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A Christmas Gift

to You

from Me


In the spirit of the season, I'm making my first Greg McKenzie mystery, Secret of the Scroll, available to my newsletter subscribers in ebook format FREE. You can download it in any of these popular formats:


● Mobi (for Kindle, others)

● PDB (Palm Doc)

● EPUB (iPod, iPhone, Kobo, Nook)

● LRF (Sony Reader)

● PDF (Adobe Reader)

● RTF (rich text)

● Plain Text)


The last three can be read on your PC or laptop. The story involves Greg's perilous journey back to the Middle East to save Jill from militant Palestinians and radical Israelis battling over an ancient Hebrew scroll. And though the book came out in 2002, not much has changed in the area. Just go to: and click on the ebook format you want. When you get to checkout, enter the coupon code MP42S and you can download it free.

On the Move


I haven't done as much traveling lately as in years past, but we put in appearances at the Almost Famous Author's Faire in Louisville, KY last week and at the Kentucky Book Fair in Frankfort in November. Closer to home were the Gallatin, TN Main Street Festival and Southern Festival of Books in Nashville in October.


On January 15 we'll make our third appearance at the annual Coffee County-Manchester Public Library Author Signing, which takes place at the library in Manchester, TN from  10:00 a.m. till 2:00 p.m.

Thanks to All


As Anno Domini 2010 winds down, I want to thank all of those who have put up with my wandering, sometimes wayward, thoughts over the years. I enjoy writing mysteries and making them available for your entertainment. A special thanks to those of you who have taken the time to write me about your reactions to my books. You can use the Contact link at upper left to send any comments you'd  like.

What's Next?


I'm currently into the second book in the Sid Chance series. Medicare fraud lies in the background, while the foreground looks  into the plight of a young man who is out of prison at age 25 after being tried as an adult for a murder committed when  he was 12. Sid is hired by his grandmother when the former convict is accused of another homicide. It is scheduled for publication in 2011.


Happy New Year!











Available at

Mysteries & More


My Website







It's Sizzlin' Summer

Contest Time


Let's temper the temperature with some cool stuff. The release date for the fifth Greg McKenzie mystery, A Sporting Murder, has been moved up to September 15. That means it's time to award some prizes to four of my faithful readers. Check 'em out:


Your Name used for a character in my next mystery.

● A signed copy of A Sporting Murder.

● A free download of any three of my books in the ebook format of your choice.

● Your choice of one of the first four Greg McKenzie Mysteries.


No need to do anything. You're automatically entered in the contest. The winners will be drawn on September 15th.

"Once Again, Campbell

Has Hit the Mark"


That's how Larry Chavis winds up his review (the first) of A Sporting Murder. Writing for The GenReview, he says:


"His writing is clean and spare, giving us enough sense of place and character to feel as if we've settled in with friends, and then in turn ratcheting up the tension and suspense. Greg McKenzie is not a hard-boiled private investigator, but he's tough and smart, well aware of the qualities Jill brings to the partnership. The way the case plays out against the backdrop of their lives gives them a genuineness that makes the reader feel these would be good folks to spend an afternoon with - or to have along in a gun fight."

Movin' On


We've done some interesting traveling the past few months. In June we signed books at the RC Cola-Moon Pie Festival in the small town of Bell Buckle, TN. Writer colleague Beth Terrell and I manned a booth among dozens of vendors selling just about anything you could imagine. The hat booth next to us did a great business in the sweltering heat. One booth sold (what else?) RC Colas and Moon Pies.


They started the morning with a 10-mile run (we skipped that) and wound up the day cutting the World's Largest Moon Pie. From our booth, we could view one of the contests, the Moon Pie Toss. They sailed over the crowd like small chocolate Frisbees. It was a fun day with a crowd put at 10,000.


A couple of weekends ago, we signed at the Tennessee Antiquarian Book Fair. While my mysteries aren't exactly antiquarian, except maybe the subject of Secret of the Scroll, I was invited down by my niece, Caroline McGee, and her husband, Tom. He put the show together and had book dealers and similar exhibitors from across the South.


For this one, we ventured a bit farther south to Cowan, TN. It sits at the foot of a range of hills known as Monteagle Mountain to drivers between Nashville and Chattanooga. The CSX Railroad rumbled through town on on off, with two diesel units in front and two in the rear to boost the boxcars over the mountain.

A Time for Memories


The weekend after next, we're headed for an event in Knoxville that will be filled with nostalgia. While working at The Knoxville Journal in 1950, I joined a new Air National Guard outfit, the 119th Aircraft Control & Warning Squadron. That was in the early days of radar air defense. The unit was called to active duty the following year for the Korean War. After a couple of months at Otis Air Force Base on Cape Cod, two other officers and I were pulled out and sent to the Far East. My year in Korea at Headquarters, Fifth Air Force, was an unforgettable adventure.


The 119th is still an ANG unit at Knoxville's McGhee Tyson Airport, though it is now designated as the 119th Command and Control Squadron,. assigned to the Air Force Aerospace Command. I was contacted recently and invited to the unit's 60th Anniversary celebration. So far they've found only three of the original members, another lieutenant (as I was then) and a sergeant. It should be an interesting time.


Stay cool.




Worldwide Launch Party Sept. 25

Mysteries & More, Nashville's  only mystery bookshop, will be the scene of the "Worldwide Launch Party" (owner Greg Bruss' description) for

A Sporting Murder

on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.

Are You an


For the next month or two, my books will be available on Amazon in the Kindle format for only $1.99. Use this LINK.

The Website

Looks Totally New

I've just completed a total revision of my website (hint―it looks a lot like this newsletter). Use any of the links on the left to visit its pages.

























No, I'm not about to sneeze on you, but I do have a problem. In addition, that is, to getting onto too many e-lists that eat up my time. One list I got on that looked like fun at first is Real Age. You answer a bunch of questions, trying not to lie (uh, exaggerate) too often, and they tell you what age you really are. Like, hopefully, several years short of your birth certificate.


Anyway, today they featured the last of a five-part series on allergies. It started off: "You're tackling allergies head on. You've identified your allergy type, you know and avoid your triggers, and you've seen your doctor concerning your allergy symptoms."


Wrong! I tried the allergy bit several years ago. Couldn't see that it was helping, got tired of my arm substituting for somebody's needlework, and moved on. My problem is a chronic cough. Many doctors have tried but failed to find the cause (or the cure). So, after many years, I just keep on coughing. That and clearing my throat has about ruined my vocal chords, which is why I no longer make long talks. Fifteen minutes is my limit. But I can write for hours, when I stay off the Internet. Maybe the big "I" is my real allergy.




Okay, that's a trick question to see if you've been reading the newsletter. I've changed to a new format, using ideas stolen from several other mystery writers, notably Chris Grabenstein. It's a bit more colorful, with the outer border in good ole Tennessee orange.


The links in the green box will take you to relevant pages on my website. Most newsletters done in this style are patterned after the author's website design. Being a contrarian, I'll just pattern my website after the newsletter.




Writers group colleague Beth Terrell and I have been booking festivals around Middle Tennessee. In the photo above, we're signing April 10 at the Buttercup Festival in Nolensville, TN, just south of Nashville. It was a beautiful spring day.




On Saturday, June 19, we'll be at the famous RC Moon Pie Festival in the small town of Belle Buckle, TN, where they're 100 years behind the times "and proud of it." It celebrates two Southern traditions—RC Cola and Moon Pies. The festivities end with cutting of the World's Largest Moon Pie, which is served to the entire crowd. It's a Southeastern Tourism Society Top 20 Event.


Belle Buckle has a Walking Horse Hotel and a shop that sells all sorts of souvenirs celebrating its neighbor to the south, the Jack Daniel Distillery. Though it sounds like a backwoodsy place, Belle Buckle has been the home since 1886 of Webb School, a private coeducational college prep school with a national reputation. Under its founder's leadership, it produced more Rhodes scholars than any secondary school in the nation.




I've saved the best news for last. The fifth Greg McKenzie mystery, A Sporting Murder, is in the pipeline at Night Shadows Press and will be out this fall. Don't have a release date or cover yet, but will shortly. Stay tuned!




News of the Sid Chance & Greg McKenzie Mysteries     Fall 2009


Work Moves Ahead on

A Sporting Murder

Everybody keeps asking when will the next Greg and Jill book be out? It’s in the works and it now has a title, A Sporting Murder. I had hoped to get it published early in the year, but it looks like May will be the earliest. As I mentioned in the last newsletter, the story concerns an effort to bring an NBA basketball team to Nashville. The move is being fought by supporters of the Predators NHL hockey team, who fear another pro team would adversely affect the viability of their sport.


This is the second book in which I’ve used a real name for a character. One of the main players in the plot is Louie Aregis, owner of a venture capital firm, who is spokesman for the NBA proponents. The real Louie Aregis, who insisted that I use him in the book, holds a 6th Degree Black Belt and is owner and chief instructor of Aregis Taekwondo Center in Goodlettsville, TN, a Nashville surburb. Our 12-year-old grandson has been a student there since first grade and recently qualified for his 1st Degree Recommended Black Belt.


I hope to have a cover for the new book shortly. I’ll share it when it’s ready.


I signed 50 copies of The Surest Poison for booksellers at the Southeast Independent Booksellers Alliance show at Greenville, SC.


Coming Events

Wednesday, December 9

9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

Ladies' Day, Old Hickory Country Club
Old Hickory, TN

Saturday, January 16, 2010

10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.

3rd Annual Author Signing

Manchester Public Library

Manchester, TN

Saturday, April 17

9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.

Southern Kentucky BookFest

Carroll Knicely Center, Bowling Green, KY


Sarah and I at a booksigning at the Cheatham County Public Library

in Ashland City, where much of The Surest Poison is set.


Christmas Is in the Air

Christmas is in the air for sure. The TV is full of Santa stories and other holiday fare. We even had snow in some of the counties around us, but none in Nashville. While I’m writing this, Sarah and Justin, the aforementioned grandson, have been decorating the tree. I took time out to put it together for them. I always forget how to connect wires from the different sections. I must have spent twenty minutes searching and attempting to mate the right male and female plugs. Ah, the joys of Christmas.

The real spirit of Christmas will get under way at church tomorrow when the choir puts on their music program. All the colored lights and tinsel may help the season look merry, but it’s the story of what took place in the little town of Bethlehem two centuries ago that gives the real meaning to Christmas. I visited Bethlehem on a Holy Land tour back in November of 1998. It was the trip that led to the writing of Secret of the Scroll, the first Greg McKenzie mystery.

They were just starting work on the transformation of Bethlehem for the year 2000 celebrations. I remember driving past the desolate hills where the shepherds had watched over their flocks by night. While the “traditional” location of Jesus’ birth did not resemble anything I might have imagined, it left me with a profound feeling of reverence for this area where Christ was born. His influence continues to encourage a spirit of goodwill that makes Christmas a magical time for giving of ourselves.


A Special Deal for

My Newsletter Subscribers

Speaking of Christmas, if you have someone on your list you’d like to give an autographed book, here’s a deal for you as a subscriber. Go to and order what you’d like. In your email instructions for how you want it signed, tell me you’re a subscriber and you’ll get a 20% discount. If  you order by PayPal, I’ll refund your discount via PayPal.


This 'n That

If you're not already a friend on Facebook, look me up at

I'm also tweeting now and then at

Catch me on a blog at one of these:

Mystery Mania (often)

Murderous Musings (weekly)

Make Mine Mystery (twice monthly)


Memories of Christmas 2008 with

the Pizzaz Quartet at

Mysteries & More Bookstore


Last-Minute Reminder

*If you change your email address, write me. I get bounces every issue.


See you in a few months.




News of the Sid Chance & Greg McKenzie Mysteries     Summer 2009


The Surest Poison

Wins Silver Falchion Award

Those attending the recent 4th Annual Killer Nashville Literary Conference voted The Surest Poison best book by a conference registrant. I received The Silver Falchion Award (photo at right) at the Guest of Honor banquet on Saturday night (the guest, incidentally, was prolific mystery author J.A. Jance).

The conference, billed as a celebration of mysteries, thrillers and crime literature, included as co-sponsors the Southeast  Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime Middle Tennessee Chapter. It was chaired by Clay Stafford, who presented the award. The program was great, featuring many interesting panels, along with forensic presentations by such speakers as Lee Lofland, former detective and writer of the highly-popular Graveyard Shift blog.



Coming Events

Saturday, September 5

Noon-3:00 p.m.

Cheatham County Public Library

Ashland City, TN

Saturday, September 12

Noon-3:00 p.m.

Signing at Barnes & Noble

Hendersonville, TN

September 25-27

Southern Independent

Booksellers Alliance Show

Greenville, SC

October 3

10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.

Main Street Festival

Gallatin, TN

October 9-11

Southern Festival of Books

Nashville, TN

October 15-18

Bouchercon World

Mystery Convention

Indianapolis, IN

November 7

9:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Kentucky Book Fair

Frankfort, KY


It's Official...I'm a Geezer

Those folks at Boucheron, The World Mystery Convention, know how to peg their writers. I've just received an assignment to participate in a panel titled "Geezer Lit Comes of Age," subtitled "The graying of the genre."

My Webster's Collegiate defines geezer as a "queer, odd, or eccentric man." The American Heritage Dictionary simplifies it to "An eccentric old man." Eccentric means unconventional, and I'll plead guilty to that.

I enjoy being different, plotting my own course through this minefield of mundanity (should be a word if it isn't). My more mature (a euphemism for geezerish) protagonists tend to go their own ways, also. Don't laugh, you'll be this way too if you live long enough.


Got a Kindle?

Amazon's ebook reader has become so popular that I've reduced the price for my books at the Kindle Store to make them more accessible. You'll find all four of my Greg McKenzie mysteries and the new Sid Chance book, The Surest Poison, available for $5.99 each. Just click this link:

Chester Campbell Books


What Annoys You?

I really get annoyed at drivers, like the ones who roar past  you in the lane that's about to be closed ahead, then expect to be allowed to merge at the front of the line.

I got to thinking about this and, as usual, turned to Google. I searched on "pet peeves" and got 2,430,000 links in .08 seconds. One of the first had a list of 500 pet peeves. Not surprisingly, a lot of them dealt with driving.

One was dining with a picky eater. That's why we don't take our grandson out to dinner anymore. First, there are very few things he likes, and  those have to be prepared exactly the way he wants them.

Another that bugs me is people who sit in a bookstore like it was a library, read a book for an hour or two and then leave it on the table.

What about  you?



Catch me on a blog at one of these:

Mystery Mania (often)

Murderous Musings (weekly)

Make Mine Mystery (twice monthly)


What I'm Doing Now

I'm plowing away on book five of the Greg McKenzie series. When Greg goes to meet a man who has information on a new case, he finds the man shot dead. It involves an attempt to bring an NBA basketball team to Nashville, and a campaign by hockey fans to block their effort. I hope to have it in print by early next year. I'll keep you posted.


Last-Minute Reminders

*If you change your email address, write me. I get bounces every issue.

*Need a gift? Signed books make great gifts. Order at my website.


Email me at I'd love to hear from you.






