Guest Post: James Hayman – A FATAL OBSESSION

A Fatal Obession by James Hayman

Hello, my fellow readers. I’m always excited when an author consents to stop by and provide us all with some interesting tidbits about their characters or writing process. Today, I’m delighted to welcome James Hayman, the author of the McCabe and Savage series (one of my favorite thriller series). Mr. Hayman will be regaling us with the story of how McCabe and Savage came to be. Thank you, Mr. Hayman, for your visit and providing us with the origin story of this dynamic police duo.

Giving Birth to McCabe and Savage

It was 2006. I’d been writing for a living all my life. First I wrote TV and print advertising. Then after I left Madison Avenue I put in a few years of freelance marketing writing including a couple of non-fiction corporate histories that paid well but didn’t set either my heart or imagination soaring. Finally, as I noticed the years going by and my hair turning grayer I decided it was time to stop doing that stuff and finally get down to writing the thriller series I’d always promised myself I’d write.

Having decided to proceed, my first challenge was coming up with answers to the three key challenges every novelist faces: Create a great setting. Dream up a great plot. And, most important of all, especially for an ongoing series, give birth to one or more great heroes.

Setting was important but, turned out to be easy.  My hometown of Portland, Maine was just about perfect. It offered a sometimes gritty, urban setting. A vibrant street life. Great architecture. A rich history. The working waterfront. Good bars and restaurants. A lively art scene. And interesting and sometimes extreme weather to set scenes in.

The plot(s) I figured would come once I had developed my characters.

And so I turned to the biggie. Who was my hero going to be? As I thought about it, it felt like it every possible variation on the thriller hero had been done over and over again.

There were heroes as supermen ranging from Ian Fleming’s James Bond back in the 60’s to Lee Child’s hugely successful and on-going Jack Reacher series. 

Ethnic diversity also abounds. Consider, for example, Walter Moseley’s Easy Rawlins, Alex McCall-Smith’s Mma Ramotswe from Botswana’s No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency and Tony Hillerman’s Navajo Indian detectives Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn. 

Examples of interesting professions or unusual skills? Plenty of those too. Dick Francis’s ex-jockey turned private eye, John Dunning’s rare book expert in the Bookman series and, two of the biggest money-makers of all time, Dan Brown’s Harvard Symbologist (whatever the hell a symbologist is), Robert Langdon. And Steig Larrson’s anti-social computer hacker Lisbeth Salander.

There were also plenty of handicapped and or religious detectives? There’s Jeffrey Deaver’s brilliant quadriplegic Lincoln Rhyme and Julia Spencer-Fleming’s Episcopal minister/helicopter pilot. I even discovered a writer named George C. Chesbro who has written a series featuring a dwarf detective who is also a professor of criminology.

It seemed every kind of different had already been done. That’s when I realized that different didn’t really make that much difference.  

The heroes I liked best I liked not because of their peculiarities deformities or ethnic backgrounds. The ones I liked were simply flawed human beings like the rest of us. Yes, they solved murders but they did that because it was their job as cops or maybe as private investigators. More importantly,  the ones I liked were people I found it easy to identify with. Yes, they might have a few individual quirks. But then, everyone does. Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch is the orphaned son of a prostitute and his first name is Hieronymus. Ian Rankin’s John Rebus is an anti-social alcoholic. And Tess Gerritsen’s Jane Rizzoli has deep insecurities, anger management issues and major problems with both her mother and her insensitive lout of a brother. But they are all cops and, more importantly, they are all real people.

And so, following that instinct, Michael McCabe, my first ongoing hero, was born. One of the oldest clichés in writing is to write who and what you know.  With McCabe, I followed that advice and based his character on the person I know best: Me. 

McCabe and I were born and raised in New York. We both eventually moved to Maine. We’re both avid New York Giant fans (yes, even after the horrendous season the Giants had last year.) And we both enjoy and probably drink too much really good Scotch. More important than any of that, we think alike and share a similar moral compass.

