Meet the Characters from "Empty Places"

Post date: Mar 30, 2014 7:41:22 PM

Characters make a novel. You can have the greatest plot and twists, but if the characters are weak or lack verisimilitude, the reader won’t stick with the book.In my latest mystery thriller, EMPTY PLACES, the plot is pushed forward by the characters and the secrets that motivate them. Though the story is seen through the eyes of the protagonist and narrator, Peter Brandt, characters both large and small provide the stimulus for action.

So who are characters in EMPTY PLACES, and what motivates them? Let’s take a look.

Peter Brandt: A war correspondent for an American news service, Peter has seen up close the horrors of war. He carries with him the scars of armed conflict, both physical and emotional. When he returns the United States to bury his former wife — whom he still loves but won't admit it to himself — even older scars are splayed open. Enduring deep seated guilt over the break up of his marriage, as well as the wartime death of a young mother he couldn’t save, Peter is pushed forward by his need to find redemption.

Matt Banyon: Matt Banyon is Peter's best friend. A bear of a man, Matt is a retired cop who, upon realizing Robin Anderson had no family left to bury her, calls for Peter to return to the States. Peter was never sure why he returned home but, as he says, "If Matt says I should go, I go." But Matt has ghosts of his own, and his own sense of guilt could lead to tragedy.

Robin Anderson: TV reporter Robin Anderson had been married to Peter, but as her career grew the two seemed to drift apart. Desperate to find a new TV job in a bigger market, Robin makes questionable decisions and takes unnecessary chances. By doing so, she signs her own death warrant.

Laurie Hall: Laurie Hall is a reporter with the local daily newspaper and a friend of Robin Anderson. Beautiful, sexy, and rich, she seeks to help Peter discover Robin's murderer. But Laurie has a secret, too — a secret that could get Peter killed.

Carlos Timmerman: Carlos Timmerman is a rich and politically powerful Cuban exile. A survivor of the disastrous Bay of Pigs attack on Castro's Cuba, he now uses his money to support guerilla fighters in Nicaragua. At least, that's what the papers say. And Peter knows the press is rarely correct.

Miles Hampton: Miles Hampton is a local Sheriff’s captain in charge of the nearby Indio substation, but he has bigger ambitions than being a cop. A candidate for Congress, Hampton is too busy rubbing elbows with the political elite to investigate Robin Anderson’s murder. Worse, he and Matt Banyan have history together — bad history.

B.D. “Bulldog” Jefferson: A retired Marine, Palm Springs Police detective B.D. Jefferson’s dislike of journalists is only slightly less than his dislike of the Viet Cong he fought in Vietnam. On the surface, that could be the reason he seems intent on blocking Peter and Matt in their investigation. Or is he taking orders from somewhere other than police headquarters?

EMPTY PLACES can be found in print and Kindle versions at, and in print at Barnes & Noble.