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  • Written by John Ramsey Miller
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Written by John Ramsey MillerAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by John Ramsey Miller

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On Sale: June 28, 2005
Pages: | ISBN: 978-0-440-33544-3
Published by : Dell Bantam Dell
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

In the rain-slick streets of New Orleans, a twelve-year-old girl is running out of time. Hours before, Faith Ann Porter hid under a desk while her attorney mother was murdered for photographs that could rock the city. Now Faith Ann is being hunted by a pair of killers with a very powerful boss. Because she has the negatives of the photos her mother died for, Faith Ann has only hours to live–and only one person who can save her....

Winter Massey is an ex—U.S. marshal whose career pitted him against some of the world’s most ruthless criminals. Now Massey is drawn by a horrifying cycle of murder–and the plea of one terrified young girl. But awaiting Massey is a chilling surprise...and an assassin with a secret mission, a secret motive, and the perfect plan....

Excerpt

1  Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Friday / 4:01 a.m.


From ground level, the automobile graveyard looked boundless. The moon was like an open eye that, when it peered through holes in the clouds, was reflected in thousands of bits of chrome and glass. After the four figures passed under a buzzing quartz-halogen lamp set on a pole, long shadows ran out from them, reaching across the oil-stained earth like the fingers of a glove.

The quartet entered a valley where rusting wrecks, stagger-stacked like bricks, formed walls twenty feet tall. One of the three men carried a lantern that squeaked as it swung back and forth.

The woman's tight leather pants showed the precise curve of her buttocks, the rock-hard thighs, and the sharply cut calf muscles. A dark woolen V-neck under her windbreaker kept the chill at a comfortable distance. The visor on her leather ball cap put her face in deeper shadow.

They stopped. When the man fired up his lantern, hard-edged white light illuminated the four as mercilessly as a flashbulb.

Marta Ruiz's hair fell down the center of her back like a horse's tail. In an evening gown she could become an exotic, breathtaking creature that made otherwise staid men stammer like idiots. "How far now?" she asked. Her accent had a slight Latin ring to it.

"Not too far," Cecil Mahoney said, looking down at the much shorter woman. An extremely large and powerfully built man, Mahoney looked like a crazed Viking. His thick bloodred facial hair so completely covered his mouth that his words might have been supplied by a ventriloquist. He wore a black leather vest over a black Harley-Davidson T-shirt, filthy jeans with pregnant knees, and engineer boots. His thick arms carried so many tattoos that it looked like he was wearing a brilliantly colored long-sleeved shirt. Silver rings adorned his fingers, the nails of which were dead ringers for walnut hulls.

The other two men were dull-eyed muscle without conscience or independent thought. Cecil Mahoney was the biggest crystal methamphetamine wholesaler in the South and the leader of the Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Club. Stone-cold killers pissed their pants when a thought of Cecil Mahoney invaded their minds. Few people could muster the kind of rage required to use their bare hands like claws and literally rip people into pieces like Cecil could.

The three men didn't see Marta as a physical threat. How could such a small woman harm them--kick them in the shins, bite and scratch? They had seen that she was unarmed when she stepped out of the car and put on a nylon jacket so lightweight that any one of them could have wadded up the garment, stuffed it into his mouth, and swallowed it like a tissue.

They turned a corner, moved deeper into the yard.

"Over there," Cecil said.

They stopped at the sharply angled rear of a Cadillac Seville with its front end smashed into a mushroom of rusted steel. Marta's sensitive nose picked up the sickly sweet odor, folded somewhere in the oily stench of petroleum and mildewed fabric, of something else in decay. One of the henchmen lifted the trunk lid while the other held up the lantern so Marta could see inside.

"Careful you don't puke all over yourself, little girl," Cecil warned.

