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Adam Dunn….Series Spotlight, Excerpt, & Author Q&A

“Dunn has brilliantly tapped into our deepest fear of what tomorrow holds and crafted a unique brand of future noir.”

–John Burdett, author of Bangkok Haunts and Vulture Peak

 


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NEW YORK CITY’S DARKEST FEARS HAVE ARRIVED

It’s the near future and New York City as we know it is an alternate universe away. Violence and corruption lurk around every corner and a new wave of organized crime rules the streets. Author Adam Dunn’s New York is like nothing we know yet possesses an alarming air of familiarity and warning for what might come. Race riots, terrorist threats, a collapsing economy, warring political parties and widespread distrust in all institutions rule the land. Every day is a fight for survival. With his fast-paced new series (Dunn Books; Nov. 15, 2015), Dunn forces readers to wonder—just how close are we to stumbling into the same fate?


RIVERS OF GOLD

“Fans of gritty noir fiction, whether it be mystery or SF, should find this one very much to their liking.”

Booklist

 

In a violent, decaying New York City torn by financial collapse, race riots and a surging crime wave, an underworld economy of illegal nightclubs linked by a web of taxicabs is thriving. But there’s trouble in this dark paradise: Renny, a young fashion photographer who moves drugs through the taxi network for the party circuit, is forced to step up his game to a dangerous degree by his boss, Reza, the local frontman for an international crime syndicate that’s looking to take over the city. Renny is soon in the crosshairs of his boss and Detective Sixto Santiago, who’s part of an experimental unit in the NYPD using undercover taxicabs to try to crack down on the drug trade keeping the prohibited party circuit afloat. But Santiago’s just been partnered with a strange new arrival to the team, Everett More, who, he soon realizes is anything but a cop. From the dank, dark garages of the city’s taxi trade to the glittering playpens of its richest and most powerful, Rivers of Gold is a ride like no other. Climb inside…the meter’s running…

 

THE BIG DOGS

“Exquisitely researched, flawlessly narrated, The Big Dogs is great storytelling. I loved it.”

–Deon Meyer, author of Trackers and Heart of the Hunter

 

In the explosive sequel to Rivers of Gold, the unorthodox team of Santiago and More return to face a more grueling—and gruesome—challenge. In a savage paroxysm of mob violence, the founder of an uber-rich hedge fund is brutally killed, and an encrypted hard drive containing a list of high-profile clients in a highly illegal investment scam goes missing. His death opens a can of worms for both the NYPD and the Treasury Department, as it turns out the victim was already on the radar for a range of financial crimes, including funding terrorism. Now, Santiago and More are thrust into the unwilling embrace of the elite Organized Crime Intelligence Division, along with old comrades the Narc Sharks and an unwelcome Federal femme fatale named Liza Marrone from the treasury department. Santiago’s unwieldy team has to race against the clock to find the hard drive—and its elusive bearer, a 29-year-old hacker named Gianni Gianduja who’s now running for his life—before a plot to place bombs throughout the city’s bus network goes off, killing untold thousands and triggering a stock market crash that will bring the beleaguered city down once and for all. Don’t be caught waiting at the bus stop—The Big Dogs are on the prowl.

 

 

SAINT UNDERGROUND

“Can a thriller be seriously dystopian and fun at the same time? Saint Underground manages to be both, with all the quick, deft aplomb of a literary hat trick.”

–Joseph Kanon, author of Leaving Berlin and The Good German

 

“Saint Underground is a fast-paced, entertaining and an astonishing prediction about the threat to our nation’s political and social institutions… Novelist  Adam Dunn has a financial expert’s grasp of hidden dark money flowing into the U.S. from criminal coffers and the writer’s gift of being able to translate it into an entertaining yarn.”

–James McTague, author of Crapshoot Investing and former “DC Current” columnist for BARRON’S

Election 2016—New York City is ground zero. The Democratic and Republican parties are holding their conventions here—simultaneously. Illicit campaign money sloshes through a new underground bank in the city’s newest subway tunnel. But this campaign isn’t just about votes—the parties are truly at war. Santiago and More have uncovered a plot to hijack not just the presidential conventions, but the nation itself. One party looks to launch a bailout program that will effectively bring New York under total Federal control; the other side has countered by hiring an embittered Special Forces veteran. This high-tech warrior, codenamed ODIN, is More’s nemesis, and Santiago’s team tops his hit list. As the feud between the parties erupts into open warfare, Santiago and More fight their way from the lofty spires of the city’s cathedrals down into the darkest parts of its subway system. There is no judgment, only survival, for both sinners and saints—underground.

