MRH: Well, I'm one of those rare Southern California natives. I was born and grew up in the Los Angeles County community of Redondo Beach and, other than military service, lived in SoCal my entire life. I currently reside in San Diego. I started writing as a teenager, studied journalism in college, and worked in that field for some twenty years; including working as an investigative reporter for San Diego Magazine back in its heyday, and as editor of the San Diego Business Journal.
After that last gig, I decided to change careers. I went to work for the Navy as an analyst in combat medical operations. I've been a medic of one sort or another in the U.S. Coast Guard, the Navy Reserve, the San Diego Sheriff's wilderness search and rescue detail, and a couple of disaster response teams. Most recently, I was a medical service corps officer with a component of the California National Guard and trained combat medics for Iraq and Afghanistan. Then a couple years ago, I retrained as a military policeman and I now serve as executive officer of a state military police battalion – not a bad background for a writer of thrillers and mysteries, eh?
MRH: The Last Refuge is a sequel to an earlier novel, Empty Places. Both are mystery thrillers with a little social commentary about the greed and corruption seen in the 1980s and early 1990s. Today, that period is cynically called a golden age in America by certain political interests. But I was journalist covering that period in history. In fact, it was a time of great corruption and scandal – illegal wars in Latin America, secret government involvement in the cocaine trade, wasteful defense spending scandals, not to mention economic turmoil that resulted in what was then called the Great Recession. Then after the Cold War ended, there was further economic turmoil as the defense industries collapsed. I tried to capture all that in both books with a noir style. The title for The Last Refuge comes from Samuel Johnson's criticism of politicians who tried to hide their corruption behind a curtain of patriotic fervor: "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel."
BBB: Tell us about your main character.
MRH: Peter Brandt made his first appearance in my mystery thriller Empty Places. After a failed marriage, Peter got a job with a news service covering the proxy wars in Central America during the 1980s, exposing him to the horrors and brutality of war and leaving him scarred both physically and emotionally.
Peter is world and war weary, sarcastic and sardonic, with more than a little PTSD. But he also has a finely honed sense of right and wrong. In Empty Places, when Peter learns his ex-wife – a woman he still loves – has been murdered and the local police are doing nothing to find the killer, he sets out to find the culprit himself despite the jeopardy it puts him in.
In my latest book, The Last Refuge, Peter has given up war reporting after covering the First Iraq War – Operation Desert Storm in 1991 – and now works as a freelance journalist in San Diego. He's hired to do a story on a lawsuit filed against the U.S. government and a local defense contractor by the widow of an American engineer killed by friendly fire during the war. When Peter discovers a cover up of the deadly incident, his digging uncovers a massive scandal involving greed, corruption, and government secrets.
BBB: What other books have you written?
MRH: Besides Empty Places and The Last Refuge, I have published three other books. Duty is a collection of previously published and new suspense short stories dealing mostly with military service. My next novel was The Killing Depths, a military mystery thriller dealing with a serial killer aboard the first U.S. attack submarine with a joint male and female crew. The last book I published was Eden, a sci-fi novella about a small unit of American soldiers in Iraq who stumble onto an ancient secret about the beginnings of mankind.
BBB: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
MRH: The easiest way to learn more about my work is to visit my website at www.martinroyhill.com, which not only features my books but also my blog about writing and books I've reviewed. While there, readers can also sign up for my monthly newsletter. You can also find me on Goodreads, Twitter (@MartinRoyHill), and Facebook (www.facebook.com/Martin.Roy.Hill), LinkedIn and Google+.