Local writer Chuck Greaves’ new mystery novel, “Hush Money,” is not to be missed. Greaves has created a feisty and fun main character in Jack MacTaggart.
“They say when writing your first book to write what you know. I know law and horses, so I knew I wanted a mystery combining the two,” said Greaves.
MacTaggart, a young lawyer practicing in Pasadena, Calif., is asked to handle an insurance case for a client of a fellow lawyer at his law firm who is vacationing. The case involves the death of a champion show horse named Hush Puppy.
His initial investigation takes MacTaggart to the Los Angeles Equestrian Center (a place where Greaves has spent much time).
Did Hush Puppy’s owner, Sidney Everett, kill her horse in order to collect the substantial insurance pay-off, or did Hush Puppy simply die of an unfortunate exposure to halicephalobus deletrix?
In attempting to answer this question, MacTaggart uncovers a dirty blackmail scheme, finds himself a possible suspect in a murder, and entwines himself in a romance.
The twists and turns of “Hush Money” will leave readers delightfully surprised and the ending will leave them wondering when the next installment, “Green-eyed Lady,” will hit the bookstores.
Greaves is currently in discussions with an agency in Los Angeles to sell MacTaggart to a TV series. “I thought at first their intention was to turn ‘Hush Money’ into a series, but they actually just want to buy the character.”
“Green-eyed Lady” is another mystery starring, of course, Jack MacTaggart. It will be out next year.
Greaves had been practicing law himself in Pasadena for 25 years when he turned 50 and hit his version of a midlife crises.
“I asked myself if I wanted to practice law for another 25 years or do something I’ve always wanted to do, which is write a book,” he said.
After the two years it took him to write ‘Hush Money’ and after about 30 form rejection letters from possible agents, he began to doubt he would ever see his book published.
“I decided to set ‘Hush Money’ aside and write another book.”
So he wrote ‘Hard Twisted,’ a historical Depression-era true-crime saga that will be hitting bookstores in November.
“Hard Twisted” was inspired by the discovery of two skulls by Greaves and his wife while hiking in a remote region of Southern Utah.
It tells the true tale of a homeless man and his 13-year-old daughter in Oklahoma who begin hanging out with a Texas drifter just released from the federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kan. The father disappears, and the drifter flees with the daughter, whom he holds captive for a year. They wind up in Blanding, Utah, in the midst of a range war. The saga includes four killings in Utah and Palmer’s eventual murder trial in 1935.
Greaves decided to enter both books in the 2010 SouthWest Writers International Contest.
“Hard Twisted” won first place in the Best Historical Novel category, and “Hush Money” took first in the Mystery/Suspense/ Thriller/Adventure category. “Hush Money” went on to win the grand prize of the whole contest, the Storyteller Award.
“Suddenly I had agents calling me!” Greaves said.
Now he is pleased with his decision to retire from law and become a writer.
After a six-year stint in Santa Fe, he and his wife are happy to be residing in Montezuma County. The two live in McElmo Canyon, have two horses, and enjoy hiking, especially in Canyons of the Ancients.