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The Sirens of Suspense

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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Todd Merer is the debut author of The Extraditionist. In his thirty years as a criminal attorney, he specialized in the defense of high-ranking cartel chiefs extradited to the United States. Merer gained acquittals in more than 150 trials, and his high-profile cases have been featured in the New York Times, Time magazine, and on 60 Minutes. A “proud son of Brooklyn,” he divides his time between New York City and ports of call along the old Spanish Main, where he is at work on his second novel.

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My playground was the mean streets and schoolyards of East Flatbush long before Brooklyn was gentrified, at a time when people didn’t read thrillers (why bother when there were ten new thriller movies released every week?) and spoke about dese, dem, and dat from facing windowsills above alleys laden with clotheslines.

But I wasn’t like everyone else. School bored me, but I loved books. I played hooky more often than not. In good weather I’d hop a turnstile to a Manhattan-bound train and patrol the dozens of used bookshops on what was then called Fourth Avenue, scoring the entire Tarzan and Don Winslow of the Navy series for a nickel a volume. In bad weather I’d hole up in the local library, where I’d transport myself to other places, including the evils that lurk within men’s souls, and, perchance to dream. (Hmm…I think I’ve just revealed my bent for action and adventure!)

There came a day when Schultz, the local beat cop, dragged me – literally – back to school, and I found myself tasked with ugh! homework: an essay on “What It Means To be An American.” A no-brainer because I was addicted to old black-and-white war and thriller films, which in those relatively innocent days captured the American experience pretty damn well.

Anyway, the homework tuned out to be a national contest submission. For which I won the grand prize – 500 smackers, a huge sum in those days – that I promptly spent on a then-exotic tape recorder; my plan being to cut through the tedium of writing by dictating my tales. The essay had been so effortless I’d decided to give writing a shot. It would be so easy. Taping was genius! (Even then I was always looking for the easiest way.)

After I had recorded a few stories, a local thief glommed the recorder. But by then the bug had bitten me, so I switched from tape to type. The experience taught me a fundamental lesson: writing is walking the walk, not talking the talk.

But pacing a 400-square-foot pad while trying to write felt confining. I wanted instant gratification, and writing was lonely, low-paying, and dull. I wanted to write thrillers, with their attendant women, money, and action. The trouble was, I was still a virgin, delivered groceries for ten bucks a week, and my only action was avoiding Schultz.

So I quit writing and became a drug lawyer. It wasn’t just a career. It became my life. It was all I wanted and a whole lot more. I’d often find myself thinking, Man, the stories I could tell… before reminding myself they were stories I couldn’t tell without losing either life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness.

But now that my bar number’s finally hanging from the rafters, I can spill the beans…sort of. By that I mean Benn Bluestone could be my mouthpiece. Benn’s how I was when I was. Benn’s how I’d be if need be. Benn was, is…me.

It wasn’t hard getting back to writing. It was as easy as teaching a fish to swim. Instead of trying to figure things out, I let the game come to me. Random thoughts became a big thing. I got one, I stopped whatever I was doing and made a note. Usually just a word or two to later jog my memory. Sometimes I texted myself. Sometimes I wrote on my palm.

Ipso presto, I was back in my element. Alternating between the mean streets and the luxe life. Balancing atop the razor’s edge, seeking the thrill of victory, dreading the agony of defeat. I could wax poetically on and on, but that would take the 405 pages in which Benn calls himself an Extraditionist.

Benn’s a great guy with a big future, but there’s one thing he best be crystal clear about: there’s only one man truly worthy of being called The Extraditionist.

 

 

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE THRILLER MOVIE? TELL US or leave a comment on the blog below or on our Facebook page and you’ll be entered to win a copy of THE EXTRADITIONIST (US entrants only, please.)

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