Local Author J.D. O’Brien Releases Debut Crime Novel
EASTHAMPTON — Western Mass.-based author J.D. O’Brien’s debut crime novel, Zig Zag, was recently released in hardcover by Schaffner Press, an independent publisher in Tucson, Ariz., with a paperback edition coming later this year.
In Zig Zag, a botched marijuana-dispensary heist in the San Fernando Valley sends burned-out bail bondsman Harry Robatore deep into the Mojave Desert trailing two lovers on the run. What follows is a stoned journey across the dive bars, neon-lit motels, and lost highways of the American West, building to an explosive showdown at a ghost-town tourist trap.
Jacket blurbs for the novel feature praise from top crime writers, including Shoot the Moonlight Out author William Boyle, who describes it as “a cosmic American crime odyssey” in the vein of James Crumley, and Rovers author Richard Lange, who describes it as “Elmore Leonard meets Warren Zevon, with a wry sensibility all its own.” Pineapple Express and Eastbound & Down director David Gordon Green says Zig Zag “feels like a great ’70s movie.”
Since its release in February, Zig Zag has been named a Southwest Book of the Year by the Pima County Library and was a pick of the week by popular publishing-industry resource Shelf Awareness, who says O’Brien “comes off as a seasoned pro … in this engrossing page-turner.”
Before returning to the Pioneer Valley, the author lived in Los Angeles for a number of years, including a stint in Van Nuys, the gritty neighborhood where much of Zig Zag is set. The book was also informed by several road trips through the Mojave Desert. O’Brien currently works as a copywriter at Darby O’Brien Advertising in South Hadley. He is working on a sequel to Zig Zag.