Zach Abrams is a writer of thrillers and crime novels. He lives in Scotland but spends much of the year in the Languedoc region of France.
Having an unusually varied education and work history, Zach was equipped with an extensive range of life experiences to draw on when developing his characters and stories. Following a science degree, a management post-grad and a professional accountancy qualification, he spent many years working as a CFO, business director and consultant in a range of industries as varied as transport, ostrich farming, manufacturing and public service.
Although having considerable experience of writing reports, letters and presentations, it's only fairly recently he started creative writing of novels - "a much more honourable type of fiction," he claims.
Currently, he has six novels published plus his collaboration with Elly Grant for a book of short stories and a non-fiction business guide book. So far there are four tartan noir books in his Alex Warren Murder Mystery series, set in his home town of Glasgow, Scotland.
The first is 'Made a Killing'. This British Police Procedural features Detective Chief Inspector Alex Warren as the senior investigating officer, assisted by female detective Sergeant Sandra McKinnon and supported by a team of detectives, scene of crime technicians and other specialists. They carry out their investigation after the discovery of the corpse of a much hated criminal, found with an elephant tusk impaled in his chest. Besides the main murder investigation, the team research a range of other criminal activities including financial crime, fraud, blackmail and extortion. Away from the crime investigation, there’s family drama as well as a touch of romance and more than a sprinkling of humour. Readers familiar with the geography of Scotland, and Glasgow in particular, may well recognise locations as the detectives tread their weary path on their way to researching the crimes to solve the mystery.
The second in the series, 'A Measure of Trouble,' sees Alex's team seek the murderer of a CEO killed within the cask room of his own whisky distillery. There’s no shortage of suspects. Investigations lead them to interview the victim’s family, employees and colleagues as they consider the varied motives of greed, revenge, adultery and nationalism.
The third, 'Written to Death,' begins with the mysterious death of a successful author, the murder taking place on stage during a writers' group meeting. Alex and Sandra are swamped with work as they have to deal with a second enquiry, this one into organised crime, and it runs in parallel with the main murder investigation.
The fourth, ‘Offender of the Faith,’ follows the investigation after a young Asian girl was sexually assaulted and murdered in the home she shared with her Scottish boyfriend. With Sandra off work on maternity leave, imminently due to give birth, Alex and his team require to use kid gloves to handle the ultra sensitive investigation with both the victim and her boyfriend’s families brought under intense scrutiny Potential motives of racism, islamophobia, hate, jealousy and honor killing all have to be considered. But who is behind the killing... and what is the real reason?
These are fast moving, gripping, murder mystery novels set in and around the tough, crime-ridden streets of Glasgow.
Zach’s first novel was 'Ring Fenced', an unusually themed psychological thriller. It’s a crime story with a difference, following one man's obsession with power and control. The main character, Benjamin, uses five separate personae to independently control the different divisions of his life. The story shows how he juggles the five separate existences and follows what happens when the barriers break down. The anti-hero, Benjamin, was nominated and shortlisted in the category of best villain in the 2013 eFestival of Words.
Zach's quirky thriller, 'Source; A Fast-Paced Financial Crime Thriller' centres on financial crime. It sees three investigative journalists travelling across the UK, Spain and into France. They suspect economic terrorism as they research corruption and sabotage in the banking sector. Resulting from their investigations, they face personal threats and all the time they’re trying to cope with their own fraught private lives. Despite the weighty subject matter, it’s a light and amusing read with plenty of humour, family drama and romance.
A collaboration with Elly Grant produced 'Twists and Turns,' a book of short stories, which range from flash fiction to a novella. They all have mystery and an element of the unexpected, with content ranging from Gothic horror to mild comedy.
All of Zach's books can be purchased from Amazon as eBooks and paperbacks. Audiobook versions of both Ring Fenced and Made a Killing are now available and the other titles will follow.
Alike his central character in 'Ring Fenced,' (Benjamin Short), Zach Abrams completed his education in Scotland and went on to a career in accountancy, business and finance. Married with two children, he plays no instruments but has an eclectic taste in music, although not as obsessive as Benjamin. Unlike Benjamin, he does not maintain mistresses, write pornography and (sadly) does not have ownership of a mega internet distributor. He is not a sociopath (at least by his own reckoning) and all versions of his life are aware of and freely communicate with each other. More in keeping with 'Alex Warren', Zach was raised in Glasgow and has spent many years working in Central Scotland.
Interviews & media
Author's note: Ring Fenced
Ring Fenced was my first novel, and started from the idea of creating a character who lived many lives at the same time. There have been many books about people suffering from schizophrenia or multiple personality disorder, but this is NOT one of them. Instead, my character is a very intelligent and powerful sociopath who consciously separates different aspects of his life as a means to having absolute control. He ring-fences each of his personae, having the family and associates in each one blissfully unaware of the others.
I started with a character but no story, put myself in the head of my character and let him tell me his story and lead me into various situations, which I dutifully reported. I had no plan of where it was going and, being my first book, I wasn’t aware that this was an unorthodox way to write. I became absorbed in my story and for about six weeks it dominated my life while I wrote the first draft. It was a complete book; an adventure of sorts with various strands, and met the standard requirements of a beginning, a middle and an end. Initially I thought that was job done, not realising I’d only begun. It took me several months to review what I’d drafted and to edit and re-edit before seeking help from beta and proof readers, so as to refine my story and its presentation.
