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ABOUT THE BOOK

Cluster of Lies: Mysterious deaths are taking place in the Rocky Mountain region outside Denver, Colorado. Joe Higheagle—a full-blooded Cheyenne environmental geologist who has recently become an overnight celebrity for bringing down a billionaire corporate polluter—is hired to investigate Dakota Ranch, where four boys have recently died from a rare form of brain cancer, and Silverado Knolls, a glitzy soon-to-be-built development. He quickly finds himself entangled in an environmental cancercluster investigation as well as a murderous conspiracy in which friend and foe are indistinguishable and a series of seemingly impenetrable roadblocks are thrown in his path.
Will Higheagle and the police discover the truth behind the cancer cluster and the death of the business owner? Is Hayden Prescott to blame, or could it be one of Higheagle’s own clients or even a shadowy third party? Most importantly, will justice at Dakota Ranch and Silverado Knolls be served before more death and treachery comes to the Rockies?

INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR

  1. What initially got you interested in writing?

I have actually always been an author first and foremost. I wrote my first novel in high school (don’t ask), co-founded The Denison Journal of Geosciences in 1982 in college and wrote its first article (on Charles Darwin), and have published more than 25 professional papers on petroleum exploration, groundwater modeling, and remediation that would put most denizens of the planet asleep. So I have always enjoyed both literary and scientific writing. And now I have several bestselling, award-winning thrillers, and yet I will probably never be able to quit my day job as a professional hydrogeologist, which is what I really want to do. They need to pay us penniless authors more!

  1. What genres do you write in?

All of my books are in the modern and historical suspense genre. I don’t want to be limited to one particular time or physical setting so my stories take place from the 1800’s to the present day, primarily in the United States and Europe. However, most of my novels have a strong Colorado theme or main character since I am a native Coloradoan.

To keep myself fresh and multi-dimensional, I have three independent series within the suspense genre. The first series is the Nick Lassiter International Espionage Series, featuring Nick Lassiter, a young American who as the series progresses transforms from a Mr. Everyman struggling-writer to a bestselling author and reluctant CIA intelligence asset. My second series is the Joe Higheagle Environmental Sleuth Series, featuring geologist Joe Higheagle, a Cheyenne Indian and environmental crime solver living in Colorado. Rounding out the lineup are my standalone modern and historical suspense novels with new characters introduced in each novel. Within this group, I have a World War II Trilogy featuring different settings and characters, but all dealing with espionage during WWII. All of my books are in the suspense genre, but like Dennis Lehane and Ken Follett, I like to have the creative freedom to explore different time periods and not be restricted to a single series or protagonist.

  1. What drew you to writing these specific genres?

I’ve always loved military history and espionage, especially the underdogs and iconoclasts of American history, and I voraciously read books about military history and intelligence, specifically related to the Golden Age of Piracy, Plains Indian Wars, World War II, espionage, and the War on Terror. But what started it all for me is I grew up watching epic action-adventure, World War Two, and Western films with my dad like The Great Escape, Lawrence of Arabia, Spartacus, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, The Dirty Dozen, The Devil’s Brigade, The Wild Bunch, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Where Eagles Dare, Hang ‘Em High, and Patton. These movies had a tremendous impact on me and the suspense stories I have come to tell. Because of this, it should come as no surprise that my books have been compared to The Great Escape, Public Enemies, The Day of the Jackal, and old-time Westerns. One reviewer said of my WWII thriller, Bodyguard of Deception: “Marquis throws in everything but the kitchen sink.” I consider that not a criticism, but a badge of honor and tribute to me and my late father and the movies we watched together growing up.

  1. How did you break into the field?

I’ve had two New York literary agents, but I published my first novel, The Slush Pile Brigade, as an Indie title in fall 2015. As fate would have it, the book was a #1 Denver Post Bestseller (Paperback Fiction), beating out The Martian at #2, and an Award-Winning Finalist of the Beverly Hills Book Awards (Mystery), proving once again that literary agents are only human, too.

  1. What do you want readers to take away from reading your works?

I want my individuality, passion for American and world history, and meticulous attention to detail to shine through so that the reader is swept up in the story and kept up late at night. But I also want the reader to learn a thing or two. Here are three examples of where I think I’ve done that, the trick, of course, being to find a way to do it every time out:

“In his novels Blind Thrust and Cluster of Lies, Samuel Marquis vividly combines the excitement of the best modern techno-thrillers, an education in geology, and a clarifying reminder that the choices each of us make have a profound impact on our precious planet.”

