An Eye for a Lie
by Cy Wyss
on Tour May 27 – July 27, 2019
Lukas Richter is a San Francisco police detective with a cybernetic eye and heightened senses. He can detect the same autonomous responses as a polygraph machine, so he has a leg up in determining guilt.
In An Eye for a Lie, his first full-length novel, Richter is accused of murder and the evidence seems incontrovertible, including a bullet that was somehow fired from his gun when he claims he was nowhere near the crime scene. In the background, San Francisco is aflame over Richter’s shooting of an unarmed Asian man, an incident some are calling “the Asian Ferguson.”
Can Inspector Richter convince a plucky and suspicious FBI agent of his innocence in the face of overwhelming accusations and public persecution?
Published by: Nighttime Dog Press, LLC
Publication Date: May 27, 2019
Number of Pages: 258
Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads
Cy Wyss is a writer based in Indianapolis, Indiana. She has a Ph.D. in computer science and her day job involves wrangling and analyzing genetic data. Cy is the author of three full-length novels as well as a collection of short stories and the owner and chief editor of Nighttime Dog Press, LLC.
Before studying computer science, Cy obtained her undergraduate degree in mathematics and English literature as well as masters-level degrees in philosophy and artificial intelligence. She studied overseas for three years in the UK, although she never managed to develop a British accent.
Cy currently resides in Indianapolis with her husband, daughter, and two obstreperous but lovable felines. In addition to writing, she enjoys reading, cooking, and walking 5k races to benefit charity.
Q&A with Cy Wyss
Welcome and thank you for stopping by CMash Reads
Reading and Writing:
What inspired you to write this book?
There was a time I was fascinated with the idea of the polygraph – a machine that could detect lies (theoretically). I read about how it worked, namely, by detecting changes in your galvanic responses, heart rate, and other physiological signs. At some point I had the idea: what about a human with this ability? In particular, what about a detective who can essentially always tell when someone is lying?
Around the same time, my husband bought an infrared gun to check for heat leaks in our house. It looks kind of like a futuristic phaser and has a readout screen where you can see temperature overlaid on an image of what you’re looking at. Thus, the idea of an infrared-based eye was born, someone whose enhanced senses enabled him to detect lies.
I wondered whether it would really make so much of a difference. He would always know who the villain was if he saw them, but then there would be the little problem of proof so that they would be guilty in a court of law. (Picture: The Green River Killer passed a polygraph and went on to murder at least twenty more women. Credits: Shutterstock and Wikipedia.)
What was the biggest challenge in writing this book?
As usual, I’m my own worst enemy. I wrote the original draft of the book in 2015, then put it aside and didn’t look at it again until the summer of 2017, when I wrote the ending and finally finished it. Alas, I put it down again and didn’t pick it up until just recently, in 2019. Re-reading it, I thought it was not bad, so I decided to publish it (after a thorough edit).
Give us a glimpse of the research that went into this book.
Once I knew I wanted to write about a detective with a cybernetic eye that functioned on similar principles to an infrared gun, I had to know more about the technology and what it could actually do. It can see through walls or ceilings, but not simple glass (because heat is reflected). Also, I looked into what other authors had done with the idea of a human lie detector. I discovered the concept of a truth wizard and the TV show Lie to Me. They didn’t use the idea quite like I wanted to use it, but it was good to know there was precedent. I then went about studying the work of Paul Ekman on body language (great stuff, by the way), so I could write about convincing reactions that might herald deceit (or veracity). (Picture: Wikipedia)
How did you come up with the title?
My first title was Ballistics because of a certain technology I invented that would cement Inspector Richter’s framing. (Read the book to find out what.) However, it’s not really “ballistics” that law enforcement applies, it is rather “firearms analysis.” So, I set about looking for another title. I wanted something with “eye” in it and played with various combinations of words until An Eye for a Lie just kind of fell into my lap. When I first saw it, I wasn’t convinced. But I ran it by a couple of other people and they thought it really worked, so the final title was born.
Your routine in writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
I’m an early riser and usually get up around 3:30. I write until about 5:30 when I have to go to work, so that gives me 2 solid hours a day of writing time on most days. I work early as well (thanks to flextime and an awesomely understanding employer) – from 6 to 2 instead of 9 to 5. That leaves me a lot of the afternoon for my second job as well. Of course, some days I’m too beat to get much done in the afternoon or evening, but if I’m really “on” and have a lot of momentum, I can write 6-8 hours in a day as well as work my 8 hours at my “real” job.
Tell us why we should read your book?
Because it’s awesome! No, seriously – it is an interesting premise. I also like to feature next generation technology in my work (because that’s my profession), so you’ll get a glimpse of what might be possible in 5-20 years. Also, the character of Vessa (the FBI agent investigating Richter) is cool, I think. She’s feisty yet flawed and has a sordid past that always makes me laugh when I think about it. She’s also herself got a pretty good sense of humor. It’s awesome – read it! 😊
Are you working on your next novel? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?
