by Austin Williams
on Tour Nov 2 - 13, 2015
"I wanted to take a bite out of BLIND SHUFFLE before breakfast but ended up reading straight through lunch. I finished it on a plane to Tijuana. This was my first Rusty Diamond novel…it won’t be my last. Dig in."
—Patrick Hasburgh, creator of 21 JUMP STREET
Far from the neon lights of Bourbon Street, heinous crimes are being committed against young women, and a street magician seeks to pull off his greatest trick by staying alive long enough to see justice done. The stage is set for a New Orleans noir perfect for fans of James Lee Burke and George Pelecanos.
Rusty Diamond abandoned the Crescent City years ago to pursue fame in Las Vegas, leaving Marceline Lavalle, the daughter of his mentor, with a broken heart. Now Rusty has come back to make amends with his former teacher and his first love—but Prosper Lavalle won’t face him, and no one has seen Marceline for days.
Five months pregnant, Marceline’s vanished without a trace. Her estranged boyfriend, a casino boss with criminal ties and a hair-trigger temper, claims no knowledge of her whereabouts. With the police not yet ready to declare foul play, Rusty launches his own investigation.
The search for Marceline will take Rusty into the darkest corners of New Orleans, where enormous profit can be made from human misery, where desperate people hunt on the fringes, and where not all magic is sleight of hand. It will force him to confront the mistakes of his past, and offer him a shot at redemption. And it will leave him—if he’s not careful—at the bottom of a bayou.
Published by: Diversion Books
Publication Date: October 20th, 2015
Number of Pages: 266
ISBN: 1626817782 (ISBN13: 9781626817784)
Series: 2nd Rusty Diamond Novel
Read an excerpt:
Author Bio:Austin Williams is the author of The Rusty Diamond Series of crime thrillers published by Diversion Books. The second novel in the series, Blind Shuffle, was released in October 2015. Other books by Williams include the cult suspense novels Crimson Orgy and The Platinum Loop. He is the co-author (with Erik Quisling) of Straight Whisky: A Living History of Sex, Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll on the Sunset Strip. He lives in Los Angeles.
How far should a writer go in keeping a character mysterious? When does a sense of ambiguity start to alienate readers from a book’s protagonist, dulling their interest in the story? How long will readers remain patient in gathering background information, if the writer chooses to dish it out one scrap at a time? These were questions I had to consider when commencing work on the Rusty Diamond series.
I’d always intended for Rusty to initially appear as a semi-unknowable character. When readers meet him in the opening chapter of Misdirection, all they learn is that he’s spent the previous two years living in a state of seclusion in a small east coast resort town. Over the course of that first novel in the series, a fragmented mosaic of Rusty’s past life comes together, revealing that he was formerly a stage magician in Las Vegas whose career flamed out in some sudden and spectacular manner.
In Blind Shuffle, the second book of the series, Rusty travels to New Orleans to reconnect with his estranged mentor. Readers will acquire a few more pieces in the puzzle of his past, including a confessional account of the horrific event that ended his career and caused him to flee Vegas in fear of fatal consequences. Not until the final pages of the third book, which I’m currently writing, will steadfast readers gain a full picture of Rusty Diamond—the man he once was, and the man he becomes by virtue of his redemptive journey.
This slow-burn process of revelation makes for an interesting writer’s challenge. Adding to the challenge is a mandate that each novel function as a stand-along thriller, always presenting a fresh mystery for Rusty to solve and demanding of the reader no familiarity with the previous books.
Connecting each individual mystery is a larger one: who is Rusty Diamond? How did he come to be the paranoid recluse we meet at the beginning of Book 1? What demons and bad decisions led to his downfall in Vegas, just as he was poised to achieve the fame he’d been working toward for decades? Will he ever find a way to repair his damaged past and create some kind of lasting peace for himself?
Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy offers a helpful model in tackling this challenge, particularly the way that Larsson slowly demystifies central character Lisbeth Salander. In the first book, the scant background information we gather on Salander tells us only that she’s a brilliant but fiercely antisocial young woman who was institutionalized as a teenager. In the second book, Larsson reveals the incident that landed her in lockup: the attempted (and justified) murder of her father, a former Soviet spy. By the time we reach the third book, we learn that she has a half-brother hellbent on killing her on their father’s behalf.
Salander grows into a more compelling protagonist with each newly unveiled chapter of her personal history. The more empathy we feel for her, the greater the suspense regarding her ultimate fate. Larsson does yeoman’s work in leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for us to follow, and in my own way I hope to lure readers down a path towards complete understanding a new conflicted anti-hero, Rusty Diamond.