News of the Sid Chance & Greg McKenzie Mysteries     Spring 2009


Swine Flu...Pig in a Poke?

It's a serious problem, particularly if you get it, but the swine flu seems to be blown a bit out of proportion to me. My epidemiologist friend says its no time to panic and start shutting everything down. Just use good elemental common sense and you should be fine.

I have another book signing coming up this Saturday, and I trust book buyers will be out shopping as usual. I think the biggest problem is bureaucrats making loud noises to cover their behinds in case something really bad should happen.

After the way the feds have botched the auto business and the banks and the housing industry, I'm ready to wash my hands of the whole Washington scene. Isn't that their recommendation?


Order Here


Coming Events

Saturday, April 9

2:00-4:00 p.m.

Signing at Barnes & Noble

Opry Mills Mall

Nashville, TN

MaY 22

5:00-8:00 p.m.

Estill County Reading Celebration

Irvine, KY

August 14-16

Killer Nashville Conference

Cool Springs Marriott

Franklin, TN


Have Your Cake and Eat It...

The is the cake we had at the Book Launch Party for The Surest Poison. It was held at my church, City Road Chapel United Methodist, in Madison. We had a nice group of folks who came to talk about books and munch on  sweets.

I'd never seen artwork silk-screened with icing. Nobody wanted to deface the cover, so we wound up eating off both sides and taking the cover home intact. Isn't that what's called having your cake and eating it, too?


New Sid Chance Book

Gets Great Reviews

Here are a few early kudos for The Surest Poison:

"A top rate mystery by a gem of a writer." Jon Jordan, Editor, Crimespree Magazine

"Fiction writing those with a penchant for Lawrence Block can enjoy." Sylvia Cochran, Associated  Content Arts & Entertainment

"The reader is treated to a good old-fashioned detective story - and that is intended as very high praise...another terrific novel." Gloria Feit, Midwest Book Review

"If you like tough-guy crime-buster stories, then you will enjoy the new Sid Chance Mystery series ...Exciting and well-done." Stephanie Boyd, Armchair Interviews


POD Coming to a Store Near You

Well, maybe not right away, but it's really coming. This news story from Lightning Source gives the details. It's supported by several major publishers.

Night Shadows Press, my publisher, prints POD. My books should be there.


Tie a String Around Your Finger

*If you change your email address, write me. I get bounces every issue.

*Copies of my backlist are available at my website and

*Check out the articles I wrote for my recent Blog Book Tour.

*I'm not traveling as much now but I'm still blogging at Mystery Mania.


Email me at and let me know how you like the new format. Now I have to get to work on the website.






All the News That's Fittin' to Print

Winter 2008-9



Here's the cover for The Surest Poison, the initial book in my new Sid Chance mystery series. I should be getting Advance Review Copies in a few days, so I'm launching a contest with three ARCs as the prizes. To get your name in the hat, click this link to send me an email with your name and address. The drawing will be held on New Year's Eve.


The book's title is taken from an essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson that appeared in The Atlantic magazine back in January 1862. Emerson wrote:


"Tobacco, coffee, alcohol, hashish, prussic acid, strychnine, are weak dilutions; the surest poison is time."


Published by Night Shadows Press, the book will be out in April.


I’ll have opening chapters on my website within the next few days, so don't forget to check out later in the week.




Greg McKenzie mysteries make great Christmas gifts, and the prices have never been lower. How does 40% off sound? And no shipping charge if you order more than one book. It's my effort to help out in this difficult economy.


This link will take you to the order page on my website. You can use the Add to Cart icons to order through PayPal using your credit card, or you can send a check to the address at the bottom of the page. Be sure to send instructions on how you want the books signed.


Get your order in now while there's time to ship them to you before Christmas (if you need RUSH shipping, check with me on the extra cost).




I'm in the early stages of writing the fifth Greg McKenzie mystery. Nothing has been chiseled in granite yet, but at the moment it looks like the story will involve some shenanigans with an effort to lure a pro basketball team to Nashville. We have NFL football and NHL hockey, so NBA basketball is the logical next step. An effort was made a few years back before Memphis got the Grizzlies. I'd like to get it out by the end of 2009, but I have to get busy if I'm going to make it.




We have several events on the schedule during the next few weeks and months. If you happen to be around any of them, drop by and say "Hi!" Here's the current lineup:


Saturday, Dec. 13, 2:00-4:00 p.m., signing at Mysteries & More bookstore, Lenox Village, 6965 Sunnywood Dr., Nashville, TN


Saturday, Jan. 17, 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., signing with other mystery writers at Manchester Public Library, Manchester, TN


Saturday, Feb. 21, 1:00-4:00 p.m., signing with other mystery authors at Sherlock's Book Emporium & Curiosities, Lebanon, TN


Friday-Sunday, Feb. 27-March 1, SleuthFest Mystery Conference, Deerfield Beach Hilton, Deerfield Beach, FL


Friday-Sunday, March 13-15, Tucson Festival of Books, University of Arizona Campus, Tucson, AZ


Saturday, April 18, 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., Southern Kentucky BookFest, Sloan Convention Center, Bowling Green, KY


Check the Schedule page on my website for more to come.




It's freezing here in the sunny South. As I write this, the Tennessee Titans and about 60,000 crazy football fans are shivering in their boots (or whatever they're wearing) at LP Field as kick-off nears for a game with the Cleveland Browns. The temperature is around the freezing mark, and I'm happily ready to watch on TV in the warm comfort of my living room.


But never fear, the mercury will be back in the 50s tomorrow. Our weather see-saws like the Dow Jones Industrial Average of late.


I'd like to wrap this up with a wish that you and yours would enjoy a wonderful Christmas, a happy Hanukkah, or whatever festive occasion you choose. May the New Year bring better times for us all!






All the News That's Fittin' to Print

Fall 2008




Pardon my ghoulishness, but I’m trying to get into the Halloween spirit. And there’s good reason. The Surest Poison, the first book in my new Sid Chance mystery series, starts out early on Halloween morning. Sid comes down from his hillside hideaway fifty miles to the east at about the same time a body is discovered at a park in Nashville. He is hired to unravel a complicated maze of questions surrounding the massive dumping of a toxic chemical that pollutes the water in a nearby small county. Sorry, but you’ll have to wait to find out how the body is involved.


I had hoped to have a cover to show you, but it isn’t ready yet. I do have a publication date, however. It’s April 10, 2009. I’ll have more information for you in the winter issue of this newsletter. The Surest Poison will be published by Night Shadows Press.


I’ll have more details, including opening chapters, on my website as soon as the cover is available. Check out in a couple of weeks.




Speaking of Halloween, Sarah and I took our grandson, Justin, on a different kind of spooky outing last weekend at The Hermitage, President Andrew Jackson’s 1000-acre plantation home located in a Nashville suburb. It’s actually only a few miles from the fictional home of Greg and Jill McKenzie.


The Mansion, restored to its 1834 glory with General Jackson’s original furnishings, right down to the wallpaper, sits near the middle of the large farm where Jackson raised cotton and other crops and carried on various enterprises. It has a modern Visitor Center complete with Museum Store, Auditorium, and Garden Gate Café. I wrote about it in my Oct. 28 blog at Murderous Musings.


We arrived at dusk on a moonless night and headed up a pathway lighted by lanterns placed on the ground every 100 feet or so. Our first encounter was with a squad of Confederate soldiers gathered around their tents. Since the Civil War didn’t start until ten years after Jackson’s death, and no fighting was reported in the area of The Hermitage, I assumed they were on a scouting expedition.


Seeing how fierce Justin looked in his costume, the sergeant donned a serious look. “We’d better let him pass,” he said.


After touring the Mansion and hearing a bit of music from a bluegrass ensemble at the back porch, we wandered down another lighted path to a barn where we boarded a wagon filled with bales of straw for a hayride through the farm. Various ghouls and goblins jumped out, screaming, from the sides of the darkened road as we passed by. One bunch gave us a noisy greeting when we rode beneath the overhanging roof of a hay barn.


It was a ghostly experience except for one point where we turned past a treeless area. You could see lights from a nearby subdivision and a major thoroughfare, reminding us that we were no more than twenty minutes away from downtown Nashville.


After the hayride, there were ghost stories in a candlelit cabin, pumpkin decorating, and palm reading in the fortune telling tent. Sarah and I left Justin with a friend to continue hayriding and visit the cemetery while we adjourned to the café for pie and coffee. They told us old Andy Jackson usually showed up along the haunting trail, but he wasn’t available that night. Too bad. I’d read that in his early days, the future President had a propensity for pulling pranks, cursing, and fighting. Might have made for a livelier evening.




If you’ve read the F.A.Q.’s page on my website, you may recall that my younger son, Mark, has been quite entrepreneurial in partnership with his Korean wife. They have run a drycleaning business, an Oriental market, a karaoke lounge, a Korean restaurant, and a convenience store. Mark’s newest venture is:



Starting a small business in the current economy is a daunting endeavor. His theory is that if you don’t have a big advertising budget, you have to do something to get people talking. In his case, the name’s the thing. His sign has brought in customers to see what it’s all about. As soon as he gets going good, he plans to approach the media with his unusual name.


When the health department inspectors came for their second visit, they said The Roadkill Café was the talk of the office. So what will you find there? Sandwiches and snacks, coffee and cappuccino, all kinds of tea, soft drinks, beer, cigarettes, lottery tickets and scratch-offs. And lots of wacky signs like “Our Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy. You don’t ask, we won’t tell.”


Do they serve possum? Sorry. But there’s a photo of a flat possum in the middle of the road where a striping crew painted two yellow stripes across the critter’s torso. And since they’re dealing with killing, they also sell mystery books—The Marathon Murders and Deadly Illusions, to be specific (others available on request).




We did a small booksigning tour in August that proved quite interesting. Starting on a Friday night at Knoxville’s Barnes & Noble, we traveled the following morning across the Great Smoky Mountains to the small resort of Highlands, NC. The narrow two-lane road into the town had more twists and turns than a whole family of snakes. Nestled some 4,000 feet up in the mountains, Highlands has a short business district composed of small shops and restaurants on both sides of a divided street.


Cyrano’s Bookshop was a narrow store jammed with books, both new and used. The owner, Claire Simpson, had us set up for a signing at 2:00 p.m. We were a tad late because of slow traffic coming up the mountain, but she had a table set up beside the door and we started selling immediately. There was a constant flow of people coming off the crowded sidewalk. She had another author scheduled for 4:00 or we’d have sold lots more.


Sunday morning we drove across the mountain back into Tennessee, passing the highest point in North Carolina. We pulled into Kingsport around noon and found a table full of books waiting for us at Waldenbooks in the Fort Henry Mall. We enjoyed the trip and met a lot of new readers.


Coming up Nov. 15 is the Kentucky Book Fair at Frankfort. I’ll be signing books from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Frankfort Convention Center along with some 200 other authors. I’ll have all four Greg McKenzie Mysteries, so if there’s one you don’t have and you’re in the area, please drop by.




Summer seems to have sneaked by while I wasn’t looking, but there will be another newsletter during the winter. I promise. It will have all the details of The Surest Poison. There are two things I’d like you to keep in mind. Since I’m published by a small press that doesn’t get distribution into the stores, you need to ask your local store to order the books for you. It would also help to ask your local library to order my books. The Marathon Murders received a Library Journal review. Hopefully the new book will, too.


As the old Bartles & James guys used to say, “Thanks for your support.”




All the News That's Fittin' to Print

Spring 2008




That's probably the most asked question I get. For The Marathon Murders, the answer is simple—a neighbor provided it. One day in the fall of 2005, I encountered Kathleen Mays, who lives two houses around the cul-de-sac from me, and found her bubbling over with excitement. She had been to visit Marathon Village, a project that involved refurbishing the old plant and administrative building of Marathon Motor Works near downtown Nashville. Her father had worked in the Chassis Department in 1914, the year the company stopped building its popular touring car.


"You should write about it in your next book," she said.


When I looked into the operation, I found a guy named Barry Walker had been restoring the buildings to make offices and studios for photographers, artists, and musicians. I also learned about the company's demise from shady business practices. It sounded like a great opportunity for a murder. The photos below were shot in the old showroom at my Book Launch Party in February. At left I'm posing with Kathleen Mays and wife Sarah in front of a 1912 Marathon. At right owner Barry Walker holds his copy of the book.





They say novel writing is one of the loneliest endeavors you can find, even surpassing the fabled Maytag repairman. An Oxford English Dictionary editor says the word "lonely" was possibly coined by writer Will Shakespeare, who first used it in Coriolanus (1607-08). It's true, we writers have to sit in solitary concentration and dig around in our own gray matter to come up with all these plots and characters and settings. But don't waste any pity on us. It's self-imposed exile. If we didn't enjoy it so much, we'd probably be out driving an ice cream truck or pursuing some other useful occupation.




The trees are greening out, it's warm enough to open my office window, and I can listen to the ice cream man (or woman) serenade the neighborhood as the colorful trucks troll for kids' cash. I love all the seasons, but Spring has to be one of the best. After Winter's gloom, it brings out smiling faces and a kaleidoscope of color among the flower beds. It makes you want to grab a good mystery, tilt back in the sun, and read. If it's a state of mind, it's a good state to be in. May the population increase.




With gasoline more pricey than pearls and meals at restaurants bringing checks that used to be reserved for caviar, I'm cutting back on travel this year. We cruised down to Fort Lauderdale at the end of February for our seventh SleuthFest in the last eight years, doing a Waldenbooks and a Borders signing in the area. Then we drove up to Evansville, IN in March for the Midwest Writers Guild Book Fair, which proved quite interesting. The site was the food court of a mall that was all but out of business. Only Sears and a few small stores remained, with much of the space occupied by clinics and such of a healthcare provider.


We're headed to Pennsylvania in early May for grandson Andrew Campbell's wedding. That trip will provide three signing opportunities:


•Wednesday, May 7, 6:30 p.m., Dawn Dowdle's book group at Barnes & Noble in Lynchburg, VA

•Friday, May 9, 6 p.m., signing at Barnes & Noble, Camp Hill, PA

•Sunday, May 11, 2:30 p.m., signing at Mechanicsburg (PA) Mystery Book Store


In June we're doing a mini-tour of Alabama and Florida. I'm still trying to line up something for June 6, but here's what is currently on the menu:


•Saturday, June 7, 2-4 p.m., signing at Barnes & Noble, Spanish Fort, AL

•Sunday, June 8, 1 p.m., signing at Barnes & Noble, Pensacola, FL

•Monday, June 9, signing at Southwest Branch Library, Pensacola, FL


If you're around any of those locations, drop by an say hello. We'd love to see you.




At SleuthFest we had a chance to chat with old friend Kelly Nichols, half of the P.J. Parrish writing pair (Louis Kincaid series and new Joe Frye series). We knew she had been toying with the idea of writing a mystery on her own. She told us she had finished one and decided it wasn't good enough to interest her agent. So she wrote another and sent it in. The agent asked to see the first one and said she liked it better. Those things happen.


I have mentioned in earlier newsletters about working on a new series featuring a PI named Sid Chance. After I finished the first book, eventually titled The Surest Poison, I put it aside for a few months, then read it again. I wasn't happy with the character, so I've started over. I hope to have a version I like in a few months. We'll see.




