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‘Night Game’ pits agent against bear poachers

Provided to the Tribune
Provided to the Tahoe Daily Tribune. Eco-thriller author Kirk Russell will sign copies of his books Saturday at Neighbors Bookstore in the Village Center.
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Eco-thriller author Kirk Russell will sign copies of his book “Night Game” from 2 to 5 p.m. July 30 at Neighbors Bookstore, 4000 Lake Tahoe Blvd., in the Village Center.

It’s one thing to write about the life of a police officer by observing. It’s another to write about a specialized type of officer, through close observation and participation in the process. Russell, author of the John Marquez eco-thriller series, has been on surveillances and busts with the California Department of Fish and Game undercover unit charged with deterring commercial poaching. He has a “ride along” agreement on file.

“Market poaching has become a global business, and California is in a war to save certain species. I wanted to write a protagonist with the character to stand up to what the undercover wildlife officers are facing, and with the panache to solve a crime fiction plot,” Russell said.

He still vets his ideas with the undercover team and they offer suggestions on stories. He wants to convey the message of environmental responsibility and sustainability. “If people get some idea of what these officers go through and why they do it, then I’m doing something right, but first the story has to grab you. These are crime fiction thrillers,” Russell said.

In the gripping new crime novel, “Night Game,” former federal drug agent Marquez pushes the boundaries of safety and politics when he takes his team of Fish and Game officers on a dangerous operation in pursuit of bear poachers. “Night Game” hits hard and moves fast toward a finish that ricochets through wilderness, backwoods towns, and the darker recesses of love and greed.

Russell grew up hiking in the mountains and kayaking the rivers of California. He developed a deep appreciation for the natural resources and wildlife in the state, something he considers very seriously when writing his novels. He began writing as a boy, starting a local newspaper that went out of business due to the high cost of carbon paper. When he returned to writing after a successful career as a builder, he got serious, doing his research with the California Department of Fish and Game, even to the point of helping train undercover officers by running mock sting operations from his wife’s restaurant, Zuni Cafe in San Francisco.

Following “Shell Games” and “Night Game,” he is now writing a third John Marquez novel due out in the fall of 2005. He writes much of the day and still runs a small building business and remains an avid outdoorsman.


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