Friday, June 10, 2022

Peter Colt's "Death at Fort Devens"

Peter Colt was born in Boston, MA in 1973 and moved to Nantucket Island shortly thereafter. He is a 1996 graduate of the University of Rhode Island and a 24-year veteran of the Army Reserve with deployments to Kosovo and Iraq. He is a police officer in a New England City and the married father of two boys.

Here Colt dreamcasts an adaptation of his new Andy Roark mystery, Death at Fort Devens:
Death at Fort Devens is set in Boston and at Fort Devens (an Army base in Massachusetts) in the summer of 1985. Boston PI and former Green Beret/Vietnam vet Andy Roark is asked for help by an old Army buddy of his, Lieutenant Colonel Dave Billings. Dave saved Andy’s life in Vietnam and is newly stationed at Fort Devens. Dave has a teenaged daughter who has run away from home. Dave tries to hire Andy to find her, but Andy takes the case for free because of his obligation to Dave. Andy’s search leads him into Boston’s notorious Combat Zone, five square acres of sex, strippers, prostitution, and drugs. The search also leads Andy to a very dark, violent place within himself and forces him to consider how far he will go to save a young woman from a life of drug addiction and prostitution.

The characters I would like to see cast are: Andy Roark, Dave Billings, Sue Teller and Sailor.

Every writer since the invention of film has contemplated who they want to play their lead character if the book was made into a film. I am no different. Since I wrote the first book, I have gone around and around in my mind about it. Ideally, I want someone who seems credible playing a veteran, not just a veteran but someone who had been an elite soldier and who still carries his war with him every day. While I kept thinking about this over the months and years two or three names came to the top of the list and for very different reasons.

The first was Adam Driver. Driver, a former Marine, and extremely talented actor has the dramatic chops to play the part. Not only that but his service also gives him a great deal of insight into what makes my character tick. Driver is a versatile actor who can easily transition from dramatic to comedic and back. Driver could easily capture Andy’s sense of humor.

For years Adam Driver was the only actor that made sense to me. Then I saw Narcos Mexico, and I was looking at an actor who looked like I thought my character looked like. That’s Scoot McNairy. McNairy didn’t seem like an actor playing a DEA agent taking on the cartels, he was Walt Breslin. McNairy managed to seem dedicated, tough, driven, and sympathetic all at once. All the things that I want Andy Roark to seem on screen. As a bonus he is also in Killing Them Softly with Brad Pitt, in which he plays a criminal in Boston. McNairy accent may not be perfect, but it sounds perfectly like what I picture Andy’s to be like.

Dave Billings is a war hero and seems to lead a charmed life. He is tough and has the type of class that comes with being born into money. The actor who plays him has to have the military bearing of someone who is in command and whose men would follow him to hell and back. He also has to convey the sensitivity of a distraught father whose daughter has run away. For me the actor who stands out above the rest is Alexander Skarsgård. After watching him in Generation Kill it is easy to see him as a combat veteran and elite soldier. He has the range to do that and to make the audience want to go out looking for his missing daughter.

Sue Teller is Andy’s ex-girlfriend who runs an outreach program in the Combat Zone where she tries to get prostitutes out of the life. Sue is tough and dedicated. She is more than a match for Andy and is not just the usual female lead or romantic window dressing. This role demands an actor who can believably have had a relationship with, and left, Andy as well as hold her own when arguing with him. To me that is Zoey Deutch. She is equally adept at drama or comedy. In my mind she can bring Sue to life on the screen while holding her own with any of the other actors I have mentioned.

Sailor: Sailor is a violent street criminal. He is a drug dealer and is involved in the sex trade. He is a violent, captivating character who is also quite humorous. He has to go from insulting, to fighting, to being vulnerable and requires a pretty versatile actor. One who can also convey sleaziness. For me this was the easiest actor to imaginarily cast: James Ransone. His work in Generation Kill, The Wire and Bosch are all captivating performances in which he runs through the gamut of emotions, humor and ability to be violent. He is the perfect Sailor.
Visit Peter Colt's website.

My Book, The Movie: Back Bay Blues.

Q&A with Peter Colt.

The Page 69 Test: Death at Fort Devens.

--Marshal Zeringue