After The Marathon Murders got a Library Journal review, many libraries have ordered the book for their collection. Check your local library. If they don't have it, ask them to order a copy. It's available from Ingram.


If you haven't visited lately, drop by and see what's going on. I post new signings as soon as they're confirmed. And I occasionally add new features. Something else in the works is a blog with four other authors, tentatively titled Murderous Musings. There will be a link to it on the website. Have fun and stay cool, it'll probably be a steamy summer.





All the News That's Fittin' to Print*

Winter 2007-8

*with apologies to the venerable NY Times




I'm throwing a Book Launch Party for The Marathon Murders on Saturday afternoon, February 16, at 2:00 p.m. in the restored showroom of the old Marathon Motor Works just beyond downtown Nashville. We'll have refreshments, 1912 Marathon touring cars to ogle, and I'll have a few words to say about the origins of the new book. The Marathon Murders (in both hardcover and trade paperback) will be available for purchase and signing, along with the first three books in the Greg McKenzie Mystery Series.


Okay, if you live in Timbuktu and can't get a flight out in time to make the party, you're excused. You can order the new book from your favorite bookstore,,, or from my website (for an autographed copy). However, if you're anywhere in the vicinity, we'd be happy to greet you and shake your hand, or give you a hug if you're of the female persuasion.




I was going to paraphrase The Ancient Mariner, but what can I say? Have you ever seen such meterological wackiness? Up to 60 degrees one day, down to 11 a few days later. Then back up again. Somebody must be tinkering with the jet stream. If you're suffering from the cold part of the snap (I suppose that's a half-proper way of putting it), curl up beside the fireplace with a copy of The Marathon Murders. It takes place during a scorching hot August.




My wife and I try to walk two miles a day at the mall (though we miss one now and then). Last Saturday afternoon, we hit the mall in the middle of rush hour. It was more of a stroll than a walk. It occurred to me that a writer could plop down on a chair or bench there and watch an example of just about any type of character he could imagine, plus a few who would tax the imagination to its limits.  Remember the old comedy It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World? Well, our mall on a Saturday is madder than that. Guys with their pants hanging down so low they'd have to bend over to reach their pockets. Others in black sporting earrings, nose rings, lip rings, brow rings, tongue rings—I hesitate to guess what else might be pierced. And enough chains dangling to rival Morley in A Christmas Carol. The ladies (if I may be pardoned for using such a term) flaunt bare midriffs, with tattoos displayed from bosom to bottom, both of which appear in glorious technicolor when they lean over.


Another thing you notice is that this is the Year of the Boot. Short boots, tall boots, solid heels, spiked heels, leather, fur—makes a person almost feel out of place in sneakers. Some of the more spiky models make the gals' legs resemble the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Of course there are plenty of normally-dressed folks, although "normal" seems to be a relative term. Needless to say, I came away with a mental notebook chock full of characters. Now if I can just fit 'em into a plot.




I trust you've seen the parade of book trailers on places like Youtube. For the uninitiated, they're mini-movies. Mine runs just under two minutes. I put it on Youtube and Crimespace. It's also on my website at BookTrailer.htm. The video gives a thumbnail sketch of the first three Greg McKenzie Mysteries. It's fast-paced, so you have to read quickly. Now I need to get to work on a new trailer for The Marathon Murders.




Are you familiar with's new e-book reader, the Kindle? All four Greg McKenzie Mysteries can be downloaded into the device. It's kind of pricey, about $399, I believe. Don't know if the economy slowdown has slowed sales, but apparently lots of people have bought them. The big attraction is that if you're in the vicinity of Sprint's cell phone system, you can download books instantly, no connection required. You can find mine by going to Amazon, clicking the Kindle link, then click on Kindle Books and type in a book name.


All four print books are available from Amazon. The first three can only be bought there or through my website. I still have the 33% discount deal, where you can mail a check or use a credit card with PayPal. If you have a mystery-loving Aunt Bea or Uncle Nabob, they make great gifts, at a price . . . well, it's a deal you can't refuse.




With a new book out, it's back on the road again. At the end of February, we'll be at Deerfield Beach, FL for the annual SleuthFest conference. I'll be on a panel titled "Dust and Sepia Tints: Historicals Come to Life." I'll do a couple of bookstore signings in the area, but they're not firmed up yet. Then on Saturday, March 15th we'll be in Evansville, IN for the Midwest Writers Guild Book Fair at the Washington Square Mall. Closer to home, I'm doing a signing Feb. 22 at Barnes & Noble in Brentwood, TN and the next day I'll be on a Sisters in Crime panel at the Smyrna (TN) Public Library. Details on all these are on my website. I'll be adding more signings, so check again soon to see if I'll be somewhere near you.


Have a warm rest of the winter, read good books, and get ready for spring.





All the News That's Fittin' to Print (Fall 2007)

with apologies to the venerable NY Times




That's right, it's finally almost here. The fourth Greg McKenzie mystery will be out officially on Feb. 11, 2008. And something new—it will be available in both hardback (ISBN 9780979916700) and trade paperback (ISBN 9780979916717). The hardcover edition will sell for $26.95, the paperback $14.95.


The Marathon Murders will be the premier (as in "first") book released by a new mystery publisher, Night Shadows Press of Tucson, AZ In the book, Greg and Jill take on what appears to be a 90-year-old murder case involving a 1914 automobile, dragging them into a present-day conspiracy filled with chicanery in circles of power and chaos created by a frenzied killer. You can read more details, plus opening chapters, on my website.




I'm giving away an ARC of the book on November 15th. To get your name in the hat, send an email by clicking this link: ARC Giveaway. You'll also find a link to it on my website that says WIN, but that's for people who aren't subscribers to this newsletter.




That's the other big news. The banner at the top of the newsletter, showing the Nashville skyline, comes from the completely re-done Check it out and see what's new. Let me know what you think of the new format. And there's more . . .




As explained on the website, my former publisher has pulled the first three Greg McKenzie books from circulation. I have obtained a supply of all three titles, however, and am offering them through the website at a 33% discount. You can use your credit card and pay by PayPal. It's a great opportunity to get any of the first three (Secret of the Scroll, Designed to Kill, Deadly Illusions) you don't have and stock up for Christmas gifts.




If you happened to be in the the Gulf of Mexico the middle of last month and heard a loud rumbling, it wasn't thunder. It was Sarah's tummy. My wife and I went on a Caribbean cruise arranged by my high school (East Nashville High) alumni association. She has an inner ear problem and is prone to motion sickness. It got her the second night out. I'm not sure if she was more unhappy about the queasiness or losing on the slots in the casino. I enjoyed the trip, eating a different fish at dinner each of the five nights on board. We visited Progreso and Cozamel on the Yucatan Peninsula, although Sarah didn't feel up to doing any of the side trips. She had previously taken an Alaska cruise, but that was always in sight of land (glaciers, or what not). Ever the game one, though, she may opt to do Alaska again next year.


After a brief rest, we headed north to Muncie, IN for our fourth visit to Magna cum Murder, the conference sponsored by Ball State University. Jim Huang of The Mystery Company in Carmel, IN did his usual masterful job with the program. I took part in a discussion on titles and a panel on "The Voices We Hear," dealing with "voice" and point of view in writing. I think the subject of "voice" is one of the most difficult aspects of fiction to define. It involves an author's style of writing as well as what makes characters unique. Brian Kaufman, in Roundtable Reviews, summed up what I've tried to do with Greg McKenzie this way:


"A wonderful protagonist with an older man's wisdom, crossed with the droll voice of an unrepentant rebel...I loved the way the author worked the foibles of age into the narrative, while maintaining the essential strength of his characters."




I'm still polishing up The Surest Poison, the first book in the Syd Chance P.I. series. I've changed the title since the last newsletter (it's taken from Ralph Waldo Emerson, who wrote: "the surest poison is time"). I'm hoping to have it out by Night Shadows Press the middle of 2008. I have two other manuscripts in the mill, both standalones of the thriller persuasion. I'll keep you posted.


Meanwhile, keep reading mysteries and supporting mystery writers. If you like my books, tell your friends to try them. "Buzz" is the buzz word these days. That's the number one factor in making a book or an author a success. Word of mouth sells more books than anything else. Incidentally, Deadly Illusions got a four-star review in the November issue of Romantic Times. Watch for reviews of The Marathon Murders.

It has been a hot summer and a really warm fall, but winter is on the way, so stay warm. Curl up by the fire with a good book, and I'll see ya in a few months.




Spring/Summer 2007 Edition


I feel like the painting of the old Indian with hand to brow gazing out across the plains. I’m doing the agent search routine for the first book in the Sid Chance/Jaz LeMieux mystery series. I’ve settled on the title Miss Demeanor and Five Felons Poker Club. Club members include Jaz (Miss Demeanor), Sid, and four other guys with past or present links to law enforcement—Homicide Detective Bart Masterson, Patrol Sgt. Wick Stanley, former Criminal Court Judge Gabriel Thackston, and retired crime reporter Jack Post. A few agents have taken time to write a short note, saying they like my writing or the book sounds like an interesting project. They end with the old killer phrase “but it isn’t right for me.”

Never fear, I shall persevere . . . until I find the one who says, “Hey, it sounds great. Send it on.”

You’ll be able to get a look at some of the Miss Demeanor crowd in the next few months via a short-story anthology titled Headstones & Red Herrings. My story The Last Pony Chase features Sid solving a case with the help of Jaz and some of the others. The incident is briefly mentioned in the book.

Meanwhile, I’m still looking for a new publisher for The Marathon Murders, the fourth Greg McKenzie Mystery. When I hear something positive, you’ll be the first to know.


Ever wonder how many people have the same name as yours? There’s a website where you can find out. If your name is quite uncommon, you may not get an answer. I did, however. It said there are 176 other Chester Campbell’s around. That’s getting into fairly unpopulated territory. If your name were John Smith, for instance, you'd have 49,886 others to get confused with. The site is The home page says there are 302,095,890 people in the U.S. (even more now, I’m sure), so how many of them have your name? It probably isn’t very accurate, but if you’re into trivia, give it a try.


Don’t you hate those immature, inconsiderate yahoos (I use the term in context, as will be seen), probably high school or college students, who have nothing better to do than sit around and try to mess up somebody’s carefully-devised cyber presence. One of them has been making repeated forays onto my website, signing up thirty or forty bogus names for this newsletter. I discovered it when checking Vertical Response to see who had been added to the list recently. The dummy didn’t show much originality. All the email addresses were a first name And they all listed the hometown as Moscow, NY. It was a useless gesture, anyway. Without replying to the double opt-in email, which went to a non-existent address, none of them would receive the newsletter. But it cluttered up the list, skewing the total.

Enough of ranting. On a somewhat related subject, every issue we get a bunch of bounces because people didn’t advise me when changing their email addresses. If you have a change coming up, be sure to send the new one to Specify it's for the newsletter.


With no new book out, we’ve limited our travels lately. However, a couple of interesting junkets only a week apart in May took us to Florida and Ohama, Nebraska. We made a familiar trek down I-65 and U.S. 331 to the Destin area for the beach wedding of Sarah’s granddaughter, Brandy Metcalf. Actually, it took place on the white sand at Grayton Beach, a small community of mostly large rental houses. There were twenty people from both sides of the family in the beachside tri-level where we stayed. With five kids plus a baby, it made for a lively time.


The wedding planner fashioned a large heart out of sand near the incoming tide and sprinkled it with rose petals. The ceremony took place there a little before dusk. After the I do's, a box of shells was passed around the wedding party. On the count of three, we made a wish for the newly-marrieds and threw the shells into the Gulf. None of the fish threw them back, so I guess all went well.

While in the area, we had a booksigning at Bayou Book Company in Niceville. The crew at Debbie Pomerenke's store were great hosts.

The following week, we steered northwest through Kentucky and Illinois, across the state of Missouri, up the western edge of Iowa, and across the Missouri River into Omaha. Our destination was Mayhem in the Midlands, the mystery conference sponsored by the Omaha Public Library, Omaha Sisters in Crime, and the Lincoln City Libraries. It was a fun conference with around 200 people, including 50 mystery writers. We met a couple from Des Moines the first night who wound up buying all three Greg McKenzie books. That’s always heartening.

I moderated one panel and appeared on two others. A lively discussion took place on the subject “60 Is the New 30: Senior Sleuths.” The moderator was quite a character, Doris Ann Norris, who bills herself as “the 2000-year-old librarian.” Heck, turns out she wasn’t as old as I am. Everybody on the panel was a senior except fellow-Nashvillian Mary Saums, who just started a new series with senior sleuths. Others included Camille Minichino and Radine Trees Nehring.

The Embassy Suites Hotel sat across the street from Omaha’s Old Market area, a few blocks of weathered buildings turned into quaint shops, boutiques, galleries, pubs, and restaurants that encouraged a leisurely stroll in the early evening.

Coming from drought-stricken Tennessee, the most striking scenes along western Missouri and Iowa were flooded cornfields. We hadn’t seen that much water in ages. We experienced one thunderstorm while visiting a casino at Boonville, MO, where we stayed overnight. I’m happy to report we left with more cash than we brought in. Not much, but a little. The lady van driver who took us back to our motel bought a copy of Deadly Illusions. That’s why I always carry a box of books in the trunk.


On Aug. 3, I will be the featured author on They have a summer reading program encouraging people to read books by authors they’re never tried before.  A new author is featured each day. There’s also a contest involved. You’ll find information on that at

That’s about it for now. You’ll notice this is the Spring/Summer issue of the newsletter. That’s because Winter came out late and I flat missed Spring. Don’t know how folks manage to put out a monthly newsletter, even worse a daily blog. I’m writing this on a Saturday since I don’t usually have so many family responsibilities to take care of on weekends. Boy, how tempus fugits!

Have a great summer, stay well, stay dry (except at the pool), and watch out for chiggers. And, of course, keep on reading. Maybe soon it’ll be something by me.





Winter 2006-7 Edition









Sounds like the name of a children's book, but it's a mystery short story I wrote for an anthology titled Headstones & Red Herrings. The book will be out during the latter part of the year. I'll let you know when. It came about through my membership in a small Internet email list called All About Muse, a spinoff from the old All About Murder list. The group published an anthology of holiday mysteries titled The Holiday Mixer just before Christmas. Headstones will be the second. Top check out the publisher, click here It's a creation of the list moderator, Scout DeWitt.


What's interesting about the The Last Pony Chase is I used it to get a feel for the characters in my new series featuring private investigators Sid Chance and Jaz(Jasmine) LeMieux. Also making his first appearance is Homicide Detective Bart (a.k.a. Bat) Masterson. The story involves a New York gambler who disappears after using a $200,000 bad check to pay off a bet. Sid is hired to find him.


It was the first short story I had written in about fifty years. When I came home from Air Force service in Korea in 1953, I spent several months writing short stories that didn't sell. Mostly they didn't sell to The Saturday Evening Post. I won 12th place in a Writer's Digest short short story contest, but it didn't pay anything. My wife was an OB nurse, and when she got pregnant, I gave up fiction to get a paying job as a newspaper reporter (see REFLECTIONS below).