Yes, and if there is enough interest in these characters, there will be a sequel to An Eye for a Lie. I’d like to see Richter in Washington, maybe fighting with his father the senator, as well as see Vessa in her home territory. Her mother is a character I’d like to develop more – she seems like a bit of a wild card. Maybe I’ll have her kidnapped. I don’t know.
My next publication is coming in August: Eyeshine II. My Eyeshine series is about an investigative photojournalist who turns into a cat each night when the sun goes down. Her name’s PJ. In the second book, PJ faces off against a cat kidnapper and, of course, the whole thing turns deadly. There’s also going to be a bit of a controversial turn to PJ’s love life, which isn’t normally seen in cozy mysteries, but I guess there’s a first time for everything.
Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?
There’s a Shutterstock model who says “Richter” to me (pictured left). I’d have either him (if he can act), whoever he is, or else an actor that kind of looks like him. For Vessa, I’m probably dating myself, but Sandra Bullock would be great – I love her style. Is there a younger Sandra Bullock anywhere? Maybe Natalie Portman?
Favorite leisure activities/hobbies?
Writing is my leisure activity and hobby. I tend to think of it more like a second full-time job, though. Outside of writing, I love to read and philosophize. I’m definitely an armchair philosopher. I also love to run, although I’m not sure you would call what I do “running.” It’s more of an extremely slow jog with lots of water breaks.
Definitely hamburgers, as well as ice cream cake. I’m also partial to hot dogs. Sensing a theme? Yes, I like fair foods that are holdovers from a misspent youth. When I was 20, I could eat whatever I wanted and always stayed at a decent weight. Now, well, not so much. Alas – time makes fat fools of us all.
Thanks so much for having me!
Read an excerpt:
“All units, active shooter in progress, be advised perp is SFPD . . .”
The police frequencies in Vessa’s sedan couldn’t get enough of the situation. She was hardly in her car before the address where Richter was came over the air. She headed there immediately, lights flashing, accelerator floored.
He was in a townhouse on ninth, near Tehama, only a handful of blocks from the Hall of Justice. The entire area was cordoned off and blanketed with police cars. Vessa badged her way through and got to Commander Bayes who stood with Deputy Chief Forrest several yards from the front door. The townhouse was painted lime green and the entrance stood ajar.
“Commander, what’s the situation?” Vessa asked.
“He’s holed up in there,” Bayes shook his head toward the house. “Got a hostage.”
“A hostage? You’re kidding.”
“Wish I was. Teenage girl, still up there. He let the rest of the family go.”
Now, Bayes shook his head a different way, indicating Vessa should look near one of the ambulances. There was a man and a woman, firmly behind police lines. Both were slender with brown hair and the woman wore a red sweater. She was crying and the man and a paramedic were trying to comfort her.
“Commander, none of this makes sense. Can you imagine Richter taking a hostage? It doesn’t feel right.”
“C’mon, Agent Drake,” Bayes said. “None of us can say we really know him now.”
Vessa frowned up at the building. Between her and the front door lay perhaps twenty feet of tarmac and parked cars. Bayes turned to Forrest and they conferred. Before Vessa even knew what she was doing, she was off –crossing the street at a sprint.
“Hey!” Bayes yelled.
Forrest pointed. “Stop her!”
It was too late. She broke away from the lines and was at the door before anyone could grab her. She pushed the dark portal open and slipped inside, shutting it behind her, closing it fully so it locked. Inside, it took a couple of minutes for her eyes to adjust to the pale strobe lights coming through the front blinds and door windows. She was in an open living room. It was small and closely furnished with a dining room capping it off near the back of the building. She guessed the kitchen would be around the corner. To her right, a staircase led upward. The landing was dark.
Vessa had taken her gun out without consciously realizing it. Now, she stared at it in the undulating red and blue lights. What was she going to do with it? Shoot her lover when she found him?
She holstered the gun. “Oh, Luke,” she said softly. As if in answer, something moved above her, making a dull thud on the floor. She startled.
Slowly, she made her way up the stairs. “Luke?” she called. “I’m coming upstairs.”
There was no answer. At the top of the stairs were three doors. Two were dark and closed. Wan light traced the outline of the third door. She opened it cautiously.
The door creaked on its hinges to reveal a seemingly empty bedroom. The air was stale although the room was tidy and sparsely furnished with a queen-sized bed and two nightstands. The fluorescent lights from the street diffused around the edges of a thick curtain drawn across a large window. The occluded light wasn’t strong enough to dispel the rooms shadows.
“Luke?” Vessa noticed she was whispering. She cleared her throat and spoke with as normal a voice as she could muster. “Luke? Where are you?”
“Here,” came a reply.
