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William Heffernan Books In Order

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Publication Order of Dead Detective Books

The Dead Detective (2010)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Scientology Murders (2017)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Paul Devlin Books

Publication Order of The Corsican Books

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Broderick (1980)Description / Buy at Amazon
Caging the Raven (1981)Description / Buy at Amazon
Acts of Contrition (1986)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Dinosaur Club (1997)Description / Buy at Amazon
Beulah Hill (2001)Description / Buy at Amazon
Cityside (2001)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Time Gone By (2003)Description / Buy at Amazon
When Johnny Came Marching Home (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon

William Heffernan is an American author known for writing award-winning murder-mystery thrillers. He is literally believed to have reinvented the murder mystery single-handedly. Heffernan started out as a journalist and worked as a newspaper reporter in New York. He had a very successful career in journalism as he was a three-time nominee for the Pulitzer Prize. He published his debut novel “Broderick,” in 1980 and since then has gone on to write nearly twenty novels and even won the Edgar award. Among his novels include the bestselling “The Dead Detective,” “Beulah Hill,” “The Corsican,” “Cityside,” “A Time Gone By” and “When Johnny Came Marching Home” among others. His latest novel is “The Scientology Murders “the second novel of the “Dead Detective” series. When he is not visiting his children around the US, you can find him lounging on some forty-foot trawler moored in Florida.

Heffernan started writing when he was in college and cites Henry Miller as one of his biggest influences, He would soon graduate to the likes of Alain Robbe-Grillet, James Joyce, Graham Green, James Faulkner, Jim Thompson and Ernest Hemingway, which he agrees is quite an eclectic bunch. However, he was also influenced by several other authors that he read in high school and all these would play a role in his later career. He was first drawn to the art of murder mystery when he read Hammett and Chandler and then Stuart Kaminsky, Elmore Leonard, and Tony Hillerman, He would then glean some aspects of magical realism from Latin American Mystery authors that he also added to his repertoire. His former career as a journalist also significantly influenced his professional authorship career. His novels are suffused in realistic crime stories on both the macro and micro levels. Heffernan showcases an extraordinary ability to write intriguing mysteries that combine politics and history without descending into dilettantism and didactic while being very entertaining.

His first novel “Broderick” came out in 1980 to rave reviews. The inspiration for the novel was Johnny Broderick, a legendary and tough New York cop. He had been nicknamed “The Beater” for his notoriety though he is nothing like your typical heroic cop. He is a violent and corrupt man who was as crooked as the criminals and as dirty as the haunts down which he hunts them. Heffernan writes imperfect characters in a violent and harsh world that is decidedly realist though justice is rarely achieved on either the judicial or the individual level. Heffernan combines the political and personal in complex dramas where his characters find themselves having to deal with issues they cannot fully comprehend. His journalism background shows in his analysis of the roles that his characters play in global and national dramas. For instance, Jennifer Brady of “Acts of Contrition” discovers that it is difficult to unearth the truth let alone report it once she starts digging into Tony Marco an up and coming politician. She learns that corruption is a living cancer, a multi-headed hydra that cannot be killed or excised with a single article.

One of his most popular series is the “Dead Detective” series of novels that was inspired by a true story. Shortly after Hefferman moved to Florida, there was a story of a middle school teacher that had slept with one of her teenage students. He was intrigued by the fact the woman loved the publicity as she had something of a glint in her eye despite the gravity of the charges. She was a former swimsuit model and always dressed like one. She had slept with the thirteen-year-old in her own home and in her car while her husband was away at work. When the story blew up, the boy was devastated and William could not help but think of his thirteen-year-old son. It was at this time that another story broke of a mother who decided to get rid of her two children. She drugged them, placed them in the garage and left the engine of her car running. By the time they were found by a neighbor, the two children were clinically dead. The older was successfully revived but the younger was too far gone and died. Apparently, the mother was some demented religious nut. The surviving boy full of rage was ready to testify against his mother to ensure she got what was coming her.

“The Dead Detective” the first novel of The Dead Detective series introduced Harry Doyle. He is the survivor of a murder attempt on him and his younger brother Jimmy. He had only survived because a neighbor had walked into the garage to find the two of them drugged and nearly dead from the carbon monoxide fumes from their mother’s car. Harry’s mother had gone to prison and Harry had vowed that she would never see the outside again. She is demented and keeps sending him a letter on the anniversary of the murder attempt expressing her desire that he would be united with Jesus. He fights tooth and nail every time she comes up for parole as he would never allow her to have a chance at committing more crimes on the outside. As a grown-up, he becomes a homicide detective in Florida and has been given the name “the dead detective.” According to his colleagues, the man can speak to the dead given the experiences of his youth. While he always denies it, he seems to have an uncanny ability to know what the victims felt as they were dying. Doyle works with Vicky Stanopolis who is an expert in sex crimes. Her expertise will be especially critical in the latest case Harry is working on since it involves a child molesting murder victim. She was a beautiful woman but she had dug her own grave and had been caught having a relationship with a teenage boy and been sent to jail.

“The Scientology Murders” the second novel of the “Dead Detective” novels still stars Harry Doyle who is known as Dead Detective by his colleagues. He is investigating a homicide in which his adoptive father had been seriously wounded. He is now facing one of the most secretive and most powerful cults in the country – the Church of Scientology. He is at Clearwater, Florida where the cult-like group has its spiritual headquarters. The members that run it insist that every member be true to the faith and remain pure. One of the senior-most leaders in the cult has employed a young man and brainwashed him such that he has become more like a robot. He has a twisted soul that does everything he is told and will do everything to ensure that everyone else follows the rules too. In the meantime, Harry and Vicky have teamed up with Max Abrams, a Clearwater Sergeant and are now following the trail of the killer who has gone to ground. The Scientologists have safe houses all over the world and Harry’s search takes him as far as Alaska. In a shocking conclusion, Vicky and Harry are threatened with death in a circumstance they could never have predicted.

Book Series In Order » Authors » William Heffernan

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