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Why you must read Stephen Hazlett’s Finding Nina

Finding Nina

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Finding Nina is a mystery/crime novel, telling the story of the title character, Nina Kelly, and the two men who are in her life, whether she wants them there or not.

The first is Ray Sanchez, her ex-lover and now a disgraced ex-detective of the Santa Fe police force, doing a brief stretch in the Santa Fe county lockup. The second is Sammy Garza, a small-time burglar who meets Ray in the Santa Fe jail. Garza knew Nina years ago and never stopped obsessing over her, though she wouldn’t give him the time of day.

Sanchez and Garza share little in common, except for their passion for Nina. After both men are released from jail, Garza hatches a plot that involves Nina and her wealthy husband’s money. Ray is unsuccessful in stopping Garza, and Nina, who is in the middle, goes missing. Garza has Nina, with plans for a rich getaway, but he doesn’t have her in the way he really wants. Ray’s goal is to find her before it is too late, and, in the process, win her back. All of this turns into a deadly rivalry between the two men, resulting in an ending that will surprise.

Sounds intricate but pacy. Who is it aimed at?
Fans of Elmore Leonard’s crime novels, or anyone who likes a good, fast-paced mystery full of surprising twists.

Tell us about Nina.
She is thirty-six, with a feeling that her life is passing her by. Her six-year romance with Santa Fe Detective Ray Sanchez is over. Her problem? She still loves Ray, but she can no longer like him. She has drifted into a marriage to a wealthy Santa Fe businessman, who deals in gold and silver coins, some rare and expensive.

What more do we need to know about Ray Sanchez?
Ray’s life hit the skids after Nina ended their six-year live-in affair. Kicked off the Santa Fe police force after two drunk driving convictions, he must serve a brief stretch in county detention. All of this for the lack of Nina, his lost love.

And, finally, Sammy Garza.
A small-time crook whose long-ago obsession over Nina is rekindled when he meets Ray in the county jail. Garza wants to change his life with one big score. He sees Nina and her rich husband as a means to that end.

This novel is part of a series, right?
Finding Nina is the third volume in what I call the City Different series. Nina Kelly was introduced briefly in volume one, City Different. In that one she is the object of a manhunt, by the Santa Fe police and by her husband, for an alleged murder she didn’t commit. Volume two, Nina’s Time, tells her story, from her POV.

I never planned on this becoming a series, but after writing volumes one and two, I realized that the ongoing story of Nina Kelly was not complete. Readers asked, ”What happens next in her life?” They wanted more. I had to bring Nina’s story to its logical conclusion, which I did by writing volume three.

What’s the best way for us to approach the series?
The first two volumes of the series, City Different and Nina’s Time, would be a good place to start. They give the background of what led to the telling of Finding Nina.

So we have to read them in order?
The answer is no. While the narrative is connected through all three volumes, each book stands on its own as a complete story. Volume three, Finding Nina, completes the series.

Have you written any other books?
I am the author of three novels of contemporary fiction:

The Buddhist – The best seller among all my books.
Family O’Shea – A story of a dysfunctional family of Irish men.
A Private War – One man’s 30 year story of bringing closure to his Vietnam service

I also have a collection of stories, The Irishman & Other Stories

And a recently completed memoir, The Way I Saw It.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a transplanted easterner, an ex-Army medic of the Vietnam era, and a retired Silicon Valley technician and educator. These days I split my time between New Mexico and Orange County, CA, pursuing my passion for writing.

Do you have a website where we can keep up with your work?

Are you on Twitter?

What’s next for you?
I am planning a followup to my recently published memoir, about the next chapter in my life.

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