An Authentic New Voice in Police Fiction

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By Kris Gilbertson

Mark Bergin had wanted to write a book since he was “a little kid and a reader.” This is not an uncommon desire among literate humans. What sets Bergin apart is that he’s done it. And while he may be starting out as an author, he brought to it 28 years’ service on the Alexandria police force and the near-death experience that forced him to leave police work, but gave him a start on his life’s next chapter.

APPREHENSION

Photo by Jim Craige Photography www.jimprophoto.com
The APPREHENSION cover was designed by Jim Craig, a retired police sergeant, now a photographer.

(From the author’s website) “APPREHENSION covers four rough, routine and horrific days in Detective John Kelly’s life. Kelly relives the murder of his niece, derails a rape investigation in a drunken burst of anger, and works to send a pedophile to prison. But his girlfriend Rachel Cohen is defending the pedophile….Parallel plots bring in an experienced patrol training officer and his rookie exploring issues of race and fairness in policing, plainclothes narcotics agents pushing the limits of honesty in court, an officer who survives a terrible attack but has her case mauled by an angry judge, a teenage drug dealer whose trial defense is voodoo – true story! – and a commander who covertly pulls strings to bail out or bury his flock of cops.

Kirkus Reviews calls APPREHENSION ‘compelling,… A gritty and authentic new voice in police fiction’ and said [Bergin writes] ‘with authority and empathy about cops.’”

And that is all we can say about APPREHENSION here, as Bergin’s publisher, Inkshares, has a gag order on further reviews until the book comes out (although you can read the first chapter on the publisher’s website—see sidebar).

Mark Bergin, Writer

“I came up with some basic ideas to put in a book more than 25 years ago,” says Bergen. “But when I had two heart attacks four years ago, and my doctors told me that I couldn’t go back to [police] work, I had to think of something else. So I decided to work on the book.”

Mark Bergin

Bergin’s heart attacks occurred at his North Carolina beach house and came two hours apart, both causing him to black out briefly. Both times he woke up feeling fine, thinking he’d simply fainted. After number two, his wife bundled him into a car straight to a clinic, where nothing seemed to him to be serious.

“I am sitting in the little exam room in this clinic and I see out the window an ambulance pulling up,” he says, “and I say to my wife and the nurse, someone’s having a worse weekend than me. And they say no, that’s for you.”

The ambulance took Bergin to a hospital, where they did some tests, then another ambulance to a bigger hospital, where they did an angiogram. “My wife was sitting next to the technician when he went ‘Uh oh.’” It was a 100 percent blockage of the main coronary artery, commonly known as the Widowmaker. “They just don’t find it in live people,” he says. Bergen underwent double bypass surgery in Norfolk.

“An interesting thing happened during the heart attack process,” Bergin says. “I’d always envisioned the book as a police procedural, a mystery, but wrapped around race relations. I wanted to look at why the racial profile of people arrested seems so racist and bigoted, to examine the impacts of that, but when I had the heart attacks and was working through all that drama, one nurse put her hand on my shoulder and said ‘Son, God’s got something more for you to do.’

“I thought about that for a long time. Then I sat down to write the book, thinking [writing] is one thing I can do now, so what can I do with this? I decided to make the book more about police stress and police suicide.

“In my 28 years as a cop, we had one officer killed in a gunfight. In the same period of time, three police officers and two sheriff’s deputies took their own lives. As much attention as is given when law enforcement officers are murdered, far more kill themselves. I thought this would maybe be something good I could do.”

Inkshares

Inkshares is a national hybrid and crowdfunding publisher. Hybrid publishing combines the functions of traditional and self-publishing by offering high-level support with editing, design, printing, marketing, and distribution (traditional), while the writer maintains artistic control (characteristic of self-publishing). But — as a crowdfunder, Inkshares doesn’t publish until the author accrues at least 250 pre-orders and many services don’t kick in until pre-orders reach 750.

Bergin’s job now is to drum up enough interest through pre-orders to demonstrate that there is a market. “I’m constantly told that police procedurals don’t sell,” Bergin says, “but Michael Connelly and James Patterson are selling like hot cakes.”

…something good I could do.

“I’m hoping that when the book gets off the ground, when I can hold it in my hand, that I can go to different police departments to talk about it, and about the fact that there is help available to officers,” Bergin says. “There are studies underway to see what departments can do to reduce stress, to reduce PTSD that causes the kind of stress that leads to suicide.

“It was exciting to write this,” he adds. “I’ve always wanted to write a book, and the actual crafting of one, putting scene after scene together, making the characters come alive, having them tell a story through their actions—it was a challenge. I read books differently now that I’ve written one. I see what the authors are doing, how they’re setting up the flow of the story.”

Bergin travels everywhere with a notebook and constantly makes notes about how a scene could flow, what he could insert into a book, what characters could be doing. He is working on his next book.

# # #

You can read the first chapter of APPREHENSION and pre-order the book (which includes the ebook) or just the ebook on Inkshares.com/books/apprehension. Your options are:

E-Reader package, which includes:

  • The ebook of APPREHENSION, and
  • access to drafts and updates from the author
  • $10.00

Reader package, which includes:

  • A paperback copy of APPREHENSION, plus
  • the ebook version, and
  • access to drafts and updates from the author
  • $20.00

The Super Reader package, which includes all of the above, plus:

  • Your name in the back of the book,
  • multiple paperback copies,
  • the ebook version and
  • access to drafts and updates from the author
  • $60.00

The author’s website is MarkBerginWriter.com