I began my fifth novel as a project in which I would write the final installment in John D. MacDonald's series about Travis McGee, the one in which he used different colors as the theme for each book. After MacDonald's death, I thought I could write the final novel, the one MacDonald never got around to writing. I tried to copy the MacDonald style, use some of the characters from others in the series, and bring the whole thing to a conclusion. I pored over all the books in the series, some 21 in all, learning everything I could about McGee, about the way he thought and acted. I assumed that once I got it done, I'd be able to convince MacDonald's publisher and the MacDonald family that I had written a worthy tribute to the author and his character. Wrong. It seems that a number of people had offered to do the same, including Stephen King, who was similarly turned down. I learned all this after I was finished. Then I went back and switched the point of view from first person to third, created a new character with a new background, and came up with a stand-alone novel called The Black Widow. I think it stands well alone. Here's a plot synopsis:
Colt Frazier, a Phoenix ex-cop, now a private investigator, is hired by Sarah Wilson, a black woman, to find the person who killed her husband. She and her husband were being extorted for a million dollars from someone who called them, threatening that if they didn’t wire the money to a Swiss account within twenty-four hours, someone dear to them would die. They didn’t take the threat seriously and the husband was shot from long range and killed.
Frazier and the woman track leads around the country, from Chicago to Louisville and finally to Las Vegas, where they find the killer and are nearly killed themselves. The plot ends in Omaha, Nebraska, in a final confrontation with the psychopathic extortionist involving Frazier and Sarah Wilson, Frazier’s daughter and her husband, and a charming dog named Big Red
This too is available free as an e-book from Lulu.com, or from Amazon or Barnes and Noble in paper.