Now Joe and his girlfriend, Carly, must find the money before the Cartel, the cops, or his own Syndicate finds them. Carly owns his heart, and Joe will do anything to protect her. He should run, but he’s determined to expose whoever betrayed him and deliver the cash.
One bullet at a time.
That’s the situation in “One Bullet,” the new crime thriller from Panama City author Mark Boss. Set in Panama City, Rosemary Beach and other locations across the Emerald Coast, “One Bullet” tracks its characters from one extreme situation to another in a driving narrative full of violence and dark humor.
In many cases, Mark said, it’s only when people face that kind of situation that you see them for who they really are. That’s why he delighted in throwing obstacles, injuries and betrayals at Joe Barrow as “One Bullet” progressed.
“Early detective characters were cowboys in a city. There’s always a girl — there’s not a plot without a girl — there’s always a bad guy, a McGuffin (or plot device), a bag of cash or a case of jewels,” he said. “It’s a collision of people that are doomed in the same way characters in Greek and Norse myths are doomed, falling forward into the plot. They can’t help themselves.”
Mark’s previous books include the thrillers “Hired Guns” and “The Cultist,” and the urban fantasies “Dead Girl” and “Dead Girl 2: Fader Boy.” He’s a member of the Panama City Writers Association and The Cheshires writing group. His website is MarkBoss.net, and he blogs at ChimpWithPencil.com. >>This is his Amazon profile<<
Mark began writing pulp-style thrillers for a website called “Beat to a Pulp,” and an early version of “One Bullet” was produced for this site. However, he credits PCWA member Wayne Garrett with questioning a portion of the story that got him thinking of it in deeper terms.
“He got the hamster wheel turning,” Mark said, which led to research into things like money laundering and hacking. As is usual for novelists, most of the research is never seen in the book but serves to inform the writer’s approach.
Mark makes his living as an editor-for-hire, freelancing for novelists, tech companies, non-fiction authors, academics and more. His short fiction has been published in “Between There” Volume 2, “Meow,” “50-to-1,” “Blazing Adventures,” “The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature,” and the Emerald Coast Review.
“Editing pays the bills, and writing keeps me off of rooftops and out of sanitariums,” he said. “Anybody going into writing for the money is crazy or at least misinformed.”
Mark’s family came to Panama City in 1969, when he was a wee tyke. He considers himself a native. His first written works were comic books he illustrated in spiral notebooks, though he started reading epic novels like “The Hobbit” at an early age.
“Comics were friendly. They were short in pages, but epic in storytelling,” he said on his Amazon.com biographical note. “The point is that when I wrote/drew the last page, I had told a story.”
He soon began emulating Edgar Rice Burroughs and other authors he admired. He wrote his first (self-described “horrible”) novel during college in the mid-1980s, under the influence of Douglas Adams.
“When I was young, I went through a phase of reading Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler,” he said. “The people in those books were so real to me — people who made terrible mistakes, but that’s real. The things that drove them were relatable to me.”
Post-modern storytelling, full of anti-heroes or a collection of debased characters, is not something that appeals to Mark, who said he needs someone in a story that he can pull for.
“They may be knuckleheads or killers, but at least they’re attempting to do the right thing,” he said. “The heart of every great story is good versus evil, the moral conflict. A story mines that, or it’s just a newscast.”
Mark said he’s fascinated by characters who make all the wrong decisions for all the right reasons, like those who throw caution to the wind for the sake of love: “That trumps everything. Love trumps reason, danger, all of it.”
(This was my Undercurrents column for PanamaCity.com and The News Herald.)