As with many writers of suspense thrillers, Sandia Park author Joseph Badal relies on action scenes to propel the story.
But Badal thinks his scenes show a unique voice. “When I first started writing my manuscripts, I let the action carry the story. But the action is really the thread. I learned that you let the characters carry the story,” he said in a phone interview.
At the same time, Badal doesn’t want the reader to get lost in too much scene description or in dialogue that detracts from the action.
“I always say nobody cares about the color of the wallpaper unless there’s brain matter sprayed on it or you’re writing a book about interior decorating,” he said.
Readers will find excitement and tension in the action scenes in Badal’s latest suspense thriller “Everything to Lose,” the fourth installment in his “Lassiter/Martinez Case Files” series. The protagonists are Barbara Lassiter and Susan Martinez – smart, likable Bernalillo County homicide detectives.
Here are two examples of Badal’s talent for action-scene writing drawn from “Everything to Lose.”
In one scene, Oscar Benedetto and Lisa French, both murderers previously unknown to each other, have a violent encounter in an office building parking lot in Albuquerque.
Oscar, a serial murderer whose female victims have been buried on the West Mesa, tries to abduct a stunning young woman in the parking lot. Badal writes, “(Oscar) seemed to be having a difficult time subduing the girl, who fought maniacally, her arms and legs pinwheeling.”
Enter Lisa, a witness to Oscar’s unprovoked attack: “(Lisa) put as much power behind her kick as she could, momentarily embedding the toe of her cowboy boot in the guy’s scrotum. She heard a mighty oof! … For an instant, Lisa stared at the man, mesmerized by his eyes, which appeared to be two black coals unnaturally spaced on his huge head. But when he brought his hands up towards her, she swung a leg at him again, this time connecting with a shin.”
Strange, one might wonder, that Lisa, a mass murderer, suddenly transforms herself into a Good Samaritan. She speeds off, hoping no one remembers her face nor her vehicle’s license plate.
In another action scene, an armed Lisa commandeers a driver and his pickup truck: “It took a second to realize the truck cab was careening out of control, throwing her wildly from side to side, forward and backward. Her head smashed into the glass panel in the back of the cab, momentarily causing pinpoints of light to flash behind her eyes.”
Lassiter and Martinez’s search for the murderer of the West Mesa women leads them to the brutish, hulking Oscar.
And they’re after Lisa, who had killed residents of a retirement community in the previous installment. Lisa also wants the detectives dead.
Under an assumed name, Lisa emerges in southern New Mexico, conning an oil field worker out of his money. Lisa’s confidence game soon finds a victim in Milford “Mil” Cooper, an older, naive, newly wealthy New Mexico rancher.
Another subplot involves Lisa’s brother Frank Calderon, an Albuquerque-based crime boss with ties to a Mexican cartel.
Oscar, Lisa and Frank are as villainous as Lassiter and Martinez are valorous. “The personality traits of both good and bad guys are realistic and readers can relate to those traits because they’ve seen those traits in real-life people, good or bad,” Badal said.
Badal is also the author of many other thrillers including “The Danforth Saga” series, “The Curtis Chronicles” series, as well as stand-alone books and short stories.