Who Is Detective Sergeant John Byron?

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Among the Shadows, by Bruce Robert Coffin

We are pleased to feature today an article written by author, Bruce Coffin. This former detective sergeant spent nearly thirty years in law enforcement, giving him knowledge and insight not often found in crime novels.

Currently on a virtual book tour with Partners In Crime Book Tours, Mr. Coffin can be found about the web with articles, reviews and interviews.  We hope you will take a look at some of his other stops to learn more about this fine author and his exciting new book.

Who is Detective Sergeant John Byron?

Written by Bruce Robert Coffin

Who is Detective Sergeant John Byron? That is a question I hear a lot. People want to know if the protagonist in my mystery series is me. The answer is both yes and no. Confused? I don’t blame you. Actually, I’m not trying to be cute. I’m trying to be honest.

I set out to create a character representative of many of the officers with whom I’ve worked. When I began my police career in 1985, the department was made up of two major ethic groups, Italian and Irish. Obviously times have changed, along with the demographics of the department and the city it serves. I decided it would be interesting to follow the child of an “old school” police officer.

John Byron is a second generation Portland cop, who grew up on the very streets he now protects. He was raised on Munjoy Hill. His mother, a devout member of the Catholic Church, insisted on John’s attending Catholic schools. John’s deceased father, a devout womanizer and alcoholic, insisted on very little, and continues to be a mystery to John. But both parents had an undeniable impact in who he is today.

In the first book in the Byron Mystery Series, Among the Shadows, we find John struggling with alcoholism, career burnout, and a failing marriage. This may seem like a cliché to many, but the truth is that police work tends to take a tremendous emotional toll on those of us who spend an entire career wearing the badge. The job changes who we are, how we think, and how we interact with others. Dealing with these changes while still fighting crime and chasing down murderers, is what this series is about.

Byron isn’t me, but he tends to think like me. They say that writers insert a bit of themselves into each character. I think that’s probably true. If you’re shooting for realistic characters, something beyond a bag of bones, it’s important that you instill in them your own feelings and experiences.

Writing truthfully, even in fiction, is important. The reader knows when you’re not being honest with them. I’ve written, and continue to write, the character of John Byron as truthfully as I can. I want to show the reader the best and the worst of my protagonist. I want readers to see him for what he is. Hopefully, they will root for him, as I do, whether he’s at his best or at his worst.

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be a real police detective, chasing killers around the clock while attempting to maintain some semblance of a normal life outside of the job, the Detective Byron Mystery Series is for you.

Bruce Robert Coffin is a former detective sergeant with more than twenty-seven years in law enforcement. At the time of his retirement, from the Portland, Maine police department, he supervised all homicide and violent crime investigations for Maine’s largest city. Following the terror attacks of September 11th, Bruce spent four years working counter-terrorism with the FBI, earning the Director’s Award, the highest honor a non-agent can receive.

He lives and writes in Maine.



The Tour

Among the Shadows

by Bruce Robert Coffin

on Tour September 12 – October 14, 2016


Among the Shadows by Bruce Robert CoffinFall in Portland, Maine usually arrives as a welcome respite from summer’s sweltering temperatures and, with the tourists gone, a return to normal life—usually. But when a retired cop is murdered, things heat up quickly, setting the city on edge.

Detective Sergeant John Byron, a second-generation cop, is tasked with investigating the case—at the very moment his life is unraveling. On the outs with his department’s upper echelon, separated from his wife, and feeling the strong pull of the bottle, Byron remains all business as he tries to solve the murder of one of their own. And when another ex-Portland PD officer dies under suspicious circumstances, he quickly realizes there’s much more to these cases than meets the eye. The closer Byron gets to the truth, the greater the danger for him and his fellow detectives.

This taut, atmospheric thriller will appeal to fans of Michael Connelly and John Sandford.


