The Interrogator’s Notebook by Martin Ott-A Review and Interview with the Author
ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date February 12, 2013
Norman Kross is a career interrogator who has worked covertly in some of the most dangerous places in the world. He returns to his LA home, contemplating retirement and coming to terms with his past. He may be a master at unlocking others’ secrets, but he is blind to the truth of his relationship with his wife, sons, father, and friends. Floundering as a teacher, Norman agrees to take on one last assignment, to interrogate a character actor who may be responsible for the death of a director’s daughter. The secrets he uncovers are far more terrifying than any battlefield, any windowless room, any passage in the notebook he feverishly writes in to make sense of what men are capable of behind their masks.
The interrogator’s Notebook is a murder mystery novel. The story begins with some cryptic notes from a notebook on being an interrogator written by Norman Kross. Norman is an interrogator who has worked for many agencies throughout his illustrious career. However, he had a major issue with a mission in Madrid that robbed him of his confidence at interrogation and he now teaches classes on interrogation.
Norman has spent a great deal of time away from his family and has hidden some personal issues with his estranged father his wife and sons. Due to his stress and guilt his marriage seems to be in jeopardy and his sons are distant and need their father’s guidance.
Added to these issues, Norman is asked to reenter the world of interrogation by his boss who wants to help a Hollywood director find out the truth behind the death of his only daughter. She died after a party and the official verdict was that she overdosed and slipped from a poolside chair into the pool and drowned. However, her father feels that George Stark, her sometimes boyfriend killed her.
Intrigued by her journal, Norman can’t resist attempting to get the truth from Stark. The tale is an interesting tale of a demented actor/serial killer that is so clever he never gets caught. This was right up Norman’s alley. This story is very twisted downright chilling, many issues of a dysfunctional family and danger of trying to catch a seriously psychotic killer.
Since Stark has been cleared by the police and doesn’t have to submit to being questioned about this Norman uses Stark’s ego against him to get him to consent to being interrogated. Stark agrees to Norman’s interrogations if he consents to follow some really weird rules. This makes the questioning really creepy. Ok no more spoilers!
While I like the story premise, I found the journal entries to be confusing and depressing. Norman’s constant self-recriminations and guilt were frustrating to me. The author uses many descriptive passages that while they are eloquent are also a bit rambling for my particular taste. There were several missing words or duplicated words and that with the descriptions slowed the momentum of the story at several points. From about the 4th chapter on the story becomes clearer and the pace picks up. I found this to be a decent read, but not an easy one.
Copy supplied by the author.
Review by Georgianna S.
TRC: Hi Martin and welcome to The Reading Cafe. Congratulations on the release of The Interrogator’s Notebook.
Your bio states your were a Russian linguist and interrogator. How has this particular part of your past affected your life? Your writing?
Martin: I decided I wanted to become a writer during my time in the military as I read hundreds of books and began writing in my own notebook. The profiling of people to discover the truth about them isn’t much different than what you do to the characters in your own stories.
TRC: The Interrogator’s Notebook is your February 2013 release. Would you please tell us something about the premise?
Martin: This is the story of an interrogator who loses control and gets the tables turned on him in every way possible. The Interrogator’s Notebook is as much about the inner conflict of the protagonist Norman Kross as it is about the antagonist he faces in the interrogation of a lifetime.
TRC: What or who was the inspiration for the book?
Martin: For years, I kept thinking about the theme of the novel: what would happen if someone who is a master manipulator and interrogator is blind to the truth of himself and his personal life. It was this conflict that made me want to write the book, and kept me interested enough to keep editing it until I felt like I reached my intent.
TRC: Are there any of your own characteristics or background history wrapped up in the psyche of Norman Kross?
Martin: I pull from elements from my own childhood and hometown: real and imagined. I feel like the concept of being powerless as a teenager is something that informed the main character, and fueled his transformation into someone who wielded power.
TRC: Have you ever been skydiving? What was your inspiration behind the skydiving scene in The Interrogator’s Notebook?
Martin: Love it! A misdirection question, just like in an interrogation. I did not have a skydiving scene in The Interrogator’s Notebook, but I am now wondering what an interrogation would be like falling from a plane…I may use that idea!
TRC: Do you have plans to turn the Interrogator’s Notebook into a series?
Martin: I am open to it if enough people convince me that they need to read another story featuring these characters.
TRC: If you gave your leading character Norman an opportunity to speak for himself, what would he have to say?
Martin: I think he’d be true to his dialogue in The Interrogator’s Notebook. He would HATE being interviewed, for one. There’s nothing a master interrogator would dislike more than opening up about himself to strangers.
TRC: Many authors bound ideas and information with other authors or family. With whom do you bounce ideas?
Martin: I have a few close friends who are writers and artists, some of whom are collaborators. It’s a small and trusted circle of people with whom I am constantly sharing and refining ideas.
TRC: What do you believe is the biggest misconception about yourself?
Martin: That I am important enough for people to have misconceptions about me. All joking aside, people sometimes want to put up their defenses because I’m an ex-interrogator. I am not ALWAYS profiling people.
TRC: What five things would you like to accomplish in the next ten years?
– Making it to 10 years (with my health)
– Seeing my daughter and son attend college
– Writing a novel that I think is great
– Writing a book of poetry I think is great
– Continuing to collaborate with talented people on creative projects
TRC: If you could select one reality show in which you were one of the contestants, which show would you choose and why?
Martin: I’d love to be the villain on ANY reality show. Would be a lot of fun, I think. I actually was in a poetry competition online in a social media type of environment with monthly assignments and I got my wish. I was kicked off halfway through (deservedly so).
TRC: On what are you currently working?
Martin: On too many things. A young adult novel and a screenplay right now. And poetry, always poetry.
TRC: Would you like to add anything else?
Martin: A few inches of height. Would help in my old man basketball league.
Favorite Food – Pizza from Pizzeria Mozza
Favorite Dessert – Warm Apple Pie and Vanilla Ice Cream
Favorite TV Show – Current: Breaking Bad
Last Movie You Saw – It’s a Disaster!
Favorite Car – My first Car, a 1973 Orange Chevrolet Vega
Do you have any pets? –– No, but I do name the snails on my front steps with my kids.
TRC: just ewwwwwwwwww 😉
TRC: Thank you Martin for taking the time to answer our questions. We wish you all the best. Good luck with all of your future storyline releases.