BRATTLEBORO — A local police captain has made his debut as a crime novelist.
“Out From Under,” by Brattleboro Police Capt. Mark Carignan, follows a team of detectives in Manchester, N.H., searching for a violent offender named Vincent Underwood. The cast of characters include a senior detective, an undercover officer and a trooper, among others. These individuals and their relationships, Carignan said, are the real story.
“Early in a police career, things are simple — there is legal and illegal, right and wrong. Over the years, of course, I found life is much more complex,” he said. “There are gray areas where good people make compromises or outright bad, sometimes criminal choices. Cops are no different, and while we strive to be honorable and do the right thing, we are flawed and subject to the same struggles that the rest of humanity is.”
He has been writing fiction for at least 15 years, and began work on “Out From Under” around four years ago, working on the novel whenever he could find time between his full-time job as a police officer and family commitments.
“It was really in the last year that I was able to put the finishing touches on it,” he said. “It’s kind of terrifying to take something that’s inside of your head, that you’ve written, and show it to the world.”
Among those who helped Carignan along the way, such as by reading and critiquing drafts, was Brooks Memorial Library director Starr LaTronica, who said readers are “in for a wild ride.” She called “Out From Under” an exciting story that gave her a sense of the inner workings of law enforcement, as well as a look into the minds of criminals.
While some of the characters were people she would want to hang out with, others, not so much.
“Readers read for different things. I read for character,” LaTronica said. “I think Mark’s characterization was really vivid.”
With new drafts, she saw how Carignan revised some of the characters and even some of their fates.
“I felt very lucky to have that inside view of the process,” she said.
Carignan said the story can be looked at as a number of short stories that come together toward the end of the book.
“That is kind of my writing style. I will write stories that I would say are longer than a short story but not quite full novel-length, find commonalities and ways those stories relate to each other and it turns into a novel,” he said.
He said his book is available at Everyone’s Books in Brattleboro, Village Square Booksellers in Bellows Falls, Bartleby’s Books in Wilmington and the Bennington Bookseller in Bennington.
“It is also available on Amazon, although I’d prefer if folks shop locally,” he said.