Growing up in west-central Wisconsin on a steady diet of Joseph Wambaugh novels and episodes of Police Story, Neal never considered any career other than being a cop. In fact, his whole purpose in joining the Marines at nineteen was to improve his chances of landing a job in police work. After an eight year hitch in the Marines, Neal applied for a number of agencies and landed in Southern California.
During his twenty-seven year career, Neal worked as a patrol cop, field training officer, member of SWAT, Hostage Negotiator, Narcotics Investigator, Gang Enforcement Specialist; and, Supervisor of a Homicide Unit. He was named as Officer of the Year on two occasions. In July, 2016, Neal retired as the senior Lieutenant of 150-officer department. Neal holds a Bachelor’s Degree from California State University, San Marcos