It’s my great pleasure today to have as my guest blogger Austin Camacho, who actually isn’t the subject of this post. In fact, this particular guest post is an interview with Hannibal Jones, DC detective extraordinaire! (sp?) Hannibal is the fictional creation of the mystery and suspense author Austin Camacho, who is coming out with his sixth Hannibal Jones mystery.
And so, with that said, let’s get the show on the road! 🙂 Take it away, Austin/Hannibal!
My latest novel, PYRAMID DECEPTION is the 6th in my mystery series featuring Washington DC-based African-American private eye Hannibal Jones. In this book, Hannibal takes on the most important client of his life: Cindy Santiago, the woman he loves. Cindy has been betrayed by a close friend and taken in a scam that has left her almost penniless. The swindler has not only taken her money, he has stolen her confidence and robbed her of her will to live.
Hannibal’s only lead is Irene, the woman who got Cindy’s friend involved, and wants to run away with him. She may hold the key to Cindy’s problem… until she is gunned down right in front of Hannibal in a drive by shooting.
When Irene’s body disappears Hannibal is the top suspect in a plot to help her and her boyfriend escape. Now he needs to clear his name AND recover Cindy’s money. But more murders follow and Hannibal must unravel the complex scheme before he and Cindy become the next victims.
I’d like to give five of you a copy of PYRAMID DECEPTION and I’ll tell you how to get one of them, but first I’d like for you to get to know our hero better. So I’ve decided to reprint an interview, done by a reporter he met on the job in an earlier book.
He introduces that interview in his own words:
I don’t generally like being in the spotlight. I guess the Secret Service taught me it’s better to keep a low profile.
But I’m not with them anymore, and this reporter Irma Andrews helped me unravel a series of murders that caused a lot of collateral damage among the families of the victims. So when Irma asked for an interview I didn’t see how I could say no. Despite my girl Cindy’s prompting I refused to do a TV piece. Appearing in print is bad enough. At least Irma didn’t misquote me, but I think she left out some stuff that makes the whole thing a little misleading. Anyway, here’s the way the piece ran:
I met with private investigator Hannibal Jones in his office in the Anacostia section of Washington. He offered me an excellent cup of coffee, which he said was made from Costa Rican beans, and sat at his desk with sunlight pouring in through large front windows. The office was small and Spartan, sparely furnished but warm and bright. Significantly, while I took notes during the interview, so did Mr. Jones.
Irma Andrews: Thank you for speaking with me today. You are listed as a private investigator but your card describes you as a troubleshooter. How would you describe what you do, and why is it different from what most P.I.’s do?
Hannibal Jones: Most private investigators do employment vetting, matrimonial and divorce work, insurance claims and that kind of stuff. My work is a lot more focused. My clientele is individuals, not corporations. I work with people who are in trouble and don’t know where to get help.
IA: But you do bodyguard work.
IA: And solve mysteries like any detective.
HJ: On occasion.
IA: And if a person has been threatened?
HJ: Look, I do whatever’s necessary to help somebody who’s gotten themselves into a jam. I don’t think much about what that might be, going in.
IA: What qualifies you to do this sort of work? What is your professional background?
HJ: As soon as I was old enough I moved to the States and joined the New York City police force.
IA: You weren’t born in the United States?
HJ: No. I was raised in Germany. My dad was an MP in the army. My mom was a German national. We lost Dad in Vietnam. Anyway, I came to the U.S. to be a cop and I was going to bring Mama over as soon as I was settled but she passed.
IA: While you were away.
HJ: (pause.) Yes. While I was away.
IA: I’m sorry. So, you became a policeman…
HJ: Three years on the force to make detective J.G. Then three more as a detective. Then I passed the Secret Service entry exam. I spent seven years as a special agent for the Treasury Department, in the protective service.
IA: But after seven years, you resigned.
HJ: Yeah, well, stuff happened. I should have been one of the uniforms instead of going to the protective service. You see, in the protective service they expect you to not only protect your principal’s life, but his reputation too. I didn’t think my duty should included covering up a politician’s stupid actions. My boss disagreed.
IA: Any politician in particular?
HJ: Not going to go there.
IA: A national figure? Executive branch or…
HJ: I’m not going to go there.
