Thursday, March 01, 2012

Live From Sleuth Fest

John here. This week, I’m at Sleuth Fest in Orlando. (Tough assignment, I know. I’ve heard it for the past five days from my wife, whom I left home with three kids.) But it is a business trip: I’m speaking on a panel titled “Choosing Your Sub-Genre: How to choose the best genre for the story you want to tell.”

The panel is made up of Heather Graham, Brendan DuBois, Charles Todd, and me, with Jerry Healy moderating. Should be fun.

Each of us was asked to prepare a brief introduction to be read before the Q@A. Below is mine.

Why Golf?

This is the question I’m asked whenever I discuss one of my first five books, all of which feature Jack Austin, a struggling PGA Tour player.

The answer: Metaphor.

Raymond Chandler wrote in his famous 1944 essay “The Simple Art of Murder,” “The detective must be a complete man and yet an unusual man…”

During the second stage of the 2008 PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament, my friend and veteran Tour player J.P. Hayes inadvertently violated a rule by using a prototype ball not yet approved.

He made this discovery after his round, completely alone, in his hotel room. He had played well enough to put himself in position to secure his playing status for another season. Married, with a family to support, he picked up the phone and called tournament officials, knowing full well the penalty: disqualification, forfeiture of his Tour card, the loss of his job.

When asked about it by ESPN, he said, “Everybody out here would’ve done the same thing.”

I'm not sure about that. But as a golfer, a fan of the sport, and a mystery reader, I want to believe it. “It’s a way to live. The rest is just confusion,” wrote Robert B. Parker in “Ceremony.”

I’m not sure every other PGA Tour player would have done what J.P. Hayes did. But I do know that my sleuth Jack Austin would have.

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