Lister's newest mystery inspired by true crime story
Inspired by the real-life, true-crime case of Lauren Agee, local author Michael Lister's new mystery, "Beneath a Blood-Red Sky," is certain to thrill fans of crime fiction and true crime alike.
"My heart breaks for Lauren Agee and her family," Lister said. "I was moved to investigate her case and inspired to write a novel that draws from her tragic and suspicious death."
The new novel opens as four drunken young people climb a high bluff to their cliffside campsite on the Apalachicola River in the middle of the night. The next morning, only three are still alive.
"How did the outgoing, fun-loving and beautiful Blake Scott die?" Lister teases in promotional materials. "Was she murdered by one of her so-called friends to cover up being sexually assaulted, or did a jealous lover exact revenge?"
Though Blake’s suspicious death was ruled accidental by a sheriff's investigator working his first case, her family and friends believe she was murdered. After five long years of failed private investigations and a stalled wrongful death lawsuit, Blake’s mother asks for Detective John Jordan’s help.
According to an online synopsis of Agee's case, the 21-year-old went to Center Hill Lake in Smithville, Tennessee with some friends to attend the annual wake-boarding tournament, WakeFest. They camped on a steep cliff, 90 feet above the water. She was reportedly missing the next morning, and her body was found hours later by two fishermen, floating dead, face down in a cove.
During the past 25 years, Lister's writing has been sparked by a number of true crime cases, including the Atlanta child murders, Ted Bundy's crimes, the Columbine school massacre, and the cases of JonBenét Ramsey, Maura Murray, Hae Min Lee, Brianna Maitland, and the Lost Girls of Panama, among many others.
“I’m continuously searching for and attempting to stay open to inspiration,” Lister said in an interview earlier this year regarding his latest novel. “I think this is key for all artists, but for a novelist writing a long series featuring the same core cast of characters, I think it’s absolutely essential."
Lister's John Jordan mystery series began in 1997's "Power in the Blood" and now stretches to include more than 25 volumes. To keep the series fresh, Lister said, he turns to three primary reservoirs for new ideas and inspiration — literature, current events and unsolved true crimes.
The author grew up in Wewahitchka. In the early 1990s, he became the youngest chaplain within the Florida Department of Corrections, which is where he drew the inspiration for the initial John Jordan stories. For more on the author and his work, visit the website, MichaelLister.com.