Gary Goshgarian

Gary Goshgarian Is Back with a New Thriller

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BOSTON — Veteran author Gary Goshgarian, who writes under the pen name Gary Braver, is back with a new thriller set in the greater Boston area.

Rumor of Evil is set to be released on October 10 by Oceanview Publishing. The book marks firsts in a couple of ways: one, the book is his first in a series, and second, it is the first time he will have an ongoing Armenian-American detective character.

Set in Cambridge, the book is filled with hyperlocal references in the Metro Boston area. That is done “to create an authenticity. This is my turf. I’ve been here 45 years,” he said in a recent interview. “Most of the novels I’ve written are in the Greater Boston area.”

His previous book was the very popular Choose Me, a collaboration with Tess Gerritsen, the author of the Rizzoli and Isles detective series that has been made into a TV series of the same name.

“On the success of that, it was suggested ‘why don’t you write a series,’” he said.

Goshgarian isn’t just a writer. For several decades, he was a professor of English at Northeastern University, where he taught courses in science fiction, horror, bestsellers and fiction writing. Therefore, he brings a whole arsenal of tools to creating a new character when embarking on a new book.

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He retired last year. “I miss the experience of being with young people … but I don’t miss the politics and driving in. I do miss the high of a good class,” he said.

“In any novel, there are two quests: the outer quest and the inner quest. The professional quest if you are a cop is to solve a crime. The personal quest is personal baggage, that you have issues,” he said.

The book deals with a the murder in Cambridge of a pillar-of-society type, Sylvie, interspersed with diary entries from a teen named Morgan about another death (or is it murder?), that of a Roma girl, Vadima, two decades earlier. Of the 50 chapters, 19 are diary entries from Morgan as a 16-year-old.

Of course, nothing is as it seems.

“I knew that if I were to do it as a first person, I could introduce al those red herrings,” he said.

As the book starts, lead detective Kirk Lucian’s marriage has been blown up by the hit-and-run death of his 15-year-old daughter. The shattering grief and trading off of blame has the couple apart. Kirk, however, is still besotted with his wife and wants her back.

To capture the heart-wrenching dialogue between the couple, Goshgarian said he researched the effect of a child dying on a marriage.

“It often ends in divorce. I made that his personal baggage. And I made his personal quest to get back with Olivia,” he explained.

The couple’s story continues in the next book.

Rumor of Evil has gotten a good review from Publishers Weekly and Goshgarian added that he does not want to solve Kirk’s daughter’s death just yet. “I wanted to leave that open so there will always be a sense of mystery, injustice, an open wound,” he noted.

“Almost always, a murder mystery starts off with a crime scene,” he explained. “I knew that was going to be the narrative flow of solving the crime of who killed Sylvie. … but I wanted to make it a layered story and I wanted there to be in the background the haunting of a cold case. I came up with the idea of the back story. I have a file of true crime clippings from newspapers and there was one disturbing story that came out of 2014, when two 12 year old girls were arrested for stabbing their girlfriend 19 times because they were trying to satisfy Slender Man, or Slender Man would kill their families. I wanted to capture the adolescent mind at work and tap into contemporary conspiracy theories.”

The incident took place in Wisconsin and the victim miraculously survived. Both of the perpetrators were committed to mental health institutions.

His research led him to conclude that “one of the scourges of America is bullying.”

He explained, “The bully victim is someone who is perceived as weak or different,” he noted. “And therefore becomes a victim. Bullies are characteristically aggressive, they want to appear powerful and in control to their peers. They often have very short tempers. They often come from broken homes. They are envious of their victims, who may be prettier, nicer, may come from a stable home.”

“I came up with Morgan, who hosts this girl from Slovakia,” he said, who is beautiful and meek, and yet uncool by American standards. “At a pizza party, she does a palm reading” and immediately after looking at the palm, horrified, she runs out. “Then bad things start happening.”

The girl whose palm Vadima read dies and another person gets ill. And all of a sudden the tide turns and everyone tries to find a reason for why bad things are happening.