Marta leaned in, took the corpse's head in her bare hands, and twisted the face up into the light. The way the skin moved under her fingers told her a great deal. There were two bands of duct tape surrounding the head; one covering the mouth and nose and another over the eyes and both ears. It made the features impossible to read, which was now irrelevant. Other than hair color, this corpse was not even close to the woman she had come to identify and to kill.

"Where's the reward?" Cecil grunted.

"The money is in my car's trunk, but whether or not it belongs to you is a question I can't yet answer," Marta told him.

"That's her, and I'm getting that reward."

"Perhaps, perhaps not."

"Okay, gal, you've seen her enough."

The low position of the lantern made Cecil look even more menacing--his small water-blue eyes glittering. He used a lot of what he sold. From the start he had made it abundantly clear to Marta that dealing with a woman was beneath him. His first words to her had been that he didn't know why anybody would send a "split tail" to do important business. He had referred to her as a "juicy little thang." If she played this wrong, she would be raped and murdered in some unspeakable manner. She knew the piece of trunk cheese was no more Amber Lee than Cecil Mahoney was the Son of God. The needle marks on the dead woman's arm alone were enough to tell her this girl was some overdosed waif. It followed that the envelope Amber had in her possession would not be there. Marta hoped Arturo was having luck tracking the woman in New Orleans.

"You failed to mention that she was dead. Why is that?"

Cecil's patience was thinning. "Bitch choked on her own vomit. Look, honeypot, a hundred thousand clams was the deal. So stop with the questions. Let's go get my money."

"It wasn't a dead-or-alive offer, Mr. Mahoney. There were questions that we needed to ask her, and can't now. My boss expects accuracy in the information he receives from me. You said that she was alive. When did she die?"

"It's damn unfortunate. Boomer found her dead yesterday evening choked on puke. Ain't that right, Boomer?"

The man holding the lantern nodded. "I found her dead yesterday. Choked on her puke."

"I wonder how she gained so much weight in so few days."

"Well, she's just bloating up 'cause it's hot in a car trunk."

"Hot in there," Boomer agreed.

The temperature had not risen above fifty-five degrees in the past two days. "Take it out," Marta told the men.

"What the hell for?"

"It will be abundantly clear to you, Mr. Mahoney, when they take it out."

"Get old Amber out, then," Cecil ordered. Boomer put the lantern on the ground and both he and the third man reached in, wrestled the body from the trunk, and dropped it to the oil-crusted black dirt like a bag of trash. In the lantern light the men looked like depraved giants. As Marta squatted beside the corpse, she pinched her cap's brim as if pulling it down and withdrew from it a wide matte-black double-edged ceramic blade that fit inside the bill. She palmed it, holding the blade flat against her forearm. She knew what was going to happen in the coming few seconds just as surely as if they had all been rehearsing it for days. "You are right, Cecil, it doesn't smell so good. Like it's been dead longer than one day."

"Bodies," Cecil said. "Who can account for spoil rates?"

She shrugged. "You have a knife?" She held out her right hand, palm up.

"Knife for what?" he asked.

"A knife, yes or no?"

She didn't know how much longer Cecil would allow this charade to run. Still entertained, he reached into his vest pocket and placed a stag-handled folding knife in her hand. She opened it using her teeth and tested the edge for sharpness with the side of her thumb. Much better than she would have hoped. A man and his tools.

"You could shave your little pussy with it," Cecil muttered.

Nervous snickers--six fiery, obscene pig eyes.

She reached out suddenly and sliced through the duct tape, laying the corpse's cheek open from the jaw to the teeth twice to form parentheses that crossed at the top and bottom. She jabbed the blade into the flesh and lifted out the plug in the same way one might remove a piece of pumpkin to make a jack-o'-lantern's eye. The dark purple tissue was crawling with what looked like animated kernels of rice.

"Aw, man!" Boomer exclaimed.

"You're trying to pull one over on me," she chastised.

"Hell, honey," Cecil said, "I never was too good with times and days and all. I'm better with arithmetic like adding up you and this corpse and getting a hundred thousand in cash money." Cecil and the other two men had her boxed in, the open trunk at her back. That was fine, she wasn't going anywhere.

