West Roxbury Native Releases 'Fraternal Bonds' Debut Novel
Nona's Ice Cream owner Tom Donahue takes readers across Massachusetts with the investigation into a serial murderer and corruption in a house of corrections in "Fraternal Bonds."
It started as a challenge from friends in 1998, but longtime correction officer, South Shore resident, and West Roxbury native Tom Donahue is a published murder mystery novelist.
In late 2012, Donahue released Fraternal Bonds, a Massachusetts-based murder mystery that follows full-time correction officer and part-time private investigator Stephen Nicholson as he deals with an increasingly dicey issue at his day job and the pursuit of a quadrennial serial killer that is preparing to kill again at his side gig.
"It was a lot of fun to write," said the West Roxbury native, of the book that is available for $14.99 in paperback at select local stores, including Seek Books in West Roxbury, or for $4.99 for Amazon Kindle.
While Donahue, who owns Nona's Homemade Ice Cream in Hingham and Scituate, where he lives, first dabbled in writing a book in 1995, he tossed that attempt and began seriously writing Fraternal Bonds in 1999.
Donahue, who works for the Suffolk County Sheriff's Office, worked full-time 3 to 11 p.m. and ran his businesses while writing his first book.
"The majority of the novel was written at three in the morning," Donahue said.
After two years, the book was complete, but the agent Donahue worked with was unable to sell it to a publisher. The increase in popularity of e-readers since 2001 made publishing the book easier and the novel was released in December 2012.
Donahue started with the basic storyline and eventually developed the characters and added a subplot, he also allowed himself to jump around when inspiration struck.
"It was almost like cut and paste at the end," Donahue said, explaining he wrote in scenes and chapters, not always chronologically. This includes the final sequence, which was penned early on.
The story follows Nicholson as he investigates the 1987 murder of a multi-millionaire's daughter in Hoosac Mills, a fictitious western Massachusetts town modeled after North Adams.
"He's hired for a job he has no business getting," said Donahue of his protagonist, who's selected to investigate Laiken Barnes' murder because the two had a fling in college and she was last seen at a party at his fraternity.
Nicholson begins to work unofficially with Hoosac Mills detective Melanie Leary. While the two develop their own back-and-forth relationship, it is discovered that the Barnes murder was the first of a serial killer's four-year schedule that resulted in murders in 1991, 1995 and likely again in 1999, the year the book is set.
The killer, who earns the name the Olympian because of the four-year hiatuses between murders, is determined to pull off the 1991 homicide though he knows law enforcement is on to him.
"He's got his heart set on his biggest kill yet," Donahue said of the murderer.
All while Nicholson is crisscrossing the state for the investigation, he's dealing with corruption at his job at the Boston House. While he thinks he's helped a friend solve a problem, the drama deepens for him and the friend he tried to help.
While the story isn't based on any real people or places, Donahue said his own perception of his work in corrections influenced his writing.
"A lot of cultural aspects come from my work in a house of corrections," said Donahue, explaining some corrections officers have agreed with his viewpoint and others have not, in the feedback he has received so far.
In less than three months, the new author has received a lot of positive reaction to the book with 29 five-star ratings on Amazon and several appearances at book clubs and stores.
He also gives credit to family, friends and those who has helped spread the word. "Without help, the book can't succeed," Donahue said.
Donahue has already begun a sequel to Fraternal Bonds. He's not sure when the book will be completed, but says he has a better understanding of the process as he enters his sophomore effort as a novelist.
To learn more about the novel or to purchase it, visit fraternalbonds.com or amazon.com.