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Author's Notes:
There are three prior books, Falling Awake, Falling Awake II: Revenant, and Falling Awake III: Requiem which need to be read first.

Book Info


Falling Awake series by Kristoffer Gair

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Kristoffer Gair
19 June 2021
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“Some people are so low, they gotta look up to see Hell.”

The death of Thomas Reis continues to ripple through the lives of those connected to his case fourteen years later. Andrew O’Donnell and Lawrence Boggs have already fallen, but three more pick up where the others left off, and each for his own reason.

One believes in justice, the second loyalty, and the third desperately seeks a reason to live. All three, however, share the same final end game; Retribution.

The hunt begins.

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Guest Post By Kristoffer Gair

Creating Secondary Characters For The Secondary Characters

I created a couple of secondary characters in Falling Awake II: Revenant for main character Andrew to interact with. He needed them for information purposes and to drive the plot forward. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, those characters grew on me. Falling Awake IV: Retribution is a direct sequel to Revenant, and closes up some dangling threads hinted at from Falling Awake III: Requiem (which takes place a couple decades later). Confused yet? Try living with this all in your head.

I’m reminded of the film Sinister 2, in which a minor character from the first film has a meatier role in the second. It doesn’t necessarily work, at least to me and the way it’s written, so I wanted to avoid the same mistakes with this latest book. I really took a shine to Joe Murphy, the former police captain who Andrew meets in the second book and has information that sends him (Andrew) down to Waco. Joe’s personality is quite strong, and I felt there was potential to explore it a bit if the opportunity every presented itself.

Joe needed a bit of a foil, someone who could call him on his BS and get under his skin a little, but in a good way. That turned out to be Lorraine, the woman who works at RJ’s, a local bar whose main customer base is law enforcement. We met Lorraine in Falling Awake II also, and she interacts with Andrew and Joe a tiny bit. Andrew even tells Joe that they (Joe and Lorraine) obviously like each other. Lorraine is back in this latest book, and her story is expanded upon a bit, including her feelings for Joe. Of course, we learn why Joe doesn’t necessarily return those feelings. They’re a good match, and the chemistry is something I hadn’t predicted.

Now, Roy Girard, the current police captain who took over after Joe retired, is someone who has a long history with Joe. There’s a strong sense of loyalty there, and both men were involved in the investigation into the death of Thomas Reis fourteen years earlier (the boy who was a friend of Andrew, and the reason Andrew started to investigate Thomas’s death in the second book). Roy’s foil here is his wife, Virginia. Virginia had a stroke some years back, and lacks a filter. One is never entirely certain what’s going to come out of her mouth, but the bond she has with her husband is deep. Okay, the bond is also a bit humorous, too.

Frank, the final character of our main three, works for Roy and is a police officer. He fell in love with Andrew in the second book and while he doesn’t necessarily have a secondary character in this book, an argument could be made that the memory of Andrew is his secondary. Or, if not Andrew, then certainly his grief made flesh while hunting the men responsible for killing Andrew and Thomas.

Each secondary character gets their moment to shine, and each adds to the story in a way that I’d miss them if any were gone. I guess that’s the problem of taking a shine to secondary characters. You want to give them their own book and explore their lives.

It’s funny when I think about it. I, as an author, try my best to make the main characters ones we can relate to, and want to stick by from the beginning of the story until the end. But I’m telling you, those secondary characters sometimes make the ride that much more enjoyable!

Just wait until you meet Delores.


“I’m glad I caught you before you left then. I’m truly sorry.” He bowed his head. “I held your husband in the highest regards.”

“He respected you, too. Can I get you something to drink? I’m afraid I don’t have much. I’ll be leaving in the next day or two, but I think I have some orange juice, and I just made a fresh pot of coffee.”

“No, thank you.”

Norrma led him into the kitchen and sat down at the table, one of the few pieces of furniture left behind until the day she left. Various paperwork lay in little piles on the table, some it from the landlord, and others from the movers, bank, and relatives who’d sent cards.

“Lawrence’s funeral was this past weekend, then I insisted the kids head back to school. I know they wanted to stay with me and help out here, and maybe it was cruel to send them away, but I think staying busy and being around their friends will help them more than being here right now.” She sniffed. “Lawrence would have insisted they get on with their lives as soon as they could. ‘Death,’ he told us many times, ‘is a natural part of things. Living is for the now. Mourning can always be done later.’ He always made sure we knew exactly how he felt. None of us had to guess whether or not he loved us.”

Joe nodded. “His directness is something I appreciated immensely.”

She took a sip of coffee. “The police came, had a look at his case files, and couldn’t really make heads or tails out of them.” Norma chuckled. “Lawrence always had a unique way of organizing things in life that sometimes only he understood. I packed up what they didn’t take. Honestly, I think they confiscated a few things here and there just so it looked good in their report. I don’t believe they’ll ever find anything, though. Nobody really understood what Lawrence worked on, not in the big picture way.”

Joe grinned. “I know the type. Law enforcement through and through. Takes one to know one, I guess.”

“That’s what I was thinking.” She peered down at her cup. “Do you know what might have happened to him?”

“Maybe.” Joe leaned in. “I sent somebody down here from Iowa, a young man named Andrew, who was looking for a case file I’d loaned Lawrence. Honestly, I figured things would go one way, and Lawrence would swat the boy on the ass and send him back home. Turns out the kid had a way about him, and I think they started working together. This tells me Lawrence was already working on a case and they somehow connected, or he found a use for Andrew.

“The problem is, I don’t have a lot to go on. Something isn’t feeling quite right. The parts aren’t adding up, only I’m not getting a big enough glimpse of the picture.” Joe leaned back in his chair. “I need a bit more.”

“Would these help?” She reached under the stack of folders and paperwork, pulled out two large envelopes, and handed them over.

Anybody who knew Lawrence would recognize his handwriting in a heartbeat. Same perfectly shaped letters. Same size. Unmistakable. And the words written on the front? JOE MURPHY.

Joe’s head cocked to the side. Curiosity? Disbelief? Both? And then she saw something else, a tensing in the man’s posture and narrowing of the eyes.

The predator senses prey?

Joe hefted the two envelopes in his hand. “Lawrence left these for me?”

The lump in her throat returned. “That’s why I was hoping you’d come. I think he knew what he was working on might not end well, and he once told me if anything ever happened to him, you’re the only one he trusted to look into it.”

She watched the man run his fingers across the surface of the envelopes, across his name.

“You didn’t give these to the locals?” he asked. “Or show them?”

She shook her head. “Lawrence trusted you. I’ll put my trust in you before them, too.”

“I don’t know what’s in these.” Joe patted the top envelope. “I can’t promise anything.”

“Don’t expect you to.” Norma sat up straight. Strength. Maybe a little pride. “Maybe one promise. Someone took away my husband, my children’s father. Someone took our love, my happiness, and future. Whoever it is ain’t no better than a roaming, rabid dog, and those kinds of dogs get put down.”

He stared at her. He stared long and hard. “Yes. Yes, they do.”

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Kristoffer Gair grew up in Fraser, MI and is a graduate of Grand Valley State University. He is the author of 8 novels—some written under the pseudonum Kage Alan—been a part of 6 anthologies, and currently lives in a suburb of Detroit.

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