EXCERPT FROM THE BIG DOGS

BACK IN THE HIGH LIFE AGAIN

Two months to the day after Thanksgiving, Miss Grace Yunqué, of East Elmhurst, Queens, rose late on her day off, fixed herself brunch, then boarded the westbound M60 bus at 23rd Avenue.

She preferred taking the bus whenever she could. The subways saved time, but were fraught with risk. Despite a heavy police presence underground at key times and terminals, the cop coverage tended to thin out to nothingness towards the outer boroughs, and unless there was someone with a badge and gun on the platform with her, she simply didn’t feel safe on the subways any more.

Besides, the bus was fast, thanks to the Mayor’s enforcement of bus-only lanes across major bridges. And it was comfortable. Miss Grace Yunqué had no idea which kind of bus she rode along the M60 route (a slightly older Orion VII Next Generation semi-low floor hybrid electric built by Daimler Commercial Buses), but it was quite good. She had seen much, much worse in her day.

As usual, the bus looped north through LaGuardia International Airport, meandering by the Marine Air Terminal on Bowery Bay, before settling down for its long westward cruise along Astoria Boulevard. As the bus arced out across the Robert Kennedy Bridge spanning the Hell Gate section of the East River, she looked down upon Wards and Randalls Islands far below, dusted with snow. She was mentally planning her own route. While her main business of the day was routine (a followup visit to Dr. Lazar regarding her condition), the stop she planned to make afterwards was anything but.

Miss Grace Yunqué was a homely, portly Latina of Peruvian descent in her late fifties who was starting to feel gravity’s pull more acutely. Her arches were falling, her heels ached at night, and her ass seemed to spread wider with each passing year. Her husband was dead, her children grown and struggling with families of their own. What little brightness there was in her life came from her grand-nephew José, and her Pomeranian, Hector.

Still, it wasn’t all bad. She had worked for years keeping the books of a small firm that made spare parts for servicing city buses. The benefits were good, and she had her late husband’s small pension coming in as well, which she diligently invested in TIPS, inflation-protected bonds that had been adjusted for the extended period of low rates following the crash. Miss Grace Yunqué did not know when the city’s fortunes would take a turn for the better, but she intended to have a toe in the water when they did. She believed the city would rise again—someday, perhaps not even in her lifetime, but someday—and she wanted to have something to bequeath to her darling little niňo José.

Which was why she was heading into Manhattan this morning, to report the goings-on she’d been seeing in the company’s financial statements for months now. She knew fraud when she saw it, and she intended to cash in by reporting it.

If all went according to plan. The list of things that could go wrong and make life very ugly and perhaps even short for her was long. Thinking about that threatened to aggravate her condition, and she began the series of relaxation exercises Dr. Lazar had taught her.

By the time she alighted from the bus at 106th and Broadway in Manhattan, she was feeling better, although a slightly anxious tingle remained stubbornly in the back of her mind. She walked stiffly, turning the collar of her coat up against the scything wind, along the block and a half to Riverside Drive. She would ride the M5 Limited downtown. There was no way she would ride the M104 bus, infamous throughout the city as a rolling freak barge, upon which legions of the insane rode aimlessly up and down Broadway. And there was no way she was going underground, especially not on her day off.

She was lucky; the bus (a much older C40LF from New Flyer Industries running on compressed natural gas) was less than two blocks away when she reached the stop. There were no protective kiosks along Riverside Drive (she figured the people who lived on it were rich enough to stop the city from erecting them), and the January wind coming across the Hudson River was merciless.

It was slower going in Manhattan. The M5 route took it eastward along West 72nd Street to Broadway, where it joined the slow southbound trudge of traffic to the merry-go-round of Columbus Circle, from whence it chugged down Central Park South to Fifth Avenue (how sad the Plaza looked, she thought, all barricaded against the throngs of homeless people who had built one of the city’s biggest shantytowns here), where it turned southward again, stopping briefly in front of the long-closed Bergdorf-Goodman flagship store before making the long final leg downtown to South Ferry.

The session in Dr. Lazar’s midtown office was uneventful. Fortified with a renewed prescription and Dr. Lazar’s infectious good cheer, she boarded the crosstown M57 bus (an articulated Nova LFS hybrid) for a (free!) ride west, towards the Hudson River.

Her nerve began to flag as she stood outside the station amongst the rows of prowl cars, beaten-up taxicabs, and ugly three-wheeled ATVs parked at a rakish angle that clearly marked the block as a Cop Shop. Still, she had chosen this precinct to be the one furthest from her own, at least on a map. No one she knew worked here; certainly no one she knew could afford to live here. She straightened her back, cinched her coat collar up under her chin, and strode purposefully inside. Miss Grace Yunqué was not a quitter.

