John A. Connell’s novels include 2015’s Ruins of War and its soon-to-be released sequel, Spoils of Victory.
From his Q & A with J. Kingston Pierce at The Rap Sheet:
JKP: Were you most interested, originally, in fictionalizing Germany after World War II or in writing a detective novel?--Marshal Zeringue
JAC: Of the four novels before Ruins of War, three are historical crime fiction, but none are detective novels. Though I’ve read and loved many detective novels, I hadn’t considered writing in that specific subgenre. It was Mason Collins’ back story, as a U.S. Army CID [Criminal Investigation Division] investigator, that dictated I go there, and I’ve enjoyed it immensely.
JKP: Had you long been a reader of crime fiction? Who were your favorite authors in the genre when you started Ruins of War?
JAC: Aside from [reading] most all of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories as a teenager, I also turned to Agatha Christie, then Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain, and Raymond Chandler. I have so many favorite authors, crime fiction and otherwise, and scores of great writers have influenced my writing. I can say that some of the authors who had an influence on my approach to Ruins of War and Spoils of Victory were James Ellroy, Martin Cruz Smith, Nelson DeMille, Dennis Lehane, and a dash of Graham Greene.
JKP: Two facets of Collins’ history interest me in particular. First, that he’d broken “the blue code of silence” while a member of the Chicago Police Department and been subsequently booted from the CPD, “and blackballed from every big-city police force” in the States. Second, that he’d been a prisoner of war and resident of German concentration camps, including horrific Buchenwald. How important were those elements in your creation of Collins as a character, and how do they influence his behavior?
JAC: Early in his detective career at the CPD, Mason tries to bust a ring of corrupt cops who murdered his partner. He broke the blue code of silence by going to the district attorney, but the system turned on him, framing him for selling drugs and booting him off the force. That unjust treatment fosters Mason’s distrust and lack of respect for authority. And being blackballed from every big-city police force is another facet of the masterless samurai ethos, leaving Mason with no ties to home. Except for his grandmother, he has no family to go back to, nothing to anchor him, little to create a sense of identity except through his own convictions. And the experience of being a POW and interned for a short time in Buchenwald has left him bitter and disillusioned with humanity. Yet, despite those deep scars, he...[read on]