—Ambassador Marc Grossman, Former U.S. Under Secretary of State

 

The Coalition has a lot of good action and suspense [and] an unusual female assassin.”

—James Patterson, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author

 

“With Cluster of Lies, Marquis continues to keep me awake at night. I enjoy how he blends together science and his knack for storytelling to craft an insightful and entertaining tale. He causes me to stop and think, then jump right back into the action.”

—Roy R. Romer, 39th Governor of Colorado

 

  1. What do you find most rewarding about writing?

Being completely unpredictable, keeping readers up late at night, and showing them something new and exciting through a fresh look or angle all rank together at the top for me.

  1. What do you find most challenging about writing?

Only having twenty-four hours in a day to perform my full-time job as a hydrogeologist and still have the energy to write, edit, post on social media, attend book signings, stock bookstores, speak to book clubs, email my publicist, ship books to reviewers, check eBook and print book formatting, manage my website, review covers, optimize sales, enter book contests, respond to fans, etc. while also trying to lead a semi-normal life with a wife, three children, and a dog named Rudy. I need a 48-hour day!

8. What advice would you give to people wanting to enter the field?

 

Write because you love to write and want to tell great stories, not because you want or expect to make money. If you want to pen novels for any other reason than your love of storytelling, then stop right now and take up ping-pong instead.

9. What type of books do you enjoy reading?

 

I read a lot of non-fiction history and suspense, with a smattering of literary fiction thrown in for good measure, and I have learned a trick or two from all of the great authors I enjoy. In terms of literature and literary fiction, I am a great admirer of Hawthorne, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Larry McMurtry, E.L. Doctorow, Michael Shaara, and Charles Frazier. For non-fiction my roster of greats includes Robert Utley, Stephen Ambrose, Shelby Foote, Kevin Duffus, Ben Macintyre, S.C. Gwynne, Erik Larson, Rick Atkinson, Marcus Rediker, S.C. Gwynne, and Hampton Sides. My favorite commercial fiction writers are Frederick Forsyth, Gore Vidal, James Clavell, Dennis Lehane, Daniel Silva, Preston and Child, Ken Follett, Stephen Hunter, Richard North Patterson, Michael Crichton, and early Grisham. I tend to gravitate towards authors who tell stories in the same way I do and to subject matter dealing with my areas of research interest in the Golden Age of Piracy, the Plains Indian Wars, World War II, the War on Terror, and modern science with a geological, biological, or paleontological component.

 

My settings, characters, and events portrayed in my novels consistently incorporate the above subject matters, and hence the above authors, in various ways. The bottom line is that I’ve always loved history, especially the underdogs and iconoclasts of American history. Because of my passionate interest in the specific historical subjects listed above, I am always working them into my books. For example, in Blind Thrust, my hero, Joe Higheagle, and his grandfather, Chief John Higheagle, are both Northern Cheyenne Indians because I am a Plains Indian War aficionado. This stems largely from my legendary writer-ancestors who have served as two of my influences: Dr. Thomas B. Marquis, who chronicled the Cheyenne Indians, Custer, and the Battle of the Little Big Horn; and Marquis James, a two-time Pulitzer-prize-winning Western author.

10. Is there anything else besides writing you think people would find interesting about you?

 

I am an avid downhill skier and lacrosse player. I played in the 2014 Lacrosse World Games in Denver and play lacrosse with laxbros half my age or younger every Sunday, as long as the weather is not below 32 degrees. The privateer Captain William Kidd is a Marquis ancestor (along with Western writers Thomas B. Marquis and Marquis James listed above), which explains part of the reason I am fascinated with swashbucklers.

 

11. What are the best ways to connect with you, or find out more about your work?

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

SAMUEL MARQUIS is the bestselling, award-winning author of The Slush Pile Brigade, Blind Thrust, The Coalition, Bodyguard of Deception, and Cluster of Lies. He is a vice-president and hydrogeologist with a national environmental consulting firm. He lives in Colorado with his wife and three children. Learn more at www.samuelmarquisbooks.com.