Death, suspense, and betrayal meet with unexpected hope in 70s-inspired debut mystery novel

PALM SPRINGS, CA – Marco Carocari’s debut novel, Blackout (Level Best Books, March 30, 2021) has been described by award-nominated author Gabriel Valjan as “Rear Window meets the dating app.” This page-turning book is full of twists that keeps the reader guessing.

Strait-laced forty-something Franco definitely picked the wrong night to get freaky. A hook-up with a hot guy on his Manhattan rooftop, and a joint he’s unaware is laced, leaves him dazed. And – if memory serves him – the sole witness to a murder across the street. Except, the cops can’t find a crime scene or a body, and Franco’s perforated recollections and conflicting testimony leave the detectives unimpressed. When days later the mutilated body of a philanthropic millionaire is discovered, he’s not only shocked to learn he knew him, but with Franco’s fingerprints all over the crime scene, he quickly graduates from unreliable witness to prime suspect. And the random trick who could alibi him has vanished into the anonymity of the Internet.

Unsettled, and confronted with forty-year-old memories, when Franco’s father was murdered in front of him during Manhattan’s infamous blackout, a shocking revelation finally unmasks the man who pulled the trigger that night. And painting Franco the perfect suspect. With a target on his back and time running out, the truth will set Franco free, or earn him a toe tag at the morgue.

Read the title that author PJ Vernon calls “a gripping debut from an exciting new author to watch that had me turning pages long into the night.”

Marco Carocari | March 30, 2021 | Level Best Books | Mystery
Paperback | 1953789099 | $17.95 | Ebook | B08WBQDTFS | $5.99

Marco Carocari: Marco Carocari grew up in Switzerland. After seeing Murder, She Said on TV his grandmother gifted him Agatha Christie’s 4:50 From Paddington. Though hugely disappointed that the real Miss Marple bore no resemblance whatsoever to the brilliant and funny Margaret Rutherford, he was hooked, and devoured every crime novel he could get his hands on that his parents didn’t object to (considering he was ten). Over the years, he worked in a hardware store, traveled the globe working for the airlines, and later as an internationally published photographer, and frequently jobbed as a waiter, hotel receptionist, or manager of a professional photo studio. In 2016 he swapped snow-capped mountains, lakes, and lush, green pastures for the charm of the dry California desert, where he lives with his husband. ‘Blackout’ is his first novel.

Follow Marco Carocari on social media:
Facebook: @marcocarocari | Twitter: @marco_carocari | Instagram: @marcocarocari

In an interview, Marco can discuss:

  • His inspiration for Blackout and how he found its roots in past mystery books and shows
  • Writing from the perspective of an LGBTQ narrator, and the importance of amplifying LGBTQ voices in general
  • The draw towards mystery as a genre and when he first fell in love with it
  • Growing up in Switzerland and how his experience there has influenced his work
  • His writing process and plans for his future as an author

An Interview with Marco Carocari

1. What helped you find inspiration for Blackout?

I love the 70s and NYC and all things music, and so I set out to write a mystery that paid homage to these things. Originally, the book opened outside Studio 54, where Franco’s dad gets murdered on his way home. But then I found out about the blackout of ‘77 and was hooked. What if your father gets murdered in front of four-year old you, and then the entire city does dark? That traumatic experience is about to resurface when we meet Franco in a somewhat compromising situation on his rooftop, nearly forty years later.

2. Why did you decide to have a gay man as your main character? How important is representation for the LGBTQ+ community in books?

I wanted a book with a forty-something protagonist I could relate to, and where gay is a part of the character’s life, but doesn’t drive the story. After a surge in the 80s and 90’s, where fantastic queer writers like Joseph Hansen, Michael Nava, Armistead Maupin and many others gave us wonderful books that were hugely popular, recent years offered little LGBTQ+ presence in traditional crime fiction.

It took me nearly eight years to get here, and I’m happy to see that we are currently experiencing a wonderful new wave of diverse authors finally getting recognition, and a chance to tell their stories. Everyone needs to have positive role models and protagonists they can identify with.

3. When did your love of mysteries come about?

When I was about ten years old and my mom introduced me to the Miss Marple movies from the 1960s. My grandmother gifted me my first Agatha Christie novel, but I was bummed when the real Miss Marple had absolutely nothing in common with Margaret Ruhterford. Still, I read all of Christie’s books, and also discovered Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Three Investigators’, and the only book my dad ever recommended to me, ‘The Thomas Crown Affair’. Over the past years, my go-tos have been Michael Connelly, John Connolly, Jefferey Deaver and Rachel Howzell-Hall and S A Cosby, to name a few – their writings inspire me, and are setting the bar of what I hope to accomplish in the future, my way.

4. You grew up in Switzerland. Does your upbringing and perspective from living overseas influence your writing?

Probably more than I’m aware. Our school system and my surroundings were different, as were many of the products we grew up with, and when writing American characters, I have to read up on that, talk to people, and find out what it felt like for them to make it sound authentic. Talking with my American husband, it’s fascinating to see where our experiences overlap and where culture ‘shaped’ us differently.

In my family, a lot of our ‘cues’ and influences for trends, movies or music came from Germany, Italy, France, and the UK. My first ‘face to face’ with America came in the late 70s through shows like ‘Charlie’s Angels’ and the ‘The Streets of San Francisco’, and they had quite an impact on me, igniting my love of pop culture. After coming and visiting here for over thirty years (and now living here for five), my views of America are a lot more informed and realistic than they were, back then. I’ll probably always be somewhat on the outside looking in, but paired with my own experiences, that can also be a bonus.

5. What made you want to write Blackout now?

The original idea started as a dare with myself, almost eight years ago. I had a story in me and felt like it was the right time to try. But I had a lot to learn about writing first, and the process took several years, sprinkled with rejections. Often it’s all about the right time and place, the right fit, and biding your time, and, I’m happy and grateful to say, here we are.