But there’s a lot more to the story than a mere murder mystery. The lead character, a 35 year-old police detective named Maggie Taylor, has a lot to overcome. Due to her anxiety and depression, she is failing at her job as a leading police detective. Her gruff boss, Commissioner Mickey, gives her one last case to solve before she is fired or demoted back to uniform. The case he assigns her is the recent murder of the autistic 24 year-old Joel Larson.
At the same time, Maggie and her husband Jacob are struggling to conceive a child. With things looking hopeless, they adopt two siblings from Germany; a two-month old infant named Roger and his 11 year-old sister, Mallory. It isn’t long before Mallory goes missing...
Another problem ensues when Maggie’s bitter ex-boyfriend, a famous journalist named Lamont Jackson, decides to investigate the murder himself and publish a book before Maggie can solve the case on her own. In addition to trying to get her fired, he destroys her reputation by exposing a terrible secret from her past. And I mean TERRIBLE!!!
In the meantime, there are rumors that a former terrorist group is getting back together. These terrorists used to murder police officers, and Maggie fears she may be the next target.
In addition to the many problems hitting her all at once, she has to overcome them while struggling internally with bipolar disorder.
Who killed him? Was it the sex worker he tried to sleep with? Was it the pedophile across the street that Joel caught talking to a child? Was it the insane homeless man that terrorizes people in Joel's neighborhood? Or maybe it was one of the men he beat up or one of the women he sexually assaulted? The possibilities are endless.
Through the eyes of Maggie, the book gives you true insight on what life can be like with bipolar disorder and how it can affect your job, relationships and everyday life. At times, her confidence and energy are soaring high. Other times, something as minor as a mere look of disapproval from someone can send her spiraling into clinical depression and self-doubt. Her condition can amplify minor things into serious trauma, heightening her reactions in certain situations.
I have worked in several social work jobs with special needs people. Joel Larson is not based on one particular individual, but many of the clients I worked with over the years inspired his character.
Joel strives to be a good person, but his developmental difficulties and poor socialization constantly stand in his way. For example, asking him a simple question like "How are you doing?" will result in a detailed and annoying long-winded answer.
Despite this, he saved the life of a friend suffering from a seizure. He rescued an elderly couple from a vicious wolf. He acts as a role model for an 8 year-old boy. He takes care of a pet turtle. He is very intelligent and articulate in book smarts but childish in maturity. He is impulsive, rarely thinking about the consequences of his actions. He is lonely, always in search of a friend or love interest. At the time of his death, the animals in the forest are his closest friends.
Have you seen the movie, Joker? If so, you’re familiar with pseudobulbar affect, which is involuntary laughter at inappropriate times. Joel suffers from this, which greatly hurts his socialization. He also suffers from low latent inhibition, causing him to overly process minor things that most people routinely look over. He was also diagnosed with frontal lobe autism spectrum disorder, bipolar 1 disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, schizophrenia and constipation. Yes, that's right. Constipation.
Joel’s caretakers have a high turnover rate, as he regularly physically attacks the men. The women are not spared, as they are sometimes sexually and physically assaulted.
Some of Joel’s caretakers make an effort to get to know him and build successful rapports with the young man. Others are indifferent and there just for the paycheck. People working as direct service supporters generally fall into one category or the other. Joel is often racist and homophobic, sometimes giving African American and homosexual caretakers the hardest time.
Realizing early in life that he packs a hell of a punch, Joel's biggest goals in life are to become an undefeated heavyweight boxing champion like his hero Rocky Marciano. His other obsession is losing his virginity.
As the book progresses, character alliances sometimes shift, people die, and plot twists are at nearly every turn.
I had been aiming to write a novel for years, but could never decide on what story to tell. I came up with the murder concept, then kept adding subplots that added more suspense and flesh to the story. I've actually written several drafts of it, but I discovered that it's best to let the characters dictate the direction of the story. This might sound silly, but I really got to know these fictional people I created. And it hurt like hell to kill some of them off!
I planned to have the book published by now, but new ideas and plot twists kept hitting me at the last minute.
Who murdered Joel Larson? What happened to Maggie’s daughter? Will Maggie overcome all of the problems mounted against her?
Read Who Killed Joel Larson to find out! Coming Fall 2020