"Daniel Vanished," my new book, is available for pre-order!

My new novel is about a long-cold missing persons case that suddenly becomes a live murder mystery 32 years later.

"Daniel Vanished," my new book, is available for pre-order!

It's finally coming together. On April 16, 2024, my new book, Daniel Vanished, a mystery novel, will come out on Amazon Kindle and in a paperback version. You can pre-order it for Kindle, on Amazon, here. The paperback version will be available for sale on release day, April 16. If you have any intention of getting the book--which is $2.99 on Kindle--it'd be great if you pre-order before April 16, because the more pre-orders there are, the higher the book's ranking will be on the day it debuts. This is my first fiction book to come out in over a year and a half, so it'd be great if it gets some notice.

Daniel Vanished is about a long-cold missing persons case that suddenly becomes a live mystery, and a race against time, after decades. In 1991, Daniel Christie, a 19-year-old house painter from a small coastal town in Oregon, goes on a road trip to Las Vegas with a friend, Bill Pettyman. During that trip, after an argument, Daniel walks out of their hotel room at 3:30 in the morning and is never seen again. Though Bill is suspected of doing something to him, there's no motive and no evidence, so he's not charged and the case quietly goes cold. Decades later, in 2023, Vanessa Rinker, a true crime podcaster with a show about unsolved cases, does an episode on Daniel's obscure disappearance. It turns out that Kenny Whitney, Daniel's former childhood friend, has long been obsessed with the case. When the Nevada state police conveniently find Daniel's remains in a shallow desert grave right where Vanessa hypothesized they might be--which gives the authorities enough evidence to charge Bill with murder--Kenny realizes that Bill has been framed, and the real killer, whoever they are, is still trying to cover their tracks. Kenny and Vanessa must team up to solve the case, but they soon find themselves targeted by the killer.

While I've written crime thrillers before, Daniel Vanished is my first full-on mystery book. While writing it I learned that constructing mystery plots is quite a delicate and meticulous business. Indeed, I had the idea for this book more than five years ago, but it took numerous drafts and a lot of tinkering to get it to work the way it should. It was a fascinating process, albeit a frustrating one. Having gone through it, I certainly have a lot of newfound admiration for authors who churn out mystery novels as a career. I'm not sure I could do it but I'm glad to have ventured into the fray to the extent I have.

In the book, Daniel's disappearance takes place at Bally's hotel and casino in Las Vegas, now called the Horseshoe. It was the former MGM Grand property, which also suffered a deadly fire in 1980. That's mentioned in the book.

Most of Daniel Vanished takes place in the U.S. desert Southwest, between Las Vegas, the scene of the crime, and L.A., where the action starts to drift. The concept that finally made the narrative click was to frame it as a classic road trip story, with unlikely allies Kenny and Vanessa, two totally different people from different generations and walks of life, thrown together in a common enterprise. Traveling and being on the road is a constant theme in the book. The inciting incident, that being Daniel's disappearance, occurs on a road trip to Vegas, and it's through another road trip 32 years later that his mystery is ultimately solved.

The book is fiction and none of its characters are intended to portray real people, but it's probably fair to say that at least its central scenario is inspired by a real case. In 1977 a young man from Oregon did vanish while on a road trip with a friend, ostensibly to Vegas, though in reality there was some confusion as to where the actual disappearance occurred. This case, super obscure, has always fascinated me, and was my portal into the strange and sometimes terrifying world of cold missing persons cases. Contrary to popular belief in some quarters, the vast majority of people who go missing in the U.S. are adults, not children, and other than a tiny handful of cases who attract significant media attention, few resources are expended on resolving them. In Daniel Vanished I tried to portray what a terrible long tail of trauma and loss that an unsolved missing persons case leaves in its wake, as family members, friends and even casual acquaintances of the disappeared are deeply affected often decades later.

There is also an LGBTQ angle to Daniel Vanished, and "LGBTQ mystery" is one of the categories on Amazon that it fits into. The main sleuth character, Kenny Whitney, is gay, and alternative sexualities do weave into the plot in some subtle ways. While LGBT themes are not the central focus of the story, I do try to have some representation in my books, and I think it works well with this one.

A significant portion of "Daniel Vanished" was written on this 1948 Remington Rand typewriter. You can usually see the typewriter on the lower right-hand corner of the frame of my YouTube videos.

I hope those of you who are interested in taking a little detour from historical material will check out Daniel Vanished, and if you do, I hope you enjoy it. Again, pre-ordering it before April 16, the release date, would be extremely helpful, and if you do buy and read it, leaving a review on Amazon would also be terrific. Thanks to all who support my work in so many ways. More videos, classes, blog posts and other materials are always in the works.

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