I have another short story titled Double Trouble I'm currently marketing. More about that later.



Speaking of marketing, I'm still waiting to hear from the last publisher to look at the fourth Greg McKenzie mystery. One editor read it and the other editor emailed me to be patient, he would get to it. So I'm waiting, but not patiently.

Don't worry about Greg, he's not aging as fast as I am. As far as he's concerned, it's still 2004. Chronologically, Secret of the Scroll took place in November 2002, Designed to Kill in November 2003 and Deadly Illusions in March 2004. The Marathon Murders is set in August 2004. Wish I could slow down the aging process like that.


I'm against gender discrimination. How do they get away with this Old Man Winter stuff? The way the snow has been burying a broad section of the country lately, I'd say both members of the old couple have been hard at work. The snow has by-passed us in Nashville, but the deep freeze hangs on. Seems evening temps in the teens have decided to camp on our doorstep. Yeah, it's still the sunny South, but the sun hasn't done much for the thermometer.

I had delayed this newsletter in hopes of having some news on a book sale, but I decided I'd better go ahead and get the Winter Edition out while it's really winter. The weather lady on TV (see, no discrimination, and, yes, I always use the term "lady" except where an editor will see it; anyway, "weather woman" sounds so . . . blah) says it will get warmer this week.


The first two Greg McKenzie mysteries are about out of print. The publisher has no plans to reprint them (he can't afford it). I have been accumulating a fair supply, so if you need a copy and can't get it from a bookstore or on-line, send an email to and I'll tell you how to order. Follow the same procedure if you'd like an autographed copy of any of my books.

I hope eventually to get back the rights to my books and make arrangements for reprinting.


When I was a kid, they told us if we dug a hole deep enough, we would come out in China. We shoveled out a small pile of dirt now and then hoping to see Charlie Chan, but we never got ambitious enough to go all the way. Turns out we were lucky. Had we made it straight through the earth, we'd have drowned. On the opposite side from my home in Nashville is a spot in the Indian Ocean around a third of the way between the western coast of Australia and the east coast of South Africa.

How did I find out? My Internet provider is Earthlink. They put out an email newsletter that includes links to sites wacky and weird, as well as useful. One had the engaging title: "If I dig a very deep hole, where I go to stop?" Despite the lapse in grammar, it proved intriguing. It takes you to a world map with the continents handily labeled (for the geographically challenged). You move the hand-shaped cursor to a spot on the map approximating your home and click. You can use the zoom scale on the left to get right down to your house, which shows as an aerial photo. Then you click on "Dig Here." Up comes the corresponding spot on the diametrically opposite side of the earth. If you're all wet, as I was, you have to zoom out until you can get a picture.

If you'd like to "dig," click here To link this back to writing, I was doing research at the time on a character in my new book (see below). I used the Google map to check out the area where I wanted her to live. Just goes to show you never know how handy a little digging on the Internet can be.


I'm past the halfway mark with The Missing Partner, working title for the first Sid Chance book. My goal was to have it finished by the end of February, but my goals are subject to that infernal condition know as the real world. Little things kept getting in the way, like grandson catching the flu, work on Sisters in Crime chapter projects , shopping trips, endless waits in doctors' offices, delivering Meals on Wheels, helping with church newsletters. I'll have to confess, though, the real culprit is the Internet. I spend too much time on-line. I've almost quit posting to the various lists I'm on, but I can't seem to wean myself from reading what others write.

Okay, I'll lay my hand on Webster's International and take the pledge: "I promise to write at least four hours a day, every day, come hell or high water, illness or the Internet. So help me Hannah."

Now, I have to wrap this up so I can get back to the book. Check out my web site and see what's new . . . send me an email with your comments . . . stay warm.

One last thing. If you change your email address, please send me the change so Vertical Response will get the next newsletter to you. Also, if you're on AOL and want to get the HTML version, be sure I'm in your address book at:

Happy reading!






Fall 2006 Edition










The Mysterious Midsummer Match contest sizzled away in July and August as the weather outside followed suit. It attracted lots of entries, with the winners being drawn on August 21st. Here are the lucky winners:

Ann Brooks of Pennsylvania, First Prize - Autographed set of Greg McKenzie Mysteries.

Richard Mann of Utah, Second Prize - Deadly Illusions tote bag.

Jill Knight of Tennessee, Third Prize - Deadly Illusions wall clock.

Susan Hooker of Washington, DC, Fourth Prize - Deadly Illusions tee shirt.

Susan Davco of Massachusetts, Fifth Prize - Deadly Illusions coffee mug.


If you ever get the urge to say something nice to a mystery writer, by all means follow through. The occasional congratulatory email soothes like the balm of Gilead (did you know Gilead includes the area where Khaled Assah found the scroll in Secret of the Scroll?). Here's an email I just received from a member of the DorothyL listserve, where I post comments now and then:

"Dear Chester:

"This is one of the most interesting websites I have ever read on DorothyL. Why? Because you point out your career path has been like that of a snake and then show how that is so. The metaphor is riveting and just so you know, websites DO work. As soon as our current blizzard ends, likely tomorrow, I am off to buy your books!"

Val Reed in Manitoba, Canada


My wife Sarah and I attended the ConMisterio mystery conference in red-hot Austin, TX back in July. I had set up a signing at Barnes & Noble in Round Rock, a few miles up the road, for Thursday evening before the conference started.


When I walked back to the Customer Service counter to let them know we had arrived, I saw a white-haired gentleman dressed nicely in suit and tie standing to one side. He looked at me, grinned, and said, "Chester Campbell! I knew there couldn't be but one Chester Campbell."


I didn't recognize him until he said, "Warran Ross." Another member of the East Nashville High School class of 1943. I might add defensively that his white beard threw me off a bit. He didn't have that when I last saw him at graduation in June of 1943. I use the name "Warran" because that's how it's spelled on his business card. In the school annual it's spelled "Warren." He's a retired orthopedic surgeon in Austin and still does consulting work. We chatted a bit and found both of us had followed similar paths into the Army Air Corps Aviation Cadet program after graduation.


Warran had seen in the Austin newspaper events schedule that Chester Campbell would be signing that night. He bought all three of my books. It was a pleasant surprise and the start of a great evening.


In the last newsletter I told about finishing work on the fourth Greg McKenzie mystery, titled The Marathon Murders. Unfortunately, the book won't be available for a while yet. I'm looking for a new home for Greg (a publishing home, not the log house in Hermitage). A few publishers have turned it down, unwilling to take over a series started with a different publisher. But I still have a few left to try, so just hang in there and hopefully I'll have a new book for you to read before long.


To better my chances of getting an agent and a contract with a larger publisher, I decided to start a new series. So I'm hard at work on the first book featuring Sidney Lanier Chance, a private eye who specializes in finding missing persons. Of course, he won't get off easy. The investigations will take him into murderous territory.

To give you a little background, Sid is a Nashville native who lives in the Madison suburb (oddly, that's where I live). His mother is a retired English teacher and an American literature major who named him after a favorite poet. Now 61, Sid was a Special Forces lieutenant in Vietnam, worked 19 years on the Metro Nashville police force until wounded in a shootout with a drug dealer, then served 11 years as police chief in a small town southwest of Nashville. He quit that job after being falsely accused of taking a bribe from a drug dealer. He's been a private investigator for five years.

Sid is a bachelor, having been divorced back during his Nashville police days when his wife couldn't stand the pressure of being a cop's spouse. He has an attractive female sidekick named Jasmine LeMieux who is 45, a former professional boxer and an ex-cop.

I got the idea for the character and the plot of the first book from a fellow graduate of East Nashville High School, Norma Mott Tillman. Norma has been quite successful in finding missing persons, including locating people for an Opra Winfrey reunion. It landed her an appearance on Opra's show and great publicity for a book she wrote on tracking missing persons. She has also recently published a book titled Private Investigation 101.

I'll keep you informed on Sid's progress.


In case you missed my Midsummer Match contest, you probably missed word about the interview I did with an imaginative reporter for Nashville's Channel 4 (NBC). He wanted a "mysterious" flavor, so they set up the camera in my office above the garage, using only a light in back of the desk. After setting the stage with black-and-white footage of downtown Nashville after dark, the camera panned up to me silhouetted in the window. The interview was done as I typed at my computer. It was a lot of fun and the news anchors got a bang out of it. The piece appeared on the ten o'clock news and the next day's mid-day news. It runs about three minutes and you can see it by going to my website at and clicking on the TV Interview link.


Okay, yeah, they're states, but there's more. They're places the old Camry burned up a bunch of expensive gasoline traveling to for three interesting mystery conferences during the past several weeks. First was the Midwest MysteryFest in the St. Louis suburbs. A small, one-day symposium sponsored by the Greater St. Louis Chapter of Sisters in Crime, it attracted an enthusiastic group of readers and writers. I was on a panel discussing "Villains, Characters to Die For." We talked about what makes a good bad guy and how we create villains. Hint: I don't base 'em on myself.

A couple of weeks later we were off to Madison, WI for Bouchercon, subtitled "A Prairie Plot." With 1200 registrants, around a third of them authors, it was easy to get lost in the crowd. But we enjoyed a lot of great panels, including the one I was on--"I'M NOT MY CHARACTER! Am I?" I pointed out how Greg is like me in some ways and not in many others. One of the more interesting sidelights in the Wisconsin capital was the wildly decorated cow sculptures that appeared along the streets. Sort of put you in the mooood for mayhem.

After a couple of more weeks, we headed north again to Muncie, IN for Magna cum Murder, one of the excellent small conferences. Jim Huang, who runs The Mystery Company bookstore in Carmel, IN, does the programming, and this was one of his best (at least for the three years we have attended). I moderated a panel titled "LATE BLOOMER Publishing a book after age 50" which featured four women authors. Since Secret of the Scroll came out when I was 76, they no doubt figured I was a natural for the moderator.

That's all for this time. I hope you found something of interest here, at least mildly amusing or entertaining or, well, if nothing else, educational. Send me your comments on the newsletter, the books, the website, the elections (oops, scratch that last one!). Write me at And don't forget to notify me if you change your email address. I hate to get bounces.

Happy reading!





Summer 2006 Special Edition/Chester D. Campbell, Editor & Publisher

This is a special Summer Edition of my newsletter to announce a new CONTEST. As you may remember from the last newsletter, I said I had a great idea for a unique new contest that I would be telling you about shortly. Well, great ideas don’t always pan out, and this one was a bit too unique.

 However, don’t despair. I’m holding a MYSTERIOUS MIDSUMMER MATCH to determine who will win a bunch of prizes. Judging by the way the mercury has been spiking around here lately, I expect the competition to sizzle. What’s up for grabs? Here’s the list:

First Prize – An autographed set (all three books) of Greg McKenzie Mysteries.

Second Prize – A Deadly Illusions tote bag.

Third Prize – A Deadly Illusions wall clock.

Fourth Prize – A Deadly Illusions tee shirt.

Fifth Prize – A Deadly Illusions coffee mug.

 What’s so MYSTERIOUS? Who’s going to win, of course. And your chances are as good as anybody’s. As a newsletter subscriber, you only need to send me an email with one simple bit of information. Go to my website,, click on the link at the top of the home page that says “Click this link to check an imaginative TV interview.” Write down the name of the TV station whose logo you see. Send it in the body of an email to with the subject “Contest.” Be sure to write your name and email address so I’ll know who to contact if you’re a winner.

 The DEADLINE FOR ENTRIES is Sunday, August 20.

 The heat’s on, so don’t sweat it–check out the website today and get your entry in. Is there any simpler way to be a winner? As Greg McKenzie would say, “You gotta be kidding, babe!”

 Good luck.





Spring 2006 Edition/Chester D. Campbell, Editor & Publisher









I’m working on an idea for a really cool contest, but it hasn’t quite jelled as yet. I hope to be able to announce the details in a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, if I don’t get this Spring newsletter out now, it’ll have to be called Summer. And nobody wants to miss Spring (hear the birds chirping, see the flowers blooming, feel the mosquitoes biting—oops, strike that last part).

I’ll send out a special edition of the Greg McKenzie Mysteries Newsletter with all the info, so keep an eye on your mailbox.


If you haven’t noticed (and how could you have not?), there’s a mushrooming trend by writers to clutter up the internet with Blogs, or as they’re called technically, web logs. I have several writer friends who blog and most I have visited sound pretty interesting. However, I suspect they could quickly become addictive and take up way too much time. Time I could better spend writing and promoting my books. Some of the major blog sites are, and There’s even one called that features webcam videos. A site called has 40,743 blogs registered.

I recently heard about’s version called a Plog. It’s available through Amazon Connect and appears on your personal page when somebody checks out your books. After looking at the long list of mystery writers using the gimmick, I bit the bullet and signed up. I’m afraid I wasn’t too creative when I posted my first plog, but hopefully I’ll improve over time. If I can find the time.


If you’re not familiar with the manuscript process, this means it’s finished. You always type THE END at the end so the editor will know it’s the end (you’d think they’d somehow gather that when nothing follows—oh, well). Anyway, the fourth Greg McKenzie mystery is ready for publication, which, regrettably, won’t be before 2007.

Books have a habit of plowing their own furrows, to use a rural metaphor. I had originally envisioned Marathon taking place mostly around Nashville. The characters had other ideas and shifted much of the action to the small rural county of Trousdale forty miles to the northeast. Actually, there’s lots going on at both ends of the corridor, which runs up U.S. 31E and state route 25. We get reacquainted with characters from Secret of the Scroll and Deadly Illusions. If you haven’t read those yet, you might want to dash out and get your copies while they last. And if you’ve wondered about the possibility of Greg being tempted, well there’s this woman…I’d better not say anything else, Jill might be listening.


I have always enjoyed research. Back in my newspaper days and while freelancing for magazines, I would spend hours pouring over yellowed newspaper files in the library. I once researched an article on Ned Buntline, the character responsible for a long-barreled .45 pistol called the Buntline Special made famous by Wyatt Earp. Buntline was the pen name of Edward Zane Carroll Judson, who wrote hundreds of dime novels back in the 1800’s.

I ran into a mention of Judson (Buntline) being in Nashville in 1845-46 and looked him up in the old newspapers. This was in 1960 before libraries put everything on microfilm. The newspaper pages were brittle and had to be handled carefully. There were stories about his arrest for murder at the age of 23. It involved a bit of hanky-panky with a young woman. Judson was strung up by a mob but managed to get cut down before too much damage was done. In pursuing the story, I went to the top floor of the Davidson County Courthouse and found old jail records in a musty attic-like room. I must have spent a couple of hours sitting on the dusty floor reading prisoner records. And, yes, I found Mr. Judson among them.

Which is a way of introducing the fact that I really enjoyed researching The Marathon Murders. Digging into the old Marathon Motor Works was quite revealing, and I came across some fascinating Civil War lore in Hartsville (Trousdale County seat). My wife Sarah accompanied me on my field trips and found the manuscript that much more interesting for having been there. Sorry you couldn’t have joined us. Hopefully, you’ll get the flavor anyway.