Marta remained on her haunches, tightened her leg muscles, and bounced up and down gently so maybe they believed that she was nervous. She would have preferred to be barefoot, because she had gone without shoes for most of her life and felt more secure that way. The sharp clutter in the junkyard made that impractical. "You think you are getting a dime for this fraud, you're even a bigger moron than people say you are."

"How about I dump you and the maggoty little whore in the trunk and take the cash?"

"What will you tell my boss's men when they come to find me?"

Cecil slipped a revolver from behind his back and held it by his side, barrel down. He cocked the hammer, probably imagining the sound intimidated her. "That you never showed up. Must a run off with his cash. Or I'll say, 'Just kiss my ass.' Boys, I think it's gonna be plan two."
"What is plan two?" she asked. She was aware that the man on her left had pulled a pistol from his coat pocket. The man called Boomer had something in his right hand. She didn't care what it was, because unless they all had grenades with the pins already pulled, they might as well be holding tulips. She turned Cecil's Puma knife in her hand so the blade was aimed up.

"Plan two is the old 'snuff-the-Beaner-cunt' plan."

"You aren't man enough to snuff this Beaner, Cecilia Baloney." Her next words were hard as Arkansas stone, certain as taxes. "And as a woman I resent the C-word coming from the rotten-tooth stink-hole mouth of a stupid, syphilitic, dog-fucking redneck puke." Keeping her left fist in shadow, she twisted the flat blade she had taken from her cap into position.

The other two men sniggered at her insult, which infuriated Cecil. "Watch it happen . . . you stinking wetback blow job." As he raised the gun up, she launched her light body into the air, slicing, the Puma up through Cecil's right bicep like an oar's edge through still water. Before his handgun hit the ground, Cecil had spun and fled for the front gate, howling and holding his useless arm.

Marta spun a full revolution, a whirling dervish with her arms extended so that one blade was much higher than the other. After the spin, she squatted between the confused men. Balanced on her haunches, she looked like a jockey on the home stretch--her elbows out like wings, her hands in front of her face level with her chin like she was pulling back hard on reins. Instead of leather leads, the wetly lacquered blades radiated out from her fists. Knowing the men were no longer a threat, she focused straight ahead, her eyes following Cecil as he ran through the valley of wrecks.

The nameless third man pulled his hands up to his neck, perhaps to see what the sudden blast of cold against his throat meant. His scream gargled out from a new mouth below his jawline. He stamped his boots a couple of times like he was marching in place to music and collapsed. His feet quivered as though he was being electrocuted.

Boomer dropped to his knees and stared at the bloody pile growing on the ground below him. When he turned his eyes to her in disbelief, she smiled at him.

She said, "That was the Beaner cunt's plan number one." She stood and, laughing melodiously, loped out into the dark after Cecil.

By the eerie lantern light, the kneeling man worked to gather up the steaming mess that had slid out of him and put it all back.


2  New Orleans, Louisiana


Faith Ann Porter yawned and looked over at the venetian blinds for any sign that the sun was rising. Her watch's display read 6:13.

The small reception area always smelled like a place where somebody really old lived. The space was strictly a prop, because there was no receptionist. Usually Faith Ann's mother could hardly afford to pay the office rent, much less hire someone to sit there at the desk to greet the few people who ever came there. Not a single one of her clients had ever been to visit her, and the fact was that the vast majority of her mother's calls were outgoing. Even so, it was absolutely necessary to maintain a professional office.

The upper part of the front door to the five-room suite, which was at the end of the hallway, had a frosted glass panel in it where each tenant's name had been hand-painted backward on the inside since 1927, the year the building had been constructed. At that moment, Faith Ann was lying prone, peering through the brass mail slot, watching the fifty feet of hallway between herself and the elevator lobby. Not that she believed the mysterious woman was going to show up this time either. Most likely she'd been awakened and dragged all the way down here before dawn for nothing.

