I should have teased you all about Leslie‘s “real” identity. But why? I don’t want to hide who she is – this is an exciting new direction!
The Price of Peace?
When writing my new novel, Don’t Look Away, I spent a lot of time thinking about the world in which the heroine, Ronnie Sloan, lives, and whether I’d want to live in one like it.
In case you haven’t read the book…it’s set in 2022, five years after a devastating terrorist attack that destroyed much of Washington D.C. and killed the president. Because of that attack, the entire populace was left numb and deadened to anything except making the country secure. So the government reacted by removing the U.S. from the international stage. Withdrawing from all conflicts, they abandoned former allies, became trading partners with former enemies, and essentially retreated to a policy of non-interventionism, or “Grand Isolationism.”
The strategy worked, and the U.S. has been at peace for a few years, with no new terrorist attacks, no wars on the horizon, and peace and prosperity for its citizenry. The rest of the world, however, hasn’t been so lucky. War rages in other countries, but the U.S. has closed its borders and focused every penny on its own defense, and doesn’t even want to know about it.
Ronnie, who was a D.C.P.D. cop at the time of the attacks, and still is, finds the whole thing disgusting. This doesn’t feel like the land of the free and the home of the brave in which she’d grown up. And considering how much she and her family lost during the 2017 attacks—including three beloved family members—she feels entitled to her own opinion. But most people are happy. So happy they willingly allowed themselves to be implanted with microchips, like those used in pets today. No price is too high to pay to avoid a repeat of that awful day.
I thought a lot about this concept in the years following 9/11. When I think of how much our nation has changed, I’m sometimes surprised to remember how different life was before. Remember the days when you could actually wear your shoes through the security checkpoint at the airport? When you could escort a loved one to their gate and watch them board their plane? When there was no Department of Homeland Security? When the U.S. wasn’t at war?
My kids barely remember that world. This is the world they’ve grown up in.
I honestly wasn’t trying to make any kind of political statement when I wrote Don’t Look Away. The world in which it’s set is not a huge part of the story—it merely serves as the backdrop that helped make my heroine become the person she is. The main thrust of the story is the hunt for a serial killer and the new technology the cops use to catch him.
Still, it’s interesting to wonder, isn’t it? How high a price would we be willing to pay for peace and security?
Me? Oh, hell no, I’d never let anybody microchip me and monitor my every movement. Nor would I allow any cameras to be implanted in my brain to record every second of every day of my life.
But it’s sure fun to play what-if and write about….
Can a murder victim’s own memories be used to solve a crime?
Detective Veronica Sloan isn’t shocked by much. Having lived through the worst terrorist attacks in history—which destroyed much of Washington, D.C.—she’s immune to even the most vicious brutality. But even she is stunned by the discovery of a murder in the basement of the under-reconstruction White House.
Sloan and FBI Agent Jeremy Sykes have been assigned to investigate the homicide because the victim was a participant in a top-secret experiment. Veronica has been training for just this kind of case, waiting to use her special skills, anxious to learn if a recording device implanted in a victim’s head can help solve their murder….before the killer strikes again.
Thoughts? I think this is something we all have opinions and experiences that relate… (Oh and you can check out Leslie’s site for this persona at Leslie A. Smith.)