Coming Soon to a Bookstore near You

Last August, I posted about Sons and Brothers, the second book in the Polizei Bern series. August 2022 was when I got a first version of the front cover to show off. Now I have the front and back covers, and the book is due out in sixty-seven days, on April 18.

Here’s the latest description of the story:

A surgeon in his seventies doesn’t come home from walking his dog along Bern’s river and is found drowned. From the bruising on his body, it’s clear his death was no accident. As Swiss police detective Giuliana Linder and her assistant Renzo Donatelli investigate the dead man’s background and family, suspicion falls on his middle son, Markus. A photographer with a history of violence and drug use, Markus was always a disappointment to his father.

During the year before his father’s death, Markus got to know Jakob Amsler, a long-ago schoolmate of the surgeon’s in the village where they both lived as boys. A foster child, Jakob was removed from his family by the authorities at nine and placed on a farm to work under terrible conditions. From Jacob, Markus learned that his father’s life contained some ugly secrets. Slowly, Giuliana and Renzo are now circling in on those secrets, all the while dealing with their attraction to each other and their ambivalence about having an affair.

This kind of plot summary, intended to make a book sound interesting without giving too much away, is hard to write. There’s some other text on the back cover that’s even harder to come by, however, and that’s the endorsements. I don’t know how other writers go about seeking these quotes, but I can tell you how I do it.

My first step is to make a list of all the mystery writers whose books I like very much that are also similar in some way to mine. I may love the work of authors who produce thrillers, cozies, historical mysteries, or domestic suspense, but it doesn’t much sense to ask one of these writers for an endorsement, since people who love their books probably wouldn’t be drawn to police procedurals like mine.

After I make a list of appropriate targets, I have to figure out how to reach them. Some have email addresses or contact forms on their websites, others don’t. In three cases, at least, I’ve tried to reach possible endorsers by tracking down the names of their agents, which has not always worked—or at least has not resulted in any kind of answer, positive or negative.

My next step is to write this stranger whose work I have been reading and enjoying for years—someone I respect and admire—a begging letter! This is not a very pleasant thing to do, but, as someone who already spent years trying to hook an agent or a publisher, I’m used to pleading for attention in emails! Since I first started doing this two years ago for Pesticide, I’ve had some writers never answer me, some turn me down briskly, and others refuse very kindly. I’ve also had pleasant turn-downs from writers’ assistants: Michael Connelly’s website manager and I have had a nice correspondence—not that he’s read either of my books. And some people I’ve written to—blessed be their names and their books—have agreed to read my mysteries.  (Even that is no guarantee of a blurb, however. One writer who offered to take a book stopped after a few chapters and emailed me to say that she didn’t like it and wouldn’t be continuing!)

After all this, two favorite mystery writers whom I’ve never met agreed to read Sons and Brothers. Both of them must have enjoyed it, because now I have blurbs from Laurie R. King, of Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes fame, and from Julia Spencer-Fleming, whose series stars the wonderful Clare Fergusson, an Episcopalian minister and retired helicopter pilot who falls in love with the police chief in a small upstate New York town.

The result of this inexplicable kindness and generosity on the part of two very busy writers are these statements:

From Julia Spencer-Fleming: Kim Hays balances winter-keen psychological insight with the warmth and beauty of the most charming canton in Switzerland, methodically revealing the small tragedies of class and family, uneasy marriages and toxic workplaces. Giuliana Linder and Renzo Donatelli are compassionate, conflicted, and utterly compelling. Sons and Brothers is a must-read.

From Laurie R. King: The second outing of Linder and Donatelli is as crisp and skilled as the first, with our police duo digging beneath the beauty of Bern to the shadows beneath. Old scandals and new conflicts are investigated by realistic, complicated people, whom the reader fears might not always make the right choices. Brisk plot, depth of character, great setting—what’s not to love? 

Apart from hoping for wonderful endorsements like these, I also needed good reviews for my new book, ideally in time to include excerpts from them on my cover. Luckily, I’ve received two of these already, one from Kirkus Reviews and one from a website written by the Crime Fiction Critic.

Right now Sons and Brothers is in the process of being printed, and a week after its April publication date I’ll be in Manhattan signing copies. That’s exciting.

I hope you’ll find reading it exciting, as well.

8 thoughts on “Coming Soon to a Bookstore near You

  1. Fabulous! Can’t wait! Bravo to you for pursuing endorsements, and that’s wonderful that you’ve had some good response. Well deserved!


    1. Thank you, Ellen. I imagine there are some cases where literary agents or editors at publishing houses solicit endorsements from other clients for their writers, but I imagine most new authors must do it the way I do. I appreciate your encouragement.


  2. I wish you and your book all the success you could wish for. I have Sons and Brothers on preorder since it became available, so I won’t miss it. Pesticide still resonates with me every time we drive past fields and glasshouses in the Seeland


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