The Cavaradossi Killings

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Wildside Press, 2000. Trade paper, $15.95. ISBN 1-58715-126-X
Smashwords, 2010. Ebook edition, $2.99. ISBN 978-1-4523-4610-6

Tom Hamilton has a long memory. He remembers the poverty and insults of his childhood in small-town Colorado. He remembers the secrets of the deadly organization he worked for in Chicago. Most of all, he remembers the central tragedy of his boyhood, his mother's disappearance. Now he's back in Colorado, safe from his Chicago associates — and in possession of a large quantity of their money. When a singer is murdered during a local opera performance, Tom decides to try his hand at finding the killer. He doesn't foresee that this will draw him back into the passions and hatreds of earlier years or that it will put his own life in danger.

Something happened with Tom Hamilton that has happened with a most of my characters. I created him coldbloodedly. I knew what I needed for the novel's protagonist, so I constructed someone to fit that bill. And then he came to life, became very real and three-dimensional to me. I cared about his history, his future, and his feelings.

I started out knowing what I didn't want: a superman (e.g., Spenser), or a policeman, or a tough guy of any kind. I wanted Tom to be at a physical disadvantage, to be unarmed (I'm strongly anti-gun), to have to rely on his wits. I toyed with giving Tom a disease that acts up at appropriate moments in the plot, but I realized that would seem facile and silly. Not to mention that I'd have had to either invent a disease, which would be unconvincing, or choose a real one and risk medical science coming up with a cure for it in the real world and killing off my hoped-for series!

I also didn't want Tom to know martial arts — to seem to be at a physical disadvantage but to turn out to have some kind of skills with which he fairly easily whomps the bad guys. I wanted him to be mentally tough but physically at a genuine disadvantage. I wanted Tom to have good reason to avoid physical confrontations.

I've always been saddened by the social burdens society imposes on short men, and I started playing with that idea. Tom's childhood poverty and terrible family life, including his loss of his mother, sprang from wherever it is such character developments spring from, and I kept them. But now he was becoming more pitiable than either sympathetic or competent. I wanted him to have an edge, a disturbing darker side, so I added the shady doings during his twenty years away from his hometown. That also added an element of danger that I plan to exploit in the second Tom Hamilton novel. And it made it believable that Tom would be able to look at a freshly murdered man and think analytically about who killed him.

This dark side also added a nice challenge for me — to make Tom as sympathetic a character for the reader as he had become to me.

I got a bit self-indulgent, I admit. Tom is anti-gun and anti-violence despite his history with the Chicago mob, he loves opera and ballet and at one point tells a huntin'-and-fishin' macho boor that all real men love opera and ballet, and he tends to stay a bit aloof and distant while commenting sarcasticaly for the benefit of his most appreciative audience, himself. But I expect him to grow somewhat in tolerance in future books in the series.

What? Future books in the series? Well, I hope so. I have Books 2 & 3 planned to differing degrees. Of course, planning is the easy part of writing.


The Charlotte Austin Review
"The Cavaradossi Killings is fast-paced and exciting. . . . Dvorkin's wonderful writing style and gripping story kept me turning the pages. Even when the plot draws to its exciting conclusion, we are still left with questions about Tom Hamilton. And we have to know what happens next. Perhaps in a sequel."
"...tight plotting, fast pace, and distinctive style. In Tom Hamilton he has created a 'warts and all,' complex character. Although Dvorkin neatly ties up the main mystery, questions about Tom are left unanswered, such as what exactly he did in Chicago. It speaks well of the author that these loose ends do not leave the reader annoyed, but instead leave an eagerness for a sequel, where perhaps we can learn about the multi-layered Mr. Hamilton."

Romantic Times Magazine
"The storyline in THE CAVARADOSSI KILLINGS is intriguing, with plenty of plot twists."
(3 star review)

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