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Gerald Petievich belongs to that tiny group of writers who came to crime fiction from careers in law enforcement. He has been an Army counterspy and a U.S. Secret Service agent, using his real life experiences to achieve verisimilitude in his fiction. His novels are known to come as close as any in the mystery- and-thriller genre to a genuine realism. Three of his novels have been produced as major motion pictures.
Gerald grew up in a police family. His father and brother were both members of the Los Angeles Police Department. He attended the Defense Language Institute in Monterey and later served in Germany as a US Army Counterintelligence Special Agent. As Chief of the Counterespionage Section, Field Office Nuremberg, he received commendations for his work during the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.
In 1970 he joined the United States Secret Service where as a Special Agent he spent fifteen years engaged in duties relating to the protection of the President and the enforcement of Federal counterfeiting laws. It was during a long-term Secret Service assignment in Paris, France that Petievich discovered the works of Per Wahloo & Maj Sjowall, Graham Greene and John le Carre, and decided to become a writer. Later, while serving in Los Angeles as the US Secret Service representative to the Department of Justice Organized Crime Strike Force, Gerald's schedule consisted of rising at 4 AM to write before going to his government office.
In 1985, Gerald left the Secret Service to pursue his writing career full-time. Gerald's first novel, Money Men, the first of his Charles Carr series of police procedurals, was based on a real-life L.A. case in which an undercover police officer was murdered. This novel and his other police procedural novels belong to the school of inverted detection: that is, the criminals are known to the reader from the beginning, and the suspense lies in how they will be found out and brought to justice. Though some of the detection is of the deductive or scientific types, most of it, just as in real life, involves simple legwork and the use of informants.
Money Men introduces Charles Carr, a 20-year veteran of the Secret Service who is the central character in four Petievich novels. During a stakeout in a Sunset Boulevard motel, Carr and his partner Jack Kelly are listening in as an undercover agent arranges a counterfeit money buy in the next room. But the operation is blown and the agent is killed. After the shooting, Carr swears vengeance on the killer. The villain is Red Diamond, an aging counterfeiter just out of prison who is looking for another score. Carr's girlfriend is court reporter Sally Malone who fails in her every attempt to change Carr into something he isn't. Money Men was adapted into the United Artists motion picture "Boiling Point" starring Wesley Snipes and Dennis Hopper.
Petievich followed up with three other Charles Carr novels, One-shot Deal, The Quality of the Informant and To Die in Beverly Hills.
In One-shot Deal, Carr is six months from his 25-year retirement when he is assigned to hunt down Larry Phillips, a dangerous psychopath who plans to counterfeit millions of dollars in Treasury securities.
In Petievich's third novel, To Die in Beverly Hills, Charles Carr is back in Southern California. At the center of the story is one of the author's most interesting villains, the devious and untrustworthy Beverly Hills detective Travis Bailey. Bailey is at the center of a burglary ring victimizing the stars. Carr goes after Bailey, cop against cop.
In Petievich's novel The Quality of the Informant the story begins in a seedy a Hollywood bar, where villain Paul La Monica is discussing a cocaine deal with a movieland hair stylist known as "the dope pusher to the stars." The informant in the case, cocktail waitress Linda Gleason, provides the information to apprehend La Monica. But he escapes and kills her, setting Agent Carr on a trail of revenge.
In To Live and Die in L.A. Petievich departs from of the Charles Carr series to write a mainstream thriller concerning Secret Service agent Richard Chance and his quest to destroy a vicious killer. In this novel the morals of the "good guys" wind up as much in question as much as those of the villain.
To Live and Die in L.A. was the basis for the 1984 MGM motion picture of the same name, starring Willem Dafoe and William Peterson, who currently plays the lead in the number one rated CBS TV show "C.S.I." To Live and Die in L.A, has become a classic Film Noir and is a popular topic in film classes.
Petievich’s L.A. crime thriller, Earth Angels, was based on his hands-on research with the Los Angeles Police Department's newly formed specialized gang detail. The novel ironically mirrors the now infamous LAPD Rampart Division scandal, but was written more than ten years earlier.
Petievich’s next novel, Shakedown, was based on an idea that came to him while he was a U.S. Secret Service agent working on a long-term undercover operation involving the theft of government bonds. Petievich said: "I ended up in Hollywood being introduced to one of the most fascinating men I have ever met: a professional blackmailer who had spent years impersonating cops in order to extort movie stars. After I returned home, I sat up half the night making notes on what he had told me."
Gerald's novel, Paramour also had a non-fiction background. Written years before the Monica Lewinsky scandal, the novel was loosely grounded on a case Petievich actually investigated involving a mysterious woman who was involved with a high-ranking White House VIP.
Petievich's latest novel, “The Sentinel” is a political thriller that involves a White House Secret Service bodyguard and a beguiling woman with whom he is having a torrid affair: the First Lady. Critics consider sentinel to be Petievich’s most compelling novel to date. The motion picture based on it starred Michael Douglas and Kiefer Sutherland and was a 2005 box-office success.
Gerald lives in Los Angeles with his wife Pam, a gourmet cook who trained at Paris' Cordon Bleu Cooking School. They have a daughter, Emma.