This—my second Joe Hannibal novel, originally published in 1989—is now available on Kindle (along with THE BURNING SEASON, which "went live" back in May).
THE SKINTIGHT SHROUD is one of my personal favorites. As I've often stated in interviews and discussions, one of my writing quirks is that I always have to have a title fixed pretty firmly in mind before I can get rolling on a story or book. In this case I had the title in mind years before I had any kind of suitable story to match it with.
I remember, back in the mists of time, when I was in my late teens, reading a ton and tinkering with early attempts at my own writing … I read my first Travis McGee novel, BRIGHT ORANGE FOR THE SHROUD and loved it. The book made an impact, so did its intriguing title. Around that same time, Grace Metalious (author of PEYTON PLACE) had a book out entitled THE TIGHT WHITE COLLAR. I never read that book—or PEYTON PLACE either, for that matter—but something about that title also sounded intriguing and stuck with me. Not too longer after, once the influence of McGee on top of inroads already made by Spillane and the like had irreversibly aimed my own writing down the mystery/detective path, I came up with THE SKINTIGHT SHROUD and knew that some day I would use it for the title of something I wrote.
Flash forward almost thirty years. My Joe Hannibal series was under way, with a half dozen or so short stories and one prior novel having been published, and I was ready to write my next book. I wanted to use murder within the thriving porn industry as its central plot and—tah-dah!—THE SKINTIGHT SHROUD came out of mental moth balls and made, at least for me, a perfect fit.
I even wrote a poem (my first and only, so far) to help tie the title into the storyline.
At birth, you are trapped in it
At death, you are wrapped in it
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust
Hope, despair, love, hate, lust
Proving ground for Heaven, or just Hell on Earth?
God's grand design, or the Devil's twisted mirth?
Sometimes I want to scream out loud
Can't anyone see me struggling in this skintight shroud?
One final note: A number of mysteries had been written in the mid to late eighties, when adult movies were really beginning to thrive in the mainstream, but almost all of them used "snuff films" as a plot device. I wanted to be sure and avoid that while at the same presenting some in-depth facts about the industry and showing those involved in a less stereotypical manner. (Also, writing this book finally provided some credence to the assurances I had been giving my wife that the x-rated videos I sometimes watched, the skin mags I bought, and the strip clubs I visited on occasion were all necessary research for my craft.)
SKINTIGHT SHROUD is somewhat dated now in its references to videocassettes, the state of the adult film industry as it was run back then versus how it is today, etc. I feel the story and characterizations remain solid, however, and, as I said at the beginning, it remains one of my favorites.
I hope you give it a try and have a favorable reaction, too.
If you like it, remember that other previously out-of-print Hannibals will be appearing soon—along with an eBook original, GOSHEN HOLE, before year's end.
Until next time …
Persevere — WD