IA: All right. So you had friction with your supervisor. For that you resigned?
HJ: Yeah. Well, after I knocked him on his ass the service was good enough to let me resign.
IA: Should I print that?
HJ: Why not. It’s what happened. They were actually pretty nice about it. Could have stopped me from getting the P.I license you know.
IA: So why this whole troubleshooter concept? How did you get into this business?
HJ: I guess in a way I did it for Mama. She always wanted me to follow my dad’s example. He was always there for people, always looking out for the little guy. Here in Washington, it seemed like there was an overabundance of little guys that needed looking out for.
IA: How do you get enough clients?
HJ: It was slow at first, but word of mouth is a powerful force in the hood. I did a couple of jobs pro bono – kept a couple of kids from being approached by drug dealers. After that people started to find me when they had problems.
IA: So your neighbors are your clients?
HJ: My clients are people with problems bigger than they are. Naturally that happens more often to people without big money.
IA: I know you’ve also had more affluent clients.
HJ: Well, I do get referrals from old Secret Service contacts. And I get business referred to me by the attorney I introduced you to, Cindy Santiago, my, um, friend.
IA: So you do have entrees into a higher financial stratum, but the well-to-do don’t come to Anacostia. Why have your office here?
HJ: That’s a bit of a story. This building used to be a crack house, believe it or not. I was hired to clear the bad element out of here for the owner. In the process I kind of bonded with the neighborhood. I felt at home here, and I knew if I stayed, the bad element wouldn’t be back. I guess the owner knew it too. He made me a very attractive offer to stay.
IA: Why not join a larger detective agency?
HJ: I like deciding who I’ll take as a client, and what kind of job I’ll do.
IA: What kind of job will you do?
HJ: All kinds. Well, no matrimonial stuff, or spying on people waiting for them to do wrong. But I do personal protection, missing persons, sometimes get hired to prove an accused person innocent. I’ll chase a bad element away like I did here, keep drug dealers away from kids or a pimp away from a hooker who wants to quit. Negotiate with loan sharks. Basically, if you have to deal with the bad guys and don’t want the police involved, I’ll usually handle it.
IA: You carry a pistol. What do you think of gun control laws?
HJ: Good gun control means being able to hit the target. Anybody who wants a gun can get one, so restrictive laws only keep people who obey the law unarmed and unable to defend themselves.
IA: But isn’t it too dangerous for everyone to be able to have a gun?
HJ: Based on statistics, it’s too dangerous for everyone to be able to have a car. Maybe guns should be more like cars. You get a license to carry at 18, after passing a mandatory training course.
IA: Interesting. How would you describe your relationship with the police?
HJ: I’d call it mutual grudging respect. I don’t mess with them. They don’t mess with me.
IA: How would you describe your personal relationship with Cindy Santiago?
HJ: I would describe it as personal.
IA: What have you learned doing this?
HJ: I’ve learned that most people are sheep. They’re not looking for trouble and they’ll do the right thing if you let them. A few people are wolves. They prey on the sheep, and they’re going to do wrong no matter what you do. They need to be shut out or put down hard.
IA: And you? Where do you fit in?
HJ: Me? I guess I’m the sheepdog.
So, who is your favorite fictional detective BESIDES Hannibal Jones? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org telling me who that is and how he or she is like Hannibal Jones. Five of those entries will be chosen at random to receive a free ebook copy of my new novel, PYRAMID DECEPTION. I may post some of those emails on my web site, and I will credit the entrant.
Austin S. Camacho is the author of six novels about Washington Dc-based private eye Hannibal Jones, four in the Stark and O’Brien international adventure-thriller series, and the detective novel, Beyond Blue. His short stories have been featured in several anthologies including Dying in a Winter Wonderland – an Independent Mystery Booksellers Association Top Ten Bestseller for 2008 – and he is featured in the Edgar nominated African American Mystery Writers: A Historical and Thematic Study by Frankie Y. Bailey.
Camacho is also editorial director for Intrigue Publishing, a Maryland small press.
Camacho is deeply involved with the writing community. He is a past president of the Maryland Writers Association, past Vice President of the Virginia Writers Club, and is an active member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime.