The Midnight Man

david eric tomlinson

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“The setting, 1994 Oklahoma, is vividly rendered … .Native Sooner Tomlinson does a great job of giving his characters roots in an often overlooked locale—not quite the South, West, or Midwest.”




Summer, 1994. Dean Goodnight, the first Choctaw Indian employed by the Oklahoma County public defender’s office, pulls a new case—the brutal murder of a once-promising basketball star. The only witness is Caleb, the five-year-old son of the prime suspect, Billy. Investigating the murder, Dean draws four strangers into Billy’s orbit, each of whom becomes deeply invested in the suspect’s fate—and in Caleb’s. There’s Aura Jefferson, the victim’s sister, a nurse struggling with the loss of her brother; Aura’s patient Cecil Porter, a paraplegic whose own dreams of playing pro basketball were shattered fifty years ago; Cecil’s brother, the entrepreneur and political manipulator “Big” Ben Porter; and Ben’s wife Becca, who discovers a link between the young Caleb and her own traumatic past.

As Billy’s trial approaches, these five are forced to confront their deepest disappointments, hopes and fears. And when tragedy strikes again, their lives are forever entwined.


“Tomlinson has nice timing, and a good handle on voice … you can really hear his characters … .The characters are nicely fleshed out—real human beings with flaws that never lapse into cartoon two-dimensionality. It’s a book about hope … .It feels good to see through the eyes of his creations — people who are really interested in understanding one another’s lives as opposed to just shouting over them.”
–The Dallas Morning News

“David Eric Tomlinson’s insightful debut novel overflows with grit and beauty. Tomlinson deftly portrays the interrelated machinations of both rural and urban America with the big-picture skill of a David Simon, while demonstrating the uncanny ear for language of a Richard Price. Through it all, he never loses sight of the individual’s enormous potential for grace. Whether tackling issues of race or politics, crime or punishment, victims or saviors, THE MIDNIGHT MAN refuses to shy away from any horror. The result is a masterfully paced novel in which the terrible realism is only outmatched by the power of its redemptive force.”
–Matthew Hefti, author of A Hard and Heavy Thing

“The setting, 1994 Oklahoma, is vividly rendered … .Native Sooner Tomlinson does a great job of giving his characters roots in an often overlooked locale—not quite the South, West, or Midwest.”

“Tomlinson meshes local politics, college basketball, and the south in this wonderfully gritty crime novel you just can’t put down. THE MIDNIGHT MAN is a book to watch out for.”
-Dave White, author of An Empty Hell

“THE MIDNIGHT MAN is a novel about family in the modern world and the difficulties of finding true understanding in even the closest relationships. Woven around and through a tragic death penalty case, the characters come alive on each page. We see vividly, richly the human demands on those caught up in America’s system of capital punishment. This novel gives a rich portrait of the forces driving wedges between people on different sides of the death penalty debate and, perhaps more importantly, the forces that unite them. This is a sad but wonderful book.”
-Austin Sarat, author of When the State Kills

“With its swiftly moving plot and compelling cast of characters, THE MIDNIGHT MAN is a lively portrait of America bearing down on the end of the last century: divided by race, united by the sense that we’re all in this together, set to be transformed by unimaginable violence. David Eric Tomlinson has the novelist’s finely tuned ear for language, the journalist’s grasp of unfolding history, and the native son’s unerring sense of place. His is an important new voice.”
-Rilla Askew, author The Mercy Seat and Strange Business


David Eric Tomlinson was born and raised in Oklahoma. He earned an undergraduate degree in creative writing from the University of California, San Diego, and has worked as an illustrator, copywriter, art director, web designer, usability consultant, product manager, Kenpo karate instructor and stay-at-home dad. David lives in Dallas, Texas with his wife and two daughters. This is his first novel.

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