What do a Miami detective searching for his mother’s killer and workers at an all-encompassing tech giant have in common?
They both come from the minds of local authors Alex Segura and Rob Hart, who will be joining forces for a launch party for their respective books on Tuesday.
Segura, out of Astoria, is putting the cap on his Pete Fernandez mystery series with the fifth novel, “Miami Midnight,” about the detective’s suspenseful and very personal investigation.
Hart, who calls Staten Island home and wrote the Ash McKenna quintet of noir novels, turns out his first stand-alone novel, “The Warehouse,” about a massive online retailer called Cloud where employees live in MotherClouds, billed as utopian homes. But new employees Paxton and Zinnia quickly discover that things are less than perfect.
With the authors sharing the stage Tuesday at The Mysterious Bookshop, we decided to step back and let them interview each other. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Rob Hart: So Alex, what’s the elevator pitch for “Miami Midnight”?
Alex Segura: “Miami Midnight” is the final Pete Fernandez mystery — where the reluctant detective is forced to solve the one crime he never expected to: the murder of his mother.
While I’m closing out a series, you’re launching what’s arguably the most buzzed-about book of the year. Can you talk a little bit about “The Warehouse”?
RH: “The Warehouse” is like “1984,” except instead of Big Brother, it’s Big Business. It’s set in a world where one online retailer has taken over the retail economy and built dormitory housing for its workers, so you never really go home anymore.
This is your fifth — and for now, final — Pete book. How does it feel to bring this chapter of your storytelling life to a close?
AS: It’s bittersweet. But I’ve always felt that the best way to be true to your characters is to know when it’s time to say goodbye, and this felt like the perfect moment to dim the lights, figuratively and maybe … literally.
What’s it been like dealing with all the buildup for the book? Were there a few major “pinch-me” moments?
RH: The whole process has been incredible. I was thrilled to sell in so many foreign countries, some of which I’ll get to tour soon. And when Ron Howard optioned the book — that still shocks me. I hear there’s a chance we could see Pete make it to the screen. Is that true?
AS: We’ve gotten a lot of interest, which is really flattering — now it’s just a matter of figuring out who the best match is, which is an enviable position. I think Pete would be perfect for a streaming show, but I guess so does every author!
With all the hoopla, I’m sure part of you just wants to talk about the book — it feels so next-level, in the best way. How did you challenge yourself to craft this kind of novel?
RH: I wanted to write an issues book wrapped in the language of a thriller. It’s easy to paint large corporations as bad. To do it in a digestible, entertaining way is hard. But stories sit with you in a way data can’t, because stories are about empathy. It was a huge challenge, but I was happy to face it. Part of the reason I took on “The Warehouse” is I wanted to grow as a writer.
What challenges do you face in ending a series so it’s satisfying for longtime readers, but accessible for someone who hasn’t read the other four?
AS: I try to approach all of my books as stand-alones — with new readers in mind. I don’t get precious about spoilers, because I figure if someone likes the third book, they’re smart enough to go back and start from the first. The challenge here was that it was more burdened by continuity, so I needed a really strong baseline story — and Pete having to face his mother’s death struck me immediately as the kind of story that should end a series.
If you go: Rob Hart and Alex Segura will be signing and discussing their books at their launch party at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday at The Mysterious Bookshop, 58 Warren St., mysteriousbookshop.com, FREE