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Concord lawyer writes thriller about a NH prosecutor gone rogue

Christopher Casko

(Concord Monitor photo/Dan Habib)

Christopher Casko (Concord Monitor photo/Dan Habib) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

For 39 years, there were novels in Chris Casko’s imagination just waiting to come to life. But Casko never wrote one – he lacked the time and discipline.

But in January 2009, Casko – an attorney for the state of New Hampshire who’s served on the Concord School Board for six years – had an epiphany.

He’d be turning 40 that year, and it was time to do what he was meant to do: write one of those books.

So every day, five days a week, he got up a half hour earlier and wrote at least one page.

Now Casko is 43, and The Elimination Plan, a legal thriller, was released in October. It’s about a rising star New Hampshire prosecutor named Gordon Crabtree who gets fed up with all those dirtbags getting away with horrible crimes.

“He keeps a book with all the people that have escaped justice,” Casko said. “He plans all of their executions really meticulously.”

Casko has long enjoyed reading – he studied English and writing at Plymouth State University. He wanted to be a newspaper reporter, he said, but the job prospects were just too grim. So he went to the Massachusetts School of Law and, after a two-year stint with the Rockingham County Attorney’s office, started working for the New Hampshire Department of Safety in 2000.

Casko still works there now, he explained over a cup of coffee during a recent lunch break.

He supervises the division responsible for licensing; drivers’ licenses are the most frequent.

High-profile cases that have come through his offices include that of Erica Blizzard, who was convicted of negligent homicide in March 2010 after she drove a speedboat into an island on Lake Winnipesaukee, seriously injuring herself and a friend and leaving a third person dead.

But most of the law he practices is pretty mundane, he said, and he likes it that way. He thinks prosecuting murderers and sex offenders would be rewarding, but he’d take that kind of sadness and frustration too much to heart.

It took him about a year to write The Elimination Plan, and he was shopping it around to major publishing houses by spring 2010. But he didn’t have much luck.

So this spring, he signed on with Piscataqua Press, a publishing company with RiverRun Bookstore in Portsmouth that works with local authors on their novels. The authors pay for the publication of high-quality trade paperbacks without a minimum run.

Casko started with 30 copies and promoted them on his Facebook page. He’s since sold out and ordered another 30. Copies are also available at RiverRun and through Amazon.com.

Casko said he’d be happy to sell 2,000.

“I’d love to say it’s going to be a New York Times best-seller,” he said. “I know that’s not a reasonable goal.”

Casko said he keeps writing every morning. His latest novel is about a vampire administrative lawyer who quits his job and heads for the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota.

Casko is also an administrative lawyer who rides a motorcycle, but he insists that none of his books is autobiographical.

Because the literary market for children is less difficult to break into than the one for adults, Casko is also working on a book about a boy and a cat who wind up in a kingdom run by a dictator ape who forces all the animals to make him banana-flavored Tootsie pops. (And that’s pretty bad, any kid will tell you, Casko said.)

Years ago, Casko failed a few times to finish novels he’d started. But once he polished off The Elimination Plan, he felt momentum and doesn’t want to lose it.

“A page a day, five days a week,” he said. “Over time, it just accumulates.”

And if people read his books, enjoy them and want to read more, Casko said, that’s success in his book.

Casko will appear at RiverRun Bookstore at 142 Fleet St. Portsmouth on Tuesday, Dec. 4, at 7 p.m. and at Gibson’s Book Store on Main Street in Concord on Thursday, Feb. 7, at 7 p.m.

(Molly A.K. Connors can be reached at 369-3319 or mconnors@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @MAKConnors.)

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