“I’m not entirely sure why, but Madison Avenue seems to be an excellent breeding ground for mystery and thriller writers,” said James Hayman in this interview about his new McCabe/Savage mystery, “The Girl in the Glass.” A former Madison Avenue ad man himself, Hayman noted his fellow ad-business alumni include James Patterson, Stuart Woods, and Dorothy Sayers, who wrote “Murder Must Advertise.” Good company, indeed. And, an excellent training ground for Hayman, who spent thirty years as a copywriter and creative director. He wrote and produced TV commercials for clients like the US Army, Ford, J&J, and Procter & Gamble.
When the time came to leave the field of advertising, Hayman decided to pen a mystery series. “The Girl in the Glass” was inspired by the beginning of an F. Scott Fitzgerald short story:
“Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand…Even when they enter deep into our world…they still think that they are better than we are. They are different.”
“The Girl in the Glass” is the fourth book in the McCabe/Savage series. “It examines the assumptions of privilege and superiority that, in today’s society, make the very rich just as ‘different from you and me’ as they were in 1925 when Fitzgerald wrote those words. It is this attitude of the rich that leads to the tragic 1904 death of a beautiful young woman named Aimée Whitby.
“One hundred and eight years later this same sense of entitlement results in the murder of Aimée’s great-great-grand-daughter, a young woman who looks exactly like her ancestor and is also called Aimée. Like others of her class, the younger Aimée behaves as if ordinary people, Fitzgerald’s ‘you and me,’ exist only to serve her whims and desires. That they are available to be used, possibly abused and ultimately discarded when she has tired of them. It is this solipsistic attitude that, in the end, leads to her own death.”
James Hayman said he’s always been fascinated by the rich history of the City of Portland, Maine. “I’ve always had a hankering to include some of that history in one of my books. I decided to write ‘The Girl in the Glass’ as two parallel stories, one set in the Portland of 1904, the other in the Portland of today. The book goes back and forth between the two, and the challenge for me, as the writer, was to keep both stories compelling to the reader and to make the shifts between the two time periods as seamless as possible.”
Many authors pattern their protagonists after themselves. Hayman said he’s no different. “Michael McCabe is very much like me. We are both native New Yorkers. We both moved to Maine when we were good and done with the big city. We both enjoy good Scotch, old movies, soft jazz and the New York Giants football team. But, perhaps more importantly than any of these things, we both think and feel about life in the same way. The same things make us angry. The same things make us happy. We share the same values.”
Readers of police procedurals like the details to be accurate. To accomplish this goal, Hayman said he’s developed some relationships with people he can turn to when he has questions. “I also have become good friends with several retired Portland Police Detectives, most notably one named Tom Joyce who once held McCabe’s job as head of Portland’s Crimes Against People unit.
“Whenever I need to know something new about being a cop or police procedures, I call or email Tom. He either knows the answer or, if it’s something really specialized, he refers me to someone else who does. For the 1904 sections of ‘The Girl in the Glass,’ Tom referred me to Steve Roberts, who has become kind of the unofficial historian of the Portland PD. Steve provided a wealth of material and information about the Portland Police of that era.”
Learn more about James Hayman on his website at www.jameshaymanthrillers.com.