I just finished reading the novel The Mystery of the Weeping Friar, written by DJ Parks-a husband and wife team also know as Doug Parker and Jan Parker. I had the pleasure of interviewing the pleasant couple and write an honest review. All answers are in their own words.
About the Authors
Copied from the back of the book – Doug and Jan Parker (Writing under the pen name DJ Park) enjoy outdoor activities, cooking, and music. They live in southwest Colorado.
The Synopsis of The Mystery of the Weeping Friar
All is not as it appears in the art world of New Mexico – mystery surrounds the art dealers, the buyers and even the pieces of art themselves, especially the legendary religious figurine known as the Weeping Friar. In this sequel to GoneAwary Colorado Bureau of Investigation agent David Harroswen and his wife Althia “Tee” get swept up in the mysteries while visiting Tee’s sister. As more and more deadly chaos erupts
The Mystery of the Weeping Friar is an engaging thriller that will have you enjoying the creativity and beauty of the art world while being horrified by the murder and mayhem surrounding it. This is a story not just about the sinister people who will do anything to get what they want, but also the dedicated law enforcement officers who are trying to put an end to their crimes.
Before reading this book I had no idea what a Santo was and love it when a book teaches me something. Straight away the reader is pulled into the story with the dumping of a female body and the mystery and investigation begin.
Along with a murder, the story unfolds to reveal corruption in the art world along with drugs, theft, and infidelity and caught in the middle is the church and the precious Santo. The ending provided an unexpected surprise – I love it when I am unable to predict the outcome of a novel
Overall I enjoyed this book very much. It was well written, especially the detective’s dialogue and how they pursued their case. It showed in the authors writing that they had a background in law enforcement. In the story, the detectives asked all the right questions and followed everything by the book.
At times I found it a little drawn out and I had a hard time keeping up with all the characters and their role in the story but the unpredicted ending made up for that.
COVER DESIGN 5 STARS – Loved the cover, the design and the colors used. At first, I had no idea what part of the book this scene represented from reading the blurb but now it makes sense and works well.
CHARACTERIZATION 4 STARS – There are a lot of characters in the story and as mentioned before I had a hard time keeping track of them all. The detectives were excellent and well written.
STORY & PLOT 4 STARS The story had a great beginning drawing the reader in straight away. A murder mystery with many twists, plots, and a few surprises. Overall a good read.
OVERALL RATING 4 STARS
Interview and Review DJ Park Author – The Mystery of the Weeping Friar
How long have you been writing and why do you enjoy it?
We began writing for fun about 15 years ago. Our first enjoyment is in collaborating on the story. We spend a great deal of time working on scenarios and dialogue. Jan builds the characters; Doug does the wordsmithing. We share every moment of the writing. It’s very much a team effort and we really enjoy working together.
Second, as the story progresses we get to know our characters in new ways. They become friends (well, some do! Others…not so fast!). For example, there is a character in our next novel who evolves during the story in ways we didn’t imagine when we first constructed her.
Other than writing what else do you like to do?
We love the outdoors and are blessed to live in a region that affords us many opportunities for hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. We share a love of cooking and without bragging, cook some pretty fair meals! We often spend our evenings watching mysteries, classic and contemporary. And we enjoy listening to music: classical, jazz and classic rock-and-roll.
What inspired you to write “The Mystery of the Weeping Friar”?
Jan read an article in the Denver Post which spoke about the New Mexican folk art tradition and the significance of carved figurines of saints, called Santos. The article revealed how important this art form was to the creators’ beliefs. We wanted to write about the power of belief and the power of myth, so we began talking about building a story around the search for a legendary Santos; our idea evolved into a murder mystery, using the same principal characters as our first novel. We love Santa Fe and chose it for the setting.
Who, as an author, inspires you and why?
Mark Twain is Doug’s favorite author. Twain was a great storyteller; his characters were drawn from his own life. He put them into comic, often ridiculous situations to see how they coped. They were ordinary folks caught up in extraordinary circumstances.
Jan likes Carolyn Hart. Hart’s writing takes the reader on a journey; she doesn’t just tell a story, she invites the reader to share the ride. Her characters draw the reader in such a way it’s easy to ‘see’ them. Her storylines keep the reader interested from start to finish and there are never any dull moments.
Name five of your favorite books and authors. Explain why these are your favorites.
Doug-The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien), The Complete Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle), Skinwalkers (Tony Hillerman), Twentieth Maine (John J. Pullen), Letters and Papers from Prison (Dietrich Bonhoeffer).
