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Kevin's Works

"Rock Creek" (Kilimanjaro Press, kilimanjaro-press.com, 2024)

ROCK CREEK is a murder mystery interwoven with a portrait of Washington D.C. at a time that has been largely overlooked in the popular imagination.  From the late 1940's to the early 1950's, the nation's capital was just coming into its own as the dominant seat of power in the post-WWII "free world."  It was also still a small town, where the government existed separate and apart from the ordinary working people, mostly Black, who were the majority population.  For most in D.C. and throughout the country, the emotional toll of the war was still a significant factor in personal and public life – sometimes overtly, mostly not.


I was born in D.C. into a family whose roots ran deep there.  The city of my youth was divided into two parts: political and small town. And so it is still.


As a child, I had a foot in each part: in the political, through my mother, who'd worked on Capitol Hill for years, and in the small town, through everything else I saw and knew.  As an adult, my connection to the city has been intensely forged.  For over 35 years as a prosecutor I handled D.C. violent crime cases, including many murders:  no politics, all small town.


Several years ago, a book I wrote about one of my cases was published.  Much of the book was about the relationship I developed with the Black family whose mother and daughter were the victims of a horrific murder.  Their roots in D.C. were as deep as mine, and for a time our families became intertwined in wonderful ways.   

ROCK CREEK rose from that book and experience.  A friend asked what my next book would be: "Surely," he said, "you've worked on a high-profile case that would be a natural basis for the next one."  In fact, I'd worked on a case that had drawn national attention.  A government intern had been slain in D.C., her body found in Rock Creek Park, and a prominent Washington figure, her former lover, was a suspect.


The catch was that I couldn't write about it.  The case wasn't in court yet.  All the details of our investigation were confidential.


I came to realize that if I took the basic facts of the case and reset it in the post- war period as fiction, I had an opportunity to write a far richer story: a better whodunit with more distinctive characters and a much more original, revelatory account of the city and its people that I knew so well.  This was my chance to write a detailed, unsentimental portrait of the famous, flawed city that I've long loved, capturing it at the time when it was the most fraught: after the war and before the supposed "happy days" of the Eisenhower years.


D.C. might be the capital of the free world, but in those days it was also a small, segregated town riddled with casual and institutional racism – a distant mirror, in some meaningful ways, for all of us today.


Rock Creek Park – the geographical and spiritual center of this book – runs south to north on a line that starts a few miles from the White House and ends past the city limits.  It's a vast expanse of beautiful wilderness, then as now a favored haven for locals, and one of the largest urban parks in the world.  In the period of this novel, the Park had a dark side: it divided lower class Blacks on its east side from upper class Whites on its west, to the point where Blacks were arrested for straying past its western edge.


And, it had a strange history of being a dumping ground for randomly murdered women.

The present-day mysterious murder of a compelling and enigmatic victim gave me a plot, and the detective on this unlikely fictional case became the troubled, brilliant protagonist I needed.


My ambition has been to create a wide-ranging portrait of the life of the city in those days, up and down the social ladder, through the experience of that detective, Shane Kinnock.  As for his character, I'll only add that I borrowed his basic profile from a solid and reliable old friend who is a homicide detective and a Congressman's son: someone who could move comfortably and credibly between political and small-town D.C.  Unlike my friend, his fictional counterpart leads a complicated, often tormented life, albeit somehow guided by the same moral compass.


At one crucial point in the book's narrative an important female character, a possible murder suspect, says: "The end of the war gave everybody a chance to start over. We all thought everything was going to be better than it was before."  This book is about the many ways that things weren't at all simple in that time and place, and how people of good faith went about trying to sort through the complexities of the times to reach a rough form of justice. 


"Rock Creek" (Kilimanjaro Press, kilimanjaro-press.com, 2024)

"Relentless Pursuit: A True Story of Family, Murder, and the Prosecutor Who Wouldn't Quit" (Putnam, 2007)


From Publishers Weekly: "Starred Review. In 1993, Kevin Flynn was a 36-year-old U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C., when he was assigned to a case involving the murders of Diane Hawkins and her 13-year-old daughter, Katrina Harris. All signs point to Norman Harrell, Hawkins' former boyfriend and the father of one of her sons; the murders occurred just days before Hawkins was to meet Harrell in court over a child support dispute. As Flynn works through the tumultuous early days of the trial, he's surprised by the affection and faith of the "populous Hawkins clan," and prodded on by thoughts of his own wife and child. Against a backdrop of everyday life and domestic complications -- including his father's diagnosis with lung cancer -- the prosecutor chronicles the case in meticulous detail, taking readers step by step through the unfolding courtroom drama. The portrait of Harrell that emerges is chilling; remarking on their similarities (both prosecutor and defendant have 'loner's souls'), Flynn surmises that something 'had been horribly miswired in him. And the sad thing was, I don't think he ever knew it.' Flynn's is a fascinating, rewarding story of one attorney's dogged determination to exact justice."

From the Washington Post: "RELENTLESS PURSUIT works well on many levels: as a police procedural and courtroom drama, as a candid portrait of life in black Washington and as an example of how decent people of both races can work together against the violence that threatens us all. The recent past has not been kind to America's prosecutors; the growing number of innocent people freed from prison by DNA testing has demonstrated that at least some are overzealous, incompetent or simply corrupt. RELENTLESS PURSUIT reminds us of all those other prosecutors who are honest, skilled and fighting to protect society from monsters. One does not ask that they also be good writers, but in Flynn's case that's an unexpected bonus."

From USA Today: "Flynn writes about the murders and the trial and conviction of the killer in his first book, RELENTLESS PURSUIT, a true-crime story told with the dauntless energy and readability of a heart-palpitating thriller.  Flynn's investigative and prosecutorial skills are on full-tilt display in RELENTLESS PURSUIT, but he allows his talents to be upstaged by the personalities of the victims and their violent deaths. What happened to them is the driving force behind Flynn's book.  His descriptions of the trial, his worries about whether he can win the case without an eyewitness, and the presence of the victims' friends and family in the courtroom are as powerful as anything in a John Grisham legal thriller."


From the Washington Times: "Not just a page-turner but an eye-opener as well ... A great story, to be sure, but also with a fascinating window into this darkest of places in human nature ... Flynn tells the story with a vivid attention to detail that would be quite difficult for a novelist to match."

From George Pelecanos, author of multiple bestsellers and writer/producer for HBO's "The Wire":  "RELENTLESS PURSUIT is a memoir and law enforcement procedural that reads like a thriller. Kevin Flynn shines a knowing light on the impact of a murder on a family, a community, and those who police and prosecute the case. An auspicious debut."


From Jonathan Harr, author of "A Civil Action": "This true story about one prosecutor's obsession will capture you and keep you reading until late in the night. It reads like the best of fictional crime thrillers, but it's better because it's real."

From James Grady, author of "Three Days of the Condor" and "Mad Dogs": "Kevin Flynn's heart-wrenching account takes readers beyond his harrowing prosecutorial pursuit of a vicious killer to illuminate the inner workings of our justice system at its best."

From Ronald Kessler, author of "The Bureau" and "The FBI": "What a triumph! RELENTLESS PURSUIT combines the spellbinding tension of a masterfully written mystery novel with the authenticity of an account by a veteran prosecutor who has a great eye for detail."


"Relentless Pursuit:  A True Story of Family, Murder, and the Prosecutor Who Wouldn't Quit" (Putnam, 2007)