PANAMA CITY — For local author Michael Lister, mysteries are in his blood, and one series in particular keeps finding new life.
"I'm finding this series to not be confining or restricting at all," Lister said. "I feel like I can do anything with it, and after 18 books, I love it."
Lister will mark the release of "Blood Stone" and "Blood Trail," the 17th and 18th books in his John Jordan Mysteries series with a discussion and signing event from 6-8 p.m. Monday, April 16, at the Bay County Public Library's meeting room, 898 W. 11th St., Panama City. The evening will include a discussion about his John Jordan mystery series and his latest releases; a talk with musician and editor Aaron Bearden about where the long-running series is headed; updates on Lister's other works; and a reading and signing.
In addition to music and video presentations, guests can participate in a drawing for signed collectible memorabilia and the opportunity to be in Lister's next book.
"One lucky attendee will be able to have themselves, or at least their name — or a friend or loved one — in my next novel," Lister said.
When Lister first introduced readers to John Jordan (in 1997's "Power in the Blood"), Jordan was a conflicted ex-cop who had become a prison chaplain. His turn of faith didn't preclude him from investigating baffling murder cases. That book mentioned a case Jordan had worked while a cop in Atlanta, about a murderer called "the Stone Cold Killer." Twenty years later, Lister reached back in time to write a prequel novel, "Blood Stone," which tells of Jordan's experiences in that 1988 case.
"It's so fulfilling and rewarding as a writer to mention something in book one and 16 books later it's dealt with," he said. "I keep loose ends in mind. When the momentum is strong, it's easier to write that way."
"Blood Trail" then brings readers back to modern times, as Jordan learns that the convicted killer from the 11th novel in the series, "Blood Oath," has been moved to the corrections facility where he works as a chaplain. That raises personal and professional conflicts of interest, but it also allows Lister to revisit story threads and reinforce a sense of conquences into his fictional world. The story becomes further complicated when Jordan becomes the chief suspect in the death of a man connected to his new wife.
"That's been a lot of fun to do," Lister said, referring to the multiple styles and points of view he's used to tell these latter stories. "Using more and different points of view has added a whole other dimension. It definitely keeps the series fresh for me, and I hope it does so for readers. That's the goal."
In addition to these new releases, Lister is rebranding his "Soldier Riley" detective noir series, which is set in Panama City during the 1940s. The books are being re-released under new titles and with new cover designs as he leads up to the debut of the sixth in the series later this year. As a result, the novels are finding a new audience, he said.
MORE AREA AUTHORS
'Greenebriar's Garbage' by S. Martin Drake
Sandra Martin Drake, returning to town for her senior class' 55-year reunion (Bay High School, 1963), will also take time for a book signing event to mark the publication of her first novel, "Greenebriar’s Garbage." Projected to be the first in a series, the novel is set in 1977-79 in south Chicago, where the Williams family moves after a job transfer.
"Bribes, greed, jealousy, infidelity and intrigue challenge this family who find out at closing their house is in a homeowner's association with rules which must be followed," the author explained. "The accidental death of a neighbor's child and the murder of a volunteer board member keep Sally Williams busy after she becomes a board member and then president by default."
Their neighborhood was built over one of many former garbage dumps, but as the novel's subtitle suggests, "There's more than trash in a garbage dump." Not all of the Williams' neighbors live the same family lifestyle; some lead sad and shocking lives creating a challenging environment.
Drake, a retired school teacher, lives in Parks, Az., with her husband. She's currently working on a sequel. "Greenebriar's Garbage" can be purchased on Amazon.com for $14.75 (286-page paperback).
'The Adventures of RABO' by Beverly Harris
A medical records clerk for the Bay County Regional Detention Center, Beverly Harris recently released her first two original books. "The Adventures of RABO," books one and two, are sparsely illustrated children's books that follow a young boy, Justin, as he navigates through today’s culture of bullying, body shaming and school conflicts with the help of his imaginary friend, RABO.
The books are available online at Amazon.com, priced $14.99 (82-page paperback) and $2.99 for the ebook. A portion of book sales through Smile.Amazon.com goes to the buyers' preferred charities. Harris donated a copy of her first book to all Juvenile Detention Centers in Florida.
"Ms. Harris has written a wonderful book with an engaging storyline, a quick read (20-30 minutes) and with very timely content," said Major Rhonda Hartwell, superintendent at the Bay County Juvenile Center. "She sees her main character, RABO, as a superhero to her readers desperate for the super powers that RABO possesses — empathy, tolerance and compassion.”
'Project Whitworth: The Story of Coach Jason Whitworth' by Jeanie Rogers-Whitworth
An artist and real estate broker in Panama City, Jeanie Rogers-Whitworth relates the struggles of her son, who gave her permission to tell his story before his death from ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), or "Lou Gehrig's Disease." ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord resulting in muscle weakness and atrophy.
"In telling his story, I wanted to share with others that no matter where you start off in life, you can make a difference in those around you," she says in an author's note. "No matter what your situation in life is, to press on. To know that you are somebody that can make a change in this world for the better."
"Project Whitworth" is availabe from Amazon.com for $12.95 in paperback.