I started my first book, The Cutting, with the intention of making McCabe a solo hero like Harry Bosch. But the further I got into the story, the more I found myself drawn to McCabe’s Portland Police Department partner, Detective Maggie Savage. Unlike McCabe, Maggie was a native Mainer born and raised Downeast in the small city of Machias. The more I wrote about Maggie the more I liked her and the more I realized that yes, a male writer like me, could create a realistic and compelling female character. By the closing scenes of that first book, the die was cast. Maggie had, by sheer strength of character, become my leading lady and a full-fledged partner of McCabe. In fact by the third book, Darkness First, I Maggie had become the main character and in that one book, McCabe was reduced to a secondary role. 

Blessed with a pair of detectives I both liked personally and enjoyed writing about, the only remaining challenge was dreaming up some really good plots for them to play in and some really bad villains to challenge their skills and then turn the plots into novels. 

With the recent publication of A Fatal Obsession, I’ve now done it six times. Like any good father, I love all my children equally. But I have to secretly admit I think each of the books has been better than the one that came before. I have some pretty knowledgeable agreement about the latest one, A.J. Finn, author of the #1 NY Times bestseller The Woman in the Window, happily agrees with me. After reading A Fatal Obsession Finn wrote, “James Hayman’s edgy, ingenious novels rival the best of Lisa Gardner, Jeffery Deaver, and Kathy Reichs. A Fatal Obsession is his finest to date: a ferocious live-wire thriller starring two of the most appealing cops in contemporary fiction.”

A Fatal Obsession

by James Hayman

on Tour September 1 – 30, 2018


A Fatal Obession by James Hayman

“James Hayman’s edgy, ingenious novels rival the best of Lisa Gardner, Jeffery Deaver, and Kathy Reichs. A Fatal Obsession is his finest to date: a ferocious live-wire thriller starring two of the most appealing cops in contemporary fiction.” — A.J. Finn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in the Window

Zoe McCabe is a beautiful young actress on the verge of stardom who has been basking in the standing ovations and rave reviews she’s been getting from critics and fans alike for her portrayal of Desdemona in an off-Broadway production of Othello. As she takes her final bows, Zoe has no idea that, seated in the audience, a man has been studying her night after night, performance after performance. A man whose carefully crafted plans are for the young actress to take a starring role in a far deadlier production he has created just for her.

Portland, Maine detectives Mike McCabe and Maggie Savage are settling into the new rhythm of their relationship when McCabe gets a late-night call from his brother Bobby that Zoe, McCabe’s favorite niece and Bobby’s daughter, has suddenly disappeared. The NYPD is certain Zoe’s abduction is the work of the man the tabloids have dubbed “The Star Struck Strangler,” a killer who has been kidnapping, abusing and finally strangling one beautiful young performer after another. Bobby begs McCabe to return to the New York City crime beat he’d left behind so many years ago, to work his old connections, and to help find Zoe before her time runs out. The stakes for McCabe and Savage have never been higher. Or more personal. And suddenly the race is on to stop a vicious attacker, before the McCabe family is torn apart beyond repair.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Published by: Witness Impulse
Publication Date: Aug. 21, 2018
Number of Pages: 432
ISBN: 9780062876676
Series: McCabe and Savage Thrillers #6
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Author Bio:

James Hayman

JAMES HAYMAN, formerly creative director at one of New York’s largest advertising agencies, is the author of the acclaimed McCabe and Savage Thriller series: The Cutting, The Chill of Night, Darkness First, The Girl in the Glass, The Girl on The Bridge, and A Fatal Obsession.

Catch Up With James Hayman On:, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

Enter To Win:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Harper Collins/Witness Impulse and James Hayman. There will be 3 winners of one (1) copy of The Cutting by James Hayman (eBook). The giveaway begins on September 1, 2018, and runs through October 1, 2018. (FOR BOOKS – Open to U.S. addresses only). Void where prohibited.

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Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours


Author: thebookdivasreads

I'm a reader, an avid reader, or perhaps a rabid reader (at least according to my family). I enjoy reading from a variety of different genres but particularly enjoy fiction, mystery, suspense, thrillers, ChickLit, romance and classics. I also enjoy reading about numerous non-fiction subjects including aromatherapy, comparative religions, herbalism, naturopathic medicine, and tea.

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