Today is the official launch date of ‘The Extraditionist‘ by Todd Merer and as my small contribution to mark the occasion, the hosts of this post, the lovely Claire McLaughlin of Little Bird Publicity, have contributed a more lengthy and in depth premise for the story, which certainly offers an amazingly detailed profile of Benn, this very intriguing and complicated lead character.
Todd has also submitted a pre-prepared Q&A guest post, which he would like to share with you all.
‘THE EXTRADITIONIST‘ – (A Benn Bluestone Thriller – Book #1)
Bennjamin “Benn” Bluestone is an adrenaline junkie with a law degree, and he’s found the perfect way to get his (literal) highs: representing the world’s most dangerous drug lords. Benn operates in the legal gray area between justice and criminality, feeding the secrets of the drug trade to the Department of Justice in exchange for reduced sentences for his dirty clients. Never mind the shady way in which Benn uncovers the intel or how many narcos bribe their way out of jail — the government gets its drug busts and good press, and Benn gets his cash.
Benn knows he can’t keep sauntering on the knife’s edge, but he is hooked on the money, the women, and the substances that accompany his lavish lifestyle. He makes a deal with himself: one more big client — a “Biggy” so flush with cash and connections he can set Benn up for an early retirement — and he’ll walk away for good. But his lust for danger — and two particularly curvaceous women — gets him entangled with three possible final scores, each promising on the surface but concealing a dark secret.
A sleazy Colombian lawyer arranges for Benn to negotiate the surrender of a leader in the North Valley Cartel, but instead of leaving the meeting counting his money, Benn is counting bodies. The case of Joaquin Bolivar seems open and shut — he was trafficking only marijuana, and the statute of limitations had expired — so why does Benn discover that the Russian mafia is paying his bills?
Most promising of all, Benn’s close confidant claims to have a connection to the mysterious Sombra, or Shadow, the undisputed king of the Colombian drug trade. But when you make a career out of frying bigger fish, what do you do when your client is the biggest fish of all? As each case spirals out of control, they begin to intersect in unpredictable and frightening ways.
Slowly, Benn begins to realize his whole life is a chess game — Sombra the player, he the pawn. His three cases have become one, but to Benn’s risk-addicted brain, that just means he’s found his Biggy — if he escapes alive. As the pieces of a vast drug conspiracy fall into place, Benn is in as deep as the hit men and corrupt cops who now threaten his life. Soon Benn is under investigation by the U.S. government, and he must make the same choice he forced his clients to make so many times: rat or rot. But as Benn and Uncle Sam will discover, when every thread is connected, all it takes is one tug to unravel the whole thing.
Clicking on the book’s title will link you with its dedicated Goodreads page
Photograph Credit To Luis Alicea Caldas
Todd Merer is an honors graduate of New York University Law School.
During his 30 years as a criminal defense attorney Todd specialized in the defense of high-ranking cartel chiefs extradited to the United States. He gained acquittals in more than 150 trials, and has successfully negotiated nearly 1500 cases to sentences significantly lower than the original accusations.
His high-profile cases have featured prominently in the US media, and he often travels to consult with clients, both in Europe and Latin America.
A “proud son of Brooklyn,” Todd divides his time between New York City and ports of call along the old Spanish Main.
The Extraditionist is his first novel.
IN CONVERSATION WITH AUTHOR TODD MERER
Q: The Extraditionist is clearly based on your own experience as a criminal attorney — but, given the danger and illicitness that surrounds protagonist Benn Bluestone, hopefully not too closely! How much of the novel is rooted in truth, and how much of it is imagination?
A: To quote Mr. Nietzsche, “We have art in order not to die of the truth.” Yes, Benn and I have shared experiences. We both are old-timey Brooklyn born and bred, we both have been threatened – legally and physically – we both made and lost fortunes, we both have been privy to deep, dark secrets. Like the time an insane Mexican drug lord locked me in the basement where he stashed his millions (fortunately, when I started a fire he unlocked the door and in the ensuing panic I escaped). But since I don’t care “to die of the truth,” names and other particulars have been changed to protect the guilty…and I confess to adding a few dollops of imagination.
Q: You make the unusual decision to have two narrators — Benn Bluestone and Alune, the god of the Logui people and, it is soon revealed, the drug lord Sombra. Why did you decide to share this second perspective (unknown to Benn) with readers?
A: I thought that because the readers – being the proverbial fourth wall audience – already have so many twists and turns to keep track of, two narrators would help their understanding of Benn’s journey. Not to mention my own enlightenment.
Q: The Extraditionist is so intricately plotted, with dozens of characters and three main storylines all weaving in and out of each other. What techniques did you use while writing to keep everything straight — and make sure that every loose end was tied up?
A: Hmm. No big deal. First I conjured up the central story, then I spliced its three parts together. Second, I obeyed the old writer’s dictum: Revisions, revisions, revisions…
Q: Early on, Benn Bluestone professes a hatred of the acronyms that surround his life and career — yet he continues to use them, even when they’re not necessary, throughout the manuscript. What did you intend for this to say about Benn’s character?
A: I wouldn’t say hatred, rather intense dislike. And Benn’s smart enough to know that if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
Q: Billy and (briefly) Bea, who live in Benn Bluestone’s old neighborhood in Brooklyn, are special in that they are the only characters who don’t touch on Benn’s sordid life of drugs, murder, and mayhem. Tell us about the role you feel they play in Benn’s story and why you decided to include them in the book.
A: Billy and Bea provided a way to reveal Benn’s back story, which needed telling because it’s the foundation of who he truly is. As for old, pre-gentrified Brooklyn, East Flatbush was a neighborhood where the lingua franca was dis and dat, and whose mean streets were my classroom.
Q: The end of The Extraditionist teases a possible return for Benn Bluestone. Can you tell us anything about what you have planned next?
A: Benn takes Horace Greely’s advice: “Go west, young man.” In Benn’s next great adventure, he’s westward bound on the Orient Express.