William Diehl was a New York Times bestselling author. He passed away almost five years ago and his last book, Seven Ways To Die, begins with a touching note written by his widow, Virginia Gunn Diehl. She writes: “He completed over four hundred pages of Seven Ways To Die. He loved this book…He was sorry that he couldn’t complete his final project. He worked so hard on it for several years. He was proud of it.”
His widow goes on to say that her husband’s friend of 25 years, Ken Atchity, did his best to “make sure that Bill’s book would see the light of day.” Ken Atchity is a talented author himself, having written 15 of his own books, and he is the producer of 30 films.
Atchity understood his friend’s writing style and used notes and an outline left by Bill Diehl to complete the book. Ken Atchity’s contribution doesn’t disappoint the reader and he fulfilled Virginia Diehl’s wish; that her husband’s fans would have one more opportunity to enjoy his craft.
Seven Ways To Die is a work of fiction, written in third person, published by AEI/Story Merchant Books. It’s a suspenseful, crime whodunit, laced with colorful characters and an intriguing plot. The main character, Cody, is a 30-something NYPD captain of homicide, who founded a special unit known as TAZ which stands for “The Tactical Assistance Squad.” He’s trying to catch a serial killer, all the while being hounded by a pompous crime writer named Ward Hamilton.
The reader learns that Cody grew up in Idaho on the Nez Perce Reservation. As a boy, he learned to be in tune with nature. He has a special connection, even mystical tie, with animals, and is mysteriously able to communicate with them. Cody learned at a young age to read “signs” of nature and this innate skill helps him as a homicide detective.
We are introduced to Cody at age 13, but the story quickly jumps to the present; Cody working Homicide with the NYPD. The author’s spine-tingling descriptions make the reader feel like they are in the room with the first victim, Melinda. As the tension builds, you quickly feel Melinda’s terror and won’t want to put the book down (I had to keep flipping the pages to see what would happen next).
Diehl had a powerful gift for creating images painted with his words. Be it the beautiful Nez Perce Reservation, the dark and secretive sex clubs, victim number two’s posh brownstone or the ghoulish murder scenes, each chapter descriptively sets the stage for a 294-page story that moves at top speed.