Thriller Writer Tj O'Connor

Dying for the Past – The Roots of this Sequel- Part I

Dec 8, 2014

By Tj O’Connor, author of Dying to Know & Dying for the Past

Countdown—39 days to the launch of Dying for the Past, my first sequel to Oliver “Tuck” Tucker’s debut in Dying to Know. Tuck is back in Book 2 and he’s on a new case with the help of his beautiful and brilliant professor-wife, Angel, and Detective Bear Braddock, his always faithful, always-protective ex-partner. Or maybe I’m describing Hercule, his black Lab companion. Both I think.

Tuck has just started settling down into his new life as a dead detective after wrapping up his own murder and ending the killing spree of a serial killer. Things have been going well for him—all things being considered that is.  

Tuck finds that being dead is often bittersweet. He explains a little in Chapter 1 of Dying for the Past


Sometimes, being dead is not so bad. Like poofing in and out of places on a whim without bothering with doors and stairs. And you never have to pee or get the flu again—big pluses. Then there are times, though, when dead is depressing and sad. It’s the things you miss—the taste of good wine, the adrenaline-rush of chasing a suspect, or the feeling when you’re in the middle of the dance floor with the most beautiful woman in the room. Those moments hurt.

A woman with shoulder-length auburn hair and sparkling green eyes stood in the middle of the mansion’s ballroom. Her long, silky gown was icing poured hot over sultry curves. All eyes fixed on her when she embraced a tall, distinguished-looking older man before a dance. He wore a tux—okay, yeah, he was striking with gray hair and a strong, muscular build, brilliant, rich, blah, blah, blah. Big deal. The two could have been on a wedding cake, but instead were the center of attention at Angel’s big band-themed charity gala, and leading a turn around the floor to Glenn Miller’s Moonlight Serenade.

 When they took their first step, I turned away …

Then wham. Someone’s dead. Not just any someone, mind you, but a shifty rich guy with a carnation on his lapel and a beautiful, but angry young bride on his arm. The only things anyone knows about this mysterious philanthropist is that he has too much money, too beautiful a young wife, and one-too-many bullet holes in him.

Mr. Carnation hailed a passing waiter for a refill of champagne. After downing the glass in a single gulp, he lifted Angel’s hand for a melodramatic kiss.

His glass shattered and spasms jerked his body all the way to the floor. His right arm thrust out and pointed at the crowd; his left still held the broken glass stem. His body twitched a few more times and stilled …

… I’d seen death before—and murder, too often. Not just my own, but dozens.

This one was unmistakable. It wasn’t the way Mr. Carnation collapsed in a jerky, melodramatic spiral to the hardwood. It also wasn’t the way his dull, lifeless face caught the dance ball light either. It was much simpler.

It was the blood pooling around his body and the bullet hole through his torso.

Someone murdered Mr. Carnation—shot him in front of two hundred witnesses. A killer jitterbugged in and gunned him down to Benny Goodman.”

In Dying for the Past, Tuck realizes pretty quickly that it’s all about just that—the past. For Tuck, his past started to haunt him (pardon the pun) after his murder. You see, being dead also comes with some perks—spirited perks, like touching crime scene objects that show him a few snippets of their meaning (though often veiled) and being able to move about without the delays of traffic or bad weather. He can pop in and out of places at a whim. He just has to know where he wants to be. No, he has no after-life intuition or clairvoyance—it always comes down to plain old detective work. Now, he has to figure out how to use his new-found talents and a couple unusual characters to solve the case.

“Across the room, standing alongside the dance floor, was an uninvited guest. He was a stout, striking man in a black pinstripe, double-breasted suit. He wore shiny, buffed wingtips and a gray felt fedora. The only thing missing was a big cigar hanging out of his mouth and a violin case. Then, he swept his hand across his jacket and revealed a heavy semi-automatic in a shoulder holster. Did someone invite Al Capone?

He looked at me and winked. Winked …

 … Voices hushed as eyes fell on the dead man.

Not me, though, I watched the crowd, looking for the killer and any telltale sign of the smoking gun.

But what I saw, or didn’t see, unnerved me more.

The gangster in the black pinstripes was gone … vanished—poof. He arrived just in time for a killing and left before the body hit the floor. No sign of his spats and black tie remained. He didn’t leave his fedora or heater behind either. He was as dead and gone as Mr. Carnation.

The question was, however, would he stay that way?”

In Dying for the Past, Tuck begins to learn some of his own family secrets. First, after witnessing the murder of Stephanous Grecco in front of his wife and a hundred people at the Vincent House—no one saw anything—Tuck finds himself searching for the killer and wondering what it all has to do with his own family tree. What does he find along the way?

·       Vincent Calaprese—the spirit of a 1939 mobster boss with his hooks into Tuck’s family tree.

·       Sassy—the eye-candy delight always on Vincent’s arm and always after Tuck’s eye.

·       Doc Gilley’s secret just within arm’s reach. Can Tuck get the truth out of him?

·       Someone stalking Angel, but what does it have to do with Steve and Bonnie Grecco—the new rich elite in Winchester? And what does André Cartier, Angel’s only family and mentor, have to do with all of it?

·       Why are the FBI, US Attorney’s Office, and a television ghost-hunter all converging on the Vincent House?

·       Also, why is Poor Nic Bartalotta—retired New York mob boss extraordinaire—connected to the Russian Mob and missing federal snitches?

·       Aove all, who will find The Book—Old Vincent’s gangster journal holding the secrets to a bundle in loot and the names and evidence on the who’s who of Washington D.C.’s World War II spies, mobsters, and corrupt-elite. You’d be surprised how many are still around these days.

The answers come from the past and the victims are Dying for the Past.

Stay tuned to this channel—same The Plot Thickens time, same Plot Thickens Channel. Next month, I’ll disclose some of the past behind Dying for the Past. Like …

·       What’s the backstory to Vincent Calaprese and his pre-World War II escapades?

·       What’s the story behind Tuck, Doc, and his wayward ancestors?

·       Why am I so connected to the past myself? What skeletons and secrets do I have hidden deep away?

If you can guess any of these answers, drop me a line here or email me at

Be looking for Dying for the Past out on your bookshelves January 8, 2015!

Tj O’Connor lives in Virginia with his wife and three Labs. Dying to Know is the fourth of his eight novels and is currently available in bookstores and online. Dying for the Past, the first of two sequels, will be released in January 2015—available now for pre-orders. Tj is an international security consultant specializing in anti-terrorism and investigations. Learn about his world at and Facebook at


I first fell in love with writing while in grade school and over the years continued to dabble with characters and stories whenever life allowed. Lately, I've focused my energy on pursuing this dream—interrupted only by life as a security consultant and the demands of two Labrador retrievers.

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