Award-winning author and longtime Lowcountry resident TD Johnston will be hosting a pair of literary events this weekend in Beaufort County.
Johnston will be reading and signing copies of his new novel, reciprocal, at The Beaufort Bookstore from 6-8 pm on Friday, May 13; and at the Pat Conroy Literary Center from 2-4 pm on Saturday, May 14. At each event he will give a reading, discuss the novel and his short fiction, and take questions from readers and writers, followed by signing copies of the novel and his two collections of short stories.
onecollection, Friday Afternoon and Other Stories, won the 2017 International Book Award for Best Short Fiction. He has been recognized by many as a modern master of the short story. reciprocal is his first foray into novels, and has been praised as a new masterpiece in the crime-thriller genre. The novel is available at Amazon and all bookstores, and signed copies can be acquired from his author website at www.tdjohnston.com.
Johnston lived in Beaufort from 2004-2018, where he served as headmaster of Beaufort Academy for five years before dedicating himself full-time to writing and editing fiction, both his own and for the acclaimed Short Story America anthology series of contemporary stories by today’s authors . He has hosted the Short Story America writers’ conference five times in Beaufort, drawing top authors to the Lowcountry. He and his wife, Dr. Stacey Johnston, now live with their three children in Jacksonville, Florida, and still spend time at their Lady’s Island home, where they plan to eventually retire.
What the reviewers have to say
Read the review by novelist and former Charleston Post and Courier city editor Dan Conover here:
My favorite TD Johnston short story summoned a familiar Southern Gothic darkness into a contemporary moment of conflict and transformed it into a waking nightmare. Reciprocity is an entirely different animal — it fits snugly into the crime/political thriller genre — but it too showcases Johnston’s ability to transmute the comfortably familiar into something deeply sinister.
This debut novel starts with the sort of premise that a good thriller demands: What if a small group of smart, capable civilians decided to decapitate the modern American Mafia by killing the heads of crime families in major cities? The first third of Reciprocity shows that team in action, marks its quick rise to mass media celebrity as “The Godfather Assassins,” and introduces the FBI team assigned to track them down. It’s all fast-paced, well-written tradecraft, like plenty of other popular thrillers.
It’s only in the book’s second third that Reciprocity takes its ominous turn into Johnston country. The details of that turn all count as spoilers, so I’ll avoid them and say this: Reciprocity is a novel with a moral center, but no illusions about “morality” or the lack of it. The more Dons the vigilantes kill, the more organized and influential their enemies become. Their resolve to destroy The Godfather Assassins eventually summons a “hunter” named Fingo from the Old Country, and this classic villain embodies an uncomfortable truth about violence: To kill is one thing, but the true power of organized crime is its ability to terrify the living room.
A lesser book would strike a pose: For evil, against evil, or perhaps the fashionable literary ambivalence that renders such questions indecipherably vague. To its great credit, Reciprocity takes the reader into the dark places where the truly hard choices are made. Whatever ambivalence it presents is neither a pose nor a retreat, but an insight — because even when you’re entirely off the map, you still have to choose a direction.
Reciprocity works as a genre thriller. But it’s much more.
About the reviewer: Dan Conover is a former city editor at The (Charleston) Post and Courier and the author of six novels, including the newly released Ta Nupa and three other titles written under the pen name DC McElroy.