MOB RULES: A Jeff Trask Crime Drama
Assistant United States Attorney Jeff Trask moves from Washington, D.C., to Kansas City, where he begins an investigation into an international drug ring smuggling the deadly combination of fentanyl and heroin from the southern border to the Eastern Seaboard. In this case, Trask is fighting a rival whose criminal genius rivals Trask’s own intellect, and—while Trask is bound by the legal code and his own set of morals—the mob boss on the other side of this battle is unencumbered by such restrictions. The investigation forces Trask to choose whether to operate within the legal system ot to venture outside it in order to bring down the murderous kingpin.
Mob Rules has a very compelling plot. What was your creative approach to writing it?
As with all my books, I try to mix in quite a few real experiences from 30 years as a federal prosecutor with a plot that is also generated by one or more real cases, changing the names to protect the guilty as well as the innocent. I’m trying to return realism to the crime drama genre. Nobody outrunning machine gun fire or doing superhero stuff or solving the world’s biggest case alone. As in most avenues of life, it’s teamwork that’s essential and that wins for law enforcement. I hop into the heads of my characters and just keep asking myself what each character would do next in the real world. I try not to rush from one mental outline point to the next.
What was behind the move from Washington, D.C. to Kansas city for Jeff Trask?
That was also somewhat autbiographical. After a few years in DC, I transferred to Kansas City, where I spent the last 25 years of my career as a federal prosecutor. I was tired of “the swamp” in my real life, and actually got tired of fighting it even in my fictional alter ego. It was time to move, both for me and foor Jeff Trask.
What kind of investigation and what is he dealing with there?
Kansas City has always had a Mafia problem. I was assigned to the organized crime strike force unit when I got to Kansas City, and worked in that unit for a dozen years. It was this unit that made the case agains the Mafia in Vegas, the case upon which the movie “Casino” was based. (They ran that investigation before I arrived.) Trask has the same experience, and his first big case pits him against the mob in KC. The Mafia has always had its own weird and perverse set of loyalty codes, hence the title: “Mob Rules.”
Who else is helping Jeff on the investigation?
An old friend from the Air Force JAG named Cam Turner who is also a federal prosecutor (a character based upon a real friend who paved the way for my transfer to KC), and a blended team of federal agents and Kansas City police detectives. Since KC straddles the stateline between Missouri and Kansas, the investigative team includes detectives from both Kansas City, Missouri, and Kansas City, Kansas. I worked several major cases with the KCMO Police Department’s Career Criminal Unit, and that unit is prominently featured in the book. The cooperation between local and federal authorities was a very pleasant change from DC, where all the investigative agencies were constantly stabbing each other in the back. We had a little of that in Kansas City, but nothing like what I saw in Washington.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
This book probably has more humorous episodes included than did all the previous novels put together. That dark cop humor is an essential ingredient in writing a realistic police procedural, because it’s an essential ingredient in police life and culture. All the funny scenes were taken from my time in KC, and all—believe it or not—were real, as I indicated in the author’s notes at the end of the book. Even the funny truth is usually stranger than fiction. At any rate, it was nice being able to build in a few laughs for the audience instead of having to stay in “hard-boiled” or “gritty” mode the entire time.