The Inspiration Behind ‘Dying to Tell’ by Tj O’Connor
“Dying is as perilous as secrets and lies. Depending, of course, on who is keeping the secrets and who is telling the lies. Trust me, I’m in the secrets and lies business—” and so begins Dying to Tell, the third book in Oliver “Tuck” Tucker’s case files. Tuck’s a dead detective, er, Gumshoe Ghost if you will. As a former government agent and security consultant specializing in anti-terrorism, I’ve been in the secrets and lies business all my life. And as an author, my life’s adventures are the basis for my novel’s plots and characters.
To understand Dying to Tell’s backstory, I should explain the series’ genesis. First, Dying to Know, the first novel, began with Tuck’s murder. He returns to solve his own case. The “dead detective” theme is based on my 20-year recurring nightmare after the first Gulf War—I was killed by terrorists and returned to hunt them. After telling my adult daughter about it, she urged me to write a similar murder mystery—voila, Oliver Tucker. Each of Tuck’s cases intertwine a traditional murder and a historical subplot. Together, they surround Tuck’s long-lost family secrets—which involve gangsters, spies, G-men, and rogue adventurers—and yes, these ancestors are all dead and back amongst the living, too!
In Dying to Tell, Tuck is chasing the murderer of a reclusive banker with ties to World War II Cairo, Egypt. The historic subplot is based on a real World War II Nazi spy caper, Operation Salaam—the infiltration of spies into Cairo. One of the characters, Ollie Tucker—Tuck’s namesake—is an OSS operative from 1942 and is based on my real-life mentor who recently passed away at age 91. It was his personal WWII experiences in the OSS that fueled this theme.
Throughout Dying To Tell, Tuck faces a new crisis—his faltering marriage. I asked myself, “What is life, er death, like for Tuck and Angel, his widow?” How will their marriage survive when she is young, brilliant, and beautiful, and he is, well, dead and not a physical person? The outcome is simple—he and Angel struggle to balance love, life, and death together. It’s difficult for them, and in the end, it’s a killer by itself.
For Tuck, being back among the living and not one of them is harder than solving murders.
In Dying to Tell, the latest mystery by award-winning novelist Tj O’Connor, Oliver “Tuck” Tucker—dead detective extraordinaire—is back for the case of a lifetime, or, rather, the afterlifetime.
A former police detective who now solves mysteries from beyond, Tuck doesn’t appreciate just how perilous the past can be till his wife, Angel, is nearly killed and reclusive banker William Mendelson is found dead in a hidden vault. Tuck knows there’s more to Mendelson’s murder than decades-old skullduggery. As murderers, thieves, and spies descend on small-town Winchester, Tuck joins up with Angel, old detective partners, and a long-dead grandfather still on an army mission from 1942. With the case unfolding around him, Tuck must confront haunting family secrets and the growing distance between his death and Angel’s life. The outcome could be a killer of its own, but Tuck is set on solving this case. Dead set. After all, some things never die…
About the Author:
Recipient of the Gold Medal in Independent Publisher’s IPPY Awards (Mystery Category, 2015, Dying to Know) Tj O’Connor is an international security consultant specializing in anti-terrorism. As a consultant and former government agent, O’Connor has lived and worked in such places as Greece,Turkey, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain, and throughout the Americas. A native of New York, O’Connor lives in Virginia.