THE ORIGIN OF THE HIGHWAYMAN
Written by Matt Manochio
There comes a time in every writer's life when he convinces himself that he will write that first novel, and my time came when watching a pedophile get busted.
It's not like the perv was right in front of me, thank god. He was right in front of Chris Hansen, former host of Dateline NBC's To Catch a Predator (TCAP), which is a great show to watch but an awful show to be on.
For those millennials who don't remember anything from 2004 through 2007, TCAP featured Internet watchdogs entering chatrooms to pretend to be teenage kids who wait for creepy men to contact them, and, invariably, groom them to be preyed upon. Fortunately, these monsters are chatting with adults who lure them to a sting house, which is wired with video cameras that record them being confronted by Chris Hansen, who asks them why they came over. Most of these creatures flee the house (only to be arrested by the police waiting outside). But some stay and talk to Hansen and then flee the house to be arrested. If you've never seen an episode, go immediately to YouTube and search for TCAP.
So, there I was minding my own business in 2007, watching men from my home state of New Jersey getting busted near the Jersey Shore, when a thought ran through my head: How easy would it be to lure these guys somewhere to kill them?
You go online, pretend to be a 13-year-old kid, get a creep worked up and say meet me at this park at 6 p.m. and wear a red baseball cap so I know it's you. And then you shoot the bastard dead.
I wasn't actually planning on doing this because (A.) I know nothing about chatrooms and (B.) it's illegal. But someone out there could conceivably do this.
And there was the seed for The Highwayman, my novel about a guy who masquerades as a teenager, lures internet predators into the open, murders them, and vanishes.
Then a second thought came to me: What if a respected FBI agent who works cybercrimes and who routinely catches internet predators winds up getting shot by this guy? The agent lives, but nobody can figure out who shot him, or why. What if the agent's partner starts digging around and discovers that the injured lawman might be the worst kind of criminal, or he might be innocent and the only way to prove it is to find this elusive serial killer?
And so, I began writing The Highwayman, all while researching the history of the FBI's Innocent Images taskforce - the actual group that hunts internet predators - and conducting interviews with the FBI about procedure and tactics. It was fun, and a labor of love, something I was pleased to see through to the end. Now, I've had a couple other books published since. But getting this book published is another story, one I'll continue to tell as this merry online tour rolls along. Please watch the Facebook page of Hook of a Book for future appearances and reviews!
HorrorTalk would like to thank Matt for sharing this insight to his latest novel!
The Highwayman, Synopsis
- Print Length: 240 pages
- Publisher: Crossroad Press
- Publication Date: October 23, 2017
A murdered child predator surfaces in a New Jersey bog. Authorities in Pennsylvania and Ohio find more dead deviants days later as a vigilante weaves a trail of orchestrated slaughter through states along Route 80 to California.
FBI Special Agents Patti Moreland and Nick Redmond track Internet predators in Chicago. After a failed attempt on Redmond's life, the FBI thinks one of his past collars pulled the trigger, but Moreland, a child-abuse survivor, believes otherwise. The young agent hacks his laptop and decrypts a sexually charged chat transcript between Redmond and a teenage girl logged hours before his shooting.
Moreland learns of the murders in other states and sees a connection to her partner. She can't fathom Redmond being like one of the men who scarred her life, and knows of only one way to disprove it: find the killer.
Matt Manochio, Biography
Matt Manochio was born in 1975 in New Jersey and graduated from The University of Delaware in 1997 with a history/journalism degree.
He spent the majority of his 13-year newspaper career at the Daily Record in Morris County, New Jersey, where he won multiple New Jersey Press Association Awards for his reporting. He wrote about one of his passions, rock 'n' roll giants AC/DC, for USA Today and considers that the highlight of his journalism career.
He's the author of The Dark Servant, Twelfth Krampus Night, and The Sentinels, all available from Crossroads Press, and now The Highwayman, his first labor of love, is out in e-book and print.
He left newspapers in 2011 for safer employment, and currently lives in New Jersey with his son.