“These bad things get the rumors flying, thus the Rumor of Evil of the title,” he said. “Slanderous, awful” and clearly superstitious tropes about the Roma then are readily accepted by the girl’s circle of friends, including that the Roma are witches, drink the blood of children and started the bubonic plague. One way to get rid of a witch is to set them on fire,” and thus, the girl dies.

“The characters come out of need,” he said, including those who act as red herrings. “Having raised two sons, I knew something about the teenage minds and believing incredible stories.”

Aside from bullying, the book tackles sexual exploitation as well as the rights of the LGBT communities.

In the book, 16-year-old Vadima ends up in a sexual relationship with her host family’s father. In keeping with the times and the current, more evolved understanding of consent, the sexual relationship is properly characterized as assault. We have to remember that not that long ago, songs like Christine Sixteen by the band Kiss celebrated adult males’ love of underage girls. Fortunately, opinions have shifted.

In addition, Goshgarian said that an article in the New York Times about E. Jean Carroll’s case against Donald Trump struck a nerve with him. Someone had asked Carroll why she had not screamed during the attack.

He explained, “This article is about women who had been sexually violated. They freeze. They are so embarrassed and outraged and mortified about what has happened. .. So Vadima does not tell anyone what Morgan’s father did.”

In addition, she has an economic disadvantage and would be sent back if the father gets mad.

Goshgarian said that his empathy and respect for women can be attributed to his mother.

“I was brought up by Rose Avedisian Goshgarian, who was a very strong woman. She lived through the Depression. She lived through extreme poverty. Her father was not a very nice man. He farmed her and her brother and sister out to foster families. But she was tough and a remarkably loving person.”

Thus, he added, “I was able to appreciate the strength of this woman. So I’ve been a feminist very early on in my life.”

Teaching at Northeastern also gave him other tools.

“Having been at Northeastern and seeing so many female students go into criminal justice, I wanted a female cop. I wanted to make her have challenges. I made her gay and married to another woman. I wanted her to be in a traditionally male, heterosexual organization, which is the police force. She has prejudices against her but overcomes them,” he noted. “I also wanted her to be compassionate for Kirk, who is pining or his wife to return.”

When writing, Goshgarian said, it is not just the protagonist that deserves to be fully fleshed out. In order for the story to work, it has to have a believable, fleshed-out baddie.

“A villain gives the story plot. Without a villain you won’t have a story,” he added.

“I try to imagine a real life villain … does not stand in front of the mirror and say ‘there is the face of evil.’ There is justification for why they do bad things,” in their minds, he said. “I do bad things to make up for the injustices of my mind,” he explained.

So what does this writing professor like to read?

Goshgarian said he has favorite books from Robert Parker’s Spencer novels, Tess Gerritsen, Michael Connelly and Walter Mosely and Louise Penny.

“I like crime stories where there are characters that are fleshed out,” he added.

In his classes, he taught Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris and Louise Erdrich’s The Round House “which is a crime story and is brilliantly written.”

Goshgarian said he submitted the second in the series of the Kirk Lucian series, Heat of the Moment, to the publisher a month ago.

In the second book, Lucian will show even more Armenian characteristics, he said.

“He is more Armenian. He is eating at an Armenian restaurant in Watertown, he eats at Eastern Lahmejun and I’ll have him read the Mirror,” he joked.

“If I only knew the language, I would put in Armenian phrases,” he added. “It’s fun having him be Armenian because he is a minority and there are very few of us who write it,” he said, singling out Chris Bohjalian. “My pride of ethnicity is part of his character.”

Goshgarian is the best-selling and award-winning author of ten critically acclaimed mysteries and medical thrillers including Elixir, Gray Matter, Choose Me (cowritten with Tess Gerritsen) and Flashback, which is the first thriller to have won a prestigious Massachusetts Book Award. His novels have been translated into 16 languages, and three have been optioned for movies, including Elixir by director Ridley Scott.

Rumor of Evil is available everywhere, including on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

For more information about him, https://garybraver.com/

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