FROM COURTROOM TO BESTSELLER LIST - T.L. BEQUETTE'S JOURNEY IN THE WORLD OF LITERARY MYSTERY: DEMODE
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN DE MODE SEPTEMBER 2023 (VOL. 1) (VOLUME VI, ISSUE XXXIII)
Article Published on: 14th SEP 2023 | www.demodemagazine.com
A criminal defense attorney from California, Bequette’s journey sputtered at first, with a hodgepodge of random characters and disorganized plots that borrowed heavily from his experiences in trial. Mysteries readers everywhere are glad he stuck with it.
Bequette’s debut novel, Good Lookin, A Joe Turner Mystery won the 2022 Independent Press Award for Crime Fiction and the Chanticleer International Book Award for Mysteries. Kirkus Reviews called the book “a rigorous, thoroughly engrossing mystery from a writer with immense potential.”
Blood Perfect, second in the Joe Turner series, was hailed by Chanticleer Reviews as “a tale that solidifies Turner as a charmingly reliable champion of the innocent.”
The writer’s most recent book in the series, A Long Time Dead, is his most critically acclaimed. San Francisco Book Reviews praised the book for having "all the elements of a best-selling psychological thriller." Kirkus Reviews lauded, "Bequette's prose is reliably crisp and descriptive, and lots of intrigue and suspense are embedded in a thrillingly serpentine story."
For T.L. Bequette, the journey from the hallowed halls of the courtroom to the thrilling world of literary mysteries has been nothing short of meteoric. With 25 years of experience as a criminal defence attorney in California, Bequette initially had just an inkling that he could tell a captivating story. His path in the literary realm had a shaky start, marked by a mishmash of random characters and disorganized plots that drew heavily from his extensive courtroom experiences. However, mystery readers around the world are grateful that he persevered.
Bequette burst onto the literary scene with his debut novel, "Good Lookin, A Joe Turner Mystery," which not only won the 2022 Independent Press Award for Crime Fiction but also claimed the Chanticleer International Book Award for Mysteries. Kirkus Reviews showered praise on the book, describing it as "a rigorous, thoroughly engrossing mystery from a writer with immense potential."
The sequel, "Blood Perfect," further solidified Joe Turner's position as a charming and dependable champion of the innocent, earning acclaim from Chanticleer Reviews.
Bequette's most recent addition to the Joe Turner series, "A Long Time Dead," has received the highest critical acclaim. San Francisco Book Reviews commended the book for containing "all the elements of a best-selling psychological thriller," and Kirkus Reviews lauded Bequette's prose as "reliably crisp and descriptive," highlighting the thrilling and serpentine story's embedded intrigue and suspense.
Drawing on a quarter-century of legal practice, Bequette has amassed a treasure trove of tales that he often finds stranger than fiction. While his plots and courtroom drama aren't direct copies of real cases, they are heavily inspired by his courtroom experiences, infusing his writing with authenticity. Bequette's writing style leans towards noir, but it's peppered with hilarious dialogue that lightens the mood, making for an engaging reading experience. His stories are renowned for their unexpected twists, which keep even seasoned mystery readers guessing.
Fans of Joe Turner can rest assured that more tales featuring the affable protagonist are on the horizon, with at least two more Joe Turner mysteries in the works. Additionally, Bequette is exploring the realm of literary fiction in his current writing endeavors.
Despite his literary success, Bequette remains a practicing attorney, primarily focused on defending young men from Oakland accused of murder and other violent crimes. He holds degrees from The University of the Pacific and Georgetown Law School and dedicates his expertise to the Stanford Law School Trial Advocacy Clinic. However, he takes the most pride in crafting enjoyable mysteries.
While Bequette earned the prestigious National Indie Book Award in 2022, he measures his success on a less quantifiable scale. As he aptly puts it, "Once in a while, I enjoy reading a book so much that I'm disappointed to finish it. That may be too high of a bar, but that's my hope for my books." With his track record, it's safe to say that he's setting the bar high for literary mystery enthusiasts everywhere.
As a testament to his dedication and versatility, Bequette's transition from the courtroom to literary stardom has been inspiring. His ability to draw from real-life experiences and infuse them with a unique blend of noir and humor has resonated with readers. Moreover, his commitment to continuing the Joe Turner series while exploring new literary avenues showcases his passion for storytelling.
In a world where legal thrillers and mysteries are often defined by their authenticity, Bequette's unique background as an attorney adds an extra layer of credibility to his works. Readers can trust that the legal intricacies and courtroom drama in his novels are not just fictional constructs but are grounded in his firsthand knowledge.
