A Legal Thriller to Die For

James Scott Bell

Last week I explained why my next book will bear a pseudonym. It’s really about brand distinction. Man, is it about brand distinction! Here’s why:

About a year and a half ago my agent, Donald Maass, and I are discussing ideas, and I say, “The whole zombie thing is hot now, but it’s all the same, zombies as slobbering, mindless monsters. What if the zombie was the hero? In fact, what if it was a lawyer practicing law in L.A.?”
Don laughed. I went with it. “I mean, how can you tell the difference between zombies and defense attorneys anyway? Most people think there IS no difference. And what if this lawyer specialized in defending outcasts like vampires, who never get a break?”
Don told me to write up a proposal. As with all my ideas for fiction, I had to see if I could get into the characters and the heart of the story. I can’t just write to a market. I know some can. But even with short stories, I have to connect to the material in some essential and emotional way.
So I started doing my pre-writing. I knew I wanted to write in the hard boiled tradition I love. I wanted it to be an actual legal thriller, where I would use my experiences in court (with a paranormal twist. Let me tell you, I’ve been in front of a few judges who I thought came from other planets). I wanted a first person narrator, and then I decided I wanted it to be a woman with a strong voice and attitude and wit.
All that started to emerge. Finally, I came up this concept:
In L.A., practicing law can be hell. Especially if you’re dead.
In an increasingly hellacious L.A., zombie lawyer Mallory Caine defends a vampire hooker accused of the crime Mallory herself committed, even as a zombie-killer closes in and the love of her former life comes back as the Deputy DA she must oppose. And as Lucifer himself begins setting up L.A. as his headquarters for a new attack on heaven and earth, Mallory slowly discovers she may be the one who has to stop him.
Well, doggone if Don didn’t go out and sell it to Kensington, in a deal that was everything I hoped it would be. I wanted the books to come out in mass market, with great cover art and the know-how of a terrific company behind it. I also wanted it priced right for you, the reader, both print and e-book.
It is all these things.
And as far as I know, this is the first zombie legal thriller series on the market. It’s not everyday you get to start a genre. Which, to my mind, makes it imperative that you jump on the bandwagon while it’s hot!
And so here it is, the first in the Mallory Caine, Zombie-at-Law series, PAY ME IN FLESH by the mysterious yet roguishly handsome K. Bennett.
Find it at your local bookstore or online. Official pub date is on Tuesday . . . just in time to deal with the debt ceiling blues!
You can also check with:
K. Bennett has a dedicated website that will post things from time to time. But right now, it’s all about the launch.
So there is really nothing left to say but Bon Appetit!

50 thoughts on “A Legal Thriller to Die For

  1. Oh. My. God. Speechless! Sort of. I want to read this! Put me in touch with Kensington; I want to review this! (I’m an Amazon Top reviewer). It will be my first JSB fiction read! Er, make that KB. (And NOW I see the reason for the pseudonym!) Good gor you; I love that the protag is female, too!

  2. You kill me, Jim! Great concept. Great book. Only someone with your imagination and guts would come up with such a crazy, do-able concept. Best wishes as K. Bennett.

  3. Oh my goodness! I’m nearly speechless.

    And saying phrases like “Zombie legal thriller” or “Zombie-at-law” sounds, oddly, like the most natural thing in the world.

    And BTW, what a great cover! It’s brash and bold and I think readers are going to love it.

    I also like the use of an initial, rather than a first name.

    Very imaginative–I wish you all the best in this new endeavor.

    BK Jackson

  4. I haven’t had this much fun reading a blog post in a long time. Congrats on jumping off the deep end, Jim. I can see it on the movie screen already. I’m currently listening to Cemetary Dance by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. Now I’ll be thinking of KB and attorney zombies. Love the female lead idea too, even if Mallory is a family name. :)Does K. stand for a name or is it K. for Killzone Bennett? 🙂 Can’t wait to read it!

  5. How fun! I may have to take my break for a whole week this week, because now I’ll have two books to read- Ghost Story and Pay Me in Flesh! I’ve been working on my fantasy novel in progress, which got interrupted by a by a hard core sci-fi short story that I just had to squeeze in this week – on top of everything else. My brain is starting to feel like the zombies are having a nibble.

    Good luck Jim!