Tolkien built Rings in a fantasy world but one which parallels our own. His characters were real if flawed in the same ways as real people. So many fantasies depict larger-than-life characters. They may be interesting but it’s hard to connect with them.
Conan Doyle was the first writer to emphasize the importance of deduction in solving the crime, as well as understanding applying a critical eye to crime scenes. Holmes was the first detective to mentally insert himself inside a crime to understand how it was committed. Doyle’s lessons still resonate with police officers today (or should).
Hillerman found his voice in the myths and culture of the Navajo people. He gave their stories context in a world which had mostly ignored native peoples and their lives up to that point. His portrayal of the Navajo mind is amazing.
Pullen made history vibrant; it was poignant, funny, sad and tragic all at the same time. His depiction of the struggles of volunteer soldiers thrust into a bloody conflict framed the Civil War in new, very personal ways.
Bonhoeffer’s papers reflect an intensity of emotion and dedication that are rare. His letters were written to family and friends. They depicted every good and bad moment of his life in prison and the strength of his hope, even though he knew he would meet a horrible end.
Jan-The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien). To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee), Haunting of Hill House (Shirley Jackson), The Caine Mutiny (Herman Wouk), The Complete C.S Lewis.
In each of these Jan is drawn to the people, their experiences and what she learns from them.
Harper Lee wrote about a world which might be foreign to many of us but in fact, parallels today’s society.
Shirley Jackson wrote a terrific psychological thriller which is a classic. The scenes where the ghost is trying to enter the bedroom are so well written it’s easy to break into a sweat. That’s writing at its finest!
Wouk’s story offered everything a reader would want: drama, horror and humor, desperate men fighting boredom and fatigue. All of us can relate to them.
C.S. Lewis wrote of his own life and thoughts and demonstrated there are often parallels between fictional characters and real people.
Each of Jan’s favorites has their strengths as writers, but for her, these stories are about the people, how they move through a tale and are moved by the story. Jan enjoys that most of all. They represent the way we move through life.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
No matter what your interest or genre, enjoy writing. Don’t take yourself too seriously. If you love writing (as we do) make it fun. Your stories will reflect how much you enjoy their telling.
Are you currently working on anything now?
We are just finishing our third mystery, “Murder Has Company”. It’s set in our region in a small southwest Colorado community. The main characters from our previous books (CBI agent David Harrowsen and his actress wife Tee) are at it again, this time involved in a 10-year-old murder case. Its main themes are forgiveness and tolerance, and the way tragedy touches more people than the just principals involved.
The story isn’t just another police procedural about police work; it demonstrates how important citizen-police cooperation is to solving a crime. There are determined professionals working the case, alongside driven amateurs who aren’t involved in vicarious thrills but want to see justice done for the victims and all those affected by the murder, including themselves. It’s not all dark: there are some very funny moments.
What genre do you normally write in?
Other than Amazon where can readers purchase your book?
Barnes and Noble as well as Dorrance Publishing. We really encourage readers to support their local booksellers and order through them.
Do you have social media sources where readers can find out about you?
We have a Facebook page, DJ Park, where we post regular updates about our work. Look for www.facebook.com/DJParkWriting. Our website is now up and running, DJ Park Mysteries. Go to: www.crimecreative/author/dj9791. We’ve been told we should open a Twitter account but haven’t as of yet.
Anything else you’d like to say?
Everyone tells writers “Write what you know.” The trick is deciding what that means. We come from a law enforcement background and understand that world intimately. Jan has a background in theater as well, so she knows how to build a character and think as a character would think. And she has a feel for building tension in a scene. Most of our characters are based on people we encountered not only in law enforcement but many other places. We love mysteries so for us it’s a natural progression.
There are writers who may not have the sort of experience we do but have a great interest in a topic, such as fantasy or horror. Explore your interests and write about them. The more you write about a topic, the more fascinating it will become.
One final thought: remember why you write. We hope to sell our books and make money writing. We don’t aspire to be authors like John Gresham or James Patterson. We are who we are and believe our writing is very good. However, what’s important for us is that people enjoy the stories, are entertained and interested. When someone tells us “I really enjoyed your book.” it makes us feel all the work has been worthwhile. This isn’t about sales: it’s about sharing entertaining stories with friends.
Thank you, Doug and Jan for allowing me to interview you, It has been a pleasure and thanks to you both for the great read. I look forward to the next one