The digital version has been quietly available for a while now, but I wanted to wait until the paperback edition was ready before making my formal announcement. In the future, I probably won’t do it that way. Paperbacks are slow, ya’ll!
Where you can buy The Assistant
The Assistant is also in the Overdrive catalog, so feel free to ask your local library to acquire a copy, if that’s how you prefer to get e-books.
Paperback fans? You’ve got some options.
If you prefer paper to pixels (as I do), the paperback edition of The Assistant available on Amazon. 😀
Also, the paperback is getting new cover art in January. There’s a long story there, and I won’t bore you with it, but FYI case you want to wait for the new version. And yes, the e-books are getting new cover art too, but those should get updated automatically.
Next month, I’ll give a free paperback (via US Mail) to a randomly selected member of my mailing list. If you’d like to be on that list, here’s the link.
Today I’ll tell you about the story, starting with the description, and also sharing the ideas behind it.
The Assistant: A Jessica Warne Spy Novel
How far would you go to get the life you’ve always dreamed of?
High up in Seattle’s most luxurious office tower, a powerful woman conceals a dangerous secret. As the CEO of a prestigious staffing firm, Dana Duke offers exquisitely trained executive assistants to the city’s business elite.
In corporate America, where the winner takes all, talent isn’t enough to guarantee a victory. That’s why Dana offers a unique set of services to her most ambitious clients: corporate espionage, psychological manipulation, and blackmail.
Meet Jessica Warne, a recent college grad determined to succeed on her own terms. Stuck in a dead-end job and drowning in student loan debt, she’s eager to climb the corporate ladder. When Dana offers her a chance at a better life, it seems her troubles might be over. But are they?
Where The Story Came From
The Assistant came to me five years ago in the ordinary way, meaning that I was working on something else at the time. A woman named April showed up in my brain, said she was in trouble, and demanded I write her story down. But I was writing Orientation to Murder at the time, so I told her I’d get around to her story, but she needed to go to the back of the line.
So imagine my surprise when I began writing The Assistant and realized that April was already dead (not a spoiler!) and I was writing about her successor at the same company. The creativity thing gets bizarre at times. I guess I need to write faster? 😉
In the end, my almost-protagonist’s death ended up being one tiny piece of a much larger story. By the time I finished the first draft of The Assistant I knew that it was the first part of a four-book series about a woman ensnared in a world of organized crime. And to write it, I drew on my background in organizational psychology.
Manipulation as a Double-Edged Sword
As a management consultant, it always interested me how businesses manipulate their employees. Manipulation isn’t necessarily evil (we also refer to it as influencing or motivating people), but companies do try to control how people think and behave. And for years, I helped companies do it.
That’s fine when you have moral people at the helm, trying to do good things in the world. But when writing this book I considered how intelligent criminals would run their businesses. How would they control and manipulate others? How would they justify their actions? Who would those businesses serve, and why? And what might that world look like to someone just starting their career? Would they even notice that they were working for one of the bad guys?
It wasn’t at all difficult to imagine workplace psychology being used for nefarious purposes. The tools work just as well for good and evil. And it’s not difficult to see how leaders use concepts like purpose and belonging to convince others to do bad things. You need only check the news to find examples.
The Assistant explores the dark side of corporate America. But beneath the intrigue, personalities, and gadgets of a fictional spy agency, there’s a deeper question I’m scratching at: In a system that rewards us for doing all the wrong things, can we blame the system for the choices we make?
Food for thought! But don’t worry; you can enjoy The Assistant without waxing philosophical on the nature of man. 😉 The fun comes first, and the themes are merely a bonus. So I offer you The Assistant in the spirit of enjoyment, a twisty suspense story to enjoy on a lazy afternoon.
Stay tuned! I’ll have purchase links very soon.
As I wrap up the third draft of The Assistant I’ve been appreciating how fun it’s been to write a brand new series. This book is unlike anything I’ve written before, which makes the work both challenging and fun. My favorite combo! Here are some of the major differences:
It’s a suspense novel instead of a traditional murder mystery.