Beyond the accolades and awards, Bequette's impact on the literary landscape is best measured by the joy he brings to his readers. His hope that his books provide the kind of reading experience that leaves readers longing for more speaks to his genuine love for storytelling and his desire to craft narratives that resonate deeply.
As T.L. Bequette continues to weave captivating mysteries and venture into the world of literary fiction, fans and newcomers alike can anticipate an exciting journey through the pages of his future works. His ability to combine the real and the imagined in a seamless narrative is a testament to his storytelling prowess, and it's a journey well worth embarking on for any avid reader.
A Long Time Dead best-selling psychological thriller San Francisco - Book Reviews
Blood Perfect - "An enjoyable legal thriller bolstered by a charmingly reliable champion of the innocent." - Kirkus
JOE TURNER MYSTERY SERIES
BOOK 1 - GOOD LOOKIN
From the gang-ravaged streets of inner-city Oakland to the rolling hills of Berkeley, California, attorney Joe Turner defends the most hardened criminals. Confronted with an unlikely murderer in a modern-day whodunnit, Turner's latest case seems impossible to unravel. At its heart is a decade-old murder and a tangled web of family, loyalty, and devotion that has the trial hanging in the balance. Viewed through the prism of the unique bond of twins, Good Lookin' asks how far each of us will go to protect the ones we love.
BOOK 2 - BLOOD PERFECT
A young Joe Turner returns to defend Allston Walker, a man charged with the bloody attempted murder of a racist caretaker in this gripping courtroom thriller. Images of the vicious crime have Joe flashing back to a life-altering crime he witnessed as a child while he hurdles headlong into a steamy romance. In the tension-filled trial, the victim, a transplanted Southerner, charms the jury and remains steadfast in his identification of Walker. Snarky Joe and his investigator, an aging hippie who speaks in movie lines, wrangle with slippery police officers and an obnoxious, preening prosecutor.
BOOK 3 - A LONG TIME DEAD
The award-winning Joe Turner Mysteries returns with a haunting, serpentine tale that pushes the snarky defense attorney to the brink.
A decade ago, it had been unthinkable when Joe’s lifelong friend, Owen Prescott, was charged with a grisly murder. Prescott had been reveling in the success of his runaway bestseller. But with the trappings of fame came one persistent stalker, Desiree Richins, who collected Owen’s discarded notebooks, napkins, and name tags.
Meanwhile, Prescott’s old college professor, a depressed alcoholic, filed a lawsuit against Owen for plagiarism claiming he had co-authored the novelist’s best-seller. When the professor was impaled with a literary trophy and Owen’s DNA was found at the scene, he became the prime suspect.
Then suddenly, Owen disappeared, leaving behind a brilliant career and budding romance to live as a fugitive from justice. Now, haunted by the memory and still clinging to a belief in Owen’s innocence, Joe Turner dives in to solve the cold case.
A captivating backstory illustrates the writer’s longstanding, tumultuous relationship with his domineering father where trauma and shame mark Owen’s memory of his childhood. In the present, his father attempts to preserve the family name after Prescott has been charged with murder by encouraging his son’s flight from justice.
With the FBI bearing down on him, the suspense coalesces into one big hunt for justice as Prescott attempts to evade his pursuers and a surprise psychotic killer emerges in an ending few readers will predict.
T.L. Bequette has penned another riveting thriller that rewards the reader with a signature twist at the finale.
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH T.L. BEQUETTE
Q: Your "A Joe Turner Mystery" series has garnered numerous awards, including the 2022 Independent Press Award for Crime Fiction. How did you feel when your debut novel, "Good Lookin'," received such recognition?
A. The awards have been surreal. I suppose in my heart, I knew I could write a little, but the critical acclaim has been beyond what I’d hoped for. That said, I know I’ll always have room for improvement as an author.
Q: "Good Lookin'" explores the intricate dynamics of street culture and the unique bond of twins. Could you share more about your inspiration for delving into these themes within a crime fiction context?
A. I am the father of twin boys, and I’ve always been fascinated with my sons’ unique shared bond. Of course, being teenagers, they would aggressively dispute that I know anything about the topic.
Q: "Blood Perfect," the second book in the series, was praised for its blend of courtroom drama and detective work. Could you tell us about your experience transitioning from being a criminal defence attorney to weaving legal elements into your storytelling?
A. A challenging aspect for me is knowing how far in the weeds I get with the courtroom strategy. Correctly, my editor is fond of excising legal strategy that doesn’t advance the plot. But I think there is a crossover between writing a mystery and trying a case in court. In particular, closing arguments are akin to telling a story to the jury.
