Reed’s books drawn from days in law enforcement
By Amy Abbott
Special to the Courier & Press
At Rex Mundi High School, Rick Reed was always “right on the edge of being expelled,” he said. Now the author of several successful true crime books, Reed credits encouragement by his sociology teacher, Mr. Grotius.
“In high school, I started writing onepage short stories; I liked to start out one way and have a surprise ending. I have always liked surprised endings,” said Reed, a retired Evansville Police Department sergeant, who amassed a stellar record in a 30-year career across several agencies. “On one of my high school papers, Mr. Grotius recognized me and told me that I should write more. He read several of my papers to the class, and I began to feel some kind of connection to writing,” Reed said.
At barely 18, Reed entered the U.S. Army, where he had diverse experiences as a weapons instructor, intelligence analyst and languages and interpretation. Coming home from the military, Reed wanted a law enforcement career but tested positive for tuberculosis he had caught on Okinawa. While the TB eventually “burned out,” Reed could not get on the police force at that time.
Reed went to see Judge Miller, whom he heard was tough, and told him, “I just got out of the Army and I need a job. I’ll make you a deal, I’ll do anything you want for a month, and if you don’t like the looks of me I’ll say adios. Let me prove to you that I’m a good worker.”
Judge Miller laughed and said, “You’ve got a job.”
Reed worked for the judge for seven years as a bail bondsman, pre-sentence investigator and probation counselor. He eventually worked for the sheriff and local police departments.
During his early law enforcement service, Reed published an underground newsletter called “The Monkey Boy Gazette,” which roasted various people in the department. “The department didn’t know who was doing it, and then found out. I was called into the chief’s office, and told ‘when you put one of these out, we want to look at it first’.”
As his day career progressed, Reed started working on a 30or 40-page book off the clock.
“I clearly didn’t know what I was doing,” he said. “I sent a letter off to an agent with 20 or so pages, and I got a nasty, hateful letter back that hurt my feelings, so I gave it up.”
But the writing bug had bitten him, and he kept writing, first in a notebook and then on a laptop. “I wrote a 450-page book in a year and it was horrible, with really poor grammar and writing. The plot was good. I let a few people read it, but didn’t get much farther,” he stated.
That was all about to change. During his time as a detective, a man named Joe Brown committed a heinous murder.
Reed said, “I was the one who caught him, and we discovered he was a serial killer.”
Ironically, a man named Steven Walker, an Allentown, Pa., reporter who had no clue about Reed’s proclivity for storytelling, called Sgt. Reed to interview him for details of the case. “I said ‘I won’t give you my materials, but I’ll work with you.’ Walker said he had a New York editor and told them he had the detective on the case. They wanted the book.
“We signed a contract 50-50, and I ended up writing quite a bit of it. When the book ‘Blood Crimes’ was finished, Kensington Press offered me a contract for more true crime books,” he said.
“Blood Trail” is the story of serial killer Joe Brown. Brown was sentenced in 1977 to life in prison for kidnapping and armed robbery. He was released in 1995, despite having beaten a fellow inmate nearly to death. According to Reed’s book jacket, “Brown later confessed that during the next five years, he indulged in a sevenstate rampage of torture and murder, his victims female hitchhikers and prostitutes. Now doing time in Wabash Valley Corrections Center, Brown maintains that he murdered no less than 13 other women.”
His 30-year law enforcement career behind him, Reed started teaching criminal justice at Ivy Tech College. He has written two other books since “Blood Crimes,” both of which have done very well with Kensington Publishing. He is also grateful for the community support.
He is extremely proud that “The Cruelest Cut” has on its cover a review by Nelson De-Mille, of a hero of his from the genre. DeMille is a well-known American author of thrillers and a favorite of Reed’s. The second in this series is called “The Coldest Fear” and was published in September. Both books are fiction and use Reed’s imagination combined with his diverse law enforcement and military background.
“The Cruelest Cut” was submitted as a nominee for the Edgars last year for “Best First Book.” While Reed did not win, he was thrilled to be nominated for the award named after Edgar Allen Poe, the great American writer who wrote “Murder in the Rue Morgue” and other short stories and poems.
“I like to write and I like people to read my work. I don’t expect to retire; I just want to write good books,” he said.
His avocation has offered him plenty of travel opportunities.
“I am able to visit New York several times a year, as well as attend book events all over the country. “ He has also been asked to serve on panels at writing workshops.
How does Reed gets his ideas and develop his characters?
Chuckling, Reed said, “I think I have a screw loose! But seriously, I just started writing as (the character) Jack Murphy. Ideas developed from him, and I pulled the plot out.”
“When I was a detective, I used a certain kind of interviewing technique. I used the “interviewing” technique with Joe Brown when he murdered Ginger Gasaway. I built a relationship with him, and then I worked on the relationship and then let him answer questions.
“I use this (same technique) when I’m writing a book. I can become that character for a day. I try to look through their eyes and see what they would see and what would be important to them. I keep notes and it helps me to build a person, instead of just a one-dimensional character,” he added.
Reed explained that in his law enforcement career he’s been shot at, had people pull knives on him, been almost run down, witnessed fights in jail.
“I’ve seen way too much, and I try to draw on all that, how it made me feel. You get into the zone and write from experience.”
Reed gets up early to write, and writes every day. He is newly married to his wife Jennifer, who is a nurse.
“She is very supportive of my work and gives me a woman’s perspective.”
For more information about Reed’s work, visit www.rickreedbooks. com.
I can become that character for a day. I try to look through their eyes and see what they would see and what would be important to them. I keep notes and it helps me to build a person, instead of just a one-dimensional character, Rick Reed, Author
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