"Watching won't make her get here one second sooner. If she sees your eyes looking out at her from down there, she'll think we have rats. You shouldn't snoop," Kimberly Porter said from the door.

"You just told Mrs. Washington that you liked my inquisitive nature. You said my curiosity shows intelligence."

"You were listening in on the extension while I was talking to your teacher!"

Time to change the subject. "I bet you got me up early for nothing. I'll be sleep-deprived when I get to school . . . for nothing. I'll bet you a dollar she won't even show up. I'll bet you another dollar if she does she's just some lunatic trying to get money for some old letters she probably scribbled up herself, knowing you'd do anything to save Harry Pond."

"Horace," Kimberly corrected automatically. "If she's right, he's really not guilty."

"You think everybody you represent is innocent."

"I don't think any such thing. There are lots of other lawyers with investigators who try to prove innocence. When that fails, they call me."

"To do legal mumbo jumbo. Hocus-pocus high jinks. Pick a card, Your Honor." Faith Ann plopped onto her back and clapped her hand to her chest. "No sir, that isn't really an ace of hearts, I say it's a two of clubs, your honor. So, since it isn't the ace at all, like you thought, my client is not guilty."

"You little monkey!" Kimberly said. She leaned down and tickled her daughter's ribs.

"Child abuse!" Faith Ann said, laughing, squirming, and trying to push her mother's hands away.

Kimberly straightened. "What I do is not trickery. Horace Pond might be one in a hundred. This is exactly why there shouldn't be a death penalty. It is preferable to--"

" 'Free a hundred guilty people than punish one innocent one,' " Faith Ann interrupted. "Like freeing a hundred criminals to go out running around doing crimes is going to happen. You know most people don't agree with whatever old jerk it was said that. Uncle Hank, for one."

"For your information, Miss Know-It-All--that 'whatever old jerk' was Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren of Brown v. the Board of Education. And I know Hank Trammel does too agree."

"Then why does Uncle Hank have a sign on his office wall that says let no guilty man escape? You know who said that?"

"I somehow doubt it was Earl Warren."

"Old Hanging Judge Parker. He hanged men as quick as his marshals could round them up."

"I believe that sort of behavior is precisely why Earl Warren said what he did." Kimberly walked from the reception area.
John Ramsey Miller|Author Q&A

About John Ramsey Miller

John Ramsey Miller - Upside Down

Photo © Willian K. Greiner

John Ramsey Miller’s career has included stints as a visual artist, advertising copywriter, and journalist. He is the author of the nationally bestselling The Last Family; four Winter Massey thrillers: Inside Out, Upside Down, Side By Side, and Smoke & Mirrors; and a stand-alone novel featuring FBI Special Agent Alexa Keen, Too Far Gone. Upside Down was nominated by the International Thriller Writers for the Best Paperback Original Award.

Miller, a native son of Mississippi, lives near Gold Hill, North Carolina, where he writes full-time.

Author Q&A

Bookreporter.com: You published your first novel, THE LAST FAMILY, in 1996 to popular and critical acclaim. Almost nine years passed before your second book INSIDE OUT was published this year, and two more books --- the just-published UPSIDE DOWN and the forthcoming SIDE BY SIDE --- are due out before year's end. What have you been doing in the interim period between THE LAST FAMILY and INSIDE OUT?

John Ramsey Miller: It doesn't seem that long. How much space do I have? After THE LAST FAMILY was published (my fourth fiction effort in three years, which garnered a combined 163 rejection letters), I tried to write a fast sequel, but I couldn't seem to make the characters come to life or make the story work to anyone's satisfaction --- including my own. After several runs at a couple of drafts, it was obvious that I needed to find a story that I wanted to tell that worked as well as THE LAST FAMILY. One day I was interviewing a US marshal named David Crews (I wanted to see the inside of a federal law enforcement office), and after the tour of the federal building we were sitting on his deck at his house and he started telling me stories about his career. After a couple of hours listening, I started seeing a character who was not just good at what he did, but obviously would have been good at whatever he tried. David was athletic, highly educated, intelligent, street smart, had a great sense of humor, was a dedicated husband, and he was about to become a father. Winter Massey grew out of that meeting, and I worked on him for several months.

