RARA-AVIS: David Hunter

From: JIM DOHERTY ( jimdohertyjr@yahoo.com)
Date: 16 Sep 2002

This week: The rest of the country.

David Hunter, a retired detective with the Knox County, TN, Sheriff's Office, is somewhat unusual as cop-writers go. He aspired to be a writer from the start and, when he first joined the Sheriff's Dept. as a reserve deputy, just thought of law enforcement as another in a series of part-time jobs he would have to endure until his writing took off. Once on the job, he found he enjoyed it more than he anticipated, singed on as a full-time officer, and retired as a decorated homicide investigator.

Hunter is one of a growing number of cops who from rural or small-town jurisdictions (New Mexico's Michael McGarrity and Iowa's Donald Harstad are others) rather than the big-city agencies that have been the breeding grounds for most co-novelists.

His cop novels, such as THE JIGSAW MAN and A WHIFF OF GARLIC, make excellent use of the small-town settings with which he is familiar. My favorite of his books is THE DANCING SAVIOR, a sort of cross between DRAGNET and ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST, in which a detective from a rural sheriff's office (it's called Knox County early on, but changes to "Horton County" later in the book, betraying sloppy editing), grievously affected by pangs of conscious due to his handling of an investigation that led to the death of an infant, checks himself into the local hospital's psychiatric ward and solves a couple of cases while convalescing. He's also written one non-fiction book about his police career, THE NIGHT BELONGS TO ME, and a number of books that have nothing to do with police work at all.

Hunter also writes a column in his local paper, and has acted as a police technical advisor for procedural authors who don't have his professional background
(notably Sharyn McCrumb in her books about Appalachian sheriff Spencer Arrowood).


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