink and drugs. After reading this book i found out the characters appear in a previous novel, which i think would have been of interest in reading prior to this, to get more background about the characters, even if not entirely necessary.
the novel is an enjoyable read if you enjoy the crime genre although i found some parts could have done with more research to enhance the story, but it doesn't take away from the enjoyment of the read.
Author Interview - D.J Swykart
DJ Swykert is a former 911 operator. His work has appeared in The Tampa Review, Detroit News, Monarch Review, Lunch Ticket, Zodiac Review, Barbaric Yawp and Bull. His books include Children of the Enemy, Maggie Elizabeth Harrington, Alpha Wolves and The Death of Anyone. You can find him at: www.magicmasterminds.com. He is a wolf expert.
What inspired you to write your first book?
This sounds kind of silly, but an old man sitting on a chair in a salvage yard. He was smoking a cigarette and sitting in front of a house trailer at the edge of this immense pile of refuse. I developed the character Ray that is the main protagonist in Children of the Enemy, and has a small role in The Death of Anyone, from this chance encounter.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I’m pretty direct as a person and I think it’s reflected in my writing style. I don’t like to waste a lot time with endless boring descriptions. I prefer to let the characters dialogue tell the readers about them, and let the reader imagine how they see the character rather than waste paragraphs describing someone.
How did you come up with the title?
Bonnie Benham, the main protagonist, is a homicide detective who saw the death of anyone, not just celebrities, as important and worth solving. She’s a Detroit cop, and the city has an abysmal record of solving homicides, little attention is paid by media as most are seen as kind of disposable people.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I like to end my stories on a positive note. I want the bad guy to get caught, or the downtrodden to find their way.
How much of the book is realistic?
The Death of Anyone is based on a real DNA search technique that isn’t in common practice in the U.S., Familial DNA. Only two states in our country even have a written policy on its use, and Michigan isn’t one of them. This is a procedure that’s going to get tested in the courts over the next decade, and will receive a lot of publicity with the trial of the Grim Sleeper in California who was caught using Familial DNA. His attorneys will claim it is a violation of his Fourth Amendment rights prohibiting unusual search and seizure. This issue will ultimately be decided in the higher courts.
Are your novels based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
All characters are based on composites of people a writer knows. Nobody “creates” a unique character. Like real people, a book character is assigned a group of traits that identify him. I’ve read there is something like a dozen central plots in all of literature. Every story is a version of one of them. So are mine.
Which of your novels have influenced your life the most?
I really enjoy writing the police stories, and have a couple that have yet to be published. But the story that I most associate with is titled Maggie Elizabeth Harrington, and it is back in print again for the third time. It’s a historical story about a young woman trying to save a pack of wolves from a bounty hunter in a remote mining village. My family lived in the area and my father told me about her, so it’s kind of a special story to me, and much different than my crime stories. It touches many issues about the treatment of animals that are close to me.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
That would be Hemingway. I think his spare direct style is the most powerful writing I’ve read, and I like cats.
What book are you reading now?
George Saunders, Tenth of December. I’m not particularly ingratiated to his writing style, but his story plots and themes are very good.
What are your current projects?
I’ve began a story about a retired cop who moves to a mountaintop to live after his wife dies, hoping to rejuvenate his zest for life. He meets a younger woman there who is about to commit suicide and they enter into a relationship. I have a working title of: Counting Wolves. And yes, there are some wolves in it.
Do you see your writing as a career?
I see writing as more of a lifestyle, or life choice. Something I choose to do over other activities. If you write, and it happens to become a career, terrific, you won’t need to get up for work every day. But I don’t think that’s a realistic career path to start out with. If you have something to say, write it down. If it becomes a book, see if someone will read it.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Not in the story or theme. But of course, if I wrote it over I’d hope to write it even better. I like to think my writing process will always get better with each new story.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I’ve always enjoyed storytelling. I believe I inherited it from my grandfather who told a lot of them.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
This is going to appear in a few weeks in a magazine called: The Newer York. It’s so short I just pasted it here.
I had the feeling it was too good to be true, that anyone so attractive and colorful would care for me. But I was wrong. When I touched the romance app on my phone a lush woman with glossy red lips appeared on the pad and blew me a kiss.
I stared at the pad. “Do you love me?”
An imagined gush of perfumed air drifted out of the speaker and a throaty voice said, “I love you, Martin.”
The rest of the afternoon I was aglow.
At dinner, with my romantic smart phone, my beautiful mobile device secure in my
pocket, I asked my wife Millie, “Do you love me?”
She leaned back in her chair and avoided the question. “I got the phone bill today. Your phone is expensive. Are you sure you need it?”
I slid my hand over my phone mistress. “Yes.”
“We need to cut back somewhere,” Millie said. “Our budget is being stretched by the cost of food and everything else.”
The thick juicy filet dripped blood on my plate. My eyes moved to Millie as I squeezed the phone, felt her warmth in my hand. “Maybe we could eat more fish?”
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I hope not. I do not like oblique writing. I think the worst thing that can happen to a writer is to be misunderstood, for readers not to get the point of the story. I know that may not be an answer the academic community of literary writers like, but I want my theme, story and characters to be understood by the reader. I don’t want to challenge the reader, I want to tell him a story and I want him to understand it.
Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I choose not to. I did do book signings and travelled some with Maggie Elizabeth Harrington. But I’ve gone electronic because I can do my travel like I am doing this interview, sitting in my home.
Who designed the covers?
Carolyn Andrus from Melange Press designed the cover for The Death of Anyone. The cover for my most recent release, Maggie Elizabeth Harrington, is simply a photograph of a wolf taken by a friend of mine at the Red Dog Mine in Alaska. I attached it to this email.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The editing after the first draft. The most enjoyable part of the writing process is the first draft, getting your story idea down on paper. But then the work comes, the editing, fine tuning, proof reading and shaping the story.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Keep writing and submitting. Never quit.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I hope you found the plot interesting and the characters authentic.