She was practically on top of him by that time. He sat with his back to a wall across from the foot of the bed.
Vessa jumped. “Oh! You startled me.”
He was staring at her. She half expected his evil eye to glow in the dimness but instead, she saw only normal dark eyes glittering from his outlined face. He sat with his knees bent and his arms resting between his legs. In his hands was a mass of blackness-his gun. That ugly piece of metal was a cursed reminder of what was going on and why they were here, facing each other in this shadowed space.
Vessa craned her neck around but didn’t see anyone else. “Where’s the girl?”
Richter watched Vessa intently for several seconds before answering. “The couple’s outside. I let them go.”
“No, apparently there’s still a teenager in here somewhere.”
Richter’s gaze dropped to the carpet in front of him. “That would explain why it’s just you and not SWAT. They think I have a hostage. Well, I don’t.”
“You have me.”
His head snapped up. “You’re not a hostage. Why are you here, anyway?”
“I’m here to get you. I don’t want them gunning you down.”
“You’re here to arrest me, Special Agent Vessa Belle Drake?”
“Oh, Luke. We’ll figure this out.”
Richter brought the gun up in his right hand and pressed it to the underside of his chin, angled back toward his brain.
Vessa gasped. “No!” She was rooted to the spot, eyes wide.
He stared at her. “I guess whether I do it or SWAT does it, it’s still death by cop.”
Tears burned her eyes. “No, Luke. No. Why would you even think it? There must be some mistake. There must be some reason why those bullets matched.”
“I won’t be locked up. I won’t be put back in the cage and poked and prodded, and studied to death this time.”
Vessa remembered the shaking man sweating beside her in his bed at night. Even though he didn’t speak of them, she knew he was having nightmares. Was it possible he was actually capable of pulling that trigger? Her chin throbbed where he’d bitten her. She couldn’t stand this. How could she have been so wrong? She was never wrong. She swallowed. Never before had she fallen for a guilty man. How was she so blinded by hubris that she could feel this way about Richter when he was a merciless killer?
He stared at her, gun in his hand. He didn’t move. She shook slightly with the emotions flooding her. Here she was, at the cusp of what she felt was the most important moment in her life. The man she loved sat before her, ready to take his own life if she didn’t do or say the right thing next. She was paralyzed-absolutely paralyzed. All her training, and here she was, a shaking, paralyzed ball of nerves.
She burst into tears. How utterly professional.
Vessa’s nose and eyes ran uncontrollably and she heaved great sighs. She didn’t dare wave her arms around and wipe her face. Instead, she simply stood there and let her emotions pour down her cheeks.
Richter sighed. He lowered the gun. He dropped it with a thud to the carpet and kicked it toward her.
“How am I supposed to kill myself with you crying like that?”
She rushed to pick up the weapon and tucked it into the small of her back, under her blazer. She faced Richter, this time allowing herself to wipe the fluids from her face with her hands and sleeves. She could only imagine how many shades of fired she would be if Bully Benson had seen her outburst. She almost felt like declaring herself unfit for duty on the spot.
“I can’t stand it,” she said. “I can’t lose you this way.”
He said nothing. What was there to say? They stared at each other. Tears fell from her eyes until the momentum of her outburst ran its course and she finally managed to get a grip on herself.
Richter sat, inordinately relaxed, leaning against the wall, hands folded innocently between his legs.
“What now?” he asked.
She glanced toward the thick curtains shielding them from the snipers across the street.
“I’ll have to cuff you. Then you won’t be seen as a threat. Keep your head down, and I’ll stay between you and them.”
He craned his neck and looked over the bed toward the window. He watched the dark cloth for several seconds.
“Is your eye working? What do you see?”
“It’s working,” he said. “And, I see only reflections. Your temperature is up, though.”
She came over and stood beside him. “Stay low,” she said softly.
He got up and they crossed the room with him crouched low. They entered the windowless landing. Vessa closed the bedroom door behind them. She looked at the other two doors. The girl was probably behind one of them, asleep or with her headphones on, completely oblivious. Vessa pulled her cuffs out. Richter stood tall.
“All right?” she asked. She needed him to cooperate. She wasn’t about to subdue such a large man in such a small space.
“Just a second,” he said.
He bent and kissed her. They embraced. Vessa wanted the floor to open up and swallow them so they could stay like this forever. Of course it did not, and the moment had to end.
He straightened up again, turned his back to her, and extended his arms behind him so she could easily cuff him.
“I didn’t shoot him,” he said.
Before she could even think about it, Vessa responded.
“I know. I believe you.”
Excerpt from An Eye for a Lie by Cy Wyss. Copyright 2019 by Cy Wyss. Reproduced with permission from Cy Wyss. All rights reserved.
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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Cy Wyss. There will be 2 winners of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card each. The giveaway begins on May 27, 2019 and runs through July 29, 2019. Void where prohibited.
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