My most popular suspense/thriller, Exit 22, begins with a hired assassin arriving at the home of a young couple. He is methodical. Precise. Prepared. Logical. He kills the young man without remorse. When his wife arrives home unexpectedly, he must kill her, also. His only regret is he used two bullets when one would have been sufficient, but the double-tap comes naturally to him.
Once he is finished with his hit, he returns to his hotel and spends the evening in the lobby knitting baby booties.
The character of Joseph Gabucci was inspired in part by the role of the assassin in Three Days of the Condor starring Robert Redford. I learned a lot from that movie, released in 1975. It was based on a book entitled Seven Days of the Condor but the timeframe was shortened to ramp up the suspense. It was a lesson I would use many times in the writing of my own books.
The assassin in the movie was played by Max von Sydow. He is mild-mannered, methodical, precise. You would never suspect him as a hired assassin. In his spare time, he repairs clocks. He was hired to kill Joe, the character played by Robert Redford. In the scene below, he is speaking to Joe after he decides not to kill him because he has gained respect for Joe's sense of survival.
It was this character I had in mind when I developed Joseph Gabucci, the hired assassin in Exit 22. I came across his hobby of knitting baby booties quite unexpectedly. I had a visiting author friend, Dirk Robertson, from Scotland. In his spare time, Dirk enjoys knitting and is quite successful with it, launching a business in which his items are sold in the most exclusive stores in the world. I found it fascinating that a man who appeared on the outside to be ready to play rugby could so easily adapt to a hobby as quaint and unassuming as knitting.
Exit 22 was released, it turned out that the assassin's hobby made him even more terrifying. He crossed over the line to be more of a sociopathic assassin, incapable of feeling, simply killing as a means of making a living, with no remorse.
Since Exit 22 has launched an entire series, you'll see Joseph Gabucci again, and he will become even more terrifying than his initial appearance. He is, after all, a cold-blooded killer.
Who scared you the most in movies or books?
Exit 22 Kindle edition is on sale now at amazon for only 99 cents. The next book in the Black Swamp Mysteries series, Vicki's Key, will be released in March 2012. The third book in the series, Secrets of a Dangerous Woman, will be released in September 2012.