The Murderer and the Manuscript

Alaric Hunt manuscript page

Just before Labor Day in 2011, Toni Kirkpatrick, an editor at Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press, picked up her phone and called an unfamiliar number with a Southern California area code. She was hoping to deliver good news to a man named Alaric Hunt, the newest winner of a debut-detective-novel writing contest, jointly sponsored by Minotaur Books (another St. Martin’s imprint) and the Private Eye Writers of America. 

When a woman answered the phone, Kirkpatrick asked if she could speak to Alaric.

“He’s not available. He’s in an institution.”

The woman on the phone was Hunt’s first cousin, Jade Reed. She had mailed the manuscript to Minotaur on his behalf.

“Like a prison?” Kirkpatrick asked.


“Will he be out soon?”

Reed paused. “Well, he’s there indefinitely.”

Before this phone call, it had never occurred to Kirkpatrick that her contest winner might have spent the past 25 years in prison, where he’s serving a life sentence for murder.

There's a saying that truth is stranger than fiction, and this is definitely one of those stories.

Sarah Weinman did an incredible profile of Alaric Hunt, author of CUTS THROUGH BONE, who wrote his award-winning novel while working in the prison library. Click here to read the full New York Times story.

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