  6. Well, I must say I’m heartened and grateful for all the lovely comments. Thanks so much! Writing PAY ME IN FLESH was a bit of a risk, but I think we writers have to do that from time to time. And I am loving this series. Book 2 is in the final edit stages, and Book 3 is forming in my head.

    Jillian, thanks for the name suggestion. And though K. does not stand for Killzone, you did suddenly make me hungry for an Italian turnover stuffed with cheese and pepperoni.

  7. Joe H., you are closer than you think.

    JRM, I think I know that lawyer. He was opposing counsel in my very first trial and was also a sleazeball-fraudulent-fabricating liar.

  8. BK, I wrote this book in part for people who don’t “normally” read the genre. I wanted to do something different, and the concept just leapt out at me. I think you’ll have fun with it.

  9. What a fabulous high concept and tagline! No wonder Kensington snapped it up right away. This should sell like hot cakes. It sounds as though you’re on the way with a trendy new series. Brilliant!

  10. Must. Read. Book. Zombies and vampires and noir? Oh my. At only $ 4.76 on the Nook it’ll be loaded on payday.

  11. I’ve pre-ordered and waiting anxiously for Kindle to drop it into my digital bucket.

    I swear, the anticipation of waiting to download a book to my Kindle (it doesn’t have built in wi-fi even if this wasn’t a pre-order) is worse then when cash would burn a hole in my pocket as a kid and I HAD to walk down to the country store to spend it! 😎

    And it has been an awesome book weekend because I got an unexpected gift card from someone so it gave me a chance to order a few more Kill Zone author books as well.


    BK Jackson

  12. This whole zombie thriller thing seems like a dead genre from the start.

    As a hospital IT guy I’ve seen plenty of dead and dying. Even got scared witless when one woke up while I was working on the mortuary computer recently, dude scratched me when he fell off the table but nothing bad happened. Mortician said is happens all teh time, just reflex spasms ya know. I slept really deep that night too.

    As soon as this rigor mortis like stiffness loosens up a bit I’m heading out for a bite…any body wanna meet up for dinner?

  13. Zombies? Not for me, so much. But it does sound intriguing. Mostly, I’m excited that you’re taking this chance and sharing it with us. I love when authors step outside of their comfort zones.

  14. “JRM, I think I know that lawyer. He was opposing counsel in my very first trial and was also a sleazeball-fraudulent-fabricating liar.”

    Hey, you just described the lawyer on the other side of the never-ending trademark lawsuit I’ve been repping on for 6 years!

    And, as a defense attorney, I totally resemble that remark. I was a public defender and had been known, on at least one occasion to have forgotten my client’s name, in the middle of a plea. Hey, I made a good deal, but when you have the third or fourth Amber-Sasha-Duane-Latisha of the day stand up, the details get fuzzy.

    Don’t know if this will help ya or not. When I was interning for the DA back in law school, I got put on a statistics project. I also ran my own side project and discovered an amazing percentage of crimes are committed by guys named Dwayne (alternates are Duane, Dewayne, DeWayne and Duwayne.) Just a little tidbit.

    I hope ya knock em dead! Terri

  15. Terri, LOL. I interned with the LA DA in law school, too. Eye opening.

    Dwayne? Who would’ve thought? The only Dwaynes I know are a) a retired accountant and b) The Rock. But I’ll watch them both more closely now.

  16. Zombie legal thriller?? Are you KIDDING me? Well, no wonder you’ve been having so darn much fun at Starbucks recently! Congrats, Jim. Really. But is it safe for The Big Honkin’ Chicken Club to read?

  17. Well, I have a 21yo son who sat us down to watch Zombieland, plus we were hooked to the (now-dead) A&E series The Walking Dead. So I supposed I was bound to be curious enough to read this. I’m looking forward to it…bravo to you on this latest venture.

  18. Great stuff, Jim! I immediately started thinking of zombie casting. Helena Bonham Carter as lawyer? Gerard Butler as an undead detective? Too fun!

  19. I’m not sure how “new” the genre is, since Batton Lash has been doing “Supernatural Law” (aka “Wolff & Byrd, Counselors of the Macabre”) since 1979, first as a weekly strip in the National Law Journal and then (beginning in 1994) as as series of comics books and trade paperbacks from Exhibit A Press. It’s also been a web comic at http://www.supernaturallaw.com for almost 6 years. A recent web story was “The Zombies Strike at Midnight.”

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