THE PINE BARRENS STRATAGEM by Ken HarrisThe Pine Barrens Stratagem

by Ken Harris

February 1-28, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Hello, my bookish peeps. Have you ever given any thought to what makes a book memorable? Can you imagine To Kill A Mockingbird NOT taking place in the South or in the 1930s? Would the story have had the same impact? Needless to say, authors have to take into consideration not only the locale of their settings, but also the time period, when crafting their stories. I’m pleased to welcome Ken Harris, author of The Pine Barrens Stratagem to the blog today. Mr. Harris will be discussing with us the importance of location in his writings. Grab your favorite beverage, sit back, and enjoy Mr. Harris’s visit. Thank you, Mr. Harris for being with us today, the blog is all yours.

Location, Location, Location
by Ken Harris

More than one friend, publisher, and interviewer has asked me why I chose the setting of The Pine Barrens Stratagem to be smack dab in the middle of the pandemic.

Aren’t you going to turn off readers, they asked? In fact, that point was brought to my attention from a small publisher in the text of their query rejection email. “We just don’t know if people are going to want to read about the pandemic,” were the words used.

Fear of the unknown, but this is the story I wanted to tell. If my story was set around 1929 to 1930, I would be remiss if I just ignored the stock market crash and impending depression on the characters and the environment all around them. If I wanted to write a book that I knew the general public would willingly accept and if I were in this solely for the money, I would have thrown in half a dozen zombies into the story. Apparently, the zombie apocalypse might be the only pandemic people won’t get upset reading about.

Suspend belief, others say, when questioning my setting. If I was capable of suspending belief as an author, I’d write horror. I am an absolute horror nut when it comes to books and movies. But I can’t write it. Tried. Failed. Can’t suspend belief as I type. I guess that’s what 32 years with the FBI does to a person. Just the facts, ma’am.

There are many detective novels written in sunny conditions with no rain in sight. I wanted the opposite. Something out of the ordinary that would be a challenge. My goal was to reinvent the sarcastic fast on his feet private eye I watched as a kid in The Rockford Files, but in modern times. When I began this book in September of 2020, the sun didn’t come out most days and the news was overflowing with Covid stories. I wanted to see how my protagonist would deal with this additional adversity in his investigative work day.

Right off the bat, I knew Steve Rockfish would be having money problems. People were no longer going into the office each day. Working from home was becoming the norm. That meant no one was going into the office to continue that romantic fling with a co-worker or stopping at the local bar after work to meet the other half of their affair. The bread and butter of a lot of private detective work was out the window. The flow of rejected spouse banging on a private eye’s door to get proof of the infidelity slowed to a trickle and then stopped altogether.

Secondly, I wanted to challenge myself as a writer. I was very interested in how Covid restrictions would impede a Rockfish investigation. He would need a mask, pretty much everywhere he went. Would restrictions prevent him from just gaining access to places or people that he would normally just walk up to? How would his demeaner change? Would he follow the government’s guidelines even if they caused him to not properly work the case and possibly, in the end, not complete the job for his client? All of this made me think out of the box. I really hate that phrase, but it fits here.

Emotional or non-verbal tells are a tool used to express the tension of a scene or the mental state of a character. I could easily write a character smiled in response to something someone else said. It shows the reader that particular character’s frame of mind. Not so easy to do, as an author, if someone is wearing an N95 mask. It made me write outside my normal comfort zone.

In the end, Covid is just another bad guy that Steve Rockfish has to face off against in the modern world. I would hope readers agree with me when I say the action, humor, and sarcasm of the book demote the pandemic to a small character of the book, but one that is important and had to be addressed in the world we currently live in. ♦

The Pine Barrens Stratagem

by Ken Harris

February 1-28, 2022 Virtual Book Tour


The Pine Barrens Stratagem by Ken Harris

Private Investigator Steve Rockfish needs cash, like yesterday. The bad news is that yesterday, a global pandemic raged, and Maryland was headed toward a lockdown that would ultimately lead to cheating spouses no longer “working late,” and hence a lack of new clients.

Rockfish’s luck changes when a Hollywood producer reaches out, but the job is two states away and involves digging up information on a child trafficking ring from the 1940s. What he uncovers will be used to support the launch of a true crime docuseries. He grabs a mask, hand sanitizer and heads for South Jersey.

On-site, Rockfish meets Jawnie McGee, the great granddaughter of a local policeman gone missing while investigating the original crimes. As the duo uncover more clues, they learn the same criminal alliance has reformed to use the pandemic as a conduit to defraud the Federal Government of that sweet, sweet, stimulus money.

It’s not long before the investigation turns up some key intel on a myriad of illicit activity over the last eighty years and Rockfish rockets toward a showdown with the mafia, local archdiocese and dirty cops. COVID-19 isn’t the only threat to his health.

Book Details:

Genre: Crime Thriller
Published by: Black Rose Writing
Publication Date: January 27th 2022
Number of Pages: 250
ISBN: 1684338719 (ISBN13: 9781684338719)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Ken Harris

Ken Harris retired from the FBI, after thirty-two years, as a cybersecurity executive. With over three decades writing intelligence products for senior Government officials, Ken provides unique perspectives on the conventional fast-paced crime thriller. While this is his first traditionally published novel, he previously self-published two novellas and two novels. He spends days with his wife Nicolita, and two Labradors, Shady and Chalupa Batman. Evenings are spent cheering on Philadelphia sports. Ken firmly believes Pink Floyd, Irish whiskey and a Montecristo cigar are the only muses necessary. He is a native of New Jersey and currently resides in Northern Virginia.

Catch Up With Ken Harris:
BookBub – @08025writes
Twitter – @08025writes
Instagram – @KenHarrisFiction
Facebook – @kah623

Tour Participants:

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


This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Ken Harris. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.

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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.

2 thoughts on “Guest Post: Ken Harris – THE PINE BARRENS STRATAGEM”

  1. Thanks for hosting my post. I really hope people give the book a chance and are not turned with the Covid aspect. I like to think of the book as a special 2 hour episode of the Rockford Files, dropped into 2020 with a heaping helping of the sarcasm from Moonlighting.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent guest post! Personally I love it when an author includes current events in their story. It makes it feel more real to me. And honestly, it just makes me want to read this one even more.
    Although I do like also reading about the zombie apocalypse! LOL

    Liked by 1 person

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