The Dugan Family’s criminal defense law firm hopes their prodigal daughter Keera will save the day and rescue the firm from the dire straits her alcoholic father has left it in. He’s stopped taking big cases for fear he’s “lost it,” but the only thing he needs to lose is his drinking habit. Something that’s not likely to happen!
Enter Keera, a former chess prodigy who coincidentally gave up chess because of the embarrassing interference of her drunk father. She will represent Vince LaRussa, a successful investment adviser accused of murdering his disabled wife. Miller Ambrose, Keera’s ex-lover, represents the defense and isn’t against foul play if that’s what it takes to win. Especially, since he’s still smarting from their break up.
Once again, the best-selling author Robert Dugoni writes a captivating thriller with a twisty end in Her Deadly Game. We’re not sure how he does it, but it’s thrilling – pun intended – each and every time! We’re so delighted he joined us to answer a few questions about his latest!
Amy Wilhelm: Keera Duggan’s father is a brilliant attorney but has lost his edge due to his drinking problem. Given the highly stressful nature of the job, do you think heavy drinking is more widespread among attorneys versus other professions?
Robert Dugoni: I don’t know if it is more widespread than other professions, but I do know bar associations offer classes on drug and alcohol abuse, which is saying something. The law is a very difficult job to do well. A lawyer has a lot of responsibility to the client, to the court system and to himself. It is not a 9-5 job. Those are the hours spent dealing with problems. Then the lawyer must spend time on boards and organizations and speaking engagements to gain clients.
AW: Miller Ambrose, the prosecutor in Her Deadly Game and Keera’s ex-lover, uses unscrupulous means to discard evidence in an attempt to sway the jury to his point of view. I found this horrifying! Without going into the specifics of Ambrose’s deceit, do these things happen more commonly than we would like to believe?
RD: In my experience, certain lawyers will withhold documents and evidence and claim the opponent wasn’t specific in his/her request. They will coach witnesses on how to answer difficult questions and fudge the truth. Lawyers are competitive and I think sometimes that competitiveness gets in the way of the judicial system’s quest to get to the truth.
AW: What inspired you to include a chess game within the plot that parallels the moves and countermoves Keera makes?
RD: I knew really good trial attorneys who were also good chess players. One told me chess requires you not to anticipate your opponent’s next move, but his/her next five possible moves and your responses to each of those moves. That’s much like a trial. A lawyer can’t expect things to go smoothly, or to get the answers expected and must be prepared for these contingencies and know how to respond without looking concerned to the jury.
AW: How has your writing changed over the years with access to tools like Google and YouTube?
RD: I can say that Google and YouTube are great for settings. I can’t always get someplace where I set my novel but I can go online and find others who have gone there and videotaped their adventure. I even found a video of a man filming himself walking into the Metropol Hotel in Moscow, filming the lobby, the elevator, his floor, his room and his view. That was gold.
AW: How do you ensure each novel you write is thoroughly unique when you’ve written many others in the same genre?
RD: It really comes down to the characters. The characters have to be raw, honest and believable. I want people to read my books and feel like the characters have become a part of their lives, to miss them when they shut the book, and to wonder what the characters lives will be like after the story ends.
Robert Dugoni is the critically acclaimed New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and #1 Amazon bestselling author of the Tracy Crosswhite police series set in Seattle, which has sold more than 8 million books worldwide. He is also the author of the Charles Jenkins espionage series, the David Sloane legal thriller series, and several stand-alone novels including The 7th Canon,
Damage Control, and the literary novels, The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell (Suspense Magazine’s 2018 Book of the Year), for which Dugoni’s narration won an AudioFile Earphones Award, and the critically acclaimed, The World Played Chess; as well as the nonfiction exposé The Cyanide Canary, a Washington Post Best Book of the Year. Several of his novels have been optioned for movies and television series. Dugoni is the recipient of the Nancy Pearl Award for Fiction and a three-time winner of the Friends of Mystery Spotted Owl Award for best novel set in the Pacific Northwest. He has also been a finalist for many other awards including the International Thriller Award, the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction, the Silver Falchion Award for mystery, and the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award.
Robert Dugoni’s books are sold in more than twenty-five countries and have been translated into more than thirty languages. Visit his website at www.robertdugoni.com