BY LELIA FIGUEROA
David Hagerty, a Martinez-based crime writer, recently released the fourth novel to his series of political murder mysteries, all of which are based on true events. Titled “They Tell Me You Are Cunning,” his newest effort just hit the shelves this week.
Continuing on the storyline of main character Duncan Cochrane, the novel explores a murder investigation, police brutality and the prison system. Starting his career as a police reporter and having worked at Alameda County Jail as a teacher for seven years, Hagerty uses his personal experience with the prison system to guide and inspire him throughout his novels. Political events that have happened across the years have also served as inspiration for the series.
“More than a decade ago, when I decided to finally get serious about writing, I started with short stories based on real misdeeds I’d witnessed. I wrote one about my next door neighbor, who’d been murdered by a friend, another about an ambitious bike racer who decides to take out the competition, and a bunch of others based on characters I met in jail,” stated the 50 year old Chicago native.
The murder of U.S. Sen. Charles Percy’s daughter in his lakefront mansion inspired his first novel, “They Tell Me You Are Wicked.” The second and third novels, “They Tell Me You are Crooked” and “They Tell Me You Are Brutal,” were inspired by Chicago mayor Jane Byrne’s decision to move into an infamous public housing project following a series of sniper killings there as well as the Tylenol poisonings in 1982 that killed seven. “Those of us who lived through those events still remember them vividly as an intersection between crime and politics, which first drew my interest,” said Hagerty.
His latest, “They Tell Me You Are Cunning,” was inspired by the Innocence Project, a collective of journalism students from Northwestern University who exonerated ten people from Illinois’ death row. Their efforts contributed to the Illinois governor’s decision to first suspend capital punishment, much like California’s own Gavin Newsom, and later to abolish it. In addition to the series, Hagerty also writes short stories, four of which were published in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. He was nominated for a Derringer Award in 2013.
Currently a Martinez resident of three years, the former Benicia Herald reporter has now lived in Northern California for most of his adult life, first relocating to Sacramento after leaving Chicago in 1990. In addition to his working on the series, he is currently employed at Diablo Valley College as manager of Disability Support Services.
Hagerty will appear at the Barnes & Noble in Concord for a reading on Saturday July 13th at 2 p.m. More information on him and his series can be found on his website at www.davidhagerty.net.