We made so many trips down I-65 and I-75 toward Florida the past few months that the old Camry wanted to head south whenever we pulled out of the driveway. It started in early February with a junket that hit Murder in the Magic City (Birmingham), Murder on the Menu (Wetumpka, AL), and a signing at Barnes & Noble in Destin, FL. The two conferences were a lot of fun. At MMC I was on a panel answering questions in our protagonists’ voices. I pointed out as usual that Greg is bigger and bolder than me, though we think a lot alike. During the Wetumpka luncheon, the authors did a version of musical chairs, spending about ten minutes at a succession of tables with five readers each. I met some interesting folks.

Early March found us sailing down I-24, I-75 and the Florida Turnpike to our sixth consecutive SleuthFest mystery conference in Fort Landerdale. It was one of the best yet, with headliner Robert Crais giving some excellent advice about writing what you want to write. Also on hand were Mystery Writers of America’s president, Janet Evanovich, and past president, Michael Connelly. A couple of weeks later we headed back to Florida (Ft. Walton Beach) for the Emerald Coast Writers Conference, where I spoke on “Where Are We?—Setting and Description.” Shortly after that, we headed north to Boonville, IN, for the Southwest Indiana Book Expo. Met some great readers there, too.

Now we’re headed for Fairhope, AL and MWA Southeast Chapter’s Skill Build May 6, where I’ll introduce some speakers, and a signing at Barnes & Noble in Mobile the next afternoon. Future conferences will include ConMisterio in Austin, TX July 14-16; the Midwest MysteryFest in St. Louis, Sept. 16; and Bouchercon in Madison, WI Sept. 28-Oct. 1. I hope to do some signings along the way, and they’ll be listed in the On the Go page of my website:




Thanks for your continued interest in my books and my random musings. If you like the books, tell your friends. Word of mouth is the best promotion a writer can get. And, as promised, I’ll get back to you shortly with CONTEST news.








Merry Christmas - Happy Hanukkah Happy New Year

Chester D. Campbell, Editor & Publisher




Chilling temperatures, brisk northerly breezes, dark folds of cloud that appear packed with snow--that's a sure sign winter is closing in on Middle Tennessee. And all those red knit hats mean Christmas is in the air. It's a great time for mystery writers to hit the bookstores and hawk their wares to throngs of gift buyers. The past three years I've done well during the holiday season at Books-a-Million stores in the Nashville area and at Paducah, KY. I lined them up again this year only to be told the company has a new policy that if your books aren't carried in all their stores, they won't order them for a signing.

Fortunately, the Murfreesboro store ordered books anyway and got a shipment of 25. We sold all but one last Saturday. That one should've sold, also, if we'd stayed a bit longer, but I don't care for driving after dark. Clarksville is scheduled for this week. The manager tried re-ordering. I've got my fingers crossed.


If you haven't checked the website for the results of my "Thank You" Contest, here are the winners:

First Prize, copy of Deadly Illusions, Debra Cushman
Second Prize, copy of Designed to Kill, Greg Babic
Third Prize, Deadly Illusions coffee mug, Carol Wittack
Fourth Prize, Deadly Illusions tee shirt, Helen Sandoval
Fifth Prize, Deadly Illusions tee shirt, Jim Vargas

Congratulations to all the winners, and thanks to all who entered the contest. I'll have another one soon. By the way, Greg Babic is a new subscriber from Australia, one of nine countries outside the U.S. where I have subscribers.


Sarah and I have enjoyed doing research for the new McKenzie mystery, which has the working title of The Marathon Murders. I wanted to work the TBI (Tennessee Bureau of Investigation) into the plot, so the story unfolds partly in Trousdale County, some 40 miles northeast of where we live. We've made one on-site tour so far. Trousdale is Tennessee's smallest county area-wise, covering only 110 square miles. In population, it ranks fourth from the bottom with 7,484 residents. There is only one town, Hartsville, the county seat. You pass the county's main claim to fame heading out Highway 25 toward Smith County (birthplace of former Veep Al Gore). About four miles from Hartsville, a monstrous concrete monolith rears its flat top above the cornfields and pasture land of the rural countryside. It's the 560-foot cooling tower of TVA's Hartsville Nuclear Plant, on which construction continued from 1977 until 1984, when it was abandoned after all the furor about nuclear power. We're still paying back the two billion dollars spent as part of our utility bills.

We learned another interesting fact after noting a patrol car parked beside the courthouse painted with "METRO SHERIFF" in large letters. In small print it added "Hartsville and Trousdale County." We're accustomed to Metro Police and Metro everything else around Nashville, since the city and county were consolidated forty years ago. When we inquired inside Trousdale's old wood-floored courthouse, a clerk told us Hartsville and Trousdale County had established a metropolitan form of government a couple of years ago.


We made the familiar jaunt down I-65 through Birmingham and Montgomery in October for our Hurricane-Delayed Mini Gulf Coast Tour. The leaves were still green down that way. By contrast, many roofs in the coastal area were still blue. Tarps, that is, covering storm damage. A year after Ivan slammed the Pensacola area, evidence of the destruction remains all around. We stayed at the Comfort Inn Corry Field, near the Navy airfield, where work continued on repairing damage to the motel's first floor rooms. Many others were occupied by Katrina victims, who lived there until something else became available. They displayed "Do Not Disturb" tags on their doorknobs to let the maids know they were taking care of their own rooms.

We started at the Orange Beach Public Library in Orange Beach, AL, where I was scheduled to speak to a writers group. I hope it wasn't because of me, but only a couple of folks showed up. I talked about my writing and answered a lot of questions. I didn't sell any books, but the library already has them. The next day the Southwest Branch Library at Pensacola set me at a table opposite the entrance. We sold a bunch of books, including all three to one librarian. Saturday took us to Pensacola's Barnes & Noble, where Bridget McGinn, a great CRM (Community Relations Manager), stayed with us much of the time, marveling at the way Sarah greeted the customers. We did B&N at Spanish Fort, AL (near Mobile) on Sunday. CRM Pat Mackey warned us at the start not to expect much, that they were "too out of the way." I think she was shocked when we sold twenty books.

Shortly after that we attended the Magna cum Murder mystery event sponsored by Ball State University in Muncie, IN. We had a great time there, met some new readers and sold a few books. The piece de resistance came a couple of weeks later when we signed at the Kentucky Book Fair in Frankfort. Crowds of eager buyers flocked through the aisles most of the day (Saturday, Nov. 12). Some 175 authors manned tables that lined the Convention Center. Dummy that I am, I failed to make an accurate count of how many books they had when we started, but I'm pretty sure we sold at least sixty, including all three McKenzie books. Sarah thinks it was more like seventy-five. Whatever, it was the best one-day event we've attended.


I think I'll stop. I've had enough. On Nov. 30th, I reached the big one—eighty! I can't believe it. I always thought people that age were OLD. Not any more. Of course, I subscribe to the theory that age is strictly a state of mind. Most of the time I don't feel much different than I did at sixty. One of those times is driving at night, which is okay on a well lighted street. With unlighted, wet pavement, it's murder. I can still walk two miles at fourteen minutes a mile, better than that if I really push it. On my birthday I climbed a steep hill to my son's cabin at a property out in the boonies. Happily, I had no aftereffects the following day.

So, maybe I will go on having birthdays. I don't really relish the alternative.


Got a mystery lover on your list you'd like to give a signed book? I'll send you a personalized, autographed copy by return mail. Just send signing instructions and a check to Chester D. Campbell, P.O. Box 281, Madison, TN 37116-0281. Here are the prices for media mail (add $1.50 for priority mail):

Deadly Illusions $15
Designed to Kill $18
Secret of the Scroll $18

That's about it for now. I'm using a new mailing service (VerticalResponse) with this issue, and they will include a method for opting out below. Thanks for your interest and comments. Email your thoughts to me at Check my website for new touring info, contests, and such at




Greg McKenzie Mysteries Newsletter

Chester D. Campbell, Editor & Publisher




















This is a Thank You Contest for all the support you’ve given me. You can win books, tee shirts, coffee mugs, lots of goodies. With five prizes, your odds are great. The first place winner will get a copy of Deadly Illusions; second a copy of Designed to Kill; third a Deadly Illusions coffee mug; fourth a Deadly Illusions tee shirt; fifth a Designed to Kill tee.


Entering is a snap. Just send an email to with CONTEST as the subject. And please put your full name in the body of the email. Some of you have wild email addresses that make it difficult to figure out who you are. You must have your entry submitted by Nov. 23rd. The drawing will be held on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24th (well, it is a Thank You Contest). Oh, and only one entry per person, please.




We logged a bunch of miles during the summer, roaming back and forth from the mountains of East Tennessee to the muddy Mississippi at Memphis, down to Mobile and back up to Virginia and Pennsylvania. We had 21 events--book signings, fairs, clubs, TV and radio interviews?June through August. Early in July Sarah and I got chased off the Gulf Coast by Hurricane Dennis. As workmen nailed plywood sheets over the windows of the store next door, we cut short a Books-a-Million signing and headed north. Bumper-to-bumper traffic crept and crawled up I-65. It took five hours to go from Mobile to Birmingham. But we were lucky compared to what happened in New Orleans a few weeks later.


I was to have introduced the speakers at a Mystery Writers of America Skill Build in Bay St. Louis, MS that weekend, but Dennis caused a cancellation. We rescheduled the session for Oct. 15th, then Katrina came along and leveled Bay St. Louis. That tragedy, of course, is still unfolding.


Our big event for the summer was grandson Dan Campbell’s wedding in New Cumberland, PA on Aug. 20th. Never make a trip without scheduling a book event is my motto. We did four--Barnes & Nobles in Camp Hill and Lancaster, book clubs at the Mechanicsburg Mystery Book Shop and New Cumberland Public Library. Oh, yeah, the wedding went great. Dan and younger brother Andrew wore kilts. Grandpa was not so daring.


Click here to see the grandsons.




Nashville’s premier book event the weekend of Oct. 7-9 provided a great promotion opportunity. In its lead-up to the festival, The Tennessean, Nashville’s major daily, ran an article on me and my books Sunday, Oct. 2nd as the first of three profiles on local authors. The book review pages featured a great review of Deadly Illusions.


Click here to see the article.       Click here to see the review.




If you’d like an autographed copy of one of my books, there are two ways to get one. Write a check payable to me and send to Chester D. Campbell, P.O. Box 281, Madison, TN 37116-0281. Here are the prices:


Deadly Illusions   $15.00

Designed to Kill   $18.00

Secret of the Scroll   $18.00


This covers the cost of the book and mailing (Media Mail). Please note how you want it personalized.


The other way is to order a signed bookplate. Send a self-addressed, stamped envelope along with signing instructions to the address above.




I’m hard at work on the fourth Greg McKenzie mystery, tentatively titled The Marathon Murders. Well, with all that’s going on, there might be some question about how hard I’m working. It’s difficult to eke out the time to write, but I’m trying. The plot revolves around the old Marathon Motor Works, which produced a popular touring car in Nashville from 1910-1914. The company went bankrupt amidst questionable shenanigans among its officials. In the past few years, a colorful entrepreneur has worked on restoring the old Marathon buildings as sort of a living museum with office space for artists, photographers and musicians.


I’m bringing back a character from Secret of the Scroll. He’s Col. Warren Jarvis, the Air Attache in Tel Aviv who helped Greg toward the end of the book. You’ll also get to meet the woman named Abby Farrell that Jarvis told Greg about.




In the last newsletter, I mentioned shopping around the literary agent community with a suspense story manuscript. I’ve mailed 33 queries to date, with the last five still to be heard from. A couple asked for chapters. A few wrote notes saying nice stuff but not my thing. I’m getting quite a tidy collection of rejections. Don’t suppose there are any collectors on Ebay who would buy it, do you?


Stay tuned.



Deadly Illusions has received great reviews. Nothing but five stars on Here are a few comments:


“DEADLY ILLUSIONS is another winner in the Chester D. Campbell literary cabinet. Campbell obviously has many stories to share, and he continues to write fabulous mysteries.” Shelly Glodowski, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review


“A fabulously quick read, a page-turner that will not disappoint.” Brian Kaufman, Roundtable Reviews


“An enjoyable, well-written yarn…has a lot to offer fans of mysteries and soft-boiled private eye yarns.” Bill Stephens, Gotta Write Network


“This book continues the author’s track record of strong writing, realistic characters and complex mysteries.” Kevin Tipple, Blue Iris Journal/


Deadly Illusions is a look into a funhouse mirror. The images shift and alter. Just when you think you have it figured out, the picture changes again.” Nancy Mehl,


“The Greg McKenzie series is fast becoming one of my all-time favorite series.” Dawn Dowdle, The Best Reviews


Click here to read the reviews.




Check the website: for my complete travel schedule. Here’s where I’ll be in the next few weeks:


Thursday, Oct. 13, 6:00 p.m., speak to writing group, Orange Beach, AL Public Library

Friday, Oct. 14, 2:00-4:00 p.m., signing at Southwest Branch Library, Pensacola, FL

Saturday, Oct. 15, 5:30 p.m., signing at Barnes & Noble, Pensacola, FL

Sunday, Oct. 16, 2:00-4:00 p.m., signing at Barnes & Noble, Spanish Fort, AL

Friday-Sunday, Oct. 28-30, Magna cum Murder Crime Festival, Muncie, IN

Saturday, Nov. 12, Kentucky Book Fair, Frankfort, KY




I know you’ll find this difficult to fathom, but some people have never heard of Greg McKenzie or his mysterious doings. But guess what--you can tell them! If you enjoy the Greg McKenzie mysteries, tell a friend or relative. Tell a whole bunch of them. Spread the word. That way we can keep the series going.




If you collect trivia like I do, here’s one for you. This issue is going to 418 people in nine countries besides the U.S. The newest addition is South Africa.


Please send an email to with any comments. If you would like your name removed from the newsletter mailing list, just send me an email with “Cancel Newsletter” as the subject. See ya again soon.





Greg McKenzie Mysteries Newsletter

Chester D. Campbell, Editor & Publisher














The third Greg McKenzie mystery is finally out! Order it at your local independent bookstore (or mystery bookstore if you're lucky enough to have one). Barnes & Noble bought it, so you might find one there. It's also available on-line. There’s another book called Deadly Illusions (yep, the identical title) that came out in January, so be sure to give  my name or ISBN 1930754655. Write me if you’d like a signed copy, or click the "on the run" link on my home page to see where I’ll be in the next month or so.


Since Deadly Illusions involves homicide detectives, I decided I needed a close-up look at the breed during the writing process. I called a detective who had spoken to our Sisters in Crime chapter and asked if I might do a ride-along with a homicide officer. He said the new police chief was discouraging the practice but gave me the captain’s name who heads the Homicide Division. The captain either hadn’t heard from the chief or didn’t care.

"Sure. When do you want to come?" he asked.

The following afternoon, I was ushered into the inner sanctum of Metro Nashville Police Headquarters, where I found Homicide down a dimly lit hallway. The detectives’ office contained tall dividers with pairs of gray metal desks containing computer screens and keyboards, thick case folders on the shelves. Some had laptops. I stopped first in the cubbyhole occupied by the shift sergeant, who assigns cases and is generally in charge.

