A Good Kill, the latest P.T. Marsh novel by John McMahon.
Author Interview + Book & Author Info + Author Pet Corner!
A Good Kill by John McMahon
An electrifying mystery featuring a troubled small-town police detective faced with three interwoven crimes that reveal sinister secrets about his community–and the deaths of his family, by the Edgar Award-and Thriller Award- short-listed author whose novels have been described by the New York Times Book Review as “pretty much perfect.”
In the years since the mysterious deaths of his wife and child, P.T. Marsh, a police detective in the small Georgia town of Mason Falls, has faced demons–both professional and personal. But when he is called to the scene of a school shooting, the professional and personal become intertwined, and he suspects that whoever is behind the crime may be connected to his own family tragedy.
As Marsh and his partner Remy investigate the shooting, they discover that it is far from straightforward, and their search for answers leads them to a conspiracy at the highest levels of local government–including within the police force. The stakes in the case become increasingly high, culminating in a showdown that has Marsh questioning everything he knows, and wondering if some secrets are better left undiscovered.
To purchase A Good Kill, click on any of the following links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, Apple, Books-A-Million & Penguin/Random House
Check out the book trailer by clicking the link here.
A Good Kill — The Interview
A Good Kill finds Detective Marsh facing the impact of a school shooting. What drew you to write about such a challenging subject for the third book in your excellent series?
Yes, the novel definitely begins with this scene, and a lot of research went into how police deal with active shooter scenarios, a practice which itself has shifted over the years, most notably after Columbine.
I would say that the book isn’t about school shootings as a subject. But these things happen in towns whose names we only learn because of an active shooter situation. So the goal in the opening of the story is that Mason Falls not become one of those towns.
To that end, P.T. steps in and becomes a hero. Or does he?
Tell us about Mason Falls:
Mason Falls is a town of 130,000, set in Northern Georgia.
For years in my day job in advertising, I traveled to Atlanta for pitches and shoots. On the weekends when I was there, I’d travel up north and fell in love with the area. So I’m not a native, but in each book I’ve tried to transport little bits of real places from all over the north.
I’ve received great feedback from locals.
Growing up, I loved books that were southern gothic or set in the south. They had such a strong sense of place, and they deftly handled key differences that make America so interesting – rich vs. poor, urban vs. rural, religious vs. non.
After three books, I have a map I’ve made of Mason Falls, and last Christmas my daughter drew up a prettier version for the wall of my writing room.
If you attend any of my virtual tour stops in June, I’m going to show that off.
How has Detective Marsh grown since your first book, The Good Detective?
To me, there’s been so much interesting character growth for P.T., and my three books function as a trilogy of sorts. Meaning, I’m always setting into place some long-lead stories (for future books), but most of the open questions in The Good Detective and The Evil Men Do are answered by the time you finish A Good Kill. So I would definitely recommend that new readers go back and start with the first book, The Good Detective, because you will notice P.T.’s arc as a character.
In terms of this growth, we learn about his past and the family he lost in book one, The Good Detective. In that installment, he’s really a character with nothing to lose who’s making disastrous decisions. That said, he begins to realize what he does care about, and by the end of the first book, P.T. is trying hard… to not lose control.
In Book 2, The Evil Men Do, P.T. is in a really fragile state. He’s almost willing everyone around him not to move. But that’s the thing: people do move, especially when you don’t want them to. The second book for me was really about developing character for P.T. and Remy and introducing readers to the greater world of Mason Falls. In this aspect, it’s less hooky than the first, but a lot of readers enjoyed it more. I think this is because people who read series appreciate getting to know the depth of characters.
Book 3, A Good Kill, brings both those styles together. It has an opening scene that’s action-oriented, with one of those ‘oh no’ moments you read in books. P.T. has agreed to return a favor (no questions asked) from Book 2. And the minute he does, you just know something’s going to unravel.
What should readers know about Marsh’s partner Remy Morgan:
Remy Morgan is a smart, young physical detective. In many ways, she’s P.T. version 2.0. She’s made detective at an even younger age than him. And although she’s got a lot to learn, she’s not intimidated being a young Black female detective in what’s really a man’s world.
Like P.T., Remy was born in the area, but grew up in a different part of town and different culture than him. And in A Good Kill, we learn that she was a prodigy of sorts growing up, and that her parents did not think much of her decision to take her intellectual talents to a police department, instead of to law or medicine.
Both main characters are on separate journeys – each on their own arc. So it’s fun to see where they cross. For example, in A Good Kill, you see Remy becoming slightly less idealistic and realizing that there are some compromises she has to make to work within the system.
What are you working on now?
I am working on a high-concept F.B.I. stand-alone.
It’s not part of my P.T. Marsh series, is written in a completely new voice for me, and will introduce readers to a whole new world.
I’ve written about ¾ of the novel and am now starting back at the beginning, fixing about 10 pages a week, with the goal of having it done between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Early reads have come back with great remarks, and I can’t wait to get the book out into the world.
Words of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers:
Someone once told me – “don’t hide the gold” – meaning don’t artificially hold something back from readers, hoping it’s gonna be some bombshell at page 200.
If you do “hide the gold,” the readers won’t still be reading at page 200! So let them see the gold early. And then just come up with something even better as you go. Call it new gold.
Author Pet Corner!
Seen here are my two pets: my dog, Tessie and my cat, Midnight. Both animals are rescues.Midnight came to us 8 years ago, from a group in Burbank, California that rescues feral and outdoor cats found in the foothills. Years later she is still skittish and only allows us to pick her up in the dark at night.
Tessie came to us 5 yeas ago via an organization calls Wags and Walks. She and a dozen pitbulls were seized by LA County from a number of cages around a mobile home. That specific rescue has a specialty with pitbulls, and Tessie was the one non-pitbull that got taken by the group since she was also in one of the cages. We believe she’s a retriever/Husky mix.
And… fun fact, if you read A Good Kill, you will notice that I built a character from one of my animals. There is a dog named Beau who bears an uncanny resemblance to Tessie.
John McMahon: Author of A Good Kill
The New York Times called John McMahon’s debut novel, THE GOOD DETECTIVE “pretty much perfect” and listed it among their “Top Ten Crime Novels of 2019.” The book was a finalist for the 2020 Edgar Award for Best First Novel and a finalist for ITW’s Thriller Award for Best First Novel.
His follow up, THE EVIL MEN DO, was also a New York Times “Top Ten Crime Novel” for 2020. The third book in his P.T. Marsh series, A GOOD KILL, comes out June 15th.
John lives in Southern California with his wife, two kids and two rescue animals. As a day job, he’s an advertising creative director who’s made award-winning T.V. spots for the automotive, technology, and hospitality industries.
To learn more about John, click on his name, photo, or any of the following links: INSTAGRAM & FACEBOOK
Elena Taylor is the author of All We Buried, available now in print, e-book, and audio book format at all your favorite on-line retailers. And don’t forget many independent bookstores can order books for you and have them shipped to your home or for curbside pickup.
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For more information on All We Buried, click on the link here to visit the home page.
Foreword INDIE Award Finalist, Best Mystery 2020