NEW BRITAIN – By day, city detective Brian Shea deals with some of the New Britain Police Department’s most heart-wrenching cases.
As a member of the Youth Bureau his job is to investigate crimes against children, primarily focusing on sexual assaults.
But in the early morning hours and in the time after his family has gone to bed, Shea has spent months feeding his other passion as he penned the story of three individuals at the breaking point whose lives intersect with potentially calamitous results.
His first book “The Camel’s Back” was released on Amazon.com Thursday.
It’s an action thriller that he hopes will appeal to a wide audience, the 44-year-old detective said.
“I tried to make my characters very real and the problems that they deal with very real,” said the former teacher and Naval officer who joined the New Britain Police Department in April 2013 after stints in the Wethersfield Police Department and the Georgetown, Texas, Police Department.
The book plays out as the lives of the three main characters collide, giving the reader a view of Shea’s experiences as a Navy lieutenant, urban teacher – he taught in the Frog Hollow section of Hartford from 2008 to 2011 – and police officer with a twist.
After he’s fired following a controversial shooting, officer Declan Enright takes the harrowing step of becoming a bank robber in order to support his family, including his three-year-old Autistic daughter. Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Nicholas Lawrence takes a transfer to the agency’s bank robbery unit in New Haven to care for his mother with dementia. Khaled travels from his small village in Iraq to find closure of an unimaginable loss that haunts his daily existence.
“The real genesis of the story started when I was in the military in 2001,” Shea said. “I started thinking about what makes a terrorist?” he offered as a tease into Khaled’s role in the book. Shea pointed out that U.S. military targets are often hidden in places in foreign countries such as schools or highly populated, so casualties would be high if they were struck.
“What if that happened to me?” Shea said speculating on how he would feel if he lost a loved one because of a military strike. “How would I react to that? Khaled wasn’t born into this hatred, he suffered a tragic event. I don’t think people will necessarily like him, but they may understand a piece of him.”
Shea had been toying with the idea for years but it wasn’t until his teenage daughter challenged him to write the book in August that he went for it, getting up each morning between 4:30 and 5 a.m. to write before going to work and then spending more time writing after his family went to bed. He finished in October.
“It sounds like a terrific story,” said New Britain Police Chief James Wardwell. “I’m not surprised coming from someone like Brian. He’s very intelligent and probably one of the most creative people I’ve ever met. He’s got such a varied skill set and he brings so much to the table, he’s a terrific police officer, investigator and teacher. I’m sure he’ll bring that type of excellence to his writing.”
Shea is already set to start work on the second and third novel in the series, “The Lion’s Mouth,” and “The Rabbit’s Hole,” which will be published later this year. He also is working on adapting “The Camel’s Back” as a screenplay.
“I think the readers in Connecticut will enjoy the launch point of the book, which opens in Wethersfield,” Shea said. “It is an action thriller but at its core, it’s a story about people.”
For information on how to purchase the book, visit www.brianchristophershea.com or Amazon.com.