"Actually, we handle every kind of case but rape and robbery," he said. "But mostly homicides. One thing you’ll find about these guys, they have huge egos. It goes with the job."

He also told me I’d hear a lot of macabre humor, which they use to keep their minds off the gruesome details of their cases. Eighty percent of murders in Nashville are drug related, the sergeant said. One of the detectives later told me it was more like 90 percent.

When a call came in from a woman with an apartment rental firm about strange things found in a just-vacated duplex, I climbed into an unmarked white Malibu with a 27-year veteran officer. Though it wasn’t an emergency call, he drove like the proverbial bat out of hell. An hour or more later, I rode back to the station with a younger detective whose driving habits were similar.

At the duplex, we found blood in the tub, bloody rags, an Uzi submachine gun with a silencer, and a pair of girls’ panties. This brought in a crime scene officer, an ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) agent, a youth services officer, and someone from the medical examiner’s office. Checking into the former tenant’s background, we learned he had worked for a dialysis clinic. The medical people concluded that he had used a portable dialysis unit on himself in the bathroom. The youth services officer, whose unit had an open case involving a missing girl, decided the panties had no significance, and the ATF guy took over the weapon. That about wrapped it up.

Back at the station, I chatted with a young detective who worked at his laptop, cleaning up a case from the previous night. He brought up the original incident report and all other pertinent documents, plus several pages of thumbnail photos from the scene. He had been up most of the previous night and said it wasn’t unusual to work lots of overtime on a case. Talking about when he was a patrol officer, he gave me a line I used in the book:

"A patrol officer does more in a week than an FBI agent does in a year."

When the shift ended and I was leaving around 11:30 p.m., the sergeant apologized for not having any murders for me. "You should have been here last night," he said. "We had two." My bad luck that night was some citizen's good luck.


If you haven’t checked the website to see who won my recent Deadly Illusions contest, here are the winners and their prizes:

First place (an autographed copy of Deadly Illusions), Lillian Porter, who hails from the Canadian side of Niagara Falls.

Second place (a signed copy of Secret of the Scroll), Constance Allen.

Third place (a Deadly Illusions T shirt), Anne Harris.

Fourth place (a Deadly Illusions wall clock), Rosie Davis.


From the end of February to the end of April, we did our bit to support the petroleum economy. Our travels included Nashville to El Paso to Ft. Lauderdale and back, then down to Ft. Walton Beach, FL and up to Arlington, VA. It looked like we were chasing spring across the map, not to mention the guy who kept upping the ante on the gas price signs.

The weatherman (or woman) smiled on us most of the way. However, when we arrived in El Paso for Left Coast Crime (okay, it’s the left coast of Texas), a blustery cool snap followed us to town, making it not so warm as advertised. The Texas hospitality made up for it—actually, El Paso seems more Mexican than Texican. My thriller panel turned out to be quite entertaining, and Sarah and I had a great time overall.

Then we pursued spring across Texas, through Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama into Florida. Along the way, my good wife couldn’t pass up all those casino signs, and since we needed a pit stop anyway, we plunked down a supply of quarters and listened to all the bells and music as the wheels spun with promises of untold wealth. Fortunately, we were able to depart with about the same wealth we had on arrival.

Swinging off the mottled ribbon of I-10, we took a brief traipse through our old stomping grounds at Perdido Key, FL, the locale for Designed to Kill. We hadn’t seen the place since Hurricane Ivan pounded it last September. Even after six months, the scene was one of devastation. A couple of our favorite restaurants were gone. Nothing but bare sand. The building that housed my brother’s condo (called Gulf Sands in the book, actually Sandy Key) looked a wreck, the first floor mostly blown out, bedrooms showing through holes in the walls at both ends. The owners have just decided to rebuild to current codes standards, which will take multi-million bucks and likely another year for construction.

At SleuthFest in Ft. Lauderdale, I took part on a panel about how to keep your characters age appropriate. Simple. Since Greg and Jill are mid-sixties (I can remember that far back), I just have them act like I do. Well, mostly. I also served as moderator for a thriller panel. The two headline speakers proved quite interesting—Lisa Scottoline and Chris Whitcomb. A former FBI agent, Chris described hair-raising experiences while investigating the USS Cole bombing in Aden, Yemen.

A few weeks later, we headed south again to Ft. Walton Beach for the Emerald Coast Writers Conference. We had to dodge workers who busily repaired hurricane damage for the hotel’s official re-opening a couple of weeks later. I made two presentations, one on research, one on promotion, and we enjoyed the small but lively conference.

Our major travel season ended at the Malice Domestic mystery conference in Arlington. This is the biggie devoted to "cozy" mysteries. I sat beside Eve Sandstrom (JoAnna Carl) on a research panel moderated by Bill Albert. Our message was: with all the resources available, there’s no excuse for getting it wrong—though we all do occasionally.


Good question. I’m still mulling over that one. It will probably take place around Nashville, possibly involve a smaller town that will bring in the TBI (Tennessee Bureau of Investigation). Stay tuned.


I wrote a book titled Hell Bound just before I started Secret of the Scroll. It’s the story of a busload of senior citizens on a trip to New Orleans. One of the passengers is a former investment advisor for a New York crime family who testified against the mob and nearly wrecked their operation. A Mafia hit squad dogs the bus, trying to figure out which one is the "traitor." I won't give away any more of the plot, except to say it winds up in the foremath (I guess that's what comes before the aftermath) of a hurricane. I’m currently shopping the manuscript among literary agents. Keep your fingers crossed.



I've updated my website since the last newsletter went out. It has a whole new look and lots of new stuff, including my current travel schedule. Take a look at


Please email me at with any comments about my books, the newsletter, anything on your mind. If you would like your name removed from the newsletter mailing list, just send me an email with “Cancel Newsletter” as the subject. See ya again soon.




Greg McKenzie Mysteries Newsletter

Chester D. Campbell, Editor & Publisher
















To celebrate the publication of Deadly Illusions, the third Greg McKenzie mystery, in March, I'm holding a major league contest (don't you just love 'em--not too many places you get something for nothing anymore). There will be four winners! First Place gets an autographed copy of Deadly Illusions. Second Place gets an autographed copy of either Secret of the Scroll or Designed to Kill, the first two Greg McKenzie mysteries. Third and Fourth Place winners get items from my McKenzie Mysteries Cafe Shop, which is currently being updated with new items. Watch for more info on this choice soon. To enter the contest, send an email to with CONTEST as the subject and your name plus "Subscriber" in the body of the email. That's all it takes. Deadline for entries will be March 15, with the drawing to be held the following day. Good luck!


Are you registered for the Malice Domestic mystery convention? Are you a procrastinator like me and haven't sent in your nominees for the Agatha Awards? How about considering Designed to Kill for a nomination? In her Blue Iris Journal review, Elizabeth K. Burton calls it "technically a cozy." That should be good enough to qualify for an Agatha. But get those nominations in right away. The deadline is this Friday, January 28.


I was recently elected to the Board of the Southeast Chapter, Mystery Writers of America, as West Area Representative. I'm responsible for supervising MWA activities in Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. It should be exciting, but a lot of work, too. I'm tasked with organizing two Skill Build seminars for both beginning and experienced mystery writers.


Would you believe my publisher is reducing prices? That's right. Deadly Illusions will cost only $12.95, in contrast to the $15.95 price of the first two books. I don't have a definite release date yet, only that it will be in March. You should be able to order it in the next few weeks, however, from your local bookseller or one of the online providers (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, etc.). I'm working on an update of the website and hope to have info, including the first two chapters, up by next week. Be sure to check it out. I should also have more reviews to include shortly.


Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but it's almost that exciting for me. Designed to Kill has gone into a Second Printing. Hold onto that first edition copy you bought. It may become a collector's item (don't I wish). The first edition sold out in only about nine months. I'm sure that wouldn't have excited Dan Brown, but in the small press world of lesser knowns, it's enough to break out the bubbly.


As promised in the last newsletter, Sarah and I have stuck fairly close to home the past couple of months. We did a Christmas Rush Tour of Books-a-Million stores, hitting Murfreesboro, TN; Clarksville, TN; Madison, TN, and Paducah, KY on the four weekends before Santa's arrival. The only other events until February are a talk to the Downtown (Nashville) Lions Club and a group signing at Barnes & Noble in
Brentwood, TN the 28th.

We'll be hitting the road again in February, heading west to the Left Coast Crime mystery conference in El Paso, TX Feb. 24-27. I'll be on a panel Friday morning titled "Thrillers and Crimes other than Murder." Panelists will include David Dun, Barry Eisler and Michael Newton. We'll be home only long enough to re-pack and head for Ft. Lauderdale, FL for SleuthFest 2005, the mystery conference sponsored by the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. It runs March 4-7. I'm on a Friday panel "Age Appropriate: Keeping Your Characters Consistent." I'll also moderate a Saturday panel called "Against All Odds: Plotting the High Risk Mission." Barry Eisler, Robert Herrick and K.J.A. Wishnia will be panelists.

Check the On The Go page on my website for more appearances. You'll also find when I'm doing radio interviews, maybe one in your area.


If you'd like to read a wild mystery, check out Murder by Committee on P.J. Nunn's website: The current (January) chapter is by yours truly. Go to the website and click on the Mystery Morgue link. It's a wild tale with each author leaving the next one a cliff-hanger to work the characters out of. The goal is to inject some humor into the story as well. Julia Spencer-Fleming wrote the first chapter. Other chapter authors are Elliot Light, Rhys Bowen, Libby Sternberg, Harley Jane Kozak, Carl Brookins, Jeffrey Cohen, Mark Terry and Robin Burcell.




This issue of the newsletter is going to 360 email addresses in 10 countries, including the U.S., Australia, Canada, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, The Netherlands and United Kingdom. Please let me know if you change your email address. I had a number of bad addresses on the last mailing and had to drop several subscribers.


That's it for this time. Please write me at with any comments about my books, the newsletter, anything on your mind. If you'd like your name removed from the newsletter mailing list, just send me an email with “Cancel Newsletter” as the subject. See ya again soon.




Greg McKenzie Mysteries Newsletter

Chester D. Campbell, Editor & Publisher















Would you like to be a character in my next Greg McKenzie mystery? Here’s your chance. The first place winner in the new contest will have a character named after them. You can pick whether to be a good guy or a bad guy, but I can't promise anything beyond that. The second place winner will get a tee shirt bearing the cover of Designed to Kill. Just send an email to with CONTEST as the subject and "Subscriber" in the body of the email. That's all it takes. Deadline for entries is December 14. The drawing will be held on December 15. Good luck!


Would you believe from one end of I-40 (Barstow, CA) to the other (Wilmington, NC)? Actually, it started on a mid-September weekend with the Southeast Booksellers Association show in Atlanta, where we signed and gave away a stack of Designed to Kill books to eager (well, they looked that way to me) booksellers. I signed at the Sisters in Crime booth with such great writers as Patricia Sprinkle, Kathryn Wall, Sarah Shaber, Elizabeth Terrell, Christine Kling and Kelly Nichols (1/2 of P. J. Parrish). Sarah and I returned to Nashville in time to hop back into the Camry on Monday morning and point its nose westward.

We made it to Shawnee, OK for the first stop and tried a Days Inn beside the interstate. Sorry, no no-smoking rooms. Being price conscious (after all, these trips cost much more than we make selling books), we checked the AAA directory for the next best bet, a Best Western, and headed off in search of it. The location should have given us pause--Kickapoo Spur. We promptly encountered a few problems. The restaurant was closed for renovation. Our "non-smoking" room smelled like a burning tobacco barn. Heading back to the office, we passed the indoor swimming pool bearing a sign "closed by order of the health department." Our key card wouldn't open the next room door. We finally made it on the third try.

After passing through lots of Indian country (Native American if you prefer the PC term) the next day, crossing the Texas Panhandle, over and around buttes and plateaus and cornfields and oil wells, we headed into the high plains of New Mexico (speed limit 75 mph--actual speed...?). Zipping over the Rio Grande at Albuquerque, we climbed our way above the 6,000-foot level to the small town of Grants. It sits at the edge of some of the largest lava beds on the continent. Though we didn't wind up glowing in the dark, we learned that uranium reserves in the area are among the world's largest. At least the motel was nice.

Continuing our climb the next morning, we crossed the Continental Divide at 7,245 feet, galloped through Gallup and made our usual Cracker Barrel lunch stop at Flagstaff, AZ. Then it was a slow descent through arid desert areas, including one 50-mile stretch with no service stations. Most of the little towns we passed boasted of their location on Route 66. Several had Route 66 museums. At Kingman, the main stop on the historic "Main Street of America," I-40 turned south before crossing into California. We stopped just inside the border at Needles, CA for another educational motel tour. Getting smart this time, we used our trusty cell phone to call ahead for a non-smoking room. But when we arrived, the clerk informed us their air conditioning was kaput. So we scooted across the street to a new Motel 6 where the rooms were cheaper, nicer and COOL (the temperature was 90-something). Yes, they left the light on for us.

Heading west through the Mojave Desert the next morning (another long stretch of nothing but sandy brown mountains and valleys), we made a pleasant discovery. California posted a 55 mph speed limit for trucks and, lo and behold, the 18-wheelers heeded it. At Barstow, we took I-15 southeast to the L.A. megalopolis and our destination of Irvine, CA. There the Literary Guild of Orange County's Men of Mystery conference was sandwiched between four book-signings in Orange County--three Borders stores and one Barnes & Noble. At the day-long conference, I was one of 60 mystery writers on the program. While there, we enjoyed a tour of the area conducted by fellow mystery author and friend Katherine Shephard (Betrayed by Silence).

We saw lots of kooky California types, one of the most interesting at the Borders store in Orange. Sarah did her usual thing, handing out promo folders near the store entrance adjacent to my signing table. A tall man with long stringy hair and beard came in, dressed in a tee shirt ("I only came in for the beer") and a blue denim skirt made like a kilt. He wore heavy boots and carried a walking stick with large rings around it carved out of wood. Sarah didn't pay much attention to him at first, thinking he was a homeless derelict (at least that's sort of what they look like in our area). However, she handed him a folder when he walked past. After moseying around the shelves for a while, he came over to my table and bought both books. When he walked over by Sarah to put them in his basket, he said:

"I've got to quit coming in this store. I buy too many books. My third bedroom is already stacked to the ceiling."

Just goes to show, you never know.

On the way home we paused at Flagstaff, AZ for a day at the Grand Canyon. It's a marvelous sight to behold. You can pick whatever theory you choose to believe regarding its creation, but standing on the precipice, gazing out at the vast panorama of colorful rock formations and the seemingly tiny snake-like Colorado River thousands of feet below, you feel totally insignificant. You realize some higher power must have had a hand in this. Sarah and I selected a tour provider that uses vans and lucked out on our choice. Only one other couple--Cheryl and Bill from Akron, OH--shared out guide for a thoroughly enjoyable day.

We had planned a Florida trip after returning to Nashville, with a signing in Pensacola and a talk at the Orange Beach, AL library. But along came a big tropical blast named Ivan and blew our plans to smithereens. My brother's condo at Perdido Key, which generated the idea for Designed to Kill, was damaged so badly it probably won't be habitable for several months. The Key took a devastating hit. Almost two months later, they have reopened part of Perdido Key Drive to the public, but the dusk-to-dawn curfew remains in effect.

