Remembering Tom Kakonis

I’ve just learned the sad news that author Tom Kakonis has passed away. I first met Tom at the 1994 Bouchercon in Seattle. I was a big fan of his work and was delighted when he invited me to sit and chat with him…and I was thrilled when he later blurbed my book MY GUN HAS BULLETS. It meant a lot to me that a writer I admired as much as Tom would endorse my work.

Two decades later, when author Joel Goldman and I launched Brash Books, I called Tom about publishing his out-of-print backlist. Not only did he say yes, but he surprised me by offering us an unpublished manuscript that had been sitting in his drawer for years. His dark-comic thriller TREASURE COAST was the first original novel that we released, so as long as Brash Books is in business, he will be an integral part of who we are as publishers, what we stand for, and what we aspire to achieve.

Tom was a great writer who didn’t get the recognition or wide readership that he deserved. I wish I’d been able to change that. Do yourself a favor and read MICHIGAN ROLL, his first and most acclaimed novel… I guarantee you’ll be hooked by this man’s talent and humor. He was a hell of a storyteller. 

6 thoughts on “Remembering Tom Kakonis”

  1. Mr. Kakonis was a true gentleman. I had been a fan of his for years and had accumulated many firsts of his novels. I wrote to him and asked him if he would sign his books for me if I sent them to him. He said “of couse, it’s good to know there is a fan out there!” I sent them and he inscribed each book with a personal note about each book. His books are the most treasured in my collection. This is the first I have heard of his passing. RIP

  2. great writer. just finished “criss cross.” in fact, have read all his books, at least twice. damn, i’m gonna miss him.

  3. I had the opportunity to attend a talk on writing that Tom Kakonis did for Peninsula Writers in Grand Rapids, MI, many years ago. He had a PhD in literature, but confessed he’d rather read Elmore Leonard than Charles Dickens, and he made the point that writers should write what they love to read. He certainly did justice to the genre he loved. I read all his books but the last, and I will read it. Not because I like crime novels, but because I like his way of characterization and scene setting. And I appreciate the Grand Rapids settings that crop up. But most of all, I liked the man: as another commented here, he was a gentleman– quiet, persistent, and honest.


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