Paul Kemprecos Resurrects His Popular Private Eye
From "Grey Lady"
Rich people must be used to helicopters buzzing their backyards. The party settled back to its sultry summer night rhythm soon after the aerial inspection. The golf carts continued to drop off well-dressed guests. The lighthearted chatter and laughter played against the backdrop of classical music.
Minutes earlier, Ramsey had shifted from his greeter duties and he'd been moving from guest to guest like a honeybee gathering pollen in a field of wildflowers. He greeted some guests with a quick handshake, a word of welcome, and a gesture toward the bar and food. With others it was a double handshake, a shoulder squeeze, a cheek peck for the women. The smile switched on and off like a strobe light.
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Ever since I penned Bluefin Blues, the seventh and last of the Aristotle “Soc” Socarides Cape Cod detective books, readers have asked me if I planned to write another in the series. I was up to my eyeballs writing the NUMA Files with Clive Cussler, a job that demanded all of my working time, and then some. When the collaboration with Clive ended, I stuck with the formula that had worked so well, and pounded out an adventure story, The Emerald Scepter, which was published in May. In the meantime, I joined with Suspense Publishing to introduce new readers to the Soc series in e-book format. Work began on audio versions as well.
While I peddled my adventure book, I pondered whether to take a crack at another Soc story. On a beautiful July day, my wie Christi and I took the ferry to Nantucket so I could look into using the island as a backdrop. The old whaling port has changed since Herman Melville used the “Grey Lady of the Sea,” as a setting for Moby Dick, but it still enjoys a fog-shrouded mystique and offered all sorts of possibilities. Just yesterday, I heard from Shannon Raab at Suspense that Grey Lady, the book I began after that trip, is scheduled for release Nov. 22. The book will be available on that date as a trade paperback and in digital format. Work is underway on an audio version as well. For those who can’t wait for the new Soc, Suspense will be re-publishing The Mayflower Murder this week as part of the project to get all the series back in print. Stay tuned for further details!
“What a character. Aristotle Socarides is a diver, a fisherman, and a PI who just can’t seem to stay out of trouble. He’s the brainchild of a genius—Paul Kemprecos—who knows a thing or two about writing action and adventure. I bow to the master and urge all of you to read this latest installment in a first rate series.”
—Steve Berry, New York Times and #1 Internationally Bestselling Author
"Absolutely the best private-eyemystery I've read. I can't wait for the next one."
"There can be no better mystery writer in America today than Paul Kemprecos."
—Clive Cussler, New York Times
By LAUREN DALEY
March 02, 2014
'Soc' is back with punch.
Cape Cod author and former newspaperman Paul Kemprecos has revived his popular mystery series about a Cape Cod fisherman, diver and private investigator Aristotle "Soc" Socarides.
The newly released "Grey Lady" is the seventh book in the popular detective series, but the first new print Soc book Kemprecos has published since 1997's "Bluefin Blues."
Kemprecos has been busy writing with adventure novelist Clive Cussler on their New York Times best-selling NUMA Files (National Underwater and Marine Agency) series.
"Grey Lady" is also a maritime adventure:
A shiny, new charter fishing boat was supposed to launch a new career for Soc. But when the slip of a tongue brings the ire of a Russian KGB mogul down on his head, Soc looks for a way out on Nantucket, and discovers more than he ever bargained for, including a deranged homicide suspect who thinks he's Captain Ahab, murder, cannibalism, a Cold War secret, a missing whaling artifact with a bloody history, and a deadly problem.
Kemprecos, the former managing editor of the Cape Codder weekly newspaper, grew up in Brockton and studied journalism at Boston University. He moved to Cape Cod in 1961 and lives in Dennisport with his wife, Christi, in a circa-1865 farmhouse with their two cats. They have three grown children and seven granddaughters, "who are, naturally, the most beautiful and intelligent young ladies on the face of the planet."
I caught up Kemprecos recently.
Q: So, the first and most obvious question: Why did you decide to revive the "Soc" series?
A: For years, people had asked if and when I planned to do another Socarides book, but I was busy writing the "NUMA Files" with Clive Cussler. After that collaboration ended, Clive suggested I pick up the Soc series again. His agent thought I should do another adventure book, so I went that route instead (with 2013's standalone book, "The Emerald Scepter").
When I brought back the Socarides books in digital format (by releasing the "Soc" books from the 1990s as e-books), the copy editor would frequently contact me with enthusiastic praise. I hadn't read the books for years, but as I re-read them to prep for the re-format, I thought that the series still had legs. I had the time to give Soc another try, so that's what I did.
Q: How did the series originate?
A: I was managing editor of the weekly newspaper The Cape Codder when the search for the pirate ship Whydah, and the treasure it reportedly carried, started making headlines (in the 1980s). I thought the competition among rival salvage groups was a good concept to use as a story base.
Since I liked the private investigator books I read, like those by Raymond Chandler, I created a PI of my own. I'm Greek-American on my father's side. Socarides was the last name of my high school English teacher. I liked the punchy shortening of Soc's nickname — it was easier to type, too.
Q: Why set it on Cape Cod?
A: Having lived on the Cape since 1961, I knew the place and the many issues it was facing as an area undergoing transition between the old and the new. Cape Cod has lonely beaches and dense fog, too, so it was a no-brainer.
Q: So how did the collaboration with Cussler come about?
A: My editor sent Cussler a copy of my first "Soc" book (in 1991) and he gave it a favorable jacket blurb. He did the same with the second, and we would talk or correspond from time to time.
I couldn't make a living writing the "Soc" books and was contemplating a change of careers when Cussler called and asked me to co-author a spin-off of his highly successful "Dirk Pitt" series. It would be called the "NUMA Files." Commercial fiction collaboration was somewhat rare at the time.
Q: So what's your own writing process like?
A: It's a bit messy. I rent an office in Dennisport to get away from the distractions of home. I try to produce four good pages a day, although that doesn't always happen. I do my best writing in the morning. I've tried outlining, but find that it is better for me to come up with a loose concept, and an idea for the ending, and slog away at it.
Q: What will you "slog away" at next?
A: I'm working on a sequel to "The Emerald Scepter," featuring Matinicus "Matt" Hawkins. He's a former Navy SEAL, now an engineer who works on underwater robotics in Woods Hole.
Q: Anything to add for our readers?
A: It's great to be back. I'll try to keep writing books as long as people keep reading them.