My character starts with the name Benjamin, but uses the alternative derivations of Benji, Bennie, Ben and Jamie to distinguish each area of his life.
He makes regular visits to see his elderly Jewish parents and siblings
he has a loving relationship with his wife and two young children
he works in corporate finance as director of an investment bank
he writes pornography and has developed and is joint owner of the internet publishing company distributing it and
he has a mistress
Benjamin uses his Blackberry to manage his life and his iPod to satisfy his music obsession, which accompanies all his existences as a soundtrack. He is a puppet-master, controlling not only his own life but manipulating all those around him. However, a series of unforeseen incidents occur, events which aren’t in his control, and this causes the fences to fail with dramatic consequences.
As I had no plan when first writing it and no previous experience, I didn’t know whether it would become a short story or a novella. As the plot expanded it developed into a full novel. I’ve subsequently written other novels; a crime series set in Glasgow and an investigative journalism thriller, as well as many short stories.
Although not pre-organised, I did carry out a considerable amount of research, mostly done at the same time as I was writing. As I have a background in business and finance and I’m familiar with many of the locations and family relationships which are described, I already had a sound basis to start writing. However, as I wanted to try to ensure accuracy and authenticity as much as I could, I verified (or corrected) a lot of what I already thought to be true and I carried out research of the protagonist’s sociopathic behaviour, particularly how he handled relationships. I also checked geographical, historical and product references.
I must confess there are elements of myself in Benjamin. Although I don’t believe that I’m a sociopath (and I’ve never been so diagnosed) maybe I’m not the best one to ask. In telling the story, I’ve taken a number of my experiences, sometimes grossly exaggerating them, to help bring Benjamin to life. None of the supporting characters are based on particular individuals but all are drawn from a montage of people I’ve known or observed. I must emphasise, though, that the book is a work of fiction and many parts, particularly the criminal activity, are entirely constructed from research and imagination.
The story does not fit neatly into any specific genre. It is a thriller and arguably an adventure, and has elements of psychological thriller, drama, family life, financial crime, blackmail, extortion, business and finance, travel, romance and some explicit sex.
Readers of Ring Fenced will be given some insight into the workings of the mind of a powerful and obsessively controlling individual, and into his lavish and somewhat frenetic existence. Although Benjamin’s life is complicated and fast paced, the book itself is light reading and easy to follow.
There were no specific books or authors which influenced the writing of Ring Fenced or to which it bears direct comparison. However, readers may detect some common themes with Harold Jacobson, Christopher Brookmyre & Carl Hiaasen.
Author's note: Source
Few, if any, people would regard major banks as victims, and this was my starting point when I wrote Source. I wanted to take a different angle.
I started with the concept of a major international bank coming under immense pressure as a result of whistleblower revelations about improper ways it carries out its business. Although each of the allegations had some basis in fact, they were exaggerated and unfair. They’d been sent anonymously to newspapers, knowing the stories would be further embellished to cause maximum damage to the bank in particular, with a knock on affecting the stockmarket as a whole.
My main characters, Tom and Sally, are both seasoned journalists who are curious about what’s happening and suspect foul play. Tom’s already trying to salvage a disintegrating marriage when the story begins, while Sally has her own personal problems. They are reluctantly twinned to carry out their enquiries and in spite of a rivalry, there is mutual attraction. Soon after starting, they’re joined by Ahmed, a junior reporter assigned to support them.
The story is an adventure and a mystery, where the team’s investigations take them from London to Glasgow, Manchester, Barcelona and Collioure in an attempt to determine what has happened and who’s behind it. Cryptic threats are received and they believe their wellbeing and even their lives may be at risk if they continue. Their adversary always seems to be one step ahead. With potential motives of revenge, fraud, exploitation or even economic terrorism, the team is desperate to solve the mystery and put a stop to what’s been happening before it reaches the stage of global financial meltdown.
Although dealing with some heavy subject matter, the book is light and easy to read with a sprinkling of humour throughout.
There are no specific books or authors which influenced the writing of Source, or to which it bears direct comparison. However, readers may detect some common themes with Dan Brown's Inferno, Ian Caldwell, Dustin Thomason and Russell Andrews
Author's note: Made A Killing
Made a Killing is the first novel in my Alex Warren murder mystery series. Alex is a Detective Chief Inspector, working for Strathclyde Police (which later becomes part of Police Scotland) and he is ably assisted by Sergeant Sandra McKinnon and their support group. He and his team work out of the Glasgow Serious Crimes office and this story kicks off when they’re called to investigate the mysterious death of a much hated local fraudster, known to prey on the weakest members of society. There’s little doubt that ‘there’s been a murder’, Scott Stevenson has been found dead inside his own antique shop, his heart punctured by an ornately carved elephant tusk.
Stevenson has countless enemies and Alex has had a previous personal run-in with him.
As their enquiries progress and the team discover Stevenson’s more sinister dealings, yet more suspects and motives arise.
This novel delves into the personal lives of the team and takes you to many locations in Glasgow and the West of Scotland including the bohemian west-end, affluent suburbs and well renowned football terraces.
As with most of my novels, you’ll discover an element of financial crime and business malpractice.
Can you solve ‘whodunit’ before Alex and his team?
Made a Killing fits neatly into the Tartan Noir sub-genre with similar themes and demographics to books by Ian Rankin and Quentin Jardine.