Lane, who calls himself “a lifelong tourist,” came from Ohio to St. Pete Beach seven years ago when the last of his three children left high school. “I’m very comfortable here,” he says. “When I’m in Florida, I lose the wanderlust to go any other place. I feel I’ve arrived.” An investment manager with a degree in English, Lane has always loved to write. After graduating from Maryville College in Tennessee, where he was the editor of the college newspaper, he worked briefly as a proofreader. He also owned a local weekly newspaper in Knoxville, an enterprise he calls “a labor of love.” He eventually went into investment management because “I needed a way to pay the bills,” but he never lost his desire to write.
The Second Letter was inspired by a visit to the Gulf Beaches Historical Museum in Pass-a-Grille. Lane became fascinated with Joan Haley, the museum’s original matriarch. “After seeing the displays, I became taken with the story of this lady who had come to Long Key,” Lane explains. “I went outside and sat on the bench and thought, ‘What if?’” Eighteen months later, Lane had completed The Second Letter, a suspense novel that earned a five-star review from Foreword Clarion for its “solid structure and pace, along with a standout sleuth.”
The “standout sleuth” is Jake Travis, a wise-cracking special agent Lane describes as “larger than life, but with the same struggles and self-doubts we all experience.” Jake is assigned to retrieve a missing letter written in 1961 by a CIA operative and buried on the grounds of the Gulf Beaches Historical Museum. The letter has found its way into the hands of Raydel Escobar, a shady businessman who is using it to blackmail the IRS. Jake risks everything to reclaim the letter, including his life and his relationship with Kathleen, the woman he loves. Lane describes The Second Letter as “literary crime noir, a literary novel disguised as a PI romp.” The story starts with two lovers and a song – “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” Fifty years later, it comes full circle with another pair of lovers and the same theme.
Jake Travis returns in Lane’s next novel, Cooler Than Blood, scheduled for release this fall. The story centers around Jake’s search for an 18-year-old girl whose past is mysteriously entwined with Kathleen’s. Lane is currently at work on a third Jake Travis novel, tentatively titled The Cardinal’s Sin.
Lane hopes his readers will connect with his characters. “I try to put a mirror in front of readers so they can see a little of themselves in my characters,” he explains. “That’s what I like in a book and what I hope readers will take from mine. I also hope my books will entertain, inform and enlighten. If they do, then I’ve done what I set out to do. I’m a happy camper.”
For more information, visit the author’s website at www.robertlanebooks.com.