"...But right now I can't even remember the details of Guilty Minds," joked Joseph Finder, whose publishing contract with Dutton has him produce a thriller a year. He explained to the small but enthusiastic library audience on October 27 that he is already deeply ensconced in the details of his new novel, scheduled to come out in 2017. Guilty Minds seems eons removed from the book he's focused on now, which he works on, he says, in an office close to home ("can't work at home when your child lives there, too"), or in the barn next to his second home on the Outer Cape, where he and his wife write and paint, respectively.
Finder traces his fascination with conspiracies to the 1973-74 Watergate hearings when he was a teenager. "My siblings were watching Star Trek but I was glued to the words of Howard Baker," Finder recalled, adding the 1970s were already the heyday for paranoia and conspiracy thrillers. "So when one of Richard Nixon's assistants, Alexander Butterfield revealed that everything in the Oval Office was taped, I realized there actually was a conspiracy." Now Finder sees conspiracies where others don't, and describes himself as a "conspiratologist," which he says is different from being a conspiracy theorist: Finder studies the impact of conspiracies on society. Two of Finder's twelve suspense novels, Paranoia and High Crimes became major motion pictures. Answering a question of an audience member, he estimated he has sold some five million copies of his work. His 2006 Killer Instinct won him the International Thriller Writer's Award for Best Novel.
The plot of Guilty Minds, which centers on the threat to defame a Supreme Court Justice by a gossip web site, echoes the downfall of former New York governor, Eliot Spitzer, who was outed by the FBI for using an escort service where he was listed as Client Number Nine. "What was the FBI doing with a list of call girls from the escort service Spitzer used?" Finder asked. "And what about Clients One through Eight?" Spitzer had made too many powerful enemies, especially on Wall Street, who had him followed and brought him down, he suggested. The saga was not a mere accident, Finder posited, anymore than the law suit against Gawker that led to a $140 million judgment that shut down the gossip blog was. The Gawker case that was brought by wrestler Hulk Hogan over the web site's publication of a sex tape featuring him as the lead character, turned out to have been funded by another Gawker victim, PayPal's billionaire founder Peter Thiel, who had been outed as a gay man by the same site.
Finder's private-eye character Nick Heller is the hero of Guilty Minds, as he was in two earlier thrillers, Buried Secrets and Vanished. Heller is a composite of people Finder has known, former CIA employees who, after the Cold War ended, went into the private sector doing the same kind of work. "I like this character," Finder said. For Guilty Minds, he had to reread the Heller books he wrote a few years back, and take notes, to make sure he wouldn't get previous details wrong which, he said, he would be sure to receive emails about from his very attentive readership. The next novel will be another "standalone" thriller but after that, he said, he'll go back to Nick Heller.
SOUTH END WRITES SPEAKERS SCHEDULED FOR OCTOBER, NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER:
Tuesday, October 25: Louise Miller, a Boston-based writer and pastry chef who won a scholarship to GrubStreet’s Novel Incubator program, will read from her debut work of fiction, The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living, published this summer by Viking’s Pamela Dorman Books imprint.
Tuesday, November 22: Just in time to get advice about the central feast of fall, the beloved and greatly missed South End culinary luminary, Gordon Hamersley, will talk about his life as a prize-winning chef, current food writer for the Boston Globe and long-time neighborhood fixture.
Tuesday, December 6: Dina Vargo, a local tour guide for Boston By Foot, will tell you about her amazing discoveries of Boston’s “secret” history which she compiled in her debut work of non-fiction, Wild Women of Boston.
Bookings for the 2017-18 season are proceeding apace; several speakers are still struggling with their schedules but confirmed thus far are:
Pulitzer-prize and National-Book-Critics-Circle award winner Junot Diaz (This Is How You Lose Her), January 10; Psychological suspense writer Wendy Walker (All Is Not Forgotten) February 7; the outstanding foreign-policy journalist Stephen Kinzer (The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain and the Birth of American Empire) March 14; the celebrated author of Tiger Writing: Art, Culture and the Independent Self, Gish Jen (The Girl at the Baggage Claim: Explaining the East West Culture Gap), March 28; New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Saved Us, Jenna Blum (Grand Central Station: The Lucky One), April 4; the acclaimed sociologist Sara Lawrence Lightfoot (Growing Each Other Up: When Our Children Become Our Teachers) April 18.