“Compulsively readable, Among the Shadows is that rare cop novel that’s chock full of blood-and-guts detail while taking you on a ride of a lifetime. —Gayle Lynds, New York Times bestselling author of The Assassins

“Bruce Robert Coffin knows cops — how they talk, how they act, how they think — and he deploys that knowledge to devastating effect in Among the Shadows. A tense, twisty tale of greed, betrayal, and revenge, it heralds the arrival of a powerful new voice in crime fiction.” —Chris Holm, author of The Killing Kind

“Bruce Robert Coffin is the real deal: not just a veteran homicide detective, but an incredibly gifted storyteller. Among the Shadows is the best debut I’ve read in ages, filled with suspense, great writing, a perfectly realized setting in Portland, Maine (this is probably the most accurate depiction I’ve seen of that big little city), and an intriguing main character. Detective John Byron promises to become a break-out favorite among readers of crime fiction. He’s already one of mine.” —Paul Doiron, author of Widowmaker

“With the twists and racing pace of a thriller and the profound authenticity of a police procedural, Among the Shadows is the kind of debut crime novel that could only be written by an ex-cop.” —Brian Thiem, author of Red Line

“Bruce Robert Coffin’s debut crime novel is a compelling page-turner that keeps you guessing – and rooting for his determined investigator – until the very end.” —Kate Clark Flora, author of Finding Amy

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Published by: Witness Impulse
Publication Date: September 13th 2016
Number of Pages: 400
ISBN: 9780062569462
Series: Detective Byron #1
Don’t forget to grab your copy of Among the Shadows on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, or add it to your TBR list on Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

The bitter stench of urine and impending death permeated the small dingy bedroom. Hawk stood next to the bed, looking down at O’Halloran. The ancient warrior lay withered and gaunt. Patches of dull white hair clung to his age-spotted scalp. Eyes, once calculating and sharp, were now yellowed and dim. O’Halloran was dying.

Hawk moved quickly, snatching the pillow from beneath the old man’s head. He covered O’Halloran’s face and pressed down firmly, his well-developed forearms flexed.

O’Halloran thrashed about, nearly toppling the chrome IV stand, but Hawk caught it easily. Muffled screams vibrated up through the pillow. He held fast as O’Halloran’s bony legs slid back and forth like eels under the coverlet, kicking the sheet free on one side. Hawk closed his eyes, attempting to block out the image before him. The old man’s feeble struggles, no match for Hawk’s strength, tapered off, then ceased.

In the next room a clock chimed, shattering the silence and signifying that the hour was at hand.

Warily, Hawk lifted the pillow. The warrior was gone. O’Halloran’s eyes were lifeless and wide, projecting a silent narration of shock and fear. He closed them with a gentle hand, smoothed the disheveled hair, then fluffed the pillow and restored it to its rightful place. Lastly, he slid the old man’s bony white foot back under the sheet and retucked the bedding.

Standing upright, he surveyed the room. Everything appeared in its proper place. O’Halloran looked serene, like he’d simply fallen asleep. Satisfied, Hawk walked from the room.


Detective Sergeant John Byron parked his unmarked Taurus behind a black-and-white cruiser. Neither the heat nor humidity were helping his foul mood. Only seven-thirty in the morning and the temperature displayed atop Congress Street’s fourteen-story Chapman Building already read eighty-four degrees. Though September had nearly passed, summer wasn’t quite

ready to release the city from her sweltering grasp.

Portland autumns were normally cool and comfortable. Normally. Tourists returned to whichever godforsaken corner of the globe they had come, kids returned to the classroom, and the days grew increasingly shorter.

Byron’s poor attitude had more to do with the day of the week than the weather. Wednesdays always put him in a bad mood, because it was the day Chief of Police Michael Stanton held his weekly CompStat meeting, a statistical midweek tough-mudder designed to give the upper echelon an opportunity to micromanage. Today’s administrative migraine was accompanied by one of Byron’s own creation. He knew of no better cure than a little hair of the dog, but nothing would land him in hot water with Lieutenant LeRoyer faster than the scent of Irish on his breath. Instead, he opted for the mystical healing properties of ibuprofen and caffeine, with a breath mint chaser. He closed his eyes and swallowed the pills on a wave of black coffee, pausing a moment before giving up the solitude of his car. On his game as always, in spite of his current condition.