The inside of the station (she would reflect later) was a good approximation of her idea of Hell. The floors and walls were a horrid shade of institutional green, the air was rank with a dozen unidentifiable odors, everyone wearing a uniform looked haggard and miserable, and the rest (they must be the criminals!) looked no different from the homeless on the street. She began to reconsider her decision to come here.

No one seemed the slightest bit interested in her, and she could not seem to find the right officer to speak with, despite asking in English and Spanish. She wandered through the precinct unnoticed and unmonitored. No one cared. Eventually she found herself standing in the doorway of what appeared to be a run-down gym. Two raggedy-looking men in leather and combat boots, their badges and guns hanging loosely from their clothing, lay sprawled on the incline benches, watching HGTV on an old cathode-ray TV hanging precariously from the ceiling near a window (through which she could discern the sort of illegal, jerry-rigged cable hookup common in her own neighborhood). Neither cop paid her any attention at all. She approached them with caution, for she noticed that despite their languor, each kept a hand near his pistol. She stopped when she was close enough to read their police IDs, one of which said Liesl, the other Turse. The clean-cut mug shots on their photo IDs looked nothing like the mangy cops who wore them. When she asked them, neither one of them even turned to look at her. Neither even blinked. Her uneasiness was growing, and that threatened her condition. She moved quietly back outside.

At last she was told with whom she should speak. She was directed to a tiny office at the far end of a room full of more scruffy-looking cops (didn’t anyone shave or get haircuts anymore?), several of whom were standing around the fattest, ugliest, most slovenly-looking man she had ever seen, who was talking loudly with his mouth full, freely spilling pieces of whatever he was eating down his shirtfront. He was the only one wearing a tie. She skirted him widely and knocked on the door of the tiny office behind him, to which was tacked a homemade business card that read:

Detective Sixto Santiago CAB Group One NYPD

Upon being bade entry, her anxiety abated somewhat. The policeman sitting behind the desk was a handsome, dark-skinned Latino (Peruvian?), with broad shoulders and large hands. He was clean-shaven and neatly dressed, with a freshly razored haircut. She hoped her José would grow into as fine-looking a specimen as this man someday. He gestured for her to sit, and addressed her in good clear Spanish.

Something was bothering him, she could tell. He seemed hemmed in by the towering piles of paper on his desk and the shelves behind him, but it was more than that. His blasé efficiency seemed carefully orchestrated, his disciplined demeanor (not once did he look up from his computer at her) put on. Miss Grace Yunqué discerned a heaviness of soul in the policeman, a weary resignation and cynicism so unfortunately common to young men today. It was the times they lived in, she wanted to tell him. Don’t let it bring you down. There’s hope, there’s always hope, she yearned to say. She longed to mother him, to hold his big callused hands and tell him everything would be all right.

This mood disintegrated the moment she mentioned the man who had directed her to this office. The policeman’s large hands froze in midair above his keyboard. The man’s eyes (oh, big brown eyes like her little niňo!) grabbed onto hers and held them in a fiery clutch. Slowly and deliberately, he put his hands on the desk and levered his massive upper body over them towards her (grande, mi calidad, she thought, a weight lifter for sure!) in a manner that was anything but friendly. She felt her pulse rising and sweat prickling her scalp. Bad signs for her condition. She tried to affect a nonchalance she did not feel.

“él pareció no diferente que los demás, como estos en el gimnasio,” she said meekly, withering under the detective’s pitiless glare. Her voice was weakening, her knees trembled. She was well into the danger zone now, she knew, but there was nowhere to hide.

“Describe him,” growled the cop, who now seemed to her less hero, more thug. She pressed her legs together and flexed her toes, trying desperately to keep her mind off her condition.

“He looked like a bum,” she managed, “or an NYU student. He said you were definitely the man I should see.”

The clash of expressions now fighting for control of the detective’s face was frightening to her. His jaws clenched, he bared his teeth, and snorted loudly through his nostrils like an enraged bull. He terrified her. And this triggered her condition.

Miss Grace Yunqué suffered from Psychogenic Urination Disorder, or PUD (“Don’t worry, Grace,” Dr. Lazar had assured his jittery patient, “Together, you and me, we’ll beat this thing!”). In her particular case, sudden stress caused her to urinate, copiously. Which she now did, in a darkening downpour from her stockings into her shoes, and thence outward in a spreading puddle on the office floor. The harder she tried to constrict the flow, the greater it became, and adding to her degradation, the asparagus omelette she’d made for herself earlier now betrayed her, filling the room with a brute-force putrescence.