Q: "A Long Time Dead" is set in the world of literary publishing, a departure from the street-centered themes of the first two books. What motivated you to venture into this new setting, and how did it challenge your writing approach?
A. Write what you know, I suppose. I was a criminal defense attorney and now I’m a writer. I often dream of holing up somewhere like the Cotswolds and writing all day with no distractions, so writing about it was quite fun.
Q: "A Long Time Dead" takes a departure from street-centered themes and is set in the world of literary publishing. How did you approach researching and capturing the nuances of this new environment for the third book of your series?
A. Most of the book is set in England. Although somewhat of an Anglophile, the research was more extensive than I had initially imagined. A good friend who is a Brit helped immensely with some slang terms. I learned a lot throughout this and every writing process.
Q: Congratulations on the recent publication of "A Long Time Dead"! How does it feel to have the third book of your series out in the world?
A. Thank you so much. Having the third in the series out there is very satisfying. I’m very fortunate to have had success, but I don’t think of finishing books as the goal. For me, I just love to write, so it’s all about the process.
Q: The mystery genre often requires intricate plotting. Could you give us a glimpse into your process of weaving together the puzzle pieces in "A Long Time Dead" to create a well-structured murder mystery that keeps readers engaged?
A. Sure. I start out with an outline of a well-defined plot. Inevitably though, things change as I write it. It’s fun to think of a twist in the middle of writing the story or adding a fun character. That’s the beauty of writing fiction, I suppose. Anything can happen.
Q: As a criminal defence attorney, your work intersects with the themes you explore in your novels. How do your real-world experiences shape your understanding of the justice system and influence your writing?
A. Certainly, I couldn’t write mysteries without my experience as a trial attorney. Many of my story ideas are taken from actual cases. Even now, something will happen in court that I know simply must make its way into a story. Hopefully, my experience lends some authenticity to my tales.
Q: Joe Turner, the protagonist in your series, is praised as a charming and reliable champion of the innocent. How do you balance his professional and personal development throughout the series?
A. Good question. I try to have Joe grow as a person over each story arc and also over the course of the series. My second book featured a young Joe, so it was fun to experiment with his immaturity. He drank more than he does now and made some questionable decisions with matters of the heart.
Q: The city of Oakland features prominently in your books. How does this setting contribute to the atmosphere and themes of your stories?
A. Oakland is such a diverse city and its problems have been well-documented. Practicing criminal defence there is truly the front line. I have a lot of compassion for the young men and women I defend in court, and hopefully, that comes across in my writing.
Q: Your background includes degrees from The University of the Pacific and Georgetown Law School. How have your educational experiences influenced your writing style and approach?
A. I learned to write creatively in college. That creativity was promptly squashed in law school. Legal writing requires citations, after all. Without my experience as an attorney, however, I surely wouldn’t have as much material for my writing. I’m grateful for my education at both Pacific and Georgetown.
Q: Serving on the faculty of the Stanford Law School Trial Advocacy Clinic must be an enriching experience. How has teaching aspiring lawyers impacted your perspective on storytelling and the criminal justice system?
A. The students at Stanford are brilliant, and I definitely learn more from them than the other way around. A criminal defense practice can be somewhat of a grind and the students also provide vivid examples of young, aspiring attorneys. Their enthusiasm impacts my writing and energizes me.
Q: Much of your law practice focuses on defending young men from Oakland accused of murder. How do you navigate the emotional and ethical challenges of incorporating these real-life experiences into your fiction?
A. None of my stories are recognizable as actual cases. The beauty of fiction is I can take the most interesting pieces of different cases to craft one mystery. The same goes for the characters. They’re usually comprised of traits of various people I’ve met over the years. Sometimes my friends try to guess which ones, but I’ll never tell.
Q: Balancing a law career, writing, and teaching seems demanding. Could you share your strategies for maintaining productivity and creativity in your various pursuits?
A. I would say that all my endeavors are complimentary. My experience in the courtroom and helping at Stanford influence the content of my writing, and the creative outlet of writing keeps me sane. No matter how busy, I’ll always find time to write.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to create crime fiction that's both compelling and thought-provoking, drawing from your unique blend of legal and creative expertise?
A. First and foremost, write because you love it. Many writers are more talented than I haven’t been lucky enough to be published. But if writing is your passion, keep at it. Also, writing formulas is all the rage—plot points, story arcs, pinch points and all that. Forget those. Find your own voice and start writing.
CONNECT & FOLLOW AUTHOR T.L. BEQUETTE
OFFICIAL WEBSITE - www.TLBequetteAuthor.com