Delaware author Richard Zappa has followed his debut novel, “Identical Misfortune,” with another spellbinding crime thriller. In “The Easter Murders,” homicide detective Jo Crowder once again faces a dilemma – what to do when she believes that someone accused of heinous crimes may be innocent, although the evidence she uncovered cries otherwise.
In this second novel, Crowder shows how far she’s willing to go in the search for truth and the pursuit of justice while she hunts for a serial killer among the churches of New Orleans. Religious elements play a key role in the narrative when the detective’s suspicions quickly fall on a respected clergyman. The fact that Crowder is an agnostic working a religiously charged case makes the situation even more delicate. Tensions build as she seeks to unravel the connections between victims and suspects, with her superiors and the prickly local clergy dogging her every step.
Zappa was an accomplished trial lawyer for many years before retiring in 2018 to write novels full time. He is also a published short story fiction writer. In creating Jo Crowder, he wanted a strong female character at the heart of his stories.
“Jo Crowder isn’t that once-in-a-lifetime, squeaky-clean hero who follows rules, plays fair and square, and expects to be rewarded for her efforts in the end. Far from it. She disdains bureaucratic red tape and flouts the rules, even breaking a law or two along the way for the greater good,” Zappa said. “Crowder’s world isn’t black and white; it’s shades of gray. She believes that everyone has a dark side. ‘People kill for a lot of reasons,’ she reminds us, ‘and for no particular reason at all.’ Crowder knows what it’s like to kill. She has angst over the perpetrators she’s killed in the line of duty. Yet she’s never hesitated to pull the trigger. So far, at least.”
Zappa is a black-belt martial artist and a self-taught pianist. He writes from his Delaware homes in Rehoboth Beach and Wilmington, and from his home in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.