As unnerved as she was, she was appalled by the bizarre nature of what the big detective did next: drawing himself to his full six-and-change height, he cocked his arms, his biceps straining the sleeves of his jacket, balled his hands into huge hard fists and screamed, “MORE!!!”

 

Adam Dunn Q&A

  • Your series has been described as ‘tech-noir.’ What does this genre entail?

This was an invention of one of my early blurbers for ROG. I don’t know if this is an extant category or not. If I had to guess I’d say this was some subset of genre fiction (i.e., “mystery”, “thriller” etc.) featuring content of darker and more gritty variety, wherein contemporary technology merely augments age-old dilemmas of why humans keep finding themselves in the situations they do, and why they keep making the same mistakes they do while trying to get out of them. George Alec Effinger, Philip K. Dick and William Gibson exemplified this and were branded “cyber-punk” for their efforts. Genre is in the eye of the reviewer.

  • What inspired you to write this series?

I married in 2006, and wanted to get some books of my own out into the market following nearly a decade of writing articles on a freelance basis. I’d just had a four-part news series on the taxi industry published by Cobrapost.com, and was considering turning it into a nonfiction book. At the same time, I had an idea for a police procedural featuring a cop in a cab. By this time, I was also writing a blog called The Bunny Papers satirizing the confluence of political and financial bungling that characterized the ’07 real estate crash. When this snowballed into the stock market crash of ’08, I knew I had not just one novel, but a whole series borne of the chaos of those dark days. I knew there would be others who would write nonfiction accounts of the period, and they’d do it better than I could.

  • What research or personal experience allowed you to write so precisely about the New York cab industry?

To do this, I spent a lot of time with garage owners, mini-fleet owners, shop foremen, union reps, medallion loan brokers, top TLC officials, and, of course, cab drivers.

  • There is a shocking degree of excess and debauchery in the New York City streets you created. Is this where we are today—or where we’re headed?

If you think this is shocking you should have seen it in the ‘80s, which were every bit as bad as the ‘70s, just more colorful. My view of things to come, while admittedly dire, derives entirely from current situations, as well as extrapolations of current political, economic, and social trends to what I believe are very plausible, very attainable degrees.

  • What was the inspiration behind the Renny’s character?

In the ‘90s I watched several generations of young men make appalling decisions, about money, about work, about politics and people. They were absolutely convinced they were right, until they weren’t. Renny is for them.

  • What was the inspiration behind Santiago’s character?

Santiago was my original cop in the cab, but at that point he had little form or depth. It was only once the crash and More were fully realized that Santiago took shape as a voice of reason in a time of chaos, and an example of how to thrive in an age of decay. A survivor.

  • There isn’t a clear hero in the story, so who would you consider the ‘hero’?

I leave that to readers to decide. Some have told me that Santiago is a hero, while More is an antihero. Others vote for McKeutchen. Some have even said that NYC itself is the hero, for surviving such a fate as I created for it.

  • Do your characters—particularly Renny—get what they deserve?

They would argue lethally about “deserve”. No one gets entirely what they want, in my books.

  • Is Renny supposed to come across as a misogynist or does he push women like N and La away so they won’t get hurt?

Renny is played and betrayed by the women in his life. He doesn’t push them away—he thinks he’s in control, even as he’s clearly losing it. Such is the privilege of youth.

  • In your writing there is a beautiful, dizzying use of acronyms and technical jargon. What do you value more: plot or presentation?

One cannot exist without the other, not in this form and length.

  • The books seem to cautionary tales of where society might be headed. What feelings do you want readers to walk away with after reading the book?

Don’t be impulsive, reactionary, or thin-skinned. Beware the hidden dynamic of orthodoxy belying any movement trumpeting individuality, rights, special needs or interests. This is an old power game, a long con. Hone your skills, play to your strengths. Vote with your head before your heart, and if you can’t do that, stick with your feet, they may well be your last best resort.

  • If you could change anything about this series, what would it be?

Nothing. Just wish I’d been able to start it sooner.

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ADAM DUNN is the author of the novels Rivers of Gold, The Big Dogs, and Saint Underground, the forthcoming novel The Unfathomable Deep, and co-writer (with Eric Anderson) of the forthcoming novel Osiris. He spent years as a freelance writer cultivating an extensive series of networks among the military, intelligence, law enforcement, and financial communities. His byline has appeared in 18 publications in four countries. Some of those include: CNN and BBC News (online); Inc., Paper, SOMA, and Publishers Weekly magazines (glossy); and the San Francisco Chronicle and South China Morning Post (newsprint). He and his family have left New York City.

For more information, visit: http://www.dunnbooks.com/

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