Franklin is the focus of a new crime-thriller novel “Ace of Diamonds” that was released last month.
Jim Bushee, of Austin, Texas, who goes by the pen name J. Michael Boucher, said “Primarily, I focused it on Franklin because there is so much history there and so much to do there.”
“My wife (Marisa) is originally from Franklin. It’s just a wonderful town,” Bushee said.
Each chapter begins with a heading that sets the location and includes places ranging from the Venango County Courthouse, Venango County jail and Franklin police department to Benjamin’s Roadhouse and the Cranberry Mall.
The story largely follows two characters as they work as police officer and confidential informant to find and stop the source that flows deadly drugs into the region.
“When you look at the two characters Cody and Matt, one is a police officer and former Marine, and the other is a drug addict,” Bushee said. “They find that they have more in common that connects them rather than separates them.”
Working up-stream, the pair trace a connection in Pittsburgh that leads to Texas and ultimately across the border to a nefarious Mexican cartel.
“When you think about places along the Rio Grande, it’s an area I walked along many times,” Bushee said.
Bushee said he drew inspiration from the places he is familiar with and researched real events to keep the story grounded in plausibility.
“The subject matter is a difficult one, but it’s a national issue,” Bushee said.
Bushee said in his research for the book that he spoke with police, people struggling with opioid addictions and their families.
“So I started out on doing research of Franklin,” Bushee said. “I spent a lot of time speaking to people in the Franklin area.”
“I have spoken to several addicts and had very direct conversations. You know, that’s not a Franklin exclusive,” he said.
While Bushee said this is his first novel, he said he’s written “as long as I can remember.”
“It’s a lot of fun, but it’s a lot of work,” Bushee said.
Bushee said he plans to release a sequel and is already about a third of the way done.
“Whatever you think you are going to write, something will happen that will give it a twist or turn that you don’t expect,” he said.
The next book will be set in Franklin again and continue the story from where “Ace of Diamonds” leaves off, Bushee said.