“The elusive Barker is a deserving member of an exclusive society; that of the great detective. He uses his intellect in a way that most people fail to do and cuts through to the heart of the mystery with precision.” -Billierosie
Not every hero lives in a mansion or works from a smoky, hard-boiled office. Enter Barker, a mysterious man with no memory of his past. Ferociously handsome and acutely observant, Barker makes his home under the soggy planks of Old Fisherman's Wharf along California's foggy Central Coast. His closest friends are an assortment of stray dogs, ranging from a large Rottweiler to a tiny Shih-Tzu, who live with him. Adventure and intrigue have an uncanny knack for crossing Barker's path.
In the first entry of the series; Nickel, Barker’s sole human friend, bestows his makeshift home upon the man and his dogs just before dropping dead. It’s up to Barker to honor Nickel’s last wish, to atone for his sins, which doesn’t prove an easy task. Meanwhile, forces are at work in other parts of the fog-swept city, which will lead the homeless detective and his dogs to a deadly confrontation in the heart of Monterey Bay itself.
Patrick Whitehurst, born on the Monterey Peninsula, currently lives in Sedona, Ariz. As a journalist, he's written hundreds of stories for newspapers across the Grand Canyon State, as well as two regional non-fiction books. Whitehurst can be found online at www.patrickwhitehurst.blogspot.com.
Q: Tell us about THE BARKER MYSTERIES - what can readers expect from your fun, new series?
MN is a rousing tale of mystery and action, with a little taste of pulpy nostalgia, as I designed Monterey Noir's main character Barker as a kind of mystery man - with no memory of his past or how he came to be homeless with a pack of dogs. I think of him as a mix between Sherlock Holmes and Tarzan in a way, with his canine friends as sidekicks and assistants. He couldn't do what he does without them! Besides a sense of adventure, and besides the various mysteries Barker and his dogs get wrapped up in, I also wanted to illustrate a man who cares very little about the world of 9 to 5 employment, and create a noble homeless hero - as most don't think of the transient community that way of course.
Q: What was some of your inspirations for Barker?
When I was younger I once saw a man in a heavy coat running across the bike trail between Old Fisherman's Wharf and Cannery Row in the Monterey Peninsula. It was about 5 a.m. and I was riding my bicycle along the trail to get to work - a breakfast restaurant that I usually opened. The man shouted into a walkie-talkie as he ran. It struck me as very odd, as he looked homeless: disheveled, full beard, and pretty damn skanky in all. Could he be an undercover cop? Someone wrapped up in a mystery that had no choice but to cooperate? I never did find out, but Barker was born in my mind that day. Only years later did I get around to writing it out.
Q: We know that you and Monterey have a special connection - can you share some of your experiences and the magic of that place that led to your series?
Having grown up in the aftermath of the Monterey Pop Festival, I'd say I saw the leftover music fans of that bygone era take on jobs and begin new lives when they realized they couldn't return home. As a child I saw life from the view of "hippies" - heroine addicts, loud music and little clothing. And I saw the majesty of the Monterey Bay, the surf along Del Monte beach, seagulls gliding over my school as I sat in the classroom, and realized how lucky I was to be born there. Later I learned of Cannery Row's history, of John Steinbeck, and saw money come into the peninsula, forcing the low income residents inland, and how the ocean never seemed to care.
Q: Many noir writers like to play with the genre -- and your series is certainly playful -- what did you like adding or changing with Barker that separates it from other mysteries?
I wanted to play with idea of short mysteries, stand alone short stories, that tie into a bigger picture. For me, Barker's escapades in Monterey Noir build a larger story, but can also be read in standalone segments, and still offer the creative take on the anti-hero. Also, noir tends to hint at, to play with, the idea of a sex scene. I took it to the next level and made those sex scenes a little more full-bodied - a little raunchier!
Q: We know that the second volume of Barker will be coming out soon as well, care to tease your readers with some of your plans for the future?
'Monterey Pulp: The Barker Mysteries' picks up where 'Noir' left off, with Barker trying to avoid the media spotlight that falls upon him after his rescue of the Mayor of Carmel By the Sea in the book's last chapter. He takes to the Carmel Highlands to hide in the first chapter, and returns there again, in the final chapter titled 'Deadrent Kingdom.' In that chapter he comes upon a whole community of homeless people who live in the woods, but not peacefully!
Currently I'm fleshing out the third volume, 'Monterey Confidential,' which reveals a little more about Barker's past. It also takes him to the red rocks of Sedona, Arizona, for an encounter with a thug for hire. I'm having a lot of fun with the third entry, as I enjoy the "fish out of water" story. That and I'm introducing Barker to an army of ferocious chihuhuas!