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Interview: December 2, 2020

Matt Coyle, whose books are set in contemporary San Diego, has revived the Raymond Chandler hardboiled PI model. In 2019’s LOST TOMORROWS, Rick Cahill solved the murders of his wife Colleen and cop friend Krista Landingham. He was shot in the face by the perpetrator and blinded by inflammation caused by bullet fragments.

In BLIND VIGIL, Rick returns to San Diego from Santa Barbara, the city of lost tomorrows. Though blind, he is engaged by PI pal Moira MacFarlane to aid in the investigation of Shay Sommers, estranged chum Turk Muldoon’s girlfriend. Heightened audio and olfactory senses aid Rick in his pursuit of justice, and lead to an astounding and credible conclusion.

In this interview, Coyle chats with’s Dean Murphy about the blind PI plot, his appearance as Left Coast Crime Toastmaster, and his writing life amid a pandemic. A blind private eye? Only the genius of Matt Coyle could make this a plausible plot. What inspired the premise?

Matt Coyle: Genius? Ha! Thanks, Dean. As you noted, Rick was blinded in LOST TOMORROWS. So I had two choices when I wrote BLIND VIGIL: either have Rick regain his eyesight by the time the book opens (which is left as a medical possibility at the end of LOST TOMORROWS) or write him vision-impaired. I chose the latter because I thought regaining his vision between books would be negating the full impact of what happened to him in the last book. There were many times in the early months of writing BLIND VIGIL that I cursed this decision and my own sanity.

BRC: Did you blindfold yourself to live as Rick did? How much research did you do? What can you tell us about heightened remaining senses?

MC: I did a fair amount of research, but I’m sure I made mistakes. I spoke with two women who both lost their eyesight as adults. I dedicated the book to one of them: Ariel Amavisca. I also bought a white cane and used it outside at night with my eyes closed and walked around my house. Studies have shown that the brains of people who are born blind, or lose their eyesight early in life, rewire themselves to connect with the world through their other senses. Although Rick is an adult and has been blind for only nine months, he vigorously focuses on his other senses and tries to strengthen them.

BRC: Although Rick solved the mysteries of his father’s reputation and his wife’s murder, which predated YESTERDAY’S ECHO, he again finds himself at the cliff’s edge of financial and emotional ruin. Will he ever win the lottery for either venue?

MC: Hmm, this touches upon the book I just turned in.

BRC: What is in store for the next installment? Do you have a proposed title?

MC: As stated, the next book is already in and will release in November 2021. It’s titled LAST REDEMPTION. In it, Rick grapples with new physical and emotional challenges and the meaning of family. Oh, and bad guys. Very bad guys.

BRC: Characters from the past reappear. Are more favorites scheduled?

MC: Yes, one in a large role, others in cameos.

BRC: Turk Muldoon figures prominently. Will he again be a regular?

MC: See above.

BRC: Will Moira have to experience a similar gut-wrenching --- and emptying --- scene as portrayed in LOST TOMORROWS to realize the effects of making decisions that impact others?

MC: Actually, Moira’s guilt is different from Rick’s. Rick sometimes makes bad decisions by going with his gut. Moira felt responsible for something terrible that happened because she didn’t trust her gut and went with Rick’s counsel. But they share the pain of living with making decisions that have horrific consequences.

BRC: How have pandemic restrictions affected research and checking out potential scenes? Will COVID factor in the next novel?

MC: Since the next book takes place in San Diego, COVID didn’t really affect boots-on-the-ground research for me. There’s a single mention about the pandemic in the next book, but it doesn’t affect anything in it. I usually write forward, meaning the time I write about is congruent with when the book comes out. I try to be optimistic about next November when LAST REDEMPTION will be published.

BRC: You were the Left Coast Crime San Diego 2020 convention Toastmaster in March. The pandemic played havoc with that. How did you adapt to the sudden changes?

MC: It was a great honor to be toastmaster at LCC, even if only for the single day we were allowed to have the conference. Everything was canceled before I got a chance to fulfill a single responsibility, but I was a game day fill-in on a few extra panels, which was a lot of fun.

BRC: Your website identifies many awards and nominations. LOST TOMORROWS took home Shamus and Lefty awards. What other accolades did it receive in 2020?

MC: LOST TOMORROWS also made your Top Picks list on and was a finalist for the San Diego Book Award.

BRC: Thank you for a thrilling read and for doing this interview. Do you have any final thoughts?

MC: Thank you for the interview and for all you do to get the word out for mystery writers.


» Click here for Matt Coyle’s events calendar.