TV experience informs alum’s debut crime novel

TV writer/producer/director James Conway (BA ’71) recently published his debut mystery novel. Photo courtesy of James Conway

James Conway (BA ’71) has worked in film and television for more than 30 years, so it’s only fitting that he set his debut novel, the mystery thriller Dead and Not So Buried, in the world of show business.

Inspired by legendary mystery writers such as Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, as well as more recent scribes like Michael Connelly and Robert Crais, Conway created his own wisecracking private eye — ex-cop Gideon Kincaid—and put him at the center of a series of bizarre kidnappings involving pampered pets and the skeleton of a 1960s starlet.

“I love murder mysteries, I love thrillers, and because you write what you know, I wrote about Hollywood,” says Conway, who has worked as a writer and producer on  “MacGyver,” “Beverly Hills, 90210,” “Smallville” and “Charmed,” among others.

Library Journal called Dead and Not So Buried “a clever mystery with one more satisfying twist at the very end,” while the New York Journal of Books said, “Mr. Conway’s Hollywood is alive with betrayal, greed, lust, and all the basilar passions that have typified Tinsel Town since the first silent film. His characters breathe on the page and are enlivened with emotions and desires that are nearly palpable.”

Credit the accolades to Conway’s knowledge of his subject, and credit them to the book’s captivating villain, a type the author knows all too well.

“The bad guy in the book is an actor,” he says. “It always fascinates me how Hollywood is filled with these guys who were the best-looking guy in high school, captain of the football team, good actors, big man on campus, and they always have everything really easy. Then they come to Hollywood, and they walk into a room for their first casting session, and they look around and the room is filled with guys who look just like them, who were big man on campus where they came from.

“Suddenly they realize that it’s going to be a little tougher than they thought, and that’s what happens to the antagonist in this book. It doesn’t go quite the way he expects, and he decides to get even with the people who he thinks have wronged him.”


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