2005-12-30 / Community

Local Author Sets New Thriller In Rockaway

A Wave Review By Tori Toth

Belle Harbor resident Thomas O’Callaghan has taken the plunge into the dark side by using the Rockaway peninsula as part of the backdrop in his first thriller, “Bone Thief.”

The local author tells the tale of good versus evil by probing through the life of two fictional characters: serial killer, Colm Pierce, and NYPD police Lieutenant John W. Driscoll.

The book opens with a flashback of Pierce’s troubled childhood, as he waits to capture and skin his first victim to collect her bones. Pierce was mentally tortured as a child and his adoptive father’s job as a taxidermist haunts his nightmares blurring the lines between right and wrong.

“He left the room. When he returned, he was pushing a gurney. It held a tray of surgical instruments. Selecting the Bard-Parker scalpel, he turned to face his Deirdre. She trembled as the skin of her neck welcomed the glimmering blade,” the book recalls. Following the murder, O’Callaghan introduces Driscoll to readers as a somber man grieving over the death of his daughter and comatose wife when he is called to duty. “They need me, he sighed, and kissed [his daughter’s grave] stone.”

The author told The Wave, not only studied theater in college, but he used that skill to help create the characters, as well as his personal aspirations

“If I was a cop I would be Driscoll [and] if I was a serial killer I would be as creative and as vicious as Colm,” said O’Callaghan.

He researched both serial killers and police procedure to make the characters seem real, “I talked with a retired NYPD Homicide Commander to help formulate the authenticity [I also] looked at behavioral studies of serial killers and studied FBI profiling techniques,” explained O’Callaghan.

The familiarity of O’Callaghan’s past also helped him create the plot. He admits that writing mysteries and using the Rockaway’s as a murder scene puts him at ease.

“I felt comfortable writing [this] genre [plus] I live in the area and am comfortable with writing about it,” said O’Callaghan. The second murder takes place on the peninsula under the boardwalk of Beach 67 Street. A jogger and her dog find a mangled body that takes Driscoll and his police team through the beach community in search for clues. “He then examined the nails the killer used, and prayed the wounds were postmortem. ‘I’ll catch this son of a bitch. That I promise,’ he vowed as he turned his back on the victim and headed back to the beach.” O’Callaghan not only takes readers on a wild killing spree through vivid description of pain and torture, he also touches on the themes of love and deceit. Pierce lures his victims in by using his Internet Company to promise women that he would find their first true love. The information provided by the women interested in his promise provides the means of him stalking and kidnapping them.

“It wouldn’t be the first time a criminal used the Internet as his playing field…it would be a very deadly field,” wrote O’Callaghan. Pierce may never understand what love means though because his parents put him through a torturous childhood and in return he kills them. Driscoll is faced with a tough decision of his own regarding love. Rather than being able to rekindle his relationship with his wife he must deal with losing her forever. For five years, his wife has been living in a vegetative state at home and she will never regain consciousness. Driscoll struggles with his religious beliefs that do not allow him to pull the plug on his wife. O’Callaghan tells readers,“[Driscoll] thought his guilt would cripple him, but it did not…he knew in his heart she understood.” The lieutenant is also given the chance to start a new relationship with his partner Margaret, who both find each other attractive, but are reluctant to do anything about it. 

That seems to be the author’s favorite part, “it was a challenge to create a relationship [between Driscoll and Margaret] who were latent with such emotional baggage,” said O’Callaghan. Besides love, the author tackles the question of deceit. Driscoll will not cheat on his wife despite the fact that she is in a coma and will never recover. Pierce, however, fails to follow through on his promise to deliver his victim’s first true love. The serial killer also lies to his victims about his alternative motive to capture and kill them.

The author told The Wave he decided to write the “Bone Thief” because he enjoys reading mysteries. O’Callaghan was inspired by Thomas Harris, the author of “Red Dragon,” the book that became the movie, “Silence of the Lambs,” one of the master’s of this genre, “I enjoy his writing style and he has a good product…he is the master of the craft,” explained O’Callaghan.

O’Callaghan wants readers to enjoy the psychological suspense and thrill the book puts forth. Hands down the book offers gruesome images and detail that will haunt any readers dreams or should I say nightmares. However, some Rockaway residents may find the ending a bit implausible. It’s hard to believe traveling from Sheepshead Bay Marina to Old Brookville only takes “Driscoll fifteen minutes to reach [Pierce’s] residence.”

Another problem with the ending arises when Driscoll jumps of helicopter to capture Pierce on his boat, “someone had landed on the deck…the jolt of leaping from the helicopter jarred loose Driscoll’s 9-mm Glock,” the book never mentions the reality that jumping of the chopper would most likely seriously injure a person.

It also comes to The Wave’s attention a stereotype that may bother some readers. A young teenage girl, who is known as a hacker, is able to connect the murders together by using her computer while the police department barely knows how to turn the machines on. In the book O’Callaghan explains, “you’ve gotta realize that these kids are miles ahead on the information superhighway…the Internet is the tool of tomorrow.” That may have been the case during the early stages of the computer age but almost everyone now, especially the police department, knows how to work computers to their advantage. 

Despite the few misconceptions, many critics have already ranked the local author with Stephen King, Clive Barker or Dean Koontz. O’Callaghan told The Wave he is very flattered and pleased with the book’s response.

O’Callaghan has a new book coming out in 2007, sending Lieutenant Driscoll on a new adventure to capture the bad guys. O’Callaghan wasn’t able to say much but mentioned “Driscoll would be freed up emotionally as he and Margaret come closer,” O’Callaghan also added, “Driscoll faces outrage again while the city is being terrorized by a new rein of killers.”

Bone Thief” hits store shelves on January 3rd. The book is already available online and readers can get an autographed copy at Sammy Variety located on Beach 129 Street or at other fine bookstores. For more information visit the author’s website at www. thomasocallaghan.com.

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