David B. Coe: Release Day for DEAD MAN’S REACH!


David B. Coe/D.B. JacksonToday is release day for Dead Man’s Reach, the fourth and final (for now) novel of the Thieftaker Chronicles. I’m incredibly excited about this book for several reasons, not the least of which being that it represents, I believe, some of the finest work I’ve ever done. I hope you enjoy reading it every bit as much as I enjoyed writing it.

All of the Thieftaker novels demanded that I interweave fictional story elements with actual historical events. That has been one of the great challenges of writing these books, and one of the great pleasures as well. And I think that most fans of the series would agree that the interplay of fiction with history is part of what has drawn them to the Ethan Kaille stories.

In no book has that blending of history and make believe been more demanding, more complex, and more intricate, than in Dead Man’s Reach. Beginning on the morning of February 22, 1770, the morning after my opening scene, the town of Boston entered a crisis of bloody violence, tragedy, and mutual provocation between Boston’s citizenry and the occupying British soldiers (whose arrival in the city in the fall of 1768 provided the backdrop for Thieves’ Quarry, the second Thieftaker novel). This cycle of confrontation and bloodshed followed a twisting but traceable path of causality, and I needed to insert my storyline into it.

That February morning, supporters of Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty staged a demonstration against a loyalist merchant who had been importing products from England in violation of nonimportation agreements. Through nonimportation — an agreement among merchants not to import any goods made in Britain — the colonists hoped to pressure King George III and Parliament into lifting the various taxes and tariffs that had been levied on the colonies. Those merchants who supported the Patriot cause readily agreed to nonimportation, but loyalists opposed the agreements, calling them bad for business. They sought to circumvent the agreements at every opportunity. As punishment, the Sons of Liberty and their supporters resorted to mischief, vandalism, and public demonstrations intended to shame violators of nonimportation. This particular protest quickly turned violent, and during the melee a loyalist — a friend of the merchant targeted by the demonstration — fired a musket into the crowd, injuring one young man, and fatally wounding a boy named Christopher Seider.

Dead Man's Reach, by D.B. Jackson (Jacket art by Chris McGrath)In the days following Chris Seider’s death, confrontations between citizens of Boston and occupying soldiers escalated. Young toughs harassed soldiers, pelting them with snowballs and ice, rotten food, and rocks, and shouting insults and obscenities. Rope workers at a rope yard near one of the barracks where the British regulars were billeted, engaged in violent brawls with the soldiers. Several men on both sides were injured, at least one critically. And, of course, on the night of March 5, a confrontation on King Street between a huge, unruly mob and a small number of soldiers led to the shootings later dubbed the Boston Massacre. Five men died and six more were wounded.

That historical narrative (with a couple of other real-life events thrown in — a public funeral for Seider, a massive blizzard that crippled the city for a few days) provides the framework for the fictional plotting of Dead Man’s Reach. It’s a complicated story, made even more challenging by the fact that the key events stretch over a span of nearly two weeks. By way of comparison, the events described in each of the other Thieftaker books take place over the course of a few days. I had to find a way to blend Ethan’s magic into the storyline, and plausibly connect Ethan, his magic, and his past, to the violence gripping the city. I can’t really describe exactly how I did this without spoiling a good many plot points for you, my potential readers. It’s enough to say that another conjurer manages to take control of Ethan’s magical power and use it to deepen the chaos.

I like to envision my historical fantasies as literary lasagnas (an image that Faith first came up with, though in a slightly different context). I am layering truth on top of fiction on top of fact on top of magic on top of detail, etc. If I do it right, and make the ingredients work together as they should, I no longer have a mix of historical and fictional timelines. I have a single, seamless story, one in which it is all but impossible for my readers to see where the real ends and the fictional begins. Nutritious, and delicious . . .

This was harder to do with Dead Man’s Reach than with any other book I’ve written, which makes the result that much more satisfying. I hope you’ll pick up a copy today, and I hope you enjoy it. Thanks!


David B. Coe/D.B. Jackson is the award-winning author of eighteen fantasy novels. Under the name D.B. Jackson, he writes the Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy from Tor Books that includes Thieftaker, Thieves’ Quarry, A Plunder of Souls, and, the newest volume, Dead Man’s Reach, which will be released on July 21. Under his own name, he writes The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, a contemporary urban fantasy from Baen Books. The first volume, Spell Blind, debuted in January 2015. The newest book in the series, His Father’s Eyes, comes out on August 4. He lives on the Cumberland Plateau with his wife and two daughters. They’re all smarter and prettier than he is, but they keep him around because he makes a mean vegetarian fajita. When he’s not writing he likes to hike, play guitar, and stalk the perfect image with his camera.



6 comments to David B. Coe: Release Day for DEAD MAN’S REACH!

  • […] Finally, I have a post up at the Magical Words blog site on the history behind the action in Dead Man’s Reach. Yeah, I know — history is boring. Not this history. The book takes place against the backdrop of the Boston Massacre. Read the post here. […]

  • Razziecat

    Oh cool, a blizzard too on top of all the other yummy elements? As a lifelong resident of a town that’s famous for its winter weather, I’m looking forward even more to reading this book! Just bought it on Kindle and it’s next on my TBR list! Congratulations on another book launch, David!

  • Thank you so much, Razz. Yes, this was quite the storm, apparently. And it came at a very inopportune time, as you’ll see in the book. Hope you enjoy it.

  • Ken

    Happy Book Birthday David!!!!

    I’ll be heading out to pick up my copy today. Looking forward to reading it 🙂

  • Happy belated book birthday, David! Can’t wait to read it. 🙂

    Now I just have to wait for my copy to arrive. *mutters about national bookstore chain and their flawed pick up in store option* Seriously, there are copies *right there* on the shelf!