David Hagerty is the author of the Duncan Cochrane mystery series, which chronicles crime and dirty politics in Chicago during his childhood. Real events inspired all four novels, including the murder of a politician’s daughter six weeks before election day (They Tell Me You Are Wicked), a series of sniper killings in the city’s most notorious housing project (They Tell Me You Are Crooked), the Tylenol poisonings (They Tell Me You Are Brutal), and the false convictions of ten men on Illinois’ death row (They Tell Me You Are Cunning). Like all his books, David is inspired by efforts to right criminal injustice.
Stories about crimes have always resonated with me, whether it was Crime and Punishment or The Quiet American. Maybe it’s because I started my career as a police reporter, or because I worked for a time as a teacher in the county jail.
More than a decade ago, when I decided to finally get serious about writing, I started with short stories based on real misdeeds I’d witnessed. I wrote one about my next door neighbor, who’d been murdered by a friend, another about an ambitious bike racer who decides to take out the competition, and a bunch of others based on characters I met in jail.
Over time these got picked up by various magazines online and in print. More than a dozen now exist, with most of the latest in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and Big Pulp.
For my debut novel, They Tell Me You Are Wicked, I drew inspiration from the most infamous event in the history of my hometown: the real life killing of a political candidate’s daughter (though I made up all the details).
Book two in the series, They Tell Me You Are Crooked, is set two years later, after my hero, Duncan Cochrane, has become governor. He’s haunted by the family secret that got him elected and fighting a sniper who’s targeting children in Chicago.
In the third book, They Tell Me You Are Brutal, he searches for a saboteur who is poisoning pain medications, all while trying to protect his family from personal and political ruin.
The latest addition, They Tell Me You Are Cunning, follows his investigation into the forced confession of a death row inmate under duress from the police and his family’s punishment for their own crimes.