The road to the White House is paved with seduction.
Walter Forbes is a 21st century P.I./Information Security Specialist trying to do the right thing in an ethically challenged business and world.
But what is the 'appropriate action' to take when a client pulls the plug on a lucrative, long-term contract (a potentially career-ending blow) but then makes you another offer--work for a political candidate whose party allegiance and ethics are questionable at best?
That's just one dilemma private investigator and security wizard Walter Forbes and his astute and taciturn no-nonsense assistant, Jane Greer, face as they hit the campaign trail with Washington State Senator Guy Morton. Their job: Make sure he doesn't do something stupid, or if he does, make sure it doesn't instantly go viral on the web. But when a seemingly innocent contestant for the "Miss Pink Lady" crown at a Washington State harvest festival offers the senator a token of her appreciation, Walter and Jane sense big trouble.
Technology should make keeping tabs on the senator easy. Walter and Jane can listen in to private conversations, virtually observe clandestine rendezvous, track the senator's every move. But can those who unquestioningly worship the false god of technology hope to decode the enigma of human desire?
"Take a solid mystery with an engaging detective protagonist, add timely complexity with a political plot, heat it up with a sexy suspect, put a cherry on top with a bit of Hitchcockian fun, and you've got The Catalonian Candidate."-- Cindy Brown, author of the Ivy Meadows Mysteries
"An innocuous campaign stop turns into something far more when Senator Morton witnesses a dance scene at a community festival that you'll have to read to believe."-- Stephen Campbell, author of Four Seasons of Reno Hart
"Walter Forbes and his partner Jane Greer (Jane Greer…) are hired to do tech security for Senator Guy Morton. But what began as '…a routine information security assignment had placed Forbes on the front lines of the War on Terror'…….or had it? Trojan horses abound. People are not what or who they seem to be. In fact, 'Forbes, Morton, and agent Butterfield looked at the same people in the same room, but what they saw couldn’t differ more.' And the characters are plunged into a slam-bang sortie of the Realpolitik of today’s political scene before the story circles back on itself to the beginning…Enjoyable. Timely. And a hell of a lot of fun." -- Shamus Award Winning Author Paul D. Marks
Scroll down for The Catalonian Candidate extras.
Essay: The Mystery of Why We Write
In "The Personality Myth" episode of the podcast Invisibilia, a neuroscientist grasps at the belief that there might be some early childhood memories that we cannot corrupt through recall because we cannot remember them.
He doesn't have any proof of this. All of his proof says that everything about us changes (including our memories). What we think of as our personality is constantly changing.
Do you remember when you wrote your first story?
Do you remember why you wrote it?
I don't remember.
But, in following the clues, I've compiled some compelling evidence.
My mother loved musical theater. I have the vaguest sort of don't-remember-anything-about-it-except-what-my-mother-told-me-later memory of her taking my brother and me downtown to see the first national touring production of Camelot.
Essays: Suspense and Surprise and a Word About Weiner
Years before I saw my first Hitchcock film (The Birds on TV) I knew Alfred Hitchcock as a sort of mischievous uncle who would visit me each week and tell me a funny politically incorrect story.
Alfred Hitchcock Presents and later The Alfred Hitchcock Hour came on at bedtime, so my brother and I never got to watch it. But Mom would let us watch the intro. It was all quite tongue-in-cheek before we knew what that tongue-in-cheek was. Hitchcock's shadow would step into his signature caricature to a cartoonish macabre version of Charles Gounod's "The Funeral March of the Marionette."
He came off as a very polite, proper English gentleman who never took himself too seriously.
I'm not sure where Alfred Hitchcock first explained the difference between suspense and surprise, but I first heard it in a 1973 documentary TV series called The Men Who Made the Movies.
He referred to the storytelling technique in terms of "pictures" because that was his medium, but it's useful in any form of storytelling.
"There is a distinct difference between 'suspense' and 'surprise,' and yet many pictures continually confuse the two. I'll explain what I mean.
Essays: Criminal Desire, and Us and Them
One of the main characters in Candidate gets his name from Alfred Hitchcock's film version of Patricia Highsmith's Strangers on a Train. Since the central conflict revolves around the desire for power and how desire can rob you of power, it's time to recommend Patricia Highsmith's second novel, The Price of Salt, and the superb film adaptation which took much longer to make it to the screen. It's all about desire and power, too.
The following (lightly edited) quotes from interviews with the Oscar-nominated screenwriter Phyllis Nagy, and the film's director Todd Haynes shed some light on how Carol relates to Patricia Highsmith's other works.
Essay The Handshake
"As I approached my fiftieth birthday, I had become more and more enraged and mystified by the idiot decisions made by my countrymen. And then I had come suddenly to pity them, for I understood how innocent and natural it was for them to behave so abominably, and with such abominable results: They were doing their best to live like people invented in story books. This was the reason Americans shot each other so often: It was a convenient literary device for ending short stories and books." – Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions
Last fall, I talked with Cindy Brown before the release of her second Ivy Meadows Mystery The Sound of Murder. She asked what I was working on. I was torn between editing a mindfulness text and The Catalonian Candidate. We talked about the conflict between what we wanted to write and what we could write that might be more "commercial."
I'd recently stopped reading a best-selling thriller with a plot that depended on ever more grotesque and twisted scenes of inhuman violence. Whatever ingenious denouement the author could come up with, it wasn't worth the depravity to get there. I'd read another conventional mystery, which, though well structured, featured a graphic Vietnam conflict atrocity against a young girl. That story resolved with an unexpected twist, but was it really worth it?
Essay: Other Influences
This is where I recklessly speculate about what happened to some of the characters in the story after we bid our farewell. You're free to choose your own future adventure for them, but this is all for fun, so...
It gives me a chance to share my favorite ironic use of a song: one sung by Frank Sinatra.
There's a delightful little dance to a number by The Gipsy Kings to a tune that I used to set the mood each day while writing.
Plus, we'll take a look of some scenes from movies and opera that I revisited while shaping the story.
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