King’s 24 years as a police and court reporter have taken him from the underbellies of the seamiest slums to the multi-million-dollar yachts and penthouses of the mega-rich. He’s observed autopsies and criminal trials, stood over homicide victims, and accompanied police officers on high-speed chases and undercover drug deals. And he’s “cannibalized” his career to transport readers to places they’ve never seen and allow them to experience a side of life they’ve never encountered.
King has always loved reading and newspapers, so after taking a journalism class at a local community center, he went on to earn a degree from Temple University in Philadelphia. His first job was working the overnight police shift for the Philadelphia Daily News. When he was offered a district job at the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel in 1984, he moved to Florida where he has lived ever since.While King enjoyed a successful career as a journalist and garnered many awards for his writing, he’d wanted to pen a novel since his high school years. He was inspired by John D. MacDonald’s The Deep Blue Goodbye, a book King calls “the nugget of the dream.” He first tried his hand at novel writing in 1982 but soon realized he didn’t know enough about people. So he spent the next 20 years learning. “I got to see a lot as a police reporter, and I let it all soak in,” he explains. “I write from images that have collected in my head.”
In the winter of 2000, King spent two months writing his first novel, The Blue Edge of Midnight. The book introduces Max Freeman, a burnt-out Philadelphia cop who moves to the Everglades to exorcise his personal demons. Freeman (a character based on a policeman King knew from his Daily News days) is pulled back into police work when he discovers the body of a kidnapped child. The book earned King the 2002 Edgar Allen Poe Award for Best First Novel and was the basis for the six-book Max Freeman series, novels King describes as “human storytelling within a crime framework.” In the latest offering, “Midnight Guardians,” Max investigates a dangerous conspiracy involving Medicare fraud. Bestselling author Michael Connelly praised the book as "Full of true characters and jagged surprises."
King enjoyed creating human characters and exploring “the sense of humanity that motivates people to do the evil things and the right things,” something he found difficult to do within the confines of journalism. So, in 2004, he left the Sun Sentinel to devote himself to writing fiction. In addition to the Freeman series, King wrote two standalone novels. He drew on his passion for history in The Styx, a historical mystery set in 1896 Florida. The book was awarded a bronze medal in the Florida Book Awards. Eye of Vengeance, a thriller King calls “more biography than fiction,” centers on a Florida reporter who becomes the target of a former sniper out for revenge. Kirkus Reviews raves, "Strong characters, complex tensions and fascinating details about crime-reporting should have readers lining up." A seventh Max Freeman novel is currently “under construction.”King wants his readers to enjoy his stories, but he hopes they will also learn something about the Everglades, a place he loves, and about people and what moves them. According to King, “If you don’t touch people and their basic humanity when writing, you’re not really storytelling.”
For more about Jonathon King, visit his website at www.jonathonking.com.