John Lescroart is celebrating the new year with a new downtown Davis office and a new book, "Nothing But the Truth" (Delacorte Press, 2000) and the return of a favorite character, Dismas Hardy.
"Nothing But the Truth" is his 11th book.
"I hope it goes to No. 1 (on the best-seller list) and stays there," he said. It is not a courtroom drama but takes a look at an issue that doesn't appear very sexy at first glance: MTBE, the troublesome gasoline additive.
"Gasoline additives weren't of much interest to me when I started research for this book. But when I started talking to people about it, lobbyists, consultants, politicians, they all said: 'Don't mention my name.' They were worried about oil companies (reaction to criticism)."
So he invented the brainy and beautiful Bree Beaumont, 36, a chemist for the oil companies and an MBTE advocate until she met and fell in love with an environmentalist politician and switched sides. For this, of course, she had to be killed. But by whom? And how does Dismas Hardy get involved?
Well, it turns out that Hardy's wife, Frannie, is friends with Ron Beaumont, Bree's husband. Ron is a suspect in his wife's murder, and Frannie is invited to talk about her friend before the grand jury in San Francisco. But Frannie is a most principled woman and she knows a secret about Ron that she refuses to divulge. For this, she is thrown in jail on contempt of court charges.
Hardy has to solve the murder in order to clear Ron Beaumont and get his wife out of jail.
"I write about the man alone, that's always my theme," said Lescroart. "Hardy has to work through something to get to redemption." Hardy and his pal, Abe Glitsky, head of homicide, are strong suffering male characters.
"Sensitive, too," Lescroart adds. "They want to do the right thing. There's a lot of that in life, great desperation."
Yet the tone of his books is self-confident, male, stylish. You won't find overt sex and violence. Those elements exist, but in the background. Instead you'll take an evocative trip to San Francisco where Lescroart is especially skilled in his descriptions of The City.
"I went to University of San Francisco for one year," he said. "Then I moved to Berkeley and after school back to San Francisco for a couple of years while I worked for the phone company and a few more years as a musician before I finally left.
"I lived in Dismas Hardy's house on 34th Avenue and worked at the Little Shamrock as a bartender." In his books, Frannie's brother works at the Shamrock.
"It's a real place at 9th and Lincoln, the oldest bar in the city," he added. "It's fun to write about the weather, food and politics of San Francisco."
But Lescroart and his family have been securely planted in Davis for the past decade.
"I really love Davis, the Valley, hot weather, but I need to go down to San Francisco a lot. I know the scene. I have a lot of friends who live and work in San Francisco and every time I go down it's like filling up the well again."
Lescroart has written seven books in seven years (or to put it another way, 11 books in 13 years), a grueling writing schedule.
"It's more or less a job," he agrees. Three out of his last four books have been best-sellers so he's not thinking about taking a break anytime soon.
"When you face a writing deadline, you get very good at not accepting excuses," he said. He tries to write 10 pages a day.
"You write and rewrite and read for flow and cut out whole pages and write some more," he said.
His 10th novel, "The Mercy Rule" (Delacorte, 1999) pulled together many of his interests including baseball, family relationships, the legal world and San Francisco. And before that was "Guilt," which wasn't really a mystery at all.
"In 'Guilt,' the guy you think did it, did it, " said Lescroart. Call it a psychological thriller.
In fact, Lescroart's reputation as a writer of courtroom thrillers is not accurate. Some of his novels see the inside of a courtroom, others don't.
"I write real stories," he said. "If readers like your voice, if they like the way it sounds, they buy your books."
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Bogey's Books at discounted prices [ Click Here ]
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