It so happened that Kate Miciak at Bantam Dell (who hadn't seen the book) liked it and told my agent that she would take it on if I would write an outline for a second book to go with it. I did that and she liked what she saw and told me she wanted to work with me to make it a great book. We began what has proved to be a great working relationship and a friendship.

That was in 2001; for the next two years I worked on my craft and re-wrote what was by then "Blindside" several times, with Kate and my agent offering guidance and gentle criticism. I was learning the discipline to think things through before I committed anything to paper, the crucial element I was lacking. After another suspense title with the name "Blindside" was slated to come out, we changed the title to INSIDE OUT. I'm glad we did.

BRC: What was your impetus to publish three novels in one year, after an extended layoff?

JRM: After INSIDE OUT was finally accepted for publication in 2003, I went to work on UPSIDE DOWN and Kate slotted INSIDE OUT for publication. INSIDE OUT went on and off the schedule several times due to a lot of factors, mostly having to do with finding the right slot for the book. In 2004 advance reading copies finally went out for a November 2004 release; the marketing department received a lot more orders than anyone expected, and they needed more time to plan the release, as well as design a cover that would work with the series. After UPSIDE DOWN was accepted, Bantam decided it should be slotted to come out in close proximity, so that's the story in a nutshell.

I only hope the wait was worth it for the readers who enjoyed THE LAST FAMILY. After Kate passed SIDE BY SIDE up (to Irvyn Appelbaum and Nita Taublib) they decided to add that book to the line-up because they saw it as a continuation of Winter Massey's growth as a main character. That was a decision that wasn't an easy one because doing it that way had its own set of dangers. I agreed it was a solid call, and I knew they were 100% behind promoting the books because they believed in them. The novels aren't so much a trilogy as an evolution or chronicle of Winter's life over a three-year period. I especially liked the fact that the books were coming out in mass-market paperback originals in Super Release, which insured they would be on shelves everywhere overnight, and that all three are available for what a hardcover would cost. Immediacy meets economy seemed to all to be a good thing for everybody.

BRC: We've read that you spent several years developing Winter Massey. Can you share with us how you approached bringing this character to life? Did you focus solely on building the character or did you also have the stories in mind that eventually became INSIDE OUT and UPSIDE DOWN?

JRM: I developed Winter Massey over the course of several months and had a good handle on him before I wrote the first draft of INSIDE OUT. Once I knew him and how he would act and react to situations, all I had to do was figure out what he would do when certain things happened around him and to him. I wrote the most thorough outline for SIDE BY SIDE over the course of months (the outline was half as long as the manuscript) and the first draft was accepted "as written" for publication. I can't tell you how great that felt. I celebrated by starting on TOO FAR GONE, which I am working on now.

BRC: There are significant changes that occur in Massey's life between these two books. Do you plan to keep Massey's life in flux as the series unfolds?

JRM: Winter's life, because of the way he sees things and the way the world comes at him, stays in flux. His family, which he is devoted to, anchors him so he can do what he has to do to make the world a better and safer place for them and people like them. Massey is a complex character who understands that justice and what is right are sometimes different, and that they don't always work hand in hand. Winter loves and respects the law, but when the law gets between what's right or wrong, he bends the law to the breaking point. Winter loves peace, but he understands that there is a cost to be paid to maintain peace, and he pays it.

BRC: INSIDE OUT and UPSIDE DOWN both featured extremely interesting, extremely dangerous assassins. Do you plan to make such characters mainstays in your Massey novels?

