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UW Professor’s First Novel Nominated for National Award

March 22, 2017
book cover graphic
UW Professor Jeff Lockwood’s first novel, “Poisoned Justice,” has been named one of three finalists by the Independent Book Publishers Association. (Pen-L Publishing Photo)

University of Wyoming Professor Jeff Lockwood’s first novel, “Poisoned Justice,” has been named one of three finalists by the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA).

Lockwood is nominated in the fiction: mystery and suspense category in IBPA’s 2017 Benjamin Franklin Awards competition. Lockwood says IBPA does not share the number of entries per category, but nearly 1,400 entries were submitted this year in more than 55 categories.

“And, the mystery and suspense category generally has among the largest number of nominations,” he says.

A single gold award winner will be selected from the finalists in each category and announced during a ceremony in Portland, Ore., Friday, April 7.

“I am deeply honored to have had my work selected for this award,” Lockwood says. “And, I am delighted that the judges appreciated my efforts to weave philosophical questions as to the nature of justice into the literary style of crime noir.”

For “Poisoned Justice,” UW Creative Writing Program Director Lockwood went back to his entomology roots to write his book, centered on a murder mystery.

“In the creative writing program, we ask our students to take risks -- and moving from my comfort zone of nonfiction into the realm of a noir mystery was quite a leap for me,” he adds. “And, so, it’s tremendously encouraging that IBPA selected my book for this.”

In his October 2016 published book, an activist ecology professor is found dead in his hotel room. The police chalk it up to natural causes, but his wealthy and fiery widow is convinced it is foul play. She needs someone who can operate behind the scenes -- in the dark cracks and gritty crevices of San Francisco.

Lockwood introduces the book’s hero, Riley the exterminator. His career as a police detective was cut short when do-gooders saw him beat information out of a child kidnapper. Riley now runs his father’s pest control business, where he hunts down two-legged vermin on the side.

In “Poisoned Justice,” the professor’s death scene suggests something’s amiss to a man who knows insects. Riley learns that the victim had a costly plan to take down the pesticide industry. And, the professor’s need for cash put him on a collision course with a brutal drug lord.

In describing the main plot, Lockwood writes that, “When Riley discovers a twisted connection between his own brother’s poisoning and the professor’s death, extermination is in order.”

“Although my previous work has been in nonfiction, good writing crosses genre boundaries,” Lockwood says. “Story is at the heart of my writing life -- whether that story is about how locusts changed the American frontier, how insects were used as weapons of war throughout history, or how an imaginary cop-turned-exterminator explores the line between justice and vengeance.”

The 288-page book is available through Pen-L Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and Kobo. “Poisoned Justice” is the first of a three-book series planned with Pen-L Publishing, and the second mystery is slated for release later this year.

Founded in 1983, IBPA serves the independent publishing community through advocacy and education. With more than 3,000 members, IBPA is the largest publishing trade association in the United States.


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Chad Baldwin

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