Monday, August 3, 2009

Blog Tour ~ Fear the Worst by Linwood Barclay

Fear the Worst hits bookstores on August 11th, and many readers are already calling it the best of my thrillers so far. Fast-moving, loads of suspense, a real page-turner. But something no one seems to have zeroed in on is the thing that makes this thriller very different.

The hero is a car salesman.

In most thrillers, our protagonist is, to varying degrees, familiar with crime and those who practice it. Maybe he or she's a spy, or ex-military. A cop or a private detective. An FBI agent. A profiler, maybe.

But the hero is not, generally, someone who sells Honda Accords.

People who sell Hondas are not typically acquainted with the bad guy element. (I'd like to go out on a limb here and say this is also true of people who sell Fords, Toyotas, Nissans, and most other makes.) Tim Blake, who tells the story and sells Hondas for a living, has had his share of troubles over the years, but none that brought him face to

face with fraud artists, human traffickers and killers. But when his daughter Sydney goes missing, he finds himself getting introduced to a whole new class of people.

When I was thinking about what the hero in this book would do for a living, I knew I didn't want it to be police work. I had no interest in having him work for a secret government agency. I didn't want him to be a reporter. (That's my next book.) I wanted him to have a normal, everyday job. And that's when "car salesman" popped into my head.

Let's face it, car salesmen get kind of a bad rap. And that's too bad.

I have a couple of good friends who have sold cars their entire working lives. I've bought cars from them, and I've been happy with the deals they gave me. And they both helped me with this book.

But our relationship with car salesmen (and saleswomen) tends to be somewhat adversarial. We want to get the car for as little as possible. They want to make the deal, getting as much profit as possible. We need wheels and they need the commission. We say we can't spend that much, they say they can't do it for that. Finally, they say, "Let me talk to my manager and see what we can do."

That, we figure, is when they wander out back of the dealership and have a smoke.

Anyway, once I'd made up my mind what Tim was going to do for a living, I invited my retired car salesmen friends Carl and Mike out for lunch and asked them to tell me their best stories. Like the one where the guy took a pickup truck for a test drive and used it to deliver manure. (That story finds its way into Fear the Worst.) Or that other test-drive when a new Toyota Celica ended up sitting atop a

fireplug, and the prospective buyer was nowhere to be found. They had great tales, and what came out was that they'd really enjoyed their careers. Why? "Because of the people," they both said.

I like writing about people -- regular people. I like writing about what happens to ordinary folks when extraordinary things happen to them. Tim Blake is a regular guy about to be plunged into a parent's worst nightmare. Nothing in his life has prepared him for what's about to happen.

I like that.

As this blog is posted, I’ll just be getting back from promoting Fear the Worst in New Zealand, having already spent a few days in Hong Kong and two weeks in Australia. Everyone down there is pumped about Fear the Worst, and I'm hoping North American readers will feel the same way.

I've read an ARC of this book, and I must say ~ it's definitely one of his best!


Kristie said...

I can't wait to read this one! I am trying to patiently wait for it from my library...

Melsy626 said...

Reading this one now.....LOVING it!!!!

Heidi V said...

I'm going to keep my eye open for this one it sounds like my kind of book!

Cheryl said...

That's good to know Melsy. I've got this one in my pile too. I don't know what your pile looks like, but mine is about to fall on the floor and 13 new books came in while we were on vacation.

Thanks for hosting Linwood today, Lori!