La Verne, CA – Imagine picking up the phone to hear actor Robert Wagner asking for you by name. That’s what happened to SoCA Defense Attorney, Mary de la Peña recently. The sometime novelist, who writes under the pseudonym M. J. Hatch, has created a character that Wagner cannot pass by. It’s Detective Jake Swanson, who knows how to use his good looks, and laid-back attitude as his unique way of interacting with people from all walks of life.
When Robert Wagner said, “I think Jake would make a really great character, and I want to talk to you about possibly developing a series around him. What do you think?” de la Peña claims she nearly fainted.
M. J. Hatch has a completed a second book (Murder Most Judgmental) and is currently involved with Wagner in the screenwriting process. Wagner wants to develop a pilot move and subsequent TV series based on Swanson. A well-respected Southern California criminal defense attorney, de la Pena brings her special insight into the darker side of humanity. Always exploring fear and its impact on human nature to find the hero within each character, she uses her experience to write aggressively about murder in her Detective Jake Swanson murder mysteries, Murder Most Blonde, and Murder Most Judgmental.
Leading the reader through twists and turns in her complex plots, she stays true to the Southern California locales she knows so well. Brimming with researched facets of crime scene science and police investigative procedures to give her plots authenticity, she still engages the reader with charismatic characters based on those she has met in the prisons, jails and courtrooms of California.
Her most engaging character is Newport Beach Detective Jake Swanson in her Murder Most mystery series. He is the perfect embodiment of the California beach “dude” — all surfer with a casual attitude towards authority and life, while hiding an intense need to find justice for the victims of his city. The son of a Newport Beach socialite, Jake is at home with the űber wealthy, but is just as happy hanging with the bartenders, cocktail waitresses, and all who serve the upper class citizens of the wealthy California enclave, making him the perfect detective to solve the crimes of his city.
M. J. Hatch was born and raised Southern California. She earned her BS from CSU Long Beach and her J.D. from University La Verne. She was a prosecutor before meeting her now husband, Federico de la Peña, the nationally recognized criminal defense lawyer. In her 26 years of practice she has defended more than 20 murder cases, giving her unparalleled insight into murder investigations. M.J. and her husband are former law professors, and the authors of the highly successful, A Layman’s Guide to Criminal Defense. She is also the author of two other books.
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