Mystery is afoot in Williamsburg.
An author and Williamsburg expat has set his latest murder mystery novel on the mean streets of northern Brooklyn, a neighborhood he said is brimming with potential for tales of mystery and intrigue.
“I’ve often said if you walk around outside of your neighborhood, there’s no way you can suffer from writer’s block,” said Tim O’Mara. “If you get of the L train at Graham or the G train at Greenpoint Avenue and walk around with your eyes open, you’ll find stories.”
“Dead Red,” which O’Mara will bring to Word bookstore in Greenpoint on Feb. 27, follows the exploits of Raymond Donne, a Williamsburg teacher and ex-cop who begins unravelling the murder of his old cop pal, gunned down in front of him shortly after asking for help.
O’Mara, who is also a full-time teacher at a school in Manhattan, said he wrote the book in his spare time over the span of about a year — considerably more quickly than the 20 years it took him to finally publish “Sacrifice Fly,” the first mystery in the series.
O’Mara taught for more than a decade in Williamsburg, and said he uses that experience to inform his protagonist’s adventures in education. But for things beyond his personal experience, he looks to real experts — for the skinny on his books’ police themes, he turns to his brother, a cop on Long Island, and his brother-in-law, an officer in New York. And for “Red Dead,” which deals in part with the difficulties of returning veterans, he also spoke with a cop with combat experience.
“I like to go to the people who know more than I do,” O’Mara said. “Researching on the internet is well and good, but that just tends to bring up the questions I want to ask real live people.”
If Ray Donne, a teacher with an after-hours double-life, sounds like something of toughed-up alter-ego, that is because it is exactly what he is, O’Mara said. He said he puts much of himself into Donne, but quickly copped to adding a significant dash of grit and a sprinkling of moxie to the character.
“Ray is nosey and curious like I am, but he is a lot tougher than I am,” he said. “I probably couldn’t fight crime in my time off.”
“Red Dead” by Tim O’Mara, at Word [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 838–0096, www.wordb