Local retiree, John Masterson, is proof that it’s never too late to reinvent yourself. At the age of eighty-seven, Masterson has just published a crime thriller entitled “Dolan, Murder Cop.” The book is a collection of sixteen short stories based on his years as a homicide detective in New Jersey.
The writing isn’t flowery. It’s terse and to the point, reminiscent of the dialogue from the old “Dragnet” television series. The book goes into detail about investigation procedures and highlights the personality traits of the victims, as well as the perpetrators. Of course, the names are changed to protect the innocent or, in some cases, the guilty.
Masterson decided to become a police officer partly because many of his family were in law enforcement. However, there were practical reasons, as well. “At age thirty, married with two children, I felt it was time to find work which provided financial security and a decent pension,” Masterson states.
He joined the East Orange police department in 1964. After many years in the patrol unit, he was assigned to the detective bureau on a merit system. This was a system based on the number of arrests, commendations, and general performance of duty. Masterson spent the remainder of his twenty-seven years in law enforcement investigating homicides. He remarks that real-life police work is nothing like you see on television.
As with any work of fiction, Masterson takes some poetic license. For example, many of the murders take place in New York City. Dolan (Masterson’s alter ego) investigates homicides that happen in just about every social strata−from penthouses in Manhattan to Hell’s Kitchen.
Writing is not Masterson’s only talent. After retiring to Spring Hill with his wife, Nancy, in 1990, he got involved with Stage West, the local community theatre. “On a whim, I auditioned for an upcoming play, and, believe it or not, I got a part.”
For the next twenty years, show business was his way of life. Masterson has acted in several independent films and performed on stage at various theaters in the area. He even performed on Broadway with Brian Dennehy and Christopher Plummer in the drama “Inherit The Wind.” At present, he does “voice-overs” for local advertisers. Several of his works have been featured in this newspaper, and “Can’t Stop Reading,” a compilation of works by various creative writers. After leaving the theater, Masterson joined The Brookridge Creative Writers Group.
“They are the ones who encouraged me to write of my police experiences,” he remarks.
The actual writing of the novel did not require much research other than locations and dates. His work in criminal investigation provided insight for his stories.
“The most difficult part of writing the book was re-visiting things it took years to erase from my mind,” Masterson concludes.
“Dolan: Murder Cop” is available to purchase in paperback or ebook format on www.bookbaby.com and on Amazon.