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Bar News - January 18, 2013


Casko Publishes Novel about Vigilante Killer

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At least one page per day, five days a week.

That mantra kept Chris Casko focused on his goal. Every morning before work, he pulled out his legal pad and began writing the latest scene in the dark life of Gordon Crabtree – by day a calm, easygoing prosecutor in fictional Newark, NH. By night, a brutal killer, slaying criminals he believes have escaped justice.

"That’s how I wrote this book," Casko says during a recent interview in his small writing office on the first floor of his Concord home. "I just sit down every day and work a little bit. With this book, my plan was to write a page a day, five days a week."

His writing routine started in 2009, the same year Casko, who had long harbored plans of becoming an author, turned 40. Several months and 10 legal pads later, Casko had finished his first thriller, The Elimination Plan, which he recently self-published through Piscataqua Press, an independent publishing company tied to RiverRun Bookstore in Portsmouth. The book follows Crabtree, a rising star in the district attorney’s office, as his hatred for the miscarriage of justice leads to a vicious murdering spree.

Casko, who earned his undergraduate degree in writing, worked for his college newspaper and thought about becoming a reporter, but a challenging job market and the true crime book Helter Skelter changed his mind.

"The whole process fascinated me," he says of the investigation into the 1969 Manson Family murders and the subsequent trial chronicled in Helter Skelter. "I thought, maybe I can do that. That seems interesting, being a lawyer."

Casko is administrator of the NH Department of Safety Bureau of Hearings. He oversees administrative license suspension and revocation hearings and supervises a staff of four lawyers who serve as prosecutors for the state police. Behind a desk most of the time, he’s removed from the intrigue of litigation, but the schedule is better suited to raising a family and serving on the Concord School Board, which he has done for the past six years. "I felt like, for me, litigation had a shelf life to it," he says.

From 1998 to 2000, however, Casko was an assistant Rockingham County attorney, and he dipped back into that experience to create Crabtree, his vigilante protagonist.

"It’s fun to write a character who’s got a very dark side," Casko explains. "I thought it was interesting to have this character who’s really two polar opposites."

Adhering to the adage, "Write what you know," Casko created as Crabtree’s hometown the City of Newark, NH, which is surrounded by smaller towns such as Bow and Northwood. Its main commercial thoroughfare is Loudon Road. The similarities between Casko’s life and that of his main character don’t stop there - both ride bikes and have affection for cats, among other things - but Casko insists the places, cases, people and events in the book aren’t based on anything real.

The Elimination Plan is written mostly from the first-person narrative point-of-view and told in the present tense. Partly because of this style, a reader who has met Casko might imagine him, with his calm, controlled personality, giving literary life to some secret dark side.

"A couple people have said they can’t get beyond thinking of me associated with that character, and I try to tell them, ‘Don’t do that,’" Casko says, as one of his three friendly cats leaps into his lap. "This character, his thought process gets really kind of perverted as he goes through this process… He’s really not that nice a guy."

Casko said he doesn’t expect his book to end up on the NY Times Bestseller List. He hopes to sell about 2,000 copies of The Elimination Plan, and he’s encouraged by a shift in the publishing world toward greater acceptance of self-publishing and e-books. So far, he has sold about 60 copies of the book, which he promotes through Facebook and his website. Published in high-quality paperback, his book is available to purchase for $15 at RiverRun in Porstmouth and on Amazon. The e-book is available for Kindle and Nook at $4.99.

Meanwhile, he already has two more manuscripts in the works. His next novel is the first in a trilogy about a government lawyer who unknowingly gets bitten by a vampire, quits his job and eventually joins a gang of vampire bikers on a trip to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota. In the second and third books, Casko says, the vampires start a war with the humans and take them into captivity to use as a food source.

Casko’s other manuscript is a children’s book about a boy and his cat who fall through a trap door and find themselves in a world of talking animals controlled by a dictator ape. "I figure I may try that, because I’ve learned through my research there’s a pretty good market for children’s literature," he says.

Benefiting from Casko’s methodical writing habits, the children’s book has already filled three notebooks in his office.

For more information or to purchase The Elimination Plan, visit www.chriscasko.com or call 603-431-2100.

Supreme Court Rule 42(9) requires all NH admitted attorneys to notify the Bar Association of any address change, home or office.

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