PICT Presents: TELEGRAPH HILL by John Nardizzi


John Nardizzi is an investigator, lawyer, and writer. His writings have appeared in numerous professional and literary journals, including San Diego Writers Monthly, Oxygen, Liberty Hill Poetry Review, Lawyers Weekly USA, and PI Magazine. His fictional detective, Ray Infantino, first appeared in print in the spring 2007 edition of Austin Layman’s Crimestalker Casebook. Telegraph Hill is the first crime novel featuring Infantino.
In May 2003, John founded Nardizzi & Associates, Inc., an investigations firm that has garnered a national reputation for excellence in investigating business fraud and trial work. His investigations on behalf of people wrongfully convicted of crimes led to several million dollar settlements for clients like Dennis Maher, Scott Hornoff and Kenneth Waters, whose story was featured in the 2010 film Conviction
Connect with John at these sites:


Q&A with John Nardizzi

Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
Telegraph Hill all comes from my experiences as a private investigator and walking the city of San Francisco.  Some early ideas—poems and short sketches of people—came from my experiences the tough Tenderloin district, where I worked and went to law school.  Met some rather interesting people.  In that era, walking from Nob Hill—which was just a few blocks away to the Tenderloin showed you one of greatest mixes of wealth and poverty in a short space.  Dramatic contrast. Mentally ill clients huddled on Turk Street in a box while 2 blocks away millionaires walked into the theater.  When I began working as a PI, friends began to ask me about crime novels I enjoy.  So I went back to the original California PI novels by Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler.  Then I took my word-pictures and stories of these people had met—gang members, cops, prostitutes, addicts, some talented, damaged writers I knew from readings—and tossed them in a stew until the book Telegraph Hill was ready to be served up.

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
The good stories just flow along certain lines.  I definitely like to sketch out some road maps on paper, outlines and such.  The book was called House of Cards in the first drafts.  The PI, Ray Infantino, kept meandering around Telegraph Hill and the Tenderloin sections so I thought of those as possible titles.  But Tenderloin sounded too much like a cook book.  And the final ending of the book just gravitated to Telegraph Hill and so that name seemed right.

Your routine when writing?  Any idiosyncrasies?
Just carve out some time each week to write. Later in the day.  Nights are good.  Nothing too weird. A lot of writers talk about how painful the writing process is, but I don’t see that.  I heard the actor Christopher Waken talk about his dance training and how it helped his acting.  He had a credo: “Shut up and Dance.”  Just get on with it, stop talking about the muse.  Obviously not everyday is your best but you don’t know which one of the seven is gonna kick some butt.  So just write. It’s best like that, very enjoyable.  The later edits of course are hard, but still, being able to write is a gift.

Is writing your full time job?  If not, may I ask what you do by day?
I run my own investigations firm in Boston, and this requires a lot of report writing.  So writing has always been a big part of my career.  Fiction writing is a part-time paying gig now.  I am not earning enough to shut down the real detective agency yet.

Who are some of your favorite authors?
J.R.R Tolkien opened it up for me, the epic creativity of Middle Earth.  Love Don DeLillo, especially his book Libra which has some riveting descriptions.  For crime fiction, Jim Thompson, especially The Grifters, and also Derek Raymond and Robert B. Parker.

What are you reading now?

Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin. I was recently in San Francisco and someone mentioned it has some great riffs on the city.  I had never read so I got it the day I got back to Boston.

Are you working on your next novel?  Can you tell us a little about it?
Yes, my next book is based on some of the wrongful conviction cases I worked on near Boston.  A rogue cop conspires with a crime boss to corrupt a witness and an innocent man spends 20 years in prison.   Ray Infantino comes in to lower the boom and get some justice.  Yeah, this has been fun to write so far, some good scenes along Boston Harbor.

Fun questions:
Your novel will be a movie.  Who would you cast?
Benicio del Toro as Infantino. My wife plays Dominique.  Bai Ling as Tania.

I play a homeless guy who keeps appearing in the background like a wandering seer.

Manuscript/Notes: hand written or keyboard?
I always do a handwritten first draft.  Easy to get that done, just get out pen and paper and write it out wherever I am.  Love to write on the beach.  Then I move it to the keyboard.

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?
Football- I play soccer all the time, watch the games from Europe, especially Arsenal and Barcelona.  And the NFL of course.

Favorite meal?
Tortellini al carciofi with prociutto and a bottle of red wine.  Not going too far off the ethnicity on this one.  My Irish / Italian mother will kill me if I don’t add in cabbage.



In Telegraph Hill, private detective Ray Infantino searches for a missing girl named Tania. The case takes him to San Francisco, the city he abandoned years ago after his fiance was murdered. Thrust into his old city haunts, Ray finds that Tania may not be lost at all. Tania saw a murder; and a criminal gang, the Black Fist Triad, wants to make sure she never sees anything again. Ray enlists help from an old flame, Dominique, but now he has three women on his mind.

Meeting with various witnesses-ex-cops, prostitutes, skinheads-he relentlessly tracks the evidence. But the hunt for Tania fires his obsession with avenging the murder of his fiance. When the triad retaliates, and blood begins to flow, Ray must walk the knife edge between revenge and redemption on the streets of San Francisco.

Read an excerpt:

Jones was halfway down on the left side, a boxy, blue thirty-unit apartment building with Victorian adornments long since left to rot. The building was in a neighborhood on the lower section of Jones. It was the perfect spot for vice, where the steaming muck of the Tenderloin lapped the shores of Nob Hill decency.

The steel security door was ajar. Ray slipped inside and looked at the mailboxes. Apartment 12 was labeled “resident,” with no name listed. A sure sign of criminal activity. The inner door was locked. Ray paused and picked up a newspaper, loitering in the hall. He thought he loitered well. He was considering the next spoke in the investigative wheel when the inner door opened and an Asian woman in jeans and a red leather jacket stepped out. She held the door. Thanking her, Ray entered.

The hallway was painted institutional white. Wall sconces with flame-shaped amber bulbs cast a lurid hue. Debris littered the hallway: bottles with cigarette butts sloshing in the swill, condom wrappers, coffee cups. A sign on the wall read: Management will not help settle gambling debts. Gamble at your own risk. Manager.

He geared up for the upcoming interview. Numerous scientific studies had been conducted in the field of psychology regarding the detection of deceptive behavior. For a time, experts taught that if a person’s eyes shifted right, he was creating a visual response (and therefore presumably lying); if the person looked left, he was recalling an actual event (and thus most likely telling the truth). Newer studies had concluded that these eye movement theories were utter crap. If a man blinked, he was nervous, or stressed, or he had a gnat caught under his left eyelid; if he sweated profusely, he was lying, or possibly had lived for several years in Finland.

The heavy wooden door of apartment 12 was straight ahead.


Genre: Crime Fiction, Suspense, Mystery 
Published by:Libboo eBook, Merrimack Media Paperback 
Publication Date: May 2013 
Number of Pages: 232 
ISBN: 193916611X / 978-1939166111 




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1 thought on “PICT Presents: TELEGRAPH HILL by John Nardizzi

  1. Thanks so much for introducing us to this author. It’s interesting how his professional experience led to writing crime novels, using one to add a measure of authenticity to the other.

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