Remember the 1980’s action films? Before Jack Reacher came on the scene, before any books like Jack Reacher were available there were films with one hero who saved the day against numerous baddies. Films like Die Hard with Bruce Willis, Rambo with Slyvester Stallone and one of my favourites Commando with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Commando was about one man who had to go against an army to get his kidnapped daughter back.
If like me, you used to love these type of films, with over the top violence, an easy story to follow and a happy ending then this new book I have read is just for you. The start of the book hooks you right in, two deaths and Joe Beck at a funeral wondering what had happened to one of his best friends. A friend who he would call a brother, did his friend commit suicide or was this a murder?
Who is Joe Beck?
He’s a former cop from Nebraska turned unlicensed outlaw private eye, after being convicted for a crime he didn’t commit and spending a year inside the Nebraska State Penitentiary. Unlike other private eyes, he’s effectively a drifter with no formal office or fixed abode, who operates with three things: a cell phone, an unregistered Smith & Wesson pistol and a Smith & Wesson six-inch HRT boot knife which he keeps in a holster strapped to the crux of his leg.
Motivated by nothing other than money and justice for the wronged, he’s part saviour, part mercenary. Basically, an avenger for hire, who you can call up or bump into and try to persuade him to help solve your problems. And, standing an imposing 6’5″ and with a full muscular frame built like the side of a house, he’s not somebody you want to wind up on the wrong side of.
He’s basically the sort of private eye you don’t want looking for you. The kind who shoots first, then asks the questions later. He thinks nothing of beating a guy’s ass for answers or cutting his throat, if he thinks he’s lying.
He survives on coffee, beer, whisky and mammoth portions of meat-based meals. And he has a soft spot for beautiful women and can’t resist helping a damsel in distress. He roams the length and breadth of America seeking out suspects, dishing out vigilante justice and bringing the untouchable criminals of the world to a permanent end and knocking their criminal enterprises onto its knees.
He’s big. He’s bad. And he’s as hard as they come. You’d best hope you’re not the one he’s looking for and you’d better not stand in his way.
As you can see, Joe Beck is just like Jack Reacher, as person that you don’t want to mess with but someone who is fighting for justice in the world.
I managed to get an email chat with Alastair Brown the author of the Joe Beck book titled “Army of One”. See the whole conversation below.
What inspired you to create Joe Beck?
It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. Even since elementary school. I would always write stories and win the weekly ‘Super Writer’ award. It’s always been in me, I guess. One day, I just decided to do it and started typing words into a note-taking app on my phone.
At first, It was a collection of random thoughts and happenings, scenes for an action novel with a male lead character. A detective who operated outside the law, followed his own rules and got the job done, no matter the means. Eventually, after a bit of trial and error and a good bit of visualizing and re-visualizing, outlining, planning, writing and re-writing, those words became my first novel – Army of One: Introducing Joe Beck.
I guess the real inspiration for that book, though, was the antagonist. And the seed came from a box of shortbread I saw sitting on the table one day in my family’s kitchen. The title on the side was ‘Chairman’s Collection’ and, without wanting to spoil the plot of Army of One for anyone who hasn’t read it, I saw that title and began to wonder, who’s the Chairman?
What do you want to get out of writing these books?
Obviously, anything is possible. Right? If I ended up writing ten, twenty, thirty books, sold a million copies and had them made into a TV or movie series, then that would be terrific.
But what I’m doing it for is entertainment. My own and that of the readers’. For me, there’s nothing better than hearing somebody say ‘I read that book you wrote and thought it was great.’
At their core, books are a form of entertainment. They compete with just about everything else out there for people’s time, whether that’s against sports, music, movies or browsing the internet. People invest their limited time in return for enjoyment. And to be able to say I’ be given that somebody who’s bought a copy and used their time to read it or read it for free on Kindle Unlimited, that’s my nirvana.
I had read some of the Jack Reacher, Spenser, Jon Reznick, and Harry Bosch novels and really enjoyed them. I also thought I could do this, too. And so I set about doing something with a strong male lead, as that’s what struck me most about those books – the power of the main character.
Initially, while concepting ‘Joe Beck,’ I burned through lots of thoughts and ideas, from doing something about a Texas Ranger to a New York cop. But I quickly realized, if I was going to do the character I wanted, he couldn’t be confined to any particular organization and its bullshit practices and procedures. I also realized, if I set it in one particular place, it would become a bit episodic with recurring similar characters. I didn’t want to write about the exact same people each and every time, so I decided to make him a drifting private eye. That way, I allowed myself the flexibility of being able to write about anything and anywhere.
After I had the premise sorted, I had to come up with a name. I new it had to be something memorable, something cool, something that would stick. I went through a list the length of my arm on that one and narrowed it down to being between four or five I initially liked.
Then, I started thinking about the depth of character. I knew he had to have a plausible background and basically be big and bold, a bit larger than life. Otherwise, why would people take note? A five-foot-six stiff in a suit drifting around and looking into things? No thanks. People wouldn’t buy it. They wouldn’t care. It wouldn’t capture them into suspending their belief and taking them to a reality other than their own.
So, I put a lot of thought into it, drew out what I liked about the characters I’d read before, and just came up with him and his background. Like many authors do, at the core of it, he’s basically me, I guess, given some of his traits and motivations. Except I made him bigger, badder, louder, cruder, and a whole lot more violent than I would ever be. The character actually came before I settled on the name. One day, Joe Beck just hit me. He was originally going to be called something else!
It’s funny, actually. When writing, it’s like channelling an alter ego in a sense. I find myself thinking, OK here’s the scene. What would I really do in this case, then what would I probably do if there were no real world restrictions. That’s pretty much it, I guess, me without restriction of any sort. Not to the sci-fi extent, though, because that would just be silly.
But all in all, it’s great fun.
Conclusion – What other Books is Joe Beck in?
Army of One: Introducing Joe Beck
The first book in the Joe Beck series.
Ex-cop, turned unlicensed outlaw private eye, Joe Beck is in McAllen, Texas, for the funeral of an old friend who took his own life, but winds up being taken hostage at gun point, alongside a prostitute he only just met, by three men he’s never seen before. Three men who know more about Joe Beck’s dead friend than they ought to.
What will happen? What do they know? And how will Joe Beck react?
Payback: A Short Joe Beck Thriller
The second book in the Joe Beck series.
Ex-cop turned unlicensed outlaw private eye Joe Beck meets Brandi Burrows, a brunette bombshell, at a bar in Trinidad, Colorado. She’s slim, tanned and attractive. She has it all. Except, her left eye is horribly blackened, caused by the hand of an abusive ex-boyfriend.
Beck offers to deal with the guy, no questions asked, but winds up getting sucked into handling a local outlaw biker gang.
Easy Money: A Joe Beck Thriller
The third book in the Joe Beck series – Due to be released in 2019
Ex-cop, turned unlicensed outlaw private eye, Joe Beck is in a snowy Detroit, Michigan, hot on the trail of a murderous drug dealer wanted by the U.S. Marshals. He witnesses an unrelated murder on a deserted main street and deals with it in the way he does best.
But his actions don’t go unnoticed.
A fourth book is in the works!
Plus there’s a fourth book in the series, which I’m currently working on, although I can’t give away much more details just yet. But be on lookout for Joe Beck Book Number 4!
As you can see I have read the first book in the series and absolutely loved it. Jo Beck is just like Jack Reacher, probably more of a straight forward get the job done rather than a thinker but with his skill set he cannot be underestimated.
I recommend that you go and buy this first book and add another brilliant crime thriller book that is like Jack Reacher to your collection. Let me know what you think in the comment below.