By Rachel M. Anderson, Freelance Writer
One of the most often asked questions during the sentencing phase of a murder trial is "What caused the defendant to take the leap from being a law abiding citizen to a cold blooded killer?" Though the murder committed in the mystery/crime novel aka McGuire by Janet Entzel never results in a trial, the book spends a great deal of time exploring the criminal mind.
Former inmate Sean Byrnes is good looking and articulate, so when he arrives at the prison complex in Florence, Ariz., claiming to be psychiatrist Charles McGuire, no one has any reason to suspect it's a lie. The reader learns early on, however, that shortly after being released from a prison in Michigan, the former inmate had killed the doctor he blamed for preventing him from getting early release, and then assumed his identity.
Byrnes, aka McGuire, has no medical knowledge whatsoever, but is able to fleece the staff with the help of nurse Nancy Mirabal, who unknowingly enables him to do the job. When he asks her for advice, she assumes he's just trying to make her feel good so she offers all the information he needs.
Entzel explains that like most killers, Byrnes, aka McGuire is smart and cunning, able to fool most of the people most of the time. "He is very good at getting people to like him, particularly women," she says.
Entzel's interest in criminal justice dates back to 1974 when she was running for the Minnesota State Legislature. One of her campaign workers at the time had formed a friendship with a man named Harvey Carignan who turned out to be a serial killer. "I can't believe I'd had coffee with this man. It just was so weird, the whole experience. You just don't know who people are."
Carignan is currently serving a life sentence for a series of crimes in Minnesota, including two murders. He is a suspect, but has never been charged, in a number of other unsolved murders in other states.
"The Carignan case affected me so profoundly that when I was elected to the Legislature I asked to serve on the criminal justice committee," says Entzel, who spent a lot of time touring prisons in Minnesota and all over the country while in office. During her five terms, which stretched from 1975 to 1984, you could say she became an expert on the prison system and gained a strong understanding of how the criminal mind works.
"After leaving the Legislature and the Department of Corrections later, what I wanted to do in my retirement was to research serial killers. I started down that path, but it became way too dark," she says, "So I decided to instead write a book instead."
Though Entzel's main character is not a serial killer, she attributes her interest in exploring the criminal mind to the Carrigan case. "So many people who end up in prison are psychopaths. They just don't form connections to other people. It's more about what they want immediately and whoever is in their way might have to be killed so they can get it," says Entzel.
In both the case of Carrigan and the main character in Entzel's book, the catalyst that set them off was the desire to get back at their prostitute mothers who had denied them what most mothers provide for their offspring '" love and care. They were both driven by the desire for revenge.
In their review of the book, Jessica Symmes, Warden, at the Minnesota Correctional Facility - Oak Park Heights and Dennis Benson, Deputy Commissioner, Minnesota State Department of Corrections, had this to say: " From the perspective of two who work inside the criminal justice system, we found aka McGuire to be entertaining with a compelling storyline that reflects the realities of our criminal justice system and some of the bizarre personalities found within ."
" In this assured debut, Janet Entzel has penned a fascinating tale of derangement and deceit set against the backdrop of prison life. aka McGuire offers readers a satisfying mix of startling twists and unexpected turns, punctuated by moments of equally surprising humor and horror. Sit back and enjoy this thrill ride of a novel, " said William Kent Krueger, author of the Cork O'Connor Mysteries.
Aka McGuire was published as a print book in 2007, and became available as an eBook in 2010. Copies are available for download at www.eBooksforpleasure.com for just $4.99.
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About Janet Entzel
Janet Clark-Entzel was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 1974. During her tenure, she served on the Criminal Justice Committee. In 1984, she left elected office and accepted a managerial position in the administrative office of the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC).
Having developed an interest in the criminal mind, after retiring she went on to write aka McGuire, a novel that offers a rare glimpse inside the mind of a psychopath. Janet Enztel and her husband live in Coon Rapids, Minn.
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