With Book 2 pretty much a done deal (minus making editorial changes), and Book 3 cooling down for a final rewite and proofread, I’m back at work on Book 4. If the first three books could be called “The Max Trilogy” (because he figures big time in it), the next three I’ve called “The Family Secrets Trilogy.” That by itself should tell you things are going to get ugly and dark in a hurry.

The Family Secrets books represent a bit of a departure for me. In the first trilogy, between 70-95% actually happened in one shape, form, or another. In Book 4, we start to veer a little more into fiction, so that only some of it happened. And even then I’ve changed a lot, some of the changes are made in the holy name of not being sued.

But some of the big changes are because I didn’t believe what was happening myself. An example was a showdown at the the small church in Las Sauces, Colorado. While the action was good, the tactics good, and so on, I didn’t buy it.

One of the protagonists in the story is a lady named Carla. It seems that she and her son were involved in the murder of her husband, Ernest. Will is 100% certain the boy, Tomas, is the one who killed Ernest. He’s not so sure what, if any, involvement Carla had with it. Problem is, her husband was into a lot more than simply pushing dope, and she has a lot of information in her head. The kind of information people will kill to keep quiet. The FBI will be showing up, and no doubt place her into the Witness Protection Program.

I wrote the scenes and then let my old patrol buddy Jr Madrid look it over. His official verdict: I out creeped Stephen King in places. Now if everyone else thinks so, then great.

The trouble is, Will has to find her and keep her alive long enough to get there. When he and RJ track her down to a small church, she declares “sanctuary.”

Sanctuary is a somewhat ancient concept and is rarely used today. About the only time it’s exercised is in the case of political or ideological situations. In recent times I haven’t heard of the church granting sanctuary to anyone accused of crime against people (such as murder). One of the cases I’m familiar with was Noriega trying to claim sanctuary when we went after him in Panama. The Roman Catholic Church, us, and pretty much everyone else found the eyes of the world on them when he did that.

Sanctuary is seldom granted and, in the United States, the idea amounts to a hill of beans anyway. That said, most law enforcement agencies would stop and think before going in after anyone who has requested sanctuary simply because they don’t need the bad press. It becomes the problem of the church to grant or deny it or a judge to order that person brought in. Even then, a judge can order law enforcement to go in and take the person into custody.

In the case of murder, it’s very unlikely that the Catholic Church would even consider granting it. That’s what happens here. In my first draft, the local priest passed the buck up to the chain to make the decision. Here, he knows what they’ll say, and uses his authority to say no.

He also, since he’s denied sanctuary, orders our valiant team of law enforcement officers off the premise as well.

That completely does away with the battle at the church. But intelligence is soon developed that they’re coming for Carla.

Now, knowing a vigilante group is coming after Carla, Will, RJ, and the sheriff end up playing a high stakes shell game to protect her.

While I’m still writing it, this ends up more believable.

I’m hoping to have On a Pale Horse out towards the end of next year

So stay tuned.