After a brief rest stop in Nashville, we headed off to two more mystery conferences. First came Magna cum Murder in Muncie, IN, where I took part in panels on "Romance, Marriage and Murder" and a discussion of the POD (print on demand) phenomenon. I met Alexander McCall Smith (The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency), from Edinburgh, Scotland, and made several new author friends, including Deni Dietz from Canada and Peter Lovesey from England. Then we completed our circuit of I-40 with the drive to Wilmington, NC for the Cape Fear Crime Festival. I took part in an interesting panel there titled "The Joy of a Great Plot."

We have a junket this weekend to the Kentucky Book Fair in Frankfort, then plan to settle down in home territory until after Christmas. It has been a fun year...a bit tiring, but fun!




Hopefully, it's on the way to the printer. The next Greg and Jill adventure has been edited and copy edited and proofed and corrected. The cover has been designed and what the publisher chooses to call the "dust jacket" copy (actually, the back cover copy, since there's no dust jacket) has been written. Here's a review blurb from Julia Spencer-Fleming, the Agatha and Anthony award-winning author of In the Bleak Midwinter:


"This entertaining series just keeps getting better.  Campbell's latest features his trademark crisp writing and clever plotting.  The McKenzies are a unique sleuthing couple, as natural as biscuits and gravy.  Don't miss this one!"


Julia said she first considered saying Greg and Jill were "as natural as freedom and whiskey," using a quote from Robert Burns, but she wasn't sure how my readers would take it.


For a preview of the front cover, go to


In the brief Deadly Illusions plot summary in my last newsletter, I mentioned that Greg gets involved in an investigation of the assassination of the Federal Reserve Board chairman at a Nashville hotel. I originally set it at the Opryland Hotel, but after reading a lot of chatter on internet lists about problems you might encounter with a real place, I asked my publisher's advice. He suggested changing it to the Opryworld Hotel. I also changed some names in the hotel's description, but if you've ever been to the Opryland Hotel, you'll know where you are.



(This is from the snail mail version of the newsletter which I sent out a few months ago.)


Where did Greg and Jill come from? Are they really you and your wife Sarah? I frequently get questions like that. To give a conclusive answer, well . . . yes and no. My usual reply as to Greg is that he’s something of an alter ego. He is bigger than me, tougher than me, bolder than me. When it comes to confrontations, for example, I tend to step aside and let somebody else do the confronting. Having said that, Greg thinks a lot like me most of the time. However, I’m usually happy with just the thought of doing something drastic. He actually goes out and does it.

Now, about Jill. I’ll confess I borrow a lot from Sarah to paint her picture. In Designed to Kill, Jill is in rehab from rotator cuff
surgery. I knew firsthand all about that, as it was something Sarah underwent three years ago. The homemade device Jill uses in her exercises is something I concocted for Sarah.

As soon as my stepdaughter read the book, she told her mother, “I can hear you and Chester in it.” One incident she
pointed to was the scene where Greg tells Jill he’s going to Biloxi and she can stay at the condo to await a phone call. When she
remembers that he’s headed for a casino, Jill replies, “You leave here without me and your next case will be working on that di-
vorce.” Ah, the joys of marital bliss.

Most of my characters are wholly imaginary. As the old disclaimers used to say, “Any resemblance to actual persons living or
dead is purely coincidental.” Up to a point. Jill’s physical therapist in Designed to Kill is named Vickie. It just happens that Sarah’s physical therapist in reality was named Vickie. Some of the things she says in the book are coincidentally similar to what she said during Sarah’s therapy.

During my research at Perdido Key, I interviewed people who hold jobs similar to some of those in the book, but the characters
bear little if any resemblance to those who spoke with me.

So now you know why my characters are such characters. They slink out of the dark recesses of a weird mind.



My trade paperbacks retail for $15.95. If bought at a store with discount cards, you can get them for even less. So it's a bit stunning to run upon one that sells for $749. Yep, that's what they said. However, they'll let me buy one for a mere $295.  It's the Marquis Who's Who in America, 2005. Why am I so lucky? My bio is in the book. However, if you're interested in reading it, I'd suggest trying your local library. That's what I intend to do. Gee, I wonder what they have to pay for it?




Check my On the Go page occasionally to see where I'll be signing books, making talks, appearing on panels, whatever. If I'm going to be in your area, I'd love to talk to you. A few places I'll be are on the website now, but I'll be adding lots more as things are lined  up.




As of the moment, my newsletter email list includes 339 subscribers who hail from the U.S., Australia, Canada, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, The Netherlands and United Kingdom. There may be other countries I couldn't fathom from the email addresses (my brother in Australia has a Yahoo address). The ranks are growing steadily as I've just posted the contest information on several internet lists, and the entries are pouring in (okay, how about trickling in--sometimes a heavy trickle).


In closing, feel free to send me an email at and tell me what you think of the books or the newsletter or the website or how the election went for you. On second thought, skip the politics. If you would like your name removed from the newsletter mailing list, just send me an email with “Cancel Newsletter” as the subject. I may cry a little, but I'll take you off. Promise. See ya again soon.




Greg McKenzie Mysteries Newsletter

Chester D. Campbell, Editor & Publisher

















Here are the winners of my contest that ended Aug. 15.

Signed copies of Designed to Kill went to Linda Rutledge of Virginia and J. Dede Ward of Michigan.

Tee shirts with the book cover went to Debra Guyette of Connecticut and William E. Hood of Tennessee.

Thanks to everyone who entered. Keep checking back as we'll have another contest on the website soon.


Readers I’ve already heard from really enjoyed following Greg and Jill’s Florida adventure related in Designed to Kill. The reviewers like it, too. Check out these snips from three of them:

“Mr. Campbell's wealth of life experience and military background give him an eye for detail, which is crucial in any mystery…The plotting, pace and dialog are perfect in Designed To Kill. This is a perfect read for the beach or a long winter afternoon.” Roberta Austin, Murder & Mayhem Book Club

“The duo (Greg and Jill) investigates, finding out some dark secrets, and shocking revelations…culminating in a twist in the tale-and a totally unexpected finish. I enjoyed the book, rather relished the work. Looking forward to a lot, lot more from this author.” Narayan Radhakrishnan, New Mystery Reader

“Boomers in particular are going to enjoy this book…Greg and Jill are fellow travelers whose life experiences we can share because we were there. That, however, needn’t preclude younger readers from enjoying the book, which is filled with vivid and creative imagery as well as demonstrating superb writing skills.” Elizabeth K. Burton, Blue Iris Journal


A FUNNY THING HAPPENED a book signing recently. A woman came up to my table and asked for a book. Then she said, “I’ve never bought a book from a best-selling author before.” I wasn’t aware that I’d made any bestseller lists, but I didn’t want to disenchant her. I smiled and nodded noncommittally. By the way, if you see me on any bestseller lists, please rush to your computer and zap off an email. a book club where I spoke. One woman asked, “Are you Greg McKenzie?” I thought about checking my ID card but instead gave my usual answer. Greg is bigger than me, tougher than me, bolder than me. When it comes to confrontations, for example, I tend to step aside and let somebody else do the confronting. He is something of an alter ego, though, thinking a lot like me at times.




When Molly Saint hires the McKenzies to check into her husband’s background, it starts them on a tangled trail of deceit. The book is titled Deadly Illusions and will be released next March by Durban House. Jill turns up a close family connection as Greg gets drawn into a troubling police investigation stemming from the assassination of the Federal Reserve Board chairman at a Nashville hotel. The book is set in Nashville, with a couple of side trips (in Jill’s Cessna) to Indianapolis and St. Louis.


I have been invited to participate in this year’s Men of Mystery event in Irvine, California. Sponsored by the Literary Guild of Orange County, the one-day conference on Sept. 18 will feature 60 authors who will talk, sign books and serve as luncheon table hosts. Several hundred mystery fans will attend the fifth annual session. The “opening act” involves one-minute self-introductions. I’ll have to come up with a clever 60-second pitch to highlight my story and that of Greg and Jill. A champagne celebration will wind up the day.




If you haven’t visited lately, you’re in for a surprise. Nope, it hasn’t gone porno. But I’ve completely revamped the site with new link bars to make it easier to navigate. You’ll also find a new page of recent photos in the Rogues Gallery (including a couple of family shots), plus a new section called Articles ‘n Stuff. This contains a page of articles I’ve done, mostly for mystery magazines, and interviews. I’ve added an article on promotion I wrote for The Scarlett Letter, newsletter of the Southeast Chapter, Mystery Writers of America. It’s in the For Authors section.


Please check out the newly revised website and let me know what you think of it.




My travel schedule is now listed in detail on a website page called On The Go. Here are some places I’ll be in the next few months. I’d love to see you at one of them.


Aug. 21, Signing at Hastings Books, Clarksville, TN

Aug. 28, Signing at Books-a-Million, Hixson, TN

Aug. 28, Signing at Books-a-Million, Cleveland, TN

Sept. 10-12, Southeastern Booksellers Assn. Convention, Atlanta, GA

Sept. 16, Borders Books, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA

Sept. 17, Barnes & Noble, Aliso Viejo, CA

Sept. 18, One of featured authors at Men of Mystery event, Irvine, CA

Sept. 19, Borders Books, Orange, CA

Sept. 20, Borders Books, Costa Mesa, CA

Sept. 25, Proud Mary's Booksellers, Clinton, KY

Sept. 30, Creative Writing Group, Orange Beach (AL) Public Library

Oct. 2, Books-a-Million, Pensacola, FL

Oct. 14, Nashville Public Library, Main Branch, Nashville, TN

Oct. 16, Williamson County Public Library, Franklin, TN

Oct. 19, Talk to Middle TN Chapter, Sisters in Crime, Nashville, TN

Oct. 22-24, Magna cum Murder Crime Writing Festival, Muncie, IN

Oct. 29-31, Cape Fear Crime Festival, Wilmington, NC

Nov. 13, Kentucky Book Festival, Frankfort, KY





Nope, unlike Jonathan Swift, my proposal does not concern year-old babies who would make "a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout." My proposal is much more modest. I propose simply that if you enjoy Greg and Jill McKenzie's adventures, you recommend the books to a friend (or several). And, if so inclined, that you post a review at one of the online sites:, or That, hopefully, will cause others to buy the books and enable me to continue writing mysteries. Now, how modest can a fellow get?




As a matter of interest (or maybe not), this newsletter is going to 298 subscribers in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, The Netherlands and United Kingdom.


In closing, I’d love to hear from you. Please send an email to and let me know how you like my books and any thoughts on this newsletter. If you would like your name removed from the newsletter mailing list, just send me an email with “Cancel Newsletter” as the subject. I may cry a little, but I'll take you off. Promise. See ya again soon.




The Greg McKenzie Mysteries Newsletter

Spring 2004/Chester D. Campbell, Editor & Publisher


What’s so special? Designed to Kill has finally been released! Cheers, applause, toasts and huzzahs! Run, don’t walk, to your nearest bookstore and order your copy today (chances are it won’t be in stock, but they can order it—the ISBN number is 1930754469). Or, go online to Amazon, B&N, Books-a-Million, whatever dot-com you prefer. By the way, “released” is the appropriate term for this book. I thought the printer would never turn it loose. I had to cancel the “launch party” in Pensacola, plus a couple of other Florida signings because I had no books. And, of course, an author without books is like a frog without water--totally out of his element.


Here are a couple of snippets from early reviews of Designed to Kill:

“Mr. Campbell has written another page-turner. . .He has filled the story with such convincing characters that are so fleshed-out as to appear alive. There are stolen plans, murder, love gone astray, back stabbing, mean goons and all kinds of skullduggery. I’m eagerly looking forward to the next Greg and Jill McKenzie adventure. But I sincerely suggest that you don’t miss this one.”

Shirley Truax, All About Murder Reviews

“Greg McKenzie…is a wonderful protagonist with an older man's wisdom, crossed with the droll voice of an unrepentant rebel…I loved the way the author worked the foibles of age into the narrative, while maintaining the essential strength of his characters. Campbell's uncluttered prose is the perfect vehicle for a mystery.  The plot is reasonable, and the ending has a nice twist that I didn't see coming. DESIGNED TO KILL is a thoroughly satisfying read, the kind of book that will have you anxiously anticipating the author's next book.”

Brian Kaufman, Roundtable Reviews


Yep, I had about decided to make that the title. The book was to have been printed in December, then they found a need to revise the cover (as detailed in the last newsletter). I was told it would be ready by the end of January. Ooops! The printer somehow printed the book the wrong size. According to the publisher, they had two plants and his line had been shifted to a plant where they were unfamiliar with Durban House projects. Duh! But Designed to Kill was first in line and would be ready by early March. Yeah, really. I had my first Nashville signing set for March 27. After begging and pleading, the publisher was assured the books would be ready to ship by March 25th. As it turned out, they were loaded on a truck ready to ship to the distributor when somebody managed to drag off three boxes to dispatch to me by FedEx. They arrived on my doorstep three hours before the signing. I would have been a nervous wreck except I don't do nervous very well.


Despite the lack of new books, wife Sarah (my director of sales) and I had a great time on our scheduled trip to Florida. We found Perdido Key (setting for Designed to Kill) a bit on the cool side in early March, but the book club at Pensacola’s Southwest Branch Library gave us a warm welcome. I talked about both Greg McKenzie mysteries and several bought copies of Secret of the Scroll. We also signed Secret at The Bookstore in DeFuniak Springs and Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore at Delray Beach. We took a side trip to Key West for a visit to the Hemingway House (Sarah said his studio didn’t have nearly as many books as my office—I suppose you have to be a “literary” author to work in a studio). Then it was on to SleuthFest, the annual conference put on by the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America.

I was on a panel titled “Gettin’ Gashouse: Talking Dirty and Writing Gore.” Fellow Southerner Randy Rawls and I took the position that it isn’t necessary to fill your book with four-letter words, graphic sex and gory scenes to produce a successful mystery. On the other side were two New York City natives who contended they just write it the way things are. The audience discussion got quite lively. When one woman championed the F-word, another complained over-using it made a book boring to her. In the end, I doubt that any minds were changed. Certainly not mine. I’ll continue to go easy on the cussin’, leave the sex mostly to your imagination and keep most of the gore “off camera.”


When you read Designed to Kill, you’ll get a hint at the end about what’s to come. The third Greg McKenzie mystery is about finished. The story takes place primarily in Nashville, though Greg and Jill take brief jaunts in her Cessna to Indianapolis and St. Louis. I had a difficult time coming up with a title for this one. I started with the working title of Molly, one of the central characters. Then I changed it to The Face of Murder, which I didn’t particularly like. Finally, as I was nearing the end, I sat down and pondered (by the way, pondering can be quite a chore, especially if your ponderer is set for slow motion) until I came up with Deadly Illusions. After learning late in the game that “Designed to Kill” was the title of a mystery that came out in 2003, I went to to check the proposed title for the next book. I got 68 “hits,” but only three books with “Deadly Illusions” in the title. They were all non-fiction from the early ’nineties and out-of-print. So I feel safe in keeping it.


