Local author Jim Courter introduces his first novel
MACOMB — A local author is taking a stab at the traditional detective story, but with a twist.
Local author Jim Courter will be doing two book-signings for his new book, ‘Rhymes With Fool’, at New Copperfield’s Book Service this Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 2:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
Courter said he wanted to do something a little different with the genre: replace the male, urban, former-cop-turned-private-eye with an investigative journalist.
“The prototype protagonist is a cynical and hardened former cop, proficient with fists and guns and eager to use them, a heavy drinker, a macho man and a womanizer, practically a law unto himself,” he wrote in an interview submitted to the Voice. “In ‘Rhymes with Fool’ I wanted to depart from that.” Protagonist Barry Pool is more familiar with wordsmithing than weapons, and struggles more with his worldview and scruples than the traditional “tough guy.”
“I just wanted to do something that felt fresh to me in terms of the genre tradition,” he said in a separate interview of his reasons for choosing a journalist as his main character.
The story for the novel was inspired by a real-life shooting spree that took place in Illinois a few years ago. A man influenced by a neo-Nazi leader targeted his victims by race, killing several. The spree took place over several days and three Midwestern states.
He believes readers will connect with his book because it reflects certain current realities.
“I wrote Rhymes With Fool before this latest wave of killings of young black males by police in the U.S.A.,” he wrote. “These tragic real-life incidents make parts of ‘Rhymes With Fool’ read like they’re taken from newspaper headlines, although when I wrote it I had no way of knowing how closely it would mirror the news.”
The story centers on a politician whose ambitions for U.S. Senate are threatened by problems with his son, who may have gone to a neo-Nazi compound to join relatives in Wisconsin. Meanwhile, a shooting of a young black man in Milwaukee by police prompts protests there by well-known black leaders from around the country. Enter Barry Pool, who has just switched careers from investigative journalism to private investigations.
Courter said that as an instructor emeritus at Western Illinois University he taught freshman composition, the foundational writing course for incoming students. He said his job allowed him plenty of time to write without being under the pressure of a deadline to write academically.
His work to date includes short stories, and essays which have been published in the op-ed pages of the Chicago Tribune and The Wall Street Journal, Smithsonian, Byline and The Chronicle of Higher Education. ‘Rhymes With Fool’ is his first novel.
He believes the book will appeal to people who enjoy character-driven detective mystery fiction and those who are interested in racial issues, criminal justice and politics.
“My hope is that it entertains and at the same time stakes a claim to being a work of literature about crime as opposed to a mere genre piece,” he said.
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