The Compleat Kepler: Might Just Take Your Life

cover-smallerMight Just Take Your Life

This title immediately suggested a sequel to “A Walk in the Rain,” where the consequences of Nick’s actions come back to haunt him. In the original, Nick’s friend Angie kills Joe Kopinsky, her abusive ex, after getting his gun away from him. Rather than face a grilling by the prosecutor, she convinces Nick to make Joe disappear. Nick does so and admits that, had Angie not killed him, he would have.

But did Joe have family? Wouldn’t someone miss him? Someone does, and he decides to avenge his brother’s death. There’s a whole section of Medina County where Nick (as well as yours truly) grew up that, at least in the early 2000’s, was still mostly farmland. And this was the perfect place for Joe Kopinsky’s brother to employ some painful persuasion techniques on Nick. He wants Angie. He’s convinced Angie killed Joe, but Angie’s good at keeping a low profile. She only emerges in public places when she’s in Cleveland and stays out of sight the rest of the time.

I had to walk a fine line with this one, which was written for the old Hardluck Stories ezine. I didn’t want it to become torture porn. Fortunately, Andy Kopinsky had many of the same problems his late brother Joe had. It gave Nick the leverage to manipulate him into getting careless.

Originally, when I had the entire series mapped out, I planned for the final Kepler novel to bring Nick full circle. His final case would be a direct result of “A Walk in the Rain,” complete with an ambiguous ending of a wounded Nick cradled by Jackie Bouchaine (Northcoast Shakedown, Second Hand Goods) and saying, “I got him.” Fade to black. Did he die?

Did Jimmy in Quadrophenia? Only the reader would know for sure.