I have a publicist now (P. J. Nunn’s Break Through Promotions) and together we’re working on my signing and appearance schedule. If I’m going to be anywhere in your vicinity, I’d love to see you. Here are some places you could find me:

April 10, 1:00 p.m., signing at Barnes & Noble, Brentwood, TN

April 13, 6:00 p.m., Mystery Lovers book group, Barnes & Noble, Brentwood, TN

April 17, 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., Southern Kentucky Book Fest, Bowling Green, KY

April 19, Noon, signing at Davis-Kidd Booksellers, Jackson, TN

April 30-May 2, Malice Domestic Mystery Convention, Sheraton National Hotel, Arlington, VA

May 7, 7:00 p.m., signing at Barnes & Noble, Camp Hill Mall, Camp Hill, PA

May 10, 11:00 a.m., signing at Barnes & Noble, Pensacola, FL

May 10, 2:00 p.m., signing at Books-a-Million, Pensacola, FL

May 27, TBA, local author event at Barnes & Noble, Knoxville, TN

Please check the Appearances page on my website often to see where else I’ll be.


Well, not totally new, but a definite new look. I’m working on a revision of the website to make it more user friendly, as they say in cyberspeak. The home page will be less complicated, with links leading to other areas. I can’t guarantee when it’ll be ready, as I’m working madly to complete the next book, make appearances to promote the new book and reading and surfing to stay on top of what’s happening in the mystery world.


I’m always happy to hear from readers. Let me know what you like or don’t like about my books. The feedback really helps. You can email me at or write me at P.O. Box 281, Madison, TN 37116. Until next we meet, have a great spring!



The Greg McKenzie Mysteries Newsletter

Winter 2003-2004                        Chester D. Campbell, Editor & Publisher

Happy New Year!


A Boggling Fall

Designed to Kill

Behind the Scenes

Let’s Have a Party

Fiction and Firearms

The New Year

A Boggling Fall

Winter? Wasn’t the first issue dated Summer 2003, you ask? What happened to Fall? Good question. The best answer I can give is that Fall snuck right past us while we were blazing along I-40 and several other “I’s” scattered about the Southeast and Southwest. In September and early October, we traveled to Florida, Alabama and Mississippi for book signings and to arrange future events. The rest of October passed in a blur with travel between Nashville (Southern Festival of Books), Las Vegas (Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention), signings in San Antonio and Plano (Dallas), TX, Wilmington, NC (Cape Fear Crime Festival), followed in early November by a Sisters in Crime panel at Dickson, TN.

I feel tired just remembering. But both wife Sarah and I had a ball. We traveled by car, trading the driving chore every hundred miles or so. We met scads of interesting folks, talked about books and writing, among other things, ate tons of delicious food and saw a variety of landscapes sufficient to boggle the mind (if you haven’t experienced that lately, I’ll be happy to supply boggling instructions).

Designed to Kill

Book two in the Greg McKenzie Mysteries has gone to press. It will be available on line and in bookstores in early March. In capsule, here’s a plot summary:

It’s no vacation that brings Greg McKenzie and his wife Jill to the glistening white sand beaches at Perdido Key, Florida. Architect/engineer Tim Gannon, son of the McKenzies’ closest friends in Nashville, has been found dead of a gunshot wound. Self-inflicted, says the deputy who investigated, a clear case of remorse over a design flaw in a high-rise beachfront condo that caused a balcony collapse, killing two people. But it looks otherwise to Greg and Jill, who find plans missing, an obstinate contractor, a too-slick developer and an inspector angry over a disrupted love affair. After two hoods work him over, Greg realizes Jill is in danger, too, and if this is a murder case, he had better solve it without delay.

You can read the first couple of chapters on my website, where you’ll also see a picture of the cover. Here’s what a few top-selling authors said after reading advance review copies:

"Designed to Kill is a thoroughly enjoyable mystery with an intelligent plot, clever clues and characters who are like people you know. Bring it to the beach or read it by the fire. You’ll have a great time with the latest Greg McKenzie mystery."

Phillip Margolin, author of eight New York Times bestsellers.

“Chester Campbell’s Designed to Kill is a terrific achievement. Greg McKenzie is an affable hero, ably abetted by his wife, Jill. It’s a cleverly plotted, tightly written book that should add lots of readers to his fan list.”

Sally Bissell, best-selling author of In the Forest of Harm and A Darker Justice. One of Sally’s books was a Los Angeles Times Top 10 pick in 2002.

“Don’t ever go up in a high rise condominium with Chester Campbell. You may never come down. Designed to Kill is everything you could want in a mystery. Suspense, colorful characters and a great surprise ending. Read it, but read it on the ground floor.”

Don Bruns, author of the highly acclaimed Jamaica Blue and Barbados Heat.

Behind the Scenes

I did most of the research for Designed to Kill in Florida. An amusing incident occurred during an interview at the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office in Pensacola. I had arranged to talk with Sgt. Tony Bain, who handles media relations. When I asked him what would happen if a private citizen came in to inquire about a suicide case that might have been murder, he suggested I talk with someone else about that. So he called in Investigator Jim Powell.

“When did this case take place?” Powell asked, a concerned look on his face.

He thought I was talking about an actual case they had investigated. He lightened up quickly when I explained I was only a mystery writer looking for generic information. Happily, in all of my research efforts, I have been warmly welcomed and provided with whatever details I requested.

For locales in the book, I used mostly the real thing. And, as in any fictional outing, some of what goes on is at least partially biographical. When Greg and Jill talk about going to Doc’s restaurant in Orange Beach, he describes an experience with royal red shrimp. It’s actually what happened to me when Sarah and I went there on one occasion. You’ll have to read the chapter to get the joke, but just a mention of royal reds will coax a laugh out of us.

Let’s Have a Party!

I’m working with Michelle Mannick at Books-a-Million in Pensacola, on scheduling a Launch Party there for Designed to Kill on March 13 at 2 p.m. I’ll have all the details by the time of the next GMcK Newsletter. If it works out the way I’m hoping, the party should be a blast.

Firearms and Fiction

After attending Bouchercon in October, where I was on a panel discussing “Research, Research, Research…Mining for Silver,” I took part in a seminar sponsored by the Second Amendment Foundation for mystery writers. Ten authors and a few spouses, including Sarah, spent one day at Las Vegas’ Imperial Palace Hotel being briefed on all aspects of pistols and rifles, their history, their use in law enforcement and by sportsmen, how to handle them safely and how they should be used in self defense.

We spent the next day on a firing range outside Vegas shooting all sorts of weapons. I fired a .22 pistol and rifle, a .38 revolver, a 9mm semiautomatic pistol, a .30 caliber carbine similar to one I shot in World War II, a .40 caliber revolver and a 12 gauge shotgun. I hit the bullseye dead center with one 9mm round. If it was a lucky shot, I sure could have used some of that luck at the casinos.

The seminar was designed to give mystery writers enough information to make it likely we would deal with guns correctly in our novels. The instructors included three current or former police officers (one also a mystery writer), a recently retired executive with Colt Firearms, a woman who is a top competition shooter and firearms trainer, the vice president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, and the president of the Second Amendment Foundation, who has been dealing with firearms longer than most of the group had been alive. The Foundation is a pioneer in innovative defense of the right to keep and bear arms through its publications, public education programs and legal action.

Happy 2004!

I hope 2004 will prove to be happy, healthy and prosperous for you. I had the pleasure of meeting many of you during the past year and hope to meet more in 2004. It's your interest in my writing that keeps me pecking away at the computer. I'm working hard to finish book three in the series and will have more to say about it later. Meanwhile, I'd love to hear from you on what you think of my books. Just email me at Keep in touch!

I frequently add new items to the website, so come visit often. Some of the new features, besides all the Designed to Kill info, are a page of photos from the fall trips and a Promotional Idea for Authors page.

And as we say down here in sunny (brrr!) Tennessee, y'all come see us!

New Contest

I’m having another contest at It isn't up on the site yet, so you're the first to know. Just go to my home page and click on the link to the excerpt from Designed to Kill. Early in the Prologue you'll find the name of the young architect/engineer from Nashville who designed The Sand Castle condominium on the beach at Perdido Key. Then send an email to with "Contest" as the subject and put the character's name in the body of the email. The winner's name will be drawn on February 14 (okay, so it's Valentine's Day). The prize is a tote bag with the cover of Secret of the Scroll on both sides.

What's Behind the Cover

I think you'll agree that the cover design for Designed to Kill is rather striking, but how did it come about? If my publisher had a big budget for covers (which he doesn't), they could have drawn a condominium designed to look like a Spanish castle sitting on the beach. The next best idea seemed to be use a photo of a real Spanish castle. That was the first version I saw - the castle spread across the cover, obviously sitting on a mountainside. The type did not show up too well against the background of the stone wall. So I suggested they go back to the drawing board. In the second version, the castle was placed in a picture frame with the type against a light background. But still no beach, as I had suggested originally.

Fortunately, when the publisher went to New York with the distributor's sales people, he was advised to change the cover to put the castle beside a beach. So, the third and final version, shown on my website, came into being. I would have cut off some of the wall at the bottom to allow more beach, but I've learned you can't always get what you want. Fortunately, I had enough input to make the cover more readable, particularly the Phillip Margolin quote in the seal.

Anyway, I hope you like it. Better yet, I hope you like what's inside.



Summer 2003


August 9, 2003Chester D. Campbell, Editor & Publisher
Welcome to the inaugural issue. It’s an occasion worthy of marching pipers and drummers in colorful kilts, maybe even a few brilliant fireworks bursting overhead. Put your imagination to work. Can you see and hear them? Okay, enough work on your part, it’s my turn now.

I’m looking at possibly a quarterly publication, but who knows? At any rate, you should find another issue in your mailbox in a few months. Now, let’s get on with this one.

What’s Greg been doing?

When last we saw our hero he had just put the Scroll affair to rest. Over the next few months, life returned to a semblance of normalcy, meaning nonstop boredom with no job and nothing to do but read and watch TV. Greg never learned to enjoy retirement. July brought a trip to the McKenzies’ condo on the beach at Perdido Key, FL just outside Pensacola. A hurricane soon chased them back to Tennessee. Summer turned to fall and fall brought word of a tragedy involving the young architect/engineer who had brought Greg and Jill home from the airport on their return from the Holy Land tour.

What happened? Sorry, you’ll have to wait till fall. Then I’ll post the opening chapters of Designed to Kill on the website.

What’s Chester been doing?

If you haven’t visited the website lately, here are a few of the exciting things that have transpired:

Secret of the Scroll won second place in the Thriller/Horror category of the Bloody Dagger Awards, judged by 53 reviewers for All About Murder Reviews.

Secret of the Scroll was a finalist for ForeWord Magazine’s 2002 Mystery Book of the Year Award, and it was nominated for the Dorothy Parker Awards of Excellence.

My wife Sarah and I have been on the road a lot since October. We’ve traveled to 21 bookstores in Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Kentucky and Pennsylvania for signings. They included 7 Books-a-Millions, 6 Barnes & Nobles, 3 Davis-Kidds, one independent mystery bookstore and the Virtually Unlimited Bookstore at the Renaissance Center in Dickson, TN. We spoke to the Book Discussion Group at the Mechanicsburg (PA) Mystery Book Shop and the 100-year-old Graditum Club in Princeton, KY. We also made four appearances at Senior Citizens Centers and retirement communities in Nashville. It’s been fun meeting lots of readers.

I also took part in a panel discussing “Developing Dialogue” at SleuthFest, the big mystery writers conference at Deerfield Beach sponsored by the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America.

Behind the Scenes
In writing about Greg and Jill’s return to the States in Secret of the Scroll, I put in a scene where their flight out of Amman, Jordan was delayed by an alarm malfunction. In retrospect, I probably should have used what actually happened to the flight I took as it left Queen Alia International Airport. At the time I thought it might sound too coincidental. When the big jet was taking off, we heard a loud blump about halfway down the runway and I thought we had run over something. The pilot slammed on the brakes. After the plane finally stopped near the end of the runway, the pilot came on with a long, incomprehensible explanation in Arabic. Then he advised in English that we had lost an engine. Thank God it happened before we lifted off the runway. Buses took us back to the te rminal where, like the McKenzies, we waited a couple of hours for a replacement aircraft.

An amusing incident took place after the book was finished that illustrates how opinions differ among professionals. When I sent the manuscript to an independent editor in Dallas for critique, she objected to a dream sequence I had used at the opening of Chapter 18. Dream scenes are overused, she said, leave it out. After I had contracted with Durban House for publication, Bob Middlemiss, my DH editor, read where I had changed the scene to say Greg had awakened from a dream swinging his arms. “Ideal place to have a nightmare about Jill,” Bob wrote. And that’s where you’ll find it.

What’s next?

I have just served as host for a one-day writing seminar co-sponsored by the Southeast Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and the Middle Tennessee Chapter of Sisters in Crime. It was held at my church in Madison, TN.

Designed to Kill, second book in the Greg McKenzie Mystery Series, has gone to the publisher for typesetting and cover design. As soon as I have a cover, I’ll post it on the website. Release is scheduled for early March 2004.

And we have a busy fall coming up. In September we head back to Perdido Key, FL (location of Designed to Kill) for a couple of weeks of relaxation and library appearances. October brings the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville, where I’ll take part in a Sisters in Crime panel of authors, and a trip to Las Vegas for Bouchercon, the world’s largest mystery convention. I hope to set up some signings in Texas on the way home, plus an author event at Barnes & Noble in Germantown, TN.

On Halloween, we go to Wilmington, NC for the Cape Fear Crime Festival, where I’ll be a panelist.

Where do you get your ideas?

That’s the question I’m most often asked. Story ideas can pop up from anywhere. An item in a newspaper or magazine, an observation while out wandering around, something remembered from the past, a casual comment someone makes. It could be anything that starts your mind wondering “what if?”

Secret of the Scroll developed from an article I read in Royal Jordanian Airlines’ in-flight magazine while returning from a Holy Land tour similar to the one Greg and Jill McKenzie take in the book. It mentioned caves found near an archeological dig around Bethany in Jordan. What if somebody found an ancient scroll there, I wondered? What if it contained a valuable secret? And soon a book was born.

The idea for Designed to Kill came from cruising up and down Perdido Key Drive and noting all of the high-rise condominiums under construction. What if a balcony were to collapse, I thought? So I built me a condo (it’s called The Sand Castle) and collapsed its fifteenth floor balcony. Greg will have to tell you the rest.

Check Back aften
I frequently add new things to the website, change photos, etc. Check back often to see what’s going on. And please email me what you think about this newsletter, my books, my website, anything that comes to mind. I’d love hearing from you. You can reach me at

News Flash!!
I’m having a contest at my website——through August 31st (initially announced as September 15). When you get to the home page, scroll down to the Windows Media Player Control Panel and you’ll see the title of the song being played. Click on the Contest Box at the top of the page and send an email with the name of the song. Three winners will be drawn. They will have their choice of a copy of Secret of the Scroll or a tote bag with the cover on it from my Café Shop.

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