Ron Corbett
May 9, 2024

Ron Corbett is the Edgar and Arthur Ellis nominated author of the Frank Yakabuski Mystery Series. Set on the Northern Divide, the Yakabuski series has been called “Truly captivating” (Publishers Weekly) “Soulful” (Kirkus Reviews) and “A series with a long life ahead.” (Globe and Mail). Ron is also the author of the Danny Barrett series of thrillers called “A dynamite new series” (New York Times) and “nuanced…and vivid” (Publisher’s Weekly). A former radio host and newspaper columnist, the father of four is married to award-winning photo-journalist Julie Oliver and still lives in his hometown of Ottawa, Canada, where he writes from the study of a century-old house, “not far from a good river.”

Interview by Elise Cooper

Q: What inspired you to create this series?
Ron: It is from my journalism work and from another series I wrote. The first book in the other series titled, Ragged Lake, is set outdoors. I wanted to write another series set outdoors, the Danny Barrett books are spin-offs from my other series with a younger and darker character. Both series has the characters of police officers.

Q: Can you share the genesis of the first book in the series, The Sweet Good-bye?
Ron: I had the idea for the ending. This was the first thing I wrote, working backwards from there.

Q: What sparked the idea for the second book, Cape Rage?
Ron: It started off with a prank and as a short story that grew. From a Bob Dylan song, “Brownsville Girl.” There are so many good lines in this song that a great story can be written. There is a character in the song, Henry Porter but I changed the character in the book to Henry Carter. There is one line at the end of the song, “he wore a gun, and he was shot in the back. Seems like a long time ago, long before the stars were torn down.” The song is all about this road trip he takes with this girl, which I had in my plot.

Q: How would you characterize Danny, the main protagonist?
Ron: He is a calculating risk-taker, cowboy-like, not a paper pusher, and he works well undercover. He is not a bureaucrat and can never work in a cubicle. He is also practical, competent, not careless, and thinks things through. “Have Gun Will Travel,” the old TV show, can best describe him, ruthless, traveling from place to place.

Q: Is Danny a member of the police force?
Ron: Yes, many people confuse his profession, thinking he is FBI. He is not, but a Detroit cop who was blackballed for arresting his brother. He ended up as an undercover cop.

Q: Are these novels driven more by plot or character?
Ron: There is no denying that the plot is very important and intricate. I do not spend pages upon pages on developing characters. The writers I admire are those that can give information about a character in 2 or 3 sentences. I do hope people feel for the secondary characters and what happens to them. The other series does have continuing secondary characters but because this series has Danny traveling a lot it does not.

Q: How would you describe “the girl” in this story, similar to the one in Dylan’s song?
Ron: “The girl” never had a name because the girl in the Dylan song never had a name. She is practical, nervous, fearless, and inquisitive. As with the song there are two women in the story, one he is driving with and one he is off to see, his wife Tess.

Q: Could you describe Tess?
Ron: She is a risk taker, quick on her feet, strong and wild.

Q: Are Tess and “the girl” similar in any way?
Ron: They are not similar. “The girl” is not fiery and a risk taker like Tess.

Q: Can you tell us more about Carter, who is with “the girl” searching for Tess?
Ron: Intense, on a mission, and violent. He is out for revenge. It is horrible useless emotion that takes over and is devastating and toxic. I put this quote in the book, “Greed gives comfort. Sex gives pleasure. Revenge gives nothing tangible.”

Q: What can you reveal about Carter’s gun trick?
Ron: It is like a magician where people look the wrong way to fool someone. He is quick and clever.

Q: What are your plans for the next books in the series?
Ron: The third Barrett book will take place in Gibsonton Florida with a circus theme. This is where the carnival people lived, like the bearded lady, the elephant man, and the giant. No title yet. It will be a cold case where Danny will go undercover. Some bank robbers who were with the circus killed some people. Barrett has brother issues and has been convinced to decide who are these bank robber’s deadly crew. The other series is called the Frank Yakabuski books. The most recent book is titled Muskie Falls. There will also be a fifth book in this series

Review by Elise Cooper

Cape Rage by Ron Barrett is just as good if not better than his first book, The Sweet Good-bye. The plot line in all these books has Danny Barrett going undercover to solve a crime. In Cape Rage he is asked by the FBI to infiltrate a legendary Pacific Northwest crime family. The plot intertwines family dynamics, betrayal, and revenge.

The book begins with Henry Carter being shot and left for dead by his wife’s family. The adult daughter, Tess Danby, is married to Henry, who is also from a crime family. But with the help of “a girl” he survives and plots his revenge, driving across the country with “the girl,” to the compound where the Danby’s live, an island near Cape Rage, that is an isolated and unforgiving place.

Meanwhile, Danny is asked by the FBI to go undercover with the family trying to gather enough evidence to solve a bank safe deposit box robbery and the murders of the bank security guards. The family have ruled as kings in their corner of the Pacific Northwest. The Feds were mostly willing to look the other way while the family smuggled everything from liquor to cigarettes across the US-Canadian border, until the bank robbery. Now Danny must gather proof against the crime family and try to find out what happened to Henry without getting himself killed. He realizes almost everyone in the compound are psychopaths and the best way to gather evidence is to befriend Tess. This will put him on a collision course with Henry who wants to kill the entire crime family.

This storyline has a fascinating game of cat and mouse, violence, and unpredictability. The twists and turns make for an intriguing, thought provoking, and fast paced plot. A bonus is the psychology of the crime family.

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