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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Book 194: THE CUTTING Review

The Cutting by James Hayman
ISBN: 9780062362988 (ebook)
ASIN: B00J7Q623C  (Kindle edition)
Publication date: June 3, 2014
Publisher: Witness Impulse

Someone is stealing the hearts of beautiful women…

Detective Mike McCabe moved from a top homicide job with the NYPD to Portland, Maine to leave his failed marriage and suspicions of wrongdoing behind, and to find a more peaceful life for himself and his 13 year old daughter. 

But the small New England city is not nearly as safe as he thought. 

On a warm September night, a missing high-school athlete is found dead in a scrap metal yard, her heart removed from her body with surgical precision. As outrage over the killing spreads, a young business woman disappears while out on a morning jog. 

McCabe is certain both crimes are the work of one man—a murderer skilled in cardiac surgery who is using his scalpel to target young women. With the clock ticking, McCabe and his partner Maggie Savage find themselves in a desperate race against time to find and rescue the missing woman before she becomes the next victim of the sadistic killer’s blade.

A missing person’s case is enough to put any community on edge. A missing person’s case that ends with the discovery of the mutilated body is unimaginable. Detective Mike McCabe has relocated from New York to Portland, Maine with the hopes that this smaller town will be the idyllic setting to raise his thirteen-year-old daughter Casey. McCabe and his daughter have settled into Portland quite nicely. McCabe has a love interest, enjoys his new job, and his daughter has gotten used to being without her mother. Unfortunately McCabe hopes for quiet town are dashed when the mutilated body of a missing high-school female is found. If that wasn’t bad enough, he and his partner Maggie Savage and literally racing against the clock to find another missing women before it’s too late. 

The Cutting is the first book in the McCabe and Savage series. I’ve read and previously reviewed Mr. Hayman’s novel Darkness First, also a McCabe and Savage novel, so I was delighted at the opportunity to read the first in this series. I found The Cutting to be a fast-paced read and enjoyed learning more about McCabe and Savage. Mr. Hayman did a remarkable job portraying the horror and terror that grips a city when there’s the possibility of a serial killer on the loose. The Cutting provides just the right amount of mystery and suspense, along with the introduction of the personal drama in McCabe’s life. McCabe is in a serious relationship with a local artist – Kyra Erikson, has had sole custody of his teenage daughter for more than three years, and now his ex-wife has decided she wants to become reacquainted with their daughter. It is precisely this combination of drama, mystery, and suspense that makes The Cutting such a wonderful book. The characters are all realistically flawed and the action is quite believable. If you’ve read Darkness First and haven’t read The Cutting you’ll definitely want to read it. If you haven’t read either book and enjoy great mystery-suspense-thrillers then add both books to your TBR list. I’m eagerly looking forward to reading more McCabe and Savage stories in the future.

Read the first chapter of The Cutting here

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via Edelweiss. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Book 332: DARKNESS FIRST Review

Darkness First (A McCabe and Savage Thriller) by James Hayman
ISBN:  9780062301697 (ebook)
ASIN:  B00CGZXQDU (Kindle edition)
Publication date: October 1, 2013 
Publisher: Witness Impulse

The mutilated body of a young woman. The town doctor lying comatose in the road. A hundred and fifty tablets of Canadian OxyContin. This is the havoc that a merciless killer has wreaked on a sleepy Maine seaport.

As detectives Maggie Savage and Michael McCabe investigate, they realize the man they are after does not exist. Nobody knows his real name. Nobody has seen his face. But everybody fears his blade.

The only one who may know the murderer’s true identity is an eleven-year-old girl—who has vanished into thin air.

Taut, twisting, and starring two unforgettable heroes, Darkness First will thrill fans of John Sandford and C. J. Box.

Darkness First begins with a rather audacious theft of 40,000 Canadian branded OxyContin pills from a Canadian warehouse, an approximate street value of five million dollars. The two young thieves kill the security guard during the theft only to be killed in return by the theft’s mastermind. This is followed by a young woman visiting a rural physician in Maine only to abruptly leave when questioned by the physician and wind up being killed in a gruesome manner and the attempted murder of the physician that witnessed the murder. Unfortunately for the killer the physician is the best friend of Portland police detective Maggie Savage. She quickly leaves Portland to return to her hometown and join the investigation. As Maggie launches her portion of the investigation, the killer seems to be two steps behind killing off all loose-ends or witnesses to his identity until the only remaining witness is the eleven-year-old sister of the first murdered young woman. Maggie realizes that she can’t do her investigation alone and when her brother is implicated in the murders, she calls on her Portland PD partner Michael McCabe to help.

Darkness First is a fast-paced suspense thriller where the good guys have to try and keep a step or two ahead of the bad guy. Unfortunately the bad guy seems to know everything the good guys are doing. All of the key evidence seems to point to Maggie’s brother, Harlan, and even Maggie’s father seems to believe the worst. Maggie steps out on an extremely small limb in order to vouch for her brother and continue her investigation. Things heat up quickly, not only on the investigation, but between Maggie and McCabe. There are quite a number of twists and turns to the story that only add to the overall suspense. I rather enjoyed Darkness First and the Savage and McCabe duo. If you’re looking for a suspense-thriller that’s well-written, incorporates family drama with a bit of romance, and is a quick, entertaining read then grab Darkness First.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via Edelweiss. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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