If you cheat a man out of his future, be prepared to pay the price. Vengeance is not always the province of the Lord.
LAST STRAW tells the story of such a man — tough, resourceful Thomas Pickering, robbed of his future by unscrupulous financiers and betrayed by an unfaithful wife — who finally snaps. He makes it his mission to punish those who wronged him in very creative and ugly ways. He finds he is good at dispensing justice and begins to enjoy the game.
Mike Kingman and Tess Brogan, two young police officers, themselves embroiled in an escalating affair, are assigned to investigate his crimes and discover enough evidence to arrest and convict him. In the human chess game they are playing, Pickering has the advantage. They have rules they must follow — he does not.
From the Berkeley hills, to the Ghost Fleet of ships in Suisun Bay, to the towering Campanile in the center of the University of California campus, Pickering is always one step ahead, in a race that challenges his considerable intellect and skill, and tests the relationship of the two young officers.
Interview with the Author
It’s never too late to pursue a life long dream. I’ve got to say that I am truly inspired by our guest author today. David Rheem Jarrett, author of the fast paced thriller LAST STRAW, published his first novel after retiring from a career in Dentistry for 35 years.
Michael: So David, can you please give a little background about yourself?
David: I was born and raised in Berkeley, California, USA, the son of a Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and a Phi Beta Kappa mother who preferred homemaking to a career. I entered U. C. Berkeley in the fall of 1959, just after turning seventeen. This turned out to be a mistake, as I was too immature for college, did not attend classes, and did not even buy many of the books necessary. Naturally, I was asked to leave after three semesters.
After my separation from the university, I worked for a year as a mechanic, as I have always had a love affair with cars and speed. During this time, one of my older co-workers convinced me I should continue with my education, telling me I should learn to work with my head, not my hands. This turned out to be good advice, and I slowly worked my way back into the academic system, from junior college, to the University of Oregon, and finally back to the University of California. During this time, I was fortunate enough to marry the girl who has now been my wife for fifty-two years. I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences from U.C in 1965 and after working another year to save money, applied for admission and was accepted by the University of California Medical Center School of Dentistry, graduating with a D.D.S. degree in 1970.
During this long journey, I worked at many part-time and summer jobs, most of which were outdoors and involved heavy physical labor, from auto mechanics to concrete work to lumber handling to firefighting for the U.S. Forest Service.
After graduating from Dental School, my wife and I and our two young daughters moved to Reno, NV, where I and two other young dentists opened the first dental group practice in the state. I practiced general dentistry for thirty-five years before retiring in 2005. Since then I have been doing what I promised myself I would do years ago – writing novels. I am active in physical fitness, golf, fly-fishing, firearms, RVing, computers, and reading.
Michael: Wow, I really admire how you had gone back to school after leaving the first time. I’ve talked to so many people who have screwed up during their first and second year of college and never had the courage to go back. So after years of hard work, you graduated with a D.D.S. With your background in Dentistry, how did it come about that you decided to write a novel?
David: My background is in dentistry, but I actually started college as an English major. I was taught to read very early in life and became addicted to reading for pleasure. It has always been my main form of “passive” recreation. I would much prefer to read a book than watch a movie or television, as it is much more entertaining to use one’s imagination than it is to have everything about plot, setting, and characters shoved into his face.
I chose to write LAST STRAW because of the shenanigans being pulled by members of the financial community during the lead-up to the Great Recession in the United States. An enormous number of people, myself included, got hurt due to their actions, and I felt compelled to write about one fictional person’s response.
I have no illusions about being a great writer, although I believe I use the English language well and my vocabulary is fairly extensive. I try to avoid clichés and use language that is perhaps more sophisticated than others in my genre. I try to create plots that are believable – things that could actually happen in today’s world – and characters that are believable also – no superheroes jumping buildings in a single bound or dispatching entire groups of bad guys singlehandedly. My stories are usually “morality plays” in which good triumphs over evil. Even in LAST STRAW, even though I identify and sympathize with my anti-hero, he has to lose in the end.
