When I started writing the Las Vegas Mystery series, I had no idea where the characters would lead me or which category the books would fit into. My goal was to act as an impartial reporter, allowing the characters and their actions to dictate the storyline as it developed. I never knew in advance who the killers were, what anyone in the story would do, or how events would play out. And some of the characters wound up doing things average people wouldn’t even consider—such as committing murder.
The protagonist, Jim Snow, is a former Las Vegas homicide detective in a midlife crisis. He tried playing poker full-time, but that didn’t work out—and he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do next. He could probably get back on the force, but instead he decided to just take it easy and drink a lot of beer.
In the beginning of Snow’s investigation of his brother-in-law’s murder, in Punctured, he meets Alice James. She’s a homicide detective partnered with a guy whose ambition is to keep his female junior partner in her place. But Alice isn’t satisfied being just another tagalong detective. She aspires to start her own agency, and eventually she convinces Jim join her.
Alice James is the opposite of Jim Snow. While Jim has never had it very tough—he’s a fairly bright white guy with enough charisma to climb the ladder easily in law enforcement—Alice, a black woman, has had to struggle to achieve all her success.
Despite intermittent conflict between the two detectives, a mutual fondness develops. After hearing about Alice’s estranged birth father, Jim orchestrates a reconciliation. In Desert Drop, the third and newest installment in the Las Vegas series, events take a tragic turn for the worse: Alice and Jim are compelled to launch their own investigation, following a twisted trail of leads from Las Vegas to Silicon Valley and back again and meeting a cast of bizarre characters, many of whom could have been involved in the crime.
In all three books in the Las Vegas series, I had a vague idea in the beginning who the murderers might be. But I always guessed wrong.