I’m telling the story in third-person instead of first-person.
My heroine is more flawed, yet still awesome.
And I’m telling a bigger story that will unfold over multiple books.
It’s all new to me! And while my next book is a bit darker in tone than my previous ones, I think fans of my last series will like this one too. Both series are crime stories, set in the modern workplace. They both feature smart female protagonists with a knack for getting themselves into trouble. And just like the Kat Voyzey Mysteries, my new series is set in my hometown of Seattle.
But even so, it’s a different Seattle than the one you might know.
The Dark Emerald City
Did you know Seattle has a dark side? Beneath our cheery reputation as a coffee-fueled tech hub there exists a culture rooted in corporate ruthlessness. We gloss over our sins, and we love to blame whatever big company is currently in ascendancy (these days, that means Amazon), but Seattle’s ugly side has always been here. It goes right back to the time of our founding.
I’ve rooted The Assistant in a fictional version of Seattle, but if it feels real to me, that’s because I’ve brushed up against the dark side of Seattle. I love this town, but you can’t truly love a place without seeing its flaws, can you?
In my next book, I invite you into a world of corporate power, a place where ambition, greed, and progress are seen as the highest virtues. Into respectable businesses where a quiet brand of warfare is quietly being waged, well beyond the reach of the law. And into our dark emerald city arrives Jessica Warne, 23 years old and ready to shine.
The Assistant will be the first novel in a new series called Emerald City Spies.
I’m attending Bouchercon this week. (Hooray!) And the following week I’ll send out a sneak peek of the new novel to my newsletter subscribers.
The guests of honor for 2018 include Karin Slaughter and Ian Rankin, and the panel discussions look great. I’m especially stoked about Bring a Shovel – How to Move a Body, because in my daily life it’s difficult to find a venue to discuss the nuances of hiding a corpse. 😉
Celebrating Amateur Sleuths at Bouchercon
At Thursday at 5pm I’ll join five other authors to discuss one of my favorite genres: amateur sleuth novels! Our panel is called The Butler Solved It, and it’s going to be tremendous fun.
Why do I love amateur sleuths? These fictional characters remind us that ordinary people can do extraordinary things, and that justice is something we can all strive for. Sure, our sleuths get into scrapes, and they may hilariously bend the rules, but at its core, an amateur sleuth novel is about a person trying to do the right thing. These stories affirm that you don’t need a badge or a title to stick your neck out for someone.
Besides, isn’t it fun to imagine you might solve a crime?
Get Your Sleuth On!
And if you’re an amateur sleuth fan, I invite you to check out the books written by my fellow panelists. I’m downloading a few to take with me on vacation next week.
Ingrid Thoft’s novel Loyalty is about an investigator in a family of lawyers who is forced to ask the question: When your family’s on the wrong side of the law…what side are you on?
William Boyle’s novel The Lonely Witness tells the story of a witness to a crime who decides to hunt down the killer herself!
Susan Cox’s novel The Man on the Washing Machine won the prestigious Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition. Her protagonist is a photographer named Theo Bogart.
Mariah Fredericks has a sleuth named Jane Prescott. She’s a ladies maid in 1910 New York, and well-positioned to use her intellect to catch a killer in A Death of No Importance.
And Jill Orr’s novel The Good Byline features a quirky library assistant named Riley Ellison who finds herself in more trouble than she bargained for when she writes an obituary for a woman who recently committed suicide.
And if you like workplace sleuths with a touch of humor, check out my Kat Voyzey series. It’s about an HR director who becomes a sleuth when a beloved coworker is murdered. Kat is determined to get justice for the woman’s family. (PS: Book one is currently free!)
Thanks for reading about my first-ever author panel! I can’t wait to spend a couple days talking books, murder mysteries, and amateur sleuths with people who love those things as much as I do.
Bouchercon 2018, here I come!
You can find it at the following retailers:
Thanks for reading, everyone!