FIVE QUESTIONS ... with J. L. Delozier
Welcome to FIVE QUESTIONS. In this feature on my blog, you'll learn about new and exciting books from the author's themselves. You'll hear about the book, their characters, the inspiration behind the book, and other insider details. All through five simple questions.
What is your new book about?
In THE PHOTO THIEF, Detective Dan Brennan, still grieving his toddler’s death, is assigned to investigate a Philadelphia socialite’s fatal fall down her mansion’s staircase. The victim’s daughter alleges her mother was murdered. Her evidence? Vintage photographs of the dead displayed on the mansion’s walls have told her so. The epileptic young woman claims she can talk to the dead. Her gift, if real, feeds into Brennan’s greatest desire—to speak to his little girl again. But belief comes at a price.
The odd, reclusive teen begs Brennan to reopen a quartet of cold cases based on new evidence from her alleged otherworldly connection. The investigation a disturbing commonality between the five cases, old and new. Entangled in the wealthy family’s long history of madness and murder, Brennan faces a choice: label the socialite’s death an accident and save his career, or commit professional suicide for the chance to hear his daughter’s voice once again.
What makes your protagonist unique?
THE PHOTO THIEF has two protagonists. Brennan is more typical—the down-and-out detective trying to rebound from a huge loss; in his case, the death of his toddler daughter and a subsequent divorce. Cassie, though, is quite unique. Seizure-ridden and hidden away by her wealthy family, the teen claims she can talk to the dead via vintage photos that hang on her mansion’s walls. Her best friend, Ruth, has been dead for eighty years!
What was the hardest scene to write?
A three quarters into the book, near the climax, there’s an emotional scene where the hero, Detective Brennan, thinks he’s communicating with his dead five-year-old daughter. I wanted it to have a profound impact, yet it still needed to remain slightly obscure. Was he or was he not actually talking to his little Elle using our unreliable heroine, Cassie, as a conduit? Does the truth matter, as long as Brennan believes it was real? It all goes back to the novel’s opening quote: Excessive grief for the dead is madness.
What's the most interesting or unusual thing you learned while researching for this book?
I learned what causes “old person” smell, a chemical called 2-nonenal. Really.
Of all the books out there, why should readers choose this one? (What makes your book stand out from the rest?)
It’s unique in that, while it has a definite ending that ties all the threads into a nice bow, the core question remains open to reader interpretation: Is Cassie, who claims she can speak to the dead via vintage photos, REALLY talking to ghosts or is she mentally ill, suffering a side effect of her seizure meds, or suffering from the seizures themselves? The reader can choose what they want to believe just like our hero, Brennan. I would love to see people arguing about it online or in reader forums!
You can purchase THE PHOTO THIEF at the following retailers.