Nominated for the Anthony and Macavity Awards for Best Mystery Novel of the Year
Although it’s been many years since the death of his father—an infamous serial killer known as Shame—Caleb Parker still struggles to free himself from his father’s dark shadow. Caleb wishes only for a normal life without being branded a “killer’s son,” but his dreams are shattered when a new string of murders surfaces that are all too reminiscent of Shame’s terrible killings.
When the police label him the prime suspect, Caleb forges an unlikely partnership with true-crime author Elizabeth Line, a writer whose career began when she survived an encounter with Shame and who then went on to document his life—and death. As the body count begins to pile up, Elizabeth and Caleb come to the conclusion that one of them has been targeted by the killer, and a game of cat and mouse begins as they try to uncover the murderer’s identity before becoming his next victims.
Brutal and unapologetic, Shame draws you into the mind of a serial killer with no chance of escape until the last page is turned.
Tess Gerritsen:The last time we talked you interviewed me for a newspaper column, but now I get to interview you.
Alan Russell: That’s right. We discussed your latest book Last to Die and explored your San Diego roots.
TG: Being a San Diego native, my first few winters in Maine weren’t easy.
AR: I think I’d hibernate.
TG: Actually, winters are my most productive time to write. And speaking of hibernation I understand you’ve emerged from it with a new book (Burning Man).
AR: Not only a new book, but the reissuing of Multiple Wounds and Shame.
TG: I missed Shame the first time around. What’s it about?
AR: My first insight into writing the book occurred when I read about Ted Bundy fathering a child while in prison. That got me to thinking about how terrible it would be to be the child of a serial murderer.
TG: So much for a normal childhood.
AR: Exactly. Given that circumstance, I figure I’d want to escape the sins of the father as soon as I could. And that’s what my protagonist does.
TG: Let me guess, he’s not able to escape his past?
AR: Even though he has tried to carve out a life outside of his father’s shadow, it’s always there. His wife and children have no idea about his past, but it still taints him. The past catches up with him when a series of murders occur with his father’s M.O. Suddenly, he’s not only outed, he’s the prime suspect.
TG: That doesn’t sound like an easy book to write.
AR: It was the book from hell. I was on deadline and for the only time in my life I was late. In order to make the book right, I had to balance the past of the father with the present of the son. I also found it necessary to have not one major protagonist, but three. I brought in a true crime author whose career path was started when she survived the father’s visit to her sorority and he spared her life. And filling out the triumvirate is a drag queen.
TG: Dare I ask if that’s something you have personal experience with?
AR: The only time I’ve been in drag was when I played the role of Mother Ginger in the West Coast Ballet Company’s performances of the Nutcracker. And no, I’m not a dancer. The only reason I was in that production is that I’m 6’ 7” and they needed a tall performer to hide all the little dancers under a huge hoop skirt. Someone recommended me for my height, and though I was terrified at the prospect of performing as a writer I couldn’t say no to such an experience.
TG: Do you have pictures?.
AR: You wouldn’t want to see them. I was not an attractive woman. My oldest son claims he still has PTSD from seeing me dressed that way.
TG: Do you still think of Shame as your book from hell?
AR: I must admit I really enjoyed rereading it. I guess enough time passed to forget the pain. It must be like women with childbirth. And speaking of childbirth, even when you were a practicing doctor and the mother of two you kept up a demanding writing regimen and still do. What’s your secret?
TG: Sheer stubbornness and an obsessive-compulsive streak. I hate missing deadlines, so I stay at my desk until it's done.