Local business reporter tries his hand at crime fiction

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By David DiPino  The Pineapple Contributing Writer After a long day covering local business as a reporter for the South Florida Business Journal, author Brian Bandell feeds his three kids dinner, kisses his wife goodnight and then locks himself in a dark room and writes murder thrillers. For his mindset on his third and latest book, Famous After Death, Bandell makes a statement and asks a question: “Everything has gone viral … so, why not murder?” On Oct. 7 at 7:30 p.m., Bandell will read from that book, published by Silver Leaf Books, at Murder on the Beach bookstore, 273 Pineapple Way in Delray Beach. At this special event, you can hear directly how the author voices characters in his story about “murder gone viral.” According to Bandell, the opportunity to showcase his third book to city residents and book aficionados and chat about the next wave of crime fiction in a great indie bookstore is ideal. While writing the outline for Famous After Death, he noticed people bullying others on social media and the viral phenomenon. He questioned why people make outrageous and sometimes violent social media posts. Through his research, Bandell found people committing violent crimes for very few reasons besides the attention gained in a viral post. “I wanted to understand what makes teenagers do stupid pranks. I’ll be the first to admit I was stupid as a teenager. Thinking back, I could have been hurt or killed,” said Bandell, who grew up on Florida’s Space Coast in Melbourne. He said the only thing really open after 8 p.m. in his hometown was Walmart and Blockbuster Video. “My friends and I used to drive around, cause trouble and do stupid things like pulling up to drivers and shooting squirt guns at their cars,” Bandell said. In Famous After Death, lead character Jorge is a teenage boy from a well-to-do family. His younger brother Kelso, a popular young man, constantly seeks attention. Bandell said he did some of his writing for the book while the “Facebook Killer” in Miami killed his wife and posted a picture of her lifeless body, and his confession, on his Facebook page. According to Bandell, all of his books (Mute published in 2013 and Medical Martial Arts, a short story published in 2014) are written in a “Dean Koontz style” and heart racing. “You don’t know what’s going to happen next.” He wants his books to read “quick and dirty.” In his current novel, the characters talk like teenagers but the plot is gritty realism. The teenagers in his book are anonymous (to local police) and the plot turns into a cat and mouse game, where the cops chase them across South Florida. Without giving away the story, Bandell does say a big part of the story is about the public’s reaction. Bandell recently did a book signing at Books & Books in Miami Beach, which he said will be similar to what he’ll do at Murder on the Beach bookstore in Delray Beach. “Pretty much what I did at Books & Books is voice a speech crafted on violence and social media. I was seeing people bullying others on social media and thought … ‘Wow! Look at what people are doing.’” He wants to start a discussion about the whole phenomenon. Coming out with this type of book was eerily timely, with the recent shooting in Virginia, where a disgruntled and mentally deranged man stalked his replacements on the TV news and shot them, a female reporter and her cameraman, while videotaping the incident via a camera strapped around his head. Just a few hours later, he posted the murders all over his social media pages before leading police in a car chase and eventually committing suicide – all while TV news helicopters hovered over the scene. “I want people to come out to Murder on the Beach bookstore, and then enjoy themselves with a drink at a Pineapple Grove bar or restaurant,” said Bandell. “I love Delray Beach and the Pineapple Grove area! My grandpa lives in Delray Beach.” Bandell’s bio is impressive with 13 awards from the Florida Press Club, and a first place in both business writing and government reporting, according to his publisher. He received another dozen awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, including being named a two-time winner of the Green Eyeshade award for best business enterprise reporting in the Southeast United States. Bandell received his degree in communications from the University of Miami. As for his day job and writing style, Bandell said, “What’s the only subject scarier than murder? Try covering business in Florida during a recession.” Regarding his favorite writing environment, Bandell said he cranks up the tunes. Metallica is his music of choice. “It’s music that notches the scene,” he said. For more information about Bandell’s book signing, visit www.murderonthebeach.com or call 561-279-7790. You can find out more about author Brian Bandell at www.brianbandell.blogspot.com or at www.silverleafbooks.com.