Michael: I like that. “Good triumphs over evil.” I feel that the trend in books nowadays tend to blur the lines. It’s refreshing to see an author go back to root themes like that. Talking about roots, when did your writing journey start?
David: I discovered my voice as a writer while still in high school, with support from a very talented English teacher, but was not able to call myself an author until June of 2014 when I published LAST STRAW. I have no set writing rituals, although my favorite time to write is two hours in the morning during what I call my quiet time. This time is after I’ve brought my wife coffee in bed, had a couple cups myself, and read all the current news and mail on the computer. Once this quiet time is over and the events of the day begin, there’s no point in trying to write.
Michael: I know what you mean. Once my day starts, it’s so hard to get back into that focus and mindset. So, throughout your journey who would you say have influenced your writing the most?
David: The two authors who have most influenced my writing are John Sandford and Michael Connelly. They both write gritty crime/police procedural thrillers, and they write their stories with great realism and accuracy. They both write stories that could actually occur in today’s world, and their protagonists are believable, not the phony super-hero types so common to the genre. I hope my own writing does the same.
Michael: Talking about these two great writers in the crime/thriller genre. What sets you novel apart from others within that genre?
David: I believe what sets LAST STRAW apart from other books in its genre is in the development of its characters and the relationships they establish with one another. I have read very few crime/suspense/thriller novels that do this. Most are action-driven, with little character development, especially that of the supporting characters. In LAST STRAW, I tried to do a better job of that, as well as presenting enough action and suspense, and yes, some sex, to keep them interested. What the reader will take from the book is that anyone, with sufficient motivation, can fall from grace and once fallen, must accept the consequences of his actions, even though he may regret what he has done. There were so many scenes in this book that were fun to write that it’s hard to pick a favorite. Chapter 58 is memorable, however. It concerns the capture and confinement of one of Pickering’s targets, and demonstrates the characters of both men. It begins to open the reader’s eyes as to who the “real” Thomas Pickering is.
Any prospective reader must know that there is both graphic sex and graphic violence in the book, but the story does not dwell on either. These are necessary to provide the elements of a thriller, but the actual book is more about feelings, relationships, and right versus wrong.
Michael: I do enjoy a book that focuses more on character development. Who is your favorite character in the book and how much of yourself did you put into that character
David: My favorite character is Thomas Pickering. He is a product of the school of hard knocks. He is not a young pretty-boy and has character flaws. However, he is smart; he is tough; and he believes as I do in “an eye for an eye.” However, though he may be my favorite character in the book, there is more of myself in Mike Kingman, the young policeman who must try to bring him to justice.
Michael: LAST STRAW, was published last year. What do you have in store next for your readers?
David: My current work in progress involves a rather complicated scenario. It is also a thriller of sorts, but not what I would all a classic one. A man and his wife, fed up with life in the city, retire early and move to a remote rural area of California where they own property. A Native American Vietnam veteran, feeling he has not lived up to his heritage, moves to the same area and tries to live in the woods alone in order to experience the lifestyle of his ancestors and perhaps vindicate himself, at least in his own eyes. The actions of these characters are often seen through the eyes of a great bear, a character in its own right, that the Indian saves from a poacher’s trap early in his odyssey. There is political intrigue as the local power company uses a nefarious scheme to coerce the county commissioners to vote to dam the river on which the ranchers depend in order to create a recreational area and power plant. In addition, there is constant tension between the city man and the perverted poacher, who hates him and covets his wife. As of now, the book is too long and needs to be cut somewhat, and I am in the process of editing. It is a very ambitious project and may need to be longer than planned in order to be able to tell the whole story. As yet, I have no title for this WIP.
Michael: Sounds like it’s gonna be another interesting novel! Thank you so much for sharing with us your story!
For those of you interested in LAST STRAW, click on the book cover below to check out the novel: