Wednesday, July 19, 2017


New Sins For Old Scores
T J O'Connor
Murder with a paranormal twist

Murder, like history, often repeats itself. 
And, when it does, it’s the worst kind of murder.

                                                                       New Sins for Old Scores
                                                                                 by Tj O’Connor
                                                               Black Opal Books (May 27, 2017)
                                                                          Paperback 370 Pages
                                                                       ISBN-13: 978-1626946750
                                                                      E-Book ASIN: B071S213GB

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Detective Richard Jax was never good at history—but, after years as a cop, he is about to get the lesson of his life. Ambushed and dying on a stakeout, he’s saved by Captain Patrick “Trick” McCall—the ghost of a World War II OSS agent. Trick has been waiting since 1944 for a chance to solve his own murder. Soon Jax is a suspect in a string of murders—murders linked to smuggling refugees out of the Middle East—a plot similar to the World War II OSS operation that brought scientists out of war-torn Europe. With the aid of a beautiful and intelligent historian, Dr. Alex Vouros, Jax and Trick unravel a seventy-year-old plot that began with Trick’s murder in 1944. Could the World War II mastermind, code named Harriet, be alive and up to old games? Is history repeating itself?
Together, Jax and Trick hunt for the link between their pasts—confronted by some of Washington’s elite and one provocative, alluring French Underground agent, Abrielle Chanoux. Somewhere in Trick’s memories is a traitor. That traitor killed him. That traitor is killing again. Who framed Jax and who wants Trick’s secret to remain secret? The answer may be, who doesn’t?

A Good Detective Can Be A Dead Detective
Tj O’Connor

Since publishing my first paranormal mystery, Dying to Know, I’ve published three more. Two in the Oliver Tucker Gumshoe Ghost series (I loathe that moniker), and recently with New Sins for Old Scores. Both these series include a lead character that has some unusual flaws. In my travels and even on some blog responses and reviews, I occasionally get a few eye-rolls or snickers when I talk about my lead characters and how one of them is always living-challenged. Dead. I mean dead. One of my lead characters is always dead.

So where is it written that characters in novels—the epitome of make believe and “not real”—have to be alive and breathing? No one giggles at science fiction or werewolf stories, right? So why are there some that think my having a dead detective is somehow a breach of some unwritten, secret handshake protocol?

A couple years ago, I had a reviewer say that he felt some of the things that Oliver Tucker did asked the reader to stray way too far from believability. He felt it detracted from my story and was to unrealistic. Really? Yet, Tuck being a dead detective didn’t bother him at all? Come on, have some imagination! Didn’t you ever see Ghost Hunters or Paranormal Lockdown? Ghost? Topper? Please, it’s a novel and it’s meant to be fun and mysterious and allow the reader to escape a little. Unless, of course, werewolves and vampires and invading behemoth amazon women is everyday life. If you start making rules like that, then most novels won’t qualify by someone’s definition of “reality.” I dare say that unless I’ve missed the news, old Agatha killed off more people in England than might have ever lived there. And whoa, now, Jessica Fletcher wiped out most of Main, Vermont, and New Hampshire three times over. Let’s just remember, characters are there to guide us, to tell their story, to entertain and thrill and perhaps even scare us. If they were always absolutely real to life and perfect, then crimes committed would be solved immediately—or never able to be committed in the first place. Our plots just wouldn’t work and stories would be dull.

No! I say dead characters are people too!

Let me explain my living-challenged characters in my two series—Oliver Tucker’s Gumshoe Ghost Mysteries from Midnight Ink, and my current series, New Sins for Old Scores (series not yet named, but let’s call it the Trick McCall Mysteries.

Oliver Tucker’s Gumshoe Ghost Mysteries—Dying to Know, Dying for the Past, Dying to Tell:

In the opening book in the series, Dying to Know, Oliver “Tuck” Tucker is killed and returns to hunt his own murderer. In each of the novels, there is a combination of a traditional murder mystery, a historical subplot, and a conclusion that culminates with a grander plot that revolves around Tuck’s long-dead family members who have all played significant roles in true historical events—serial killers, 1940’s mobsters, World War II OSS operations, etc. Throughout the stories, Tuck is a sarcastic, savvy detective who works with his widow, history professor Angel Tucker. Her contributions are only possible because of Tuck’s unusual “dead skills.” These skills are not what you see in the movies. They are a bit more unusual. Some of these skills allow him to relive past events of another story character, but only when he touches something personal or an object integral to the crime. For instance, in Dying to Know, Tuck touches a lost bracelet and it brings him to the murder scene where he watches a murder unfold that directly links, decades later, to his own demise. While Tuck is not clairvoyant and cannot instantly solve the murders through spook-visions, his dead-skills do enable him to bring historical clues and evidence into the light and see the crimes from other’s eyes. Along the way in the book, Tuck learns the ropes of being back among the living but not truly one of them. He narratives the stories and after just a few chapters, you’ll forget he’s a dead detective. He’s an integral character who brings a new twist to the traditional murder mystery. So his being a spirit contributes to the uniqueness of the story, but not as a “ghost story.” It’s simply a murder mystery with a paranormal twist.

The Trick McCall Mysteries—New Sins for Old Scores: In my latest paranormal mystery, Detective Richard Jax is ambushed at an old inn on a stakeout, he's saved by Captain Patrick "Trick" McCall—the ghost of a World War II OSS agent. Trick has been waiting since 1944 for a chance to solve his own murder and prove he wasn’t a traitor. Soon, Jax is a suspect in a string of murders. The murders are linked to smuggling refugees out of the Middle East—a plot similar to the World War II “Operation Paperclip,” an OSS operation that brought scientists out of war-torn Europe to work for the US. Together, they hunt for the link between their pasts—aided by the beautiful and brilliant historian, Dr. Alex Vouros—and are on the trail of a killer. Along the way, they are confronted by some of Washington's elite and one provocative, alluring French Underground agent, Abrielle Chanoux. Somewhere in Trick's memories is a traitor. That traitor killed him. That traitor is killing again. In this story, Trick McCall is Jax’s spirited sidekick. His dead-skills are similar to Oliver Tucker, but not entirely. Again, Trick is not able to swiftly unmask any killers or have clairvoyance in the cases, but he is able to add new dimension to the mysteries. For instance, he likes to “share” people—possess them and allow relive events they’ve or perhaps he’s seen. While coming to terms with being a 1940’s man thrust in 2011, Trick’s indifference to computers and cell phones forces Jax to do things the old fashioned way—footwork and chasing clues. Trick is a sarcastic adventurer who still has a love of life—despite his present dead condition. His abilities to travel to other times and places and see events through other’s eyes gives Jax a view of crimes and events that help solve their cases—a paranormal twist that adds a different aspect to the traditional mystery.

So, as you can see, my living-challenged characters add a new twist to the traditional murder mystery. They allow me to connect my historic subplots to the modern-day murders and give the characters a view of those historic events to help solve the crimes. With a few exceptions, the characters do not act like the stereotypical ghost. They are active, engaged characters who mostly just talk and act like live, breathing characters. They don’t swish around and boo here and there. You’ll easily forget they are spirits—until they traverse the story’s timeline or “share” a character and bring the reader back 75 years to another time and another murder. Then, you’ll begin to understand the importance of my paranormal twists!

Remember, a good detective can be a dead detective.

For more on New Sins for Old Scores or my other paranormal mysteries, check out my world at

Didn't your mother ever tell you, nothing good happens after midnight?

Although the chapters are each a quick read, it takes a full 25 to truly set up all the complications encountered and twisted together in this (to borrow a phrase) "Ghost Gunshoe" novel. 
My first impression of Jax, a member of Virginia's elite, BCI - Bureau of Criminal Investigation - is a mix between Sam Spade, Mark McPherson and Anthony Dinozzo, with Tony's fondness for old movie quotes to help soothe Jax's overactive mind. 
Jax is also employed in the character of his new ghostly partner OSS Agent (Office of Strategic Services) Trick McCall who was murdered in the line of duty in 1944. The two will be working more closely together than Jax thought possible.
"I know stuff and you can do stuff. That's what it's all about."

What at first looks like a shoot out between two BCI agents, one killed immediately and the other who dies four times before surviving, becomes more confused, complicated and covered up as various law enforcement and investigative agencies combine to figure it out. Each branch resents and distrusts the others' involvement when perhaps each should be as skeptical of members within their own ranks. Although Jax is traumatized, injured and suffering who knows what brain damage from his closer-than-near-death events, even if he accepts Trick is truly a ghost and not a result of brain damage, he can tell immediately that something is off with this scenario. When a senior officer suffers a "heart attack" and dies, there is no doubt of a cover up but of what and by whom? Clues are scattered everywhere and hidden in plain sight. 

The scene building and character developments are all five star as are the interweaving plotlines . Each time I had another question it was deftly answered shortly thereafter. 
I don't want to give away any of the resolution as this is a book one should appreciate from beginning to end.

Author Bio

He is the author of New Sins for Old Scores, Dying to Know, Dying for the Past, and Dying to Tell.
His new thriller, The Consultant: Double Effect will be out in the spring of 2018 from Oceanview Publishing.
Tj is an international security consultant specializing in anti-terrorism, investigations, and threat analysis—life experiences that drive his novels. With his former life as a government agent and years as a consultant, he has lived and worked around the world in places like Greece, Turkey, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, and throughout the Americas—among others.
He was raised in New York's Hudson Valley and lives with his wife and Lab companions in Virginia where they raised five children.

Learn about Tj’s world at:
Web Site:


  1. Wow! Many thanks for this great review and posting my guest blog! I am loving this Great Escapes Book Tour - as I did last year! I hope your readers enjoy the story!

  2. Great review and congrats on the tour TJ. I love a good mystery.
    sherry @ fundinmental

  3. Excellent post! I really enjoyed reading the guest post and the review! Looking forward to checking out this book!


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