By Sabina Mollot
Gramercy resident and novelist Dick Belsky, who’s written three books about an investigative reporter named Gil Malloy, has just completed the fourth in the series.
The novel, scheduled to be released (by Simon & Schuster, $16) on October 18, is called Blonde Ice.
Like the previous books, the story revolves around the disgraced but still ambitious Daily News reporter, who this time, is trying to uncover the identity of a female serial killer.
The killer, a sexy blonde, picks men up at New York City bars and clubs, and then brutally murders them.
Belsky, who up until recently, spent his career as a journalist, said his inspiration for the character came from the Son of Sam. Having lived in New York and worked in newspapers at that time, he remembered the way the strings of shootings paralyzed the city. Bars were empty and women dyed their hair blonde since the killer, David Berkowitz, targeted brunettes.
“Because I lived through it, when (you wondered) could the killings be connected as you went from nightmare to nightmare, and because the capture of him came from a quirk,” Belsky said, “I wanted to do a serial killer book like that.”
Making the killer female, however, made it somewhat different from Son of Sam or other serial killers whose stories could have been ripped from the headlines.
Belsky explained, “in the history of women serial killers, they kill for a reason, unlike Aileen Wuornos, who killed a bunch of men.” However, he acknowledged, even Wuornos’ first killing was supposedly an act of self-defense.
Blonde Ice “is a twist on the classic killer,” Belsky said. “She’s not only very beautiful, but very smart and very cunning. She plays with the media and that’s where Gil Malloy comes in.”
The killer character naturally zeroes in on Malloy, who, as he was in previous books, fighting to be taken seriously professionally. His problem is that his reputation was ruined after he erred in writing a story about a mysterious prostitute named Houston. The story won him an award, though he was later forced to admit that the quotes he’d gotten from Houston weren’t actually given to him by her at all but by a secondhand source.
Not having disclosed this, his career at the Daily News was left hanging by a thread. In the series’ installments since the first book, The Kennedy Connection, Malloy has however managed to earn some redemption and break some explosive news stories.
Still, Belsky said, his protagonist’s past has never been completely forgotten.
“I think that will always be a part of Gil Malloy’s character,” said Belsky. “He’s smart, he’s talented, he’s funny, but he’s flawed.”
Meanwhile, as the murders are going on, causing the city’s once teeming singles bars to remain empty night after night as men fear they’ll end up the next victim, there’s also a political drama unfolding. There’s a looming election for a deputy mayor who’s in charge of all law enforcement – “he’s sort of like a super police chief,” Belsky explained — and he’s desperate to catch the killer and become a hero. The killer then plays games with him too.
If the story of Blonde Ice seems reminiscent to anyone of the film “Basic Instinct,” this comparison has occurred to Belsky as well. Coincidentally that film’s script writer Joe Eszterhas and Belsky are friends, who met as students at Ohio University and have remained in touch since then. Eszterhas even wrote a blurb in praise of Blonde Ice that appears on the back cover.
Belsky will be reading from Blonde Ice on October 18 at KGB Bar at an event where a few other authors will also be reading from their works. The event starts at 6 p.m. in an upstairs room, with no cover. KGB Bar is located 85 East 4th Street.
With Blonde Ice finished, Belsky’s now working on another story with a reporter protagonist — this one a woman in TV news. The book, Forget Me Not, despite not having been released yet, has already earned Belsky a Claymore Award, which is an award given for mystery book projects at Killer Nashville, a writers’ conference. The plot revolves around the reporter’s obsession with solving a 15-year-old case of a missing child. Belsky was also a finalist in two categories for the competition’s Falchion Awards, best thriller and best mystery, for Reaching for the Stars, which was published last year.
Belsky has been writing and seeing his books published since the 1990s. He’s also worked as a reporter and editor and publications including the Daily News and the Post. Most recently (up until he switched to writing his books full time) he worked for NBC’s news site.