My second novel, THE NEXT ONE TO FALL, is being released on Valentine’s Day — an ironic date, given that the book is anything but romantic. At the center of the story is a man who grew up in a wealthy, powerful family; his wives and girlfriends have a tendency to die or disappear in exotic places.
While I was writing the book, I occasionally wondered if people would think that idea too far-fetched. But at the same time, I was keenly aware of stories about women who’d been killed — or who had vanished — while traveling. There were three women in particular whose cases resonated with me, and I ended up mentioning them in the book.
One is Julie Ward, a wildlife photographer who was murdered in Kenya in 1988. The authorities, not wanting to disrupt their tourist trade, tried to pretend her death was a suicide, as if Ward had decided to hack herself apart with a machete. When that explanation was shown to be patently false, the authorities then blamed her death on wild animals. To this day, no one has been convicted of the crime, even though private investigators and Ward’s family have built a substantial case against a Kenyan man. Ward’s death was a terrible reminder that, in parts of the world that are dependent on their tourist trade, the desire to maintain the status quo can outweigh the desire for justice.