Thank you for joining Kevin and me for his third outing. Let’s hope he survives.
This was the first book I wrote as a single father, and it wasn’t always easy. Okay, like everything else in my life in those transition months, it was staggeringly tough. Many thanks to my friends and family who stood by during this difficult period, especially to my sons, Sasha and David, who had to deal not only with divided dads, but with a dad who was divided. They say great art comes from great pain, but don’t get your hopes up. Smile.
Much love to my literary agent, Matthew Carnicelli, and my editor at Kensington, John Scognamiglio. Thanks, guys, for helping Kevin come back.
PS: As with
Second You Sin,
there’s a theme in the chapter titles to this book—can you figure it out? Send in your correct answer to the link on the home page at
. On February 1, 2013, I’ll pick a correct response at random. If you’re right, you’ll have your choice between a signed copy of
Third You Die
or the chance to have your name in print as a victim in my next book. Or, if you say something nice about the book, maybe both.
I always planned on the Kevin Connor books as being a trilogy. I’m glad to say that if they end with
Third You Die,
I think it’s a satisfying send-off. However, weeks after sending off the manuscript, I thought, “What if . . . ?” I realized there may be more places to take Kevin, Tony, Freddy, and Rafi yet.
One of the things a mystery series writer has to juggle is keeping the aspects of your characters that readers enjoy while not letting them get stagnant. To my mind, too many series become dull when the protagonist and his or her circumstances are the same from book one to book twenty.
At the end of this book, I hope you agree that the Kevin here has grown a lot from the boy you met in
First You Fall
What do you think? Do you want to see more of his evolution, or shall we leave him now? I can’t say much more without giving away what my beloved River Song from
would warn are “spoilers, darling, spoilers.” (PS: If you’re a
fan, you’ll find a loving reference somewhere in this book. An Easter egg just for you!)
If you would like to see more of Kevin, please help spread the word. While I might like to write another in the series, and you might like to read it, my publisher would like to sell it. So, tell your friends, tell your neighbors, leave positive reviews on bookselling sites, and if all else fails, wouldn’t you like a second copy of
Third You Die
for, I don’t know, swatting flies or propping open doors?
Please join me on Twitter @ScottWrites, as, apparently, my entire self-worth as a human being is determined by the number of “followers” I have. Who knew?
Or check out my blog at
for the most current links to other social networks, as well as my thoughts on the mundane to the . . . less mundane.
Thanks for reading and for your support.
Listening to them bicker, interrupt, and compete among themselves for who had the most outrageous story, I couldn’t decide which of the sex workers annoyed me most: the busty dominatrix in her black leather halter, too-tight read-my-lips matching slacks, and spiked, knee-high boots; the spray-tanned gay porn actor wearing a muscle-clinging T-shirt and painted-on jeans; or the plushie in the purple dinosaur costume who got off dressing as one of America’s most beloved childhood icons.
“When men come before me,” the dominatrix said haughtily, her imperious tone implying that not only they but we didn’t deserve her time, “I give them something they can’t get anywhere else. The feeling they are totally taken care of, that they no longer have to be ‘in charge.’ I give them the release that can only be achieved with true obedience. I give them the freedom of abandoning control and letting someone else—”
“You give them a spanking and they give you a few hundred bucks,” the porn star interrupted. “You’re a kitten with a whip, honey. Not a cross between Mother Teresa and Sigmund Freud. You need to stop taking this shit so seriously.”
The dominatrix gave him a withering look that probably sent the submissives who hired her into quivering ecstasy. Her plain features knotted into a mask of extreme displeasure, thin lips and baggy eyes narrowing with practiced precision. “I wouldn’t expect someone like
to understand,” she sniffed. While I imagined that some women in her line of work role-played their arrogance, Mistress Vesper’s bitchiness was no act. Well, I suppose there was something to be said for finding work that suited you.
” The porn star, Brock Peters, was pretty butch, but I had a feeling that after a half hour of hearing Mistress Vesper’s pretentious characterizations of her “art,” he was about to go
on her. The prodigious muscles in his shoulders rippled with tension. “You mean someone who has sex with guys for money? Someone like, I don’t know,
” He pointed his strong chin at her and pursed his mouth.
“As I’ve tried to explain,” Mistress Vesper sighed, “what I do goes beyond the merely physical. When I’m with a man, I give him the release that only comes with pain, with the abandonment of the ego and the embrace of the id, the ultimate satisfaction of surrender, of . . .”
I stopped listening. This time, it wasn’t my ADHD making me zone out. Rather, it was my need to find some way to rein this discussion in, to make it productive and interesting. After all, it was my job.
Up until six months ago, I’d have been on their end of the panel. A full-time professional call boy, I earned my living fulfilling the sexual needs and fantasies of a varied and well-to-do clientele.
It wasn’t work I was ashamed of or regretted. I made tons of money, I had a good time, and I was always safe and sensible. Like Mistress Vesper, although hopefully with less smugness and self-aggrandizement, I’d like to think I was a valuable outlet for men who genuinely needed professional companionship.
Still, I knew it wasn’t a long-term career. Sooner or later, my looks or luck would run out. I’d seen enough boys wear out their welcome in the business to know a forced retirement from hustling is never pretty.
Problem was, I wasn’t qualified to do much else. Although I’m no dummy, my attention deficit disorder made completing college really hard for me. So hard, in fact, I dropped out year one.
At the time, I hadn’t even been diagnosed. I just thought I was stupid and lazy. It was a potential-client-turned-friend, Allen Harrington, who realized the ditziness that everyone else attributed to my being blond was more likely a treatable disorder. He referred me to an appropriate doctor, and for the first time in my life, the mental haze through which I wandered parted enough for me to get stuff done. It was revelatory.
