Thriller Writer Tj O'Connor

The Pappa Files: From the Paranormal to the Paranoid, Part II

May 14, 2024

Dead Detectives Rule!

Tj O'Connor

Pappa Date: May 12, 2024. Somewhere in Winchester, Virginia.

I am Pappa. There are many pappas. But I am unique. Trust me. I am an anti-terrorism consultant by profession. An author of numerous novels by devotion. A Harley Davidson pilot, man about dogs (and now cats), and an adventurer. I am a father to five and Pappa to eight and counting.

So, any day now, I’ll be announcing the new home and upcoming adventures of Oliver “Tuck” Tucker and his gang. There’s Angel, his brilliant and beautiful professor-wife. She’s Tuck’s balance in a world that’s well, weird. Theodore “Bear” Braddock is Tuck’s former detective partner and best friend—second best friend, Hercule is his first. Bear is Angel’s living and breathing protector and companion. No, don’t go there. They’re not involved, though Bear’s love life is as tragic as Tuck’s untimely murder so many years ago. Next are two fun characters—Doc Gilley and Poor Nic Bartalotta. Doc is the house-ghost and Tuck’s great grandfather with his own baggage and stories. And Poor Nic, a retired New York City gangster, is a wayward bad guy who just can’t seem to stay bad around Angel. He’s a soft-hearted retired thug who always seems to lend a hand to the underdogs Tuck finds. There are the characters that come and go, too, like Spence and Clemens—two detectives who always have their own drama in the background.

Let’s not forget Hercule! Ole’ Hercule is Tuck’s amazing black lab.

I think I’ve said many times that my agent, the invincible and amazing Kimberley C. fell in love with the Tuck and the gang when she first considered signing me. She often summarized them as “The Thin Man’s Nic and Nora Charles meets Topper (sorry millennials, you probably have no clue!  Clever lady. I’m her biggest fan!

Since Tuck, Angel, Bear, and Doc (oh, and Hercule) are soon to be back on new cases in The Dead Detective Casefiles (shush, the secret is coming!), it might be good to acquaint you with the plots of the original three novels:

Dying to Know

Dying to Know

Dying is overrated. Murder is not.

That’s what Detective Oliver Tucker used to think. Not now. He’s dead—murdered—and back as an earth-bound spirit to help his wife, Professor Angela Tucker, crack the most important case of his life—his own.

But, this is not a ghost story; it’s a murder case.

Tuck knows why he is back among the living but not one of them—Detective Solve Thyself. Perhaps he was murdered because of his last case—a murder involving a retired mob boss, a local millionaire land developer, a New York hit man, and the local university elite. Or could it be that Bear Braddock, his best friend and partner for more than fifteen years, wants Angela? Tuck knows that everything surrounds Kelly’s Dig where the discovery of Civil War graves may put an end to a multi-million dollar highway project. If it does, who stands to gain the most? Enough to kill?

Using his unique skills, Tuck weaves through half-truths and generations-old lies chasing a madman. And he’s not alone—others, dead and alive—are hunting the same killer. Still nothing can change the truth—it is the living, not the dead, who are most terrifying.

Dying for the Past

Dying for the Past

For Oliver Tucker, dying is not for the faint of heart.

Neither is the murder of a mysterious philanthropist with ties to the Russian mob and 1939 gangsters.

Still an earth-bound spirit-detective, Tuck is on the case with the help of his wife, Professor Angela Tucker, and his former partner, Detective Bear Braddock. Together, they must find the killer and be the first to read “the book”—an old gangster’s journal of the roots of espionage, racketeering, and corruption leading to the identity of modern-day powerbrokers and spies. Tuck finds a colorful cast of allies in a tough Assistant U.S. Attorney General, a secretive FBI agent, and the spirits of a long-dead 1930’s gangster and his sassy girlfriend. As the case unfolds, so does the list of suspects like Angela’s close friend and retired mobster, a Russian thug making his move into Winchester, a tenacious paranormal investigator stalking Angela, and the philanthropist’s beautiful widow holding the key to millions of hidden loot and the location of “the book.” Can Tuck stop the killing and unmask a traitor or will the book continue to keep its secrets?

As Tuck searches to learn the secrets of “the book,” he begins to unravel his own ancestry of mobsters, adventurers, and wayward spirits. Is being a ghost hereditary?

Even while chasing a killer, the biggest challenge Tuck must conquer is how to be back amongst the living but not one of them.

Dying to Tell

Dying to Tell

Dying is as perilous as secrets and lies.

Detective Oliver Tucker never knew how perilous until he stumbled onto William Mendelson—murdered in a hidden vault where Egyptian relics and World War II secrets were once stashed.

Now those relics are missing. The secrets are coming out. The dead are talking.

Tuck, the detective for the dead—the Gumshoe Ghost—is pulled into the case by the spirit of a World War II Office of Strategic Services operative with his own agenda. OSS Captain Ollie Tucker I—Tuck’s namesake—knows the past is catching up to the survivors of an Egyptian spy ring from more than seventy years ago. With the help of his beautiful and brilliant wife, Angel, and his gruff former partner, Detective Bear Braddock, Tuck must unravel a tale of spies, murderers, and thieves. But how to begin? Perhaps, with the botched robbery at Mendelson’s bank and the disappearance of his Egyptian loot? The Kit Kat West nightclub where the sultry Lee Hawkins revives 1944 Cairo nightlife with her WWII veteran grandfather, Keys Hawkins? There are too few clues and too many suspects—like Marshal Mendelson, the conniving, bitter son; a suave bank executive wooing Angel; the vivacious bank teller sharing whispers with a lonely but heroic security guard; and there’s the alluring and dangerous Egyptian antiquities professor whose arrival in Winchester coincides with Mendelson’s murder.

Who killed William Mendelson and what did his murder have to do with the 1944 murder of Professor Youssif Iskandr?

As Tuck’s case unfolds, he confronts the growing distance between his death and Angel’s life—and the solution is a killer of its own.

Pappa’s Log—Epilog: Stayed tuned for news about the return of Oliver Tucker and his new adventures in The Dead Detective Casefiles and my next blog showcasing the down-of-his-luck former government intelligence misfit in The Whisper Legacy! (And yes, there’s a dog in it!)


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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