Tuesday 21 February 2023

When the Smoke Cleared by Bill Powers + Author Interview


Book Details:

Book Title When the Smoke Cleared (A Murder Mystery in Malden) by Bill Powers
Category:  Adult Non-Fiction (18 +),  400 pages
Genre:  True Crime
Publisher:  PowersCourt Press
Release date:  Oct, 2022
Content Rating:  PG-13 Some violence some profanity
Book Description:

There is no greater distinction or responsibility for a law enforcement officer than to be selected to investigate homicides. The same is true for a prosecutor. It is analogous to a call up to the big leagues where the curveballs or slapshots are frequent and more challenging, the lights are brighter, the audience larger and louder, and the scrutiny and demand for perfection can at times be a bit overwhelming.

This story follows an extraordinary murder investigation from the crime scene through to the arrest and into the courtroom. It is narrated by retired Detective Lieutenant Bill Powers, the former commander of the State Police Detective Unit for the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts: 

"When the smoke from the fire cleared and the water level receded, it was visually evident that a violent struggle, quite possibly a homicide, had preceded the fire. But where was the victim? The waterlogged bloodstains in the function room told us it wasn’t likely they stood up and walked out the door. We were confronted with an unusual dilemma. We not only had to investigate what happened and develop probable cause to make an arrest, but we also had to locate the poor soul who had spilled so much of their blood.”

​Walk the path of the investigation with Bill and his team, and then follow in ADA Adrienne Lynch’s footsteps as she guides the trial from opening statements through to the final verdict; a truly unique accounting with a bird’s eye view.

Beyond a police and courtroom procedural, this story is about the personal struggles in the victim’s life and how her death impacted her family’s lives in ways no one could have foreseen. It is a love story that grew from unspeakable tragedy.

​Bill Powers writes from the heart because he spent twenty years living the life of a homicide investigator. He went to literally hundreds of death scenes and, while each made its mark, none had more of a personal effect on him than this case.
Buy the Book:
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Author Interview with Bill Powers
What makes this book different from others in the True Crime genre?
The book is written in my voice and from my vantage point because I was an active participant from the early stages of the investigation through the trial.  I know the facts, I know the players, and as the case progressed, I experienced the rhythm that develops and expands as a case moves forward from the crime scene to the courtroom and beyond. I am confident that anyone who reads the story will be completely absorbed in it.
The overwhelming majority of true crime stories I have read are written from the perspectives of folks who observed and listened from the other side of the crime scene tape or the back bench of a courtroom. All too often their storylines are spiced with a bit of revisionist history and/or some imaginary characterization of the people and the events.

Why did you pick this genre?
I believe an authors’ best work emerges when they write about what they know and have experienced. As a police investigator and supervisor, with well over a hundred homicide cases in my file drawer, I can write from a perspective and with a base of knowledge and authority that others cannot. To qualify as an expert witness in a court of law, a person must have the education, training and experience that allows them to offer their opinion on matters where others lack the credentials and competency. As a police officer, attorney, and lecturer with decades of practical participation in the criminal justice system, I know I pass the test in all three areas.

Who is your target audience?
Undoubtedly, the largest audience would be the folks that enjoy True Crime stories, particularly ones with storylines that incorporate police and courtroom procedurals. Beyond restating the facts of the case, the book dives deeply into the behind-the-scenes activities and offers great explanations about the process of investigating and prosecuting a murder case.
Additionally, and I think just as importantly, this book belongs on lists of recommended reads for high school and college programs that are filled with students interested in pursuing careers as police officers, lawyers, and forensic scientists. Students studying sociology and psychology would also benefit from this thorough coverage of a criminal mindset.

How long did it take to write your book?
That is a short question with an extended answer. I wanted to start writing about the case shortly after the trial concluded. I recognized that I lacked the skills and knowledge to do it justice. So, I took writing classes at a local college and added a few others at an adult education program in Cambridge. Then the necessities of family life and work put things on hold for more than a decade. Time passed, but the desire to write the story never waned. Seven years ago I engaged with a coach who took me from writing in “just the facts” style of police reporting to creating a story with a narrative voice, descriptive dialogue, and thorough character development. I often felt she was guiding me through a dark and cluttered forest and into daylight and open fields. The entire writing process with editing, beta-reads and multiple re-writes took six years to complete. It was long and tedious, but in the end as complete and rewarding as I ever could have hoped.  

If you could go back in time and share a drink and conversation with someone, who would it be?
Without hesitation; President John Adams. He was an extremely fair and humble man with a keen legal mind. He represented the common man in his political life and in the courtrooms of Massachusetts. He stood for what he believed to be right and always had the courage of his convictions. He was a primary author of both the Massachusetts and the U.S. Constitutions. 
I’d want to listen to his views and comments about the tumultuous political atmosphere of that era and how he and his compatriots were able to shape the U.S. Constitution with language and purpose that gained general acceptance by all of the colonies. I would then present him with a breakdown of today’s widely differing political  thoughts and agendas, constitutional interpretations and personal opinions of the words he wrote almost two-and-a-half centuries ago. Then I would sit back in my chair and listen, learn, and be utterly rivetted by his responses.
Our meeting would definitely require more than one night and one drink.

Meet the Author:

Bill Powers has been active in the Massachusetts law enforcement community since he joined the Massachusetts State Police in 1974. Over time he rose through the ranks and was promoted to the rank of Detective Lieutenant. He commanded the State Police Detective Units (SPDU) in both Middlesex and Suffolk Counties, where he had direct oversight and involvement in more than one hundred homicides. His State Police career came full circle when he was named Commandant of the Recruit Training Academy. He retired as the director of the Media Relations Section. Following his retirement, Bill was appointed as an Assistant Professor in the graduate program for forensic sciences at the Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM). For the next seven years he lectured on criminal investigation and expert testimony to the graduate students. In addition, he produced training seminars for police investigators covering a wide variety of topics. Following his tenure at the BUSM he returned to the law enforcement profession as the Director of Public Safety at Wentworth Institute in Boston. Bill earned an undergraduate degree from Northeastern University with a major in Criminal Justice and a Juris Doctorate degree from the New England School of Law.

He resides South of Boston with his wife Jane. Their two daughters and their families live nearby. He has been blessed with five remarkable grandchildren who sparkle like bright stars in the night sky.

connect with the author: website ~ facebook goodreads
Enter the Giveaway to Win a $25 Starbucks Gift Card courtesy of the author of WHEN THE SMOKE CLEARED (A Murder Mystery in Malden) (one winner) (ends Mar 17)
WHEN THE SMOKE CLEARED by Bill Powers Book Tour Giveaway

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