Now, liberal doses of Adderall make it a lot easier for me to focus and succeed. Someday, I tell myself, I’ll go back to school for my degree. But you know how it goes—“someday” is a moving target, and so far I haven’t hit it.
Allen did me another kindness. Before his death (his murder, actually, which I, ironically enough, was instrumental in solving) he left me a sizable inheritance for tuition when I was ready to resume my studies.
I have plenty of other uses for that money, but, out of respect for Allen’s wishes, and as a promise to myself, I’m letting it sit and gather interest.
I tell myself.
I tell Allen, too, if he’s listening.
My world changed half a year ago when my mother appeared as a guest on
a morning talk show named after its host. At the time, Yvonne was America’s third most popular female celebrity. A sexy and spirited Latina, she enjoyed a carefully crafted public persona that was warm, caring, generous, and just risqué enough to titillate without being offensive. She was a saucier Oprah.
Then, in a disastrous meeting that rivaled that of the
’s introduction to the inglorious iceberg, the beloved daytime diva crossed paths with my mother.
Shortly afterward, Yvonne’s career sank lower than the luxury liner had.
Like most of my stories, it’s a long one, but I’ll try to give you the ADHD version. A boy I used to have a crush on in high school, Andrew Miller, was working as a producer on Yvonne’s show. He booked my mother as a guest, partly as a way to see me again. Turned out, he’d known about my interest in him and was ready to follow up.
Had I known back then, I’d have been on him like pasties on Lady Gaga. Unfortunately, his timing was bad. By the time he contrived our reunion, the last thing I needed was another guy to juggle. Which was too bad, because Andrew was still hotness on legs. Long, muscled legs, that carried him with the confident grace of the natural-born athlete he was. Legs that even under loose khakis revealed rippling thighs you couldn’t but imagine nude as you . . .
Okay, I’m getting off track here.
Focus, Kevin, focus.
So, my mom was talking with Yvonne when the hostess revealed herself as a homophobic, anti-Semitic bitch. Unknown to both of them, the conversation was being videotaped. When Yvonne threatened to sue my mother for making her bald (I told you it was a long story), Andrew, who had long suffered under Yvonne’s imperious rule, leaked the video online. That was pretty much it for the woman formerly known as “The Darling of Daytime.”
When the producers of
sacked her, they needed a new talker to take her place. By this time, the online video of her meltdown had achieved over five million views. Who better to replace Yvonne than the Long Island hausfrau who took her down? By then, my mother had appeared on
Good Morning America,
the David Letterman show, and even on
. It turned out her brash tell-it-like-it-is style, lack of personal boundaries, and borderline vulgarity that so embarrassed me growing up made her a natural for TV. Audiences found her a genuinely likable character—easy to relate to and impossible to look away from.
Of course, people stare at car crashes, too.
My mother made it part of the deal that Andrew be promoted to head producer and, thus, her TV career was born. The show, named after her, was now
. (Apparently, I was the only person in the world who thought a pun based on a book about the Holocaust was in bad taste.)
Four months after going on air,
was an undeniable hit. No one could say how long the ride would last (remember Ricki Lake?) but, for now, my mother and everyone else involved in the show was riding high.
“I’ve always known I was a star,” my mother told me calmly in her office, as her staff whooped and hollered after the show’s first month’s shockingly high ratings hinted that her fame was possibly more than a passing fad. “I’m just glad everyone else figured it out, too.”
“The only saving grace about your mother’s newfound notoriety,” my long-suffering father told me on the phone later that day, with his trademark blend of pessimistic optimism, “is that she was
impossible to live with. It’s not like she could get any worse. Plus, this
TV show keeps her out of the house. So, that’s good.”
Meanwhile, the show was an opportunity for me, too. I’d been getting away with calling myself a “consultant” for the past few years, but I knew I’d eventually need a “real” job. When Andrew approached me about working on my mother’s show, I was initially reluctant. For one thing, the idea of spending that much time with my mother, in a high-pressure environment, was about as appealing as a colonoscopy, only with more crap involved. It’s not that I don’t love her—I do—it’s just she drives me crazy.
For another, I didn’t have any experience in television. What would I
Luckily, this time Andrew got it right. His idea was to make me the coordinator of casting. This meant it was my job to help choose and screen the guests that appeared on the show.
I might have never worked in TV before, but years of being a call boy had taught me how to quickly size up people, figure out if they were crazy or not, and how to bring out their best.
Those skills proved right in line with those needed to pick the kinds of guests who’d “pop” on a daytime talk show. I had a knack for getting inside the heads of potential interviewees. I could help them find their most interesting story and focus them on how to tell it. I could also craft the questions for my mother to ask and help the producers with setups that would wring the most drama from the guest’s appearance.
Part of what made me successful at getting people to open up to me was my personality, but part was my appearance. I’m not the handsomest guy in the world, but what I am is
. Short, boyish, with floppy blond hair and a button nose, I’m unthreatening and look trustworthy, the archetypal All-American boy next door. That image supported me for years as a hustler; now it worked for me as an interviewer.
Hey, you gotta play the hand you’re dealt.
Plus, no longer making my living in an illegal profession
made things easier with Tony Rinaldi, the cop who recently graduated from being my semi-boyfriend to full-time lover. He’d been tolerant of my work, but I knew he didn’t approve. Plus, now that we were kind of raising a kid together, it was even more complicated. So,
while not without its challenges, was proving to be a good thing.
Of course, we’d see how things went after today’s taping. This was a pretty far-out panel. It had the potential of being an episode that would keep people talking for days, or the kind of train wreck that would have people switching to the Food Network as fast as their remotes could carry them.
I was about to find out.