Officer Sean Haggerty sat behind the wheel of another police cruiser, parked further down the street under a shady canopy of maples. The veteran officer was speaking with a young auburn-haired woman. Byron guessed she was the nurse, primarily because she wasn’t in hysterics, as most relatives would’ve been. He was pleased to see Hags on the call. Hags did things by the numbers. The same could not be said of every beat cop. They exchanged nods as Byron headed up the driveway.

A skinny uniformed rookie stood sentry at the side door to the Bartley Street home. Byron knew they’d crossed paths before, but couldn’t recall his name. What had once been a phenomenon was occurring with far greater frequency, a clear indication the cops were either getting younger or he wasn’t.

“Morning, Sarge,” the rookie said as he recorded Byron’s name into the crime scene log.

“O’Donnell,” Byron said after stealing a glance at the name tag. He gestured with his thumb toward the street. “That the nurse with Haggerty?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Who’s inside?”

“E.T. Pelligrosso and Detective Joyner. First floor, back bedroom.”

Evidence Technician Gabriel Pelligrosso, a young, flat-topped, ex-soldier, was known for being methodical, thorough, and dependable, traits Byron’s own father had harped on. “If every cop on the job had those qualities, sonny boy, it’d be a sorry fuckin’ day to be a criminal.” Byron stepped inside.

The odor assaulted him upon entering the kitchen. An all too familiar blend of bladder and excremental expulsion, which, thanks to the humidity, would undoubtedly linger in the fabric of his clothing all day.

He listened to their footsteps on the hardwood floor along with the occasional click of Pelligrosso’s camera as they recorded the scene. Not wanting to interrupt them, he waited in the kitchen, making mental notes of everything he saw.

A 2015 Norman Rockwell calendar depicting several boys and a dog running past a No Swimming sign hung on the wall beside the refrigerator. Notations had been made with a red pen in what resembled the flowery script of a woman, perhaps the nurse. The days of the month had been crossed off up to the twenty-third. Someone had been here yesterday. Maybe a family member or one of the nurses. He’d check with Hags.

“Sarge, you out there?” Diane called from down the hall.

Diane Joyner, Portland’s first female African-American detective, was a tough-talking New Yorker. Tall and attractive, she’d lulled more than one bad guy into thinking he could get over on her. Prior to arriving in Portland, she’d worked homicides in the Big Apple for seven years. Byron didn’t know if it was her confidence or thoroughness that made some of the other officers insecure about working with her, but those very same traits made Diane his first choice for partner on murder cases.

“Just waiting on you,” Byron said.

“We’re all set in here.”

Byron walked down the hall and entered the bedroom. “What’ve we got?”

“One stinky stiff,” Diane said. “Formerly Mr. James O’Halloran.”

“O’Halloran?” he asked. Byron had known a James O’Halloran. Was this the same man? The emaciated corpse lying in the bed bore little resemblance to the squared-away Portland police lieutenant from his memory. “Did we find an ID?”

Diane handed him an expired Maine driver’s license. The photo, taken seven years and at least a hundred pounds ago, was definitely Jimmy O. The same man who had sat beside him in the church, on the worst day of Byron’s life.

Don’t Miss Bruce Robert Coffin!

Bruce Robert CoffinBruce Robert Coffin is a former detective sergeant with more than twenty-seven years in law enforcement. At the time of his retirement, from the Portland, Maine police department, he supervised all homicide and violent crime investigations for Maine’s largest city. Following the terror attacks of September 11th, Bruce spent four years working counter-terrorism with the FBI, earning the Director’s Award, the highest honor a non-agent can receive.

Catch Up with Bruce Robert Coffin on his
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Merry Citarella, often writing as Merrci, writes on a wide range of topics. Recently relocated to the Oregon Coast in the northwest United States, she frequently writes travel features on the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She specializes in health and aging, Alzheimer’s Disease, food, lifestyle, and book reviews. For more information you can see her on The Writers’Door. You can read more articles here or at her websites Alzheimers HQ and Simple Living Ideas

Author: Merry Citarella

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