Northeast native Chris Bauer wrote Jane’s Baby, a political crime thriller packed with thrills and smart writing.
To the women who struggle with making these decisions.
The heartfelt dedication that precedes Jane’s Baby, a roller coaster of a political crime thriller written by Northeast Philadelphia native Chris Bauer, makes the author’s intentions clear. The weighty story chronicles a bounty hunter’s chase of a serial killer targeting a fictional Supreme Court judge as the country takes on a (again, fictional) case that could undo the 1973 Roe V. Wade ruling.
The topic of abortion isn’t something Bauer pretends to have an answer to. Both sides of the argument are represented by characters with well-developed views and motivations. By examining the topic, Bauer establishes he doesn’t just want to write another forgettable paperback novel to wile away an afternoon on the beach with — he writes to impact, provoke, and of course, entertain.
The novel follows Judge Drury, an ex-Marine turned bounty hunter from Philadelphia (he grew up in Philly, so he learned to defend himself early in life, Bauer told the Times). He has Tourette syndrome, using the comfort of his dogs (two, known as his “deputies”) or a rabbit’s foot to keep a stream of involuntary profanity from sludging out of his mouth.
Mostly unintentionally, Judge ends up tailing Larinda Jordan (she calls herself Church Hammer), who intends to stop the Supreme Court case through whatever violent measures she deems necessary. He’s joined by Owen, a popular local sports columnist first introduced as a drunk Cowboys fan who gets in a scuffle with Judge in the bleachers during a game.
The novel’s triangular structure follows three characters (Judge, Larinda and a newly appointed Supreme Court judge) in three different stages of the same chase. Bauer said he wanted every character to be unique, and his efforts pay off. The characters make the story memorable — makeshift sidekick Owen in particular is a dumping ground for quirky characteristics, and their part of the novel plays out like a buddy cop mission that’s strengthened by their disparities. Larinda proves to be a frightening force — every time a chapter kicks off following her leg of the story, the reader knows they’re in for some turbulence.
Every character feels like they’ve been alive before they appeared on the pages. Dialogue slingshots between characters naturally, and there’s a palpable sense of danger surrounding every action scene that these lives you’ve grown to care for are actually at risk. At less than 300 pages, the plot is a tightly wound coil ready to spring at any second.
In a heavily political climate like today, Bauer acknowledges he is not trying to change anyone’s opinion on the political topics the novel addresses. One of the novel’s endeavors is to explore what might have happened to the fetus at the center of the Roe V. Wade case — a baby who was actually born. Bauer wants to draw no conclusion for the reader — he just wants them to contemplate their own thoughts.
The author spent the first 18 years of his life in Mayfair and currently resides in Doylestown. He worked himself into a militant writing schedule that still lingers today — get up at 4 a.m. each morning to write for a few hours, then edit in the afternoon (where he likely tosses it all out anyway).
The novel releases June 1 and will be available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Kobo and IndieBound in physical and electronic form.
Bauer will also be attending a series of book signings, including a signing at a Barnes and Noble in Montgomeryville. Visit his website chrisbauerauthor.wordpress.com for a full list of his scheduled appearances.
Follow Bauer at @cgbauer or Facebook.com/cgbauer. ••