The third instalment of the popular John Cooper crime series has been released. Written by a former police officer, Geoff (G.S.) Marriott, the novel follows the same characters as the first two books, with a brand new twist. The Devil's Portrait explores a number of murders happening in the Los Angeles art world - with all leads pointing to a world-renowned painter.
As an ex-officer, he offers a unique insider perspective, giving his readers a realistic idea of "life on the streets."
Marriott spent ten years as a uniform patrol officer, later becoming a detective; covering criminal investigations, and finally landing in the Special Services Branch - Intelligence Division of the Ontario Provincial Police, downtown Toronto. During his time with the OPP he served as an undercover officer of an elite unit, "targeting organized crime in Ontario and Upper New York." Marriott describes this as the highlight of his policing career - but not without cost.
"Men and women who wear the uniform deal with the streets on a daily basis, bringing all the cerebral trash of the day home with them." He says repressing these experiences eventually takes its toll.
Marriott started experiencing symptoms of PTSD, "It would stay for about three weeks and leave for a couple of months before returning. I wrote it off as a virus at the time." Reflecting back, he says there was "no one thing" that changed him, "more of a compilation of events and scenarios which occurred over time."
Each time the symptoms returned they came back stronger. He describes self-medicating with alcohol and realizing then that he needed help. Seeking medical support aided his decision to leave policing after 20 years.
Detective John Cooper became his outlet.
"Writing a novel was something I always thought about, but it wasn't until I started that I found out how cathartic it would become."
His first book, A Dish Served Cold was supposed to be a "one-off." He wrote it, published it, and placed it in a local book store just so that he could take a photo - referring to it as a bucket list project. To his surprise, people bought the book and enjoyed it so much they wanted more.
"John Cooper, essentially, is me and I am John Cooper," he explains. He found that by assigning his own personality, character and wit to his main character, it made the story much easier to write. Throughout the series, Cooper also experiences PTSD due to his traumatic past. "I decided that it was getting more difficult to explain Cooper's problems knowing they were really my own." His hope is that by being honest about his own battle with PTSD, and sharing these experiences through John Cooper, he will help others.
When asked about his process of recovery he says he's "really not an obstacle kind of guy," choosing to perceive it as a secondary challenge. He admits that he still has "issues, but they have dissipated substantially over the years," and are more easily managed.
The series includes A Dish Served Cold, The Dealmaker, and most recently, The Devil's Portrait. Marriott says, "although gruesome in spots, the books aren't gratuitously explicit," attributing the mild language to "how bad guys talk." When asked if there will be fourth instalment, Marriott eludes that John Cooper still has work to do.
The books are available through Amazon, Volumes Publishing, The Book Express, and Indigos in Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo.
G.S. Marriott currently lives with his wife, Linda, in Cambridge. Find out more here: www.gsmarriottauthor.com