JRM: Opposites attract. Massey, through no design of his own, can play on a level where monsters roam freely. Unfortunately for him, he is very often the equal and opposite force for good in that world. In INSIDE OUT he is a US marshal. In UPSIDE DOWN he is in the process of retiring from the service to seek a safer occupation so he will live to raise his son and devote himself to his family, which (without giving anything away) is growing. In SIDE BY SIDE he has left the service and is without official standing in law enforcement, which in disarming him of official color and that support adds to the degree of danger and difficulty he faces. Massey never looks for trouble, but he never hides from it, preferring to face it head on.

BRC: Will we see more of Faith Ann Porter?

JRM: After her performance in UPSIDE DOWN how could I dare not show more of her? I fell in love with her character, and I think we underestimate the depth of character a person that young can have, or how deep within themselves they can reach to accomplish a goal they believe in. Faith Ann Porter will keep playing a large and important role in the series. How could it be any other way?

BRC: Are you planning to extend the Massey series indefinitely, or is it a trilogy?

JRM: I've never intended to write only about Winter Massey. I plan to keep writing about Winter Massey because he's so much fun to write. Every book of his gives me characters who deserve books of their own. In SIDE BY SIDE I introduce a character who is the protagonist in the book that I'm writing now. Winter isn't in the new book except in a verbal cameo, but his shadow is very long. I will probably keep running characters from the Massey books through the others I write, even if it's only in cameos. So while I may not write about Winter, some of the characters he comes in contact with will be there --- familiar to my readers --- good guys and "surviving" villains alike. Presently I am contracted to write a sequel to THE LAST FAMILY called ONE LAST RUN, in which I am returning to the lives of Paul, Laura, Erin and Reb Masterson five years after Martin Fletcher's attempt to kill that family were thwarted. A force of evil like Martin Fletcher isn't easy to defeat. I doubt I will do that without allowing the incursion of other characters from the Massey books. I know and am very fond of them all, after all.

BRC: Talk to us about the titles of the books. Did you have the titles before you started, or did they evolve as you wrote?

JRM: The title INSIDE OUT evolved out of necessity. My agent Anne Hawkins, my editor Kate Burke Miciak, and I discussed a list of titles I compiled (my years in advertising with Nathan Hoffman, who is married to author Erica Spindler, helps) and we all liked INSIDE OUT. The Massey titles work as a trio, and I may or may not continue with others along the same vein. It's a limited group of options, but I know of several that would work. But for me a title has to do more than follow a fashion. A title has to work with what's inside the book, not just be similar and snappy. The next Massey book is at the moment entitled COLD WIND, but I am considering others --- including THROUGH AND THROUGH, which I could use if it feels right for the story.

BRC: While INSIDE OUT took place at a number of locales, including in and around New Orleans, UPSIDE DOWN occurred primarily in New Orleans. Will future novels also be set in New Orleans, or will any be set in Massey's home base of Charlotte, North Carolina?

JRM: I lived in New Orleans for almost 10 years and I love the city and the area. I still go to New Orleans several times a year to do research and visit friends and favorite restaurants. I went to south Louisiana to fish for Speckled Trout and Redfish with friends twice last year without stopping in New Orleans. As a suspense writer, New Orleans has everything and more. In fact New Orleans is a character as much as a location. I live in North Carolina, and Charlotte is a great city and a rich setting to write a story around. SIDE BY SIDE takes place in and around Charlotte, Concord, and in rural South Carolina.

I write about Concord in all three of these Massey books. It's been my hometown for the past ten years and I know it intimately. It's a rich place in every way --- visually and it's filled with novel characters --- as in characters that beg to be fit into a novel. Winter could relax here like I do.

BRC: Joe's favorite passages in UPSIDE DOWN are the ones describing the pursuit through Canal Place in New Orleans. He said he'll never walk past it again without thinking of UPSIDE DOWN. He was particularly impressed that you eschewed more likely, more familiar locales, such as the French Quarter or the River Walk, and injected an element of seat-of-the-pants excitement into what is otherwise a fairly non-descript shopping area. Why did you concentrate on Canal Place as a focal point for UPSIDE DOWN?

JRM: It's hard to write about New Orleans without writing about the French Quarter because, to most people, it is the heart of the city. It's filled with striking architecture, characters of all kinds, and anything goes --- and often anything goes unnoticed. If you are a resident of the city, you don't have to go into the Quarter unless there's a specific reason for the inconvenience. Truthfully there are equal-value shopping, drinking and eating opportunities without the inconvenience and congestion of the French Quarter. I think being chased through a place where things are more normal, even mundane, is more frightening than the Quarter or one of the graveyards where New Orleans action tends to be set. You can imagine that the people in Canal Place are so absorbed in shopping that they don't notice a child in jeopardy fleeing past them. Any place can be a scary location. I remember standing in front of the Aquarium of the Americas near Canal Place and starting to walk the setting while imagining Faith Ann's panicked flight from killers, knowing she couldn't trust anybody to help her escape her pursuers without, in effect, helping her to death.

BRC: What can we expect in SIDE BY SIDE?

JRM: Besides the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat? More humor for sure, but dark humor. A Winter Massey who's become more human, with a lot more to lose than before, and he's facing a betrayal that is more painful than anything he ever imagined was possible. Let's see… there are twists and turns, scary bad people and swept-up innocents who are unprepared to deal with what happens to them. Again, Winter Massey is up against seemingly impossible odds, and there's no shortage of people bent on doing him in who have the power to do so. SIDE BY SIDE was a thrill to write, and hopefully it will deliver a new level of excitement to the reader. I hope readers will be emotionally involved with the characters, get their money's worth, and that the book will leave them wanting more. I have been getting a lot of emails from readers who want to tell me how much they love Winter Massey and most want to know more about his future. I can only say it's bright and he's young and healthy.

BRC: Your website (johnramseymiller.com) mentions that you wrote five books from 1998 to 2004, and that three of these works were the Winter Massey thrillers. Can readers look forward to reading the remaining two books as well? Are these manuscripts thrillers?

JRM: Maybe and maybe not. Unfortunately not everything you write is worthy of readers. I have a stack of work that may or may not have parts recycled, but not much in them should or will be dragged out. I hope I've grown as a writer, and I don't want to look back on what was hardly more than practice. My first three novels before THE LAST FAMILY are best left in a box in the basement. Trust me.

BRC: Who are your favorite authors? And what authors have influenced your work to date?

JRM: Man, that's a big question. My life has always been filled with books, and I listen to audio books when I travel. As far as influences, that's hard to say because there have been so many. I grew up on Walker Percy, Truman Capote, William Styron, John Cheever, Robert Penn-Warren, William Faulkner, John le Carré, Joyce Carol Oates, John Updike, Phillip Roth, Eudora Welty, Ellen Gilchrist, Ellen Douglas, Harry Crews, Shelby Foote, and Larry McMurtry. I enjoy suspense authors who are writing at the top of their form and are (above all else) talented storytellers. Let's see… Jeffery Deaver, James Lee Burke, David Baldacci, Cormac McCarthy, Erica Spindler, John Sandford, Lee Child, Dennis Lehane, Tess Gerritsen, Robert Crais, Michael Palmer, Martin Cruz-Smith, Kent Haruf, Patricia Cornwell, William Kowalski, Greg Iles, John Grisham, David Gutterson, Kathy Reichs, Nevada Barr, and lots of others I can't name off the top of my head. John Gilstrap's NATHAN'S RUN is one of my all-time favorites and best friends and I can't wait for his new series.


  • Upside Down by John Ramsey Miller
  • June 28, 2005
  • Fiction - Suspense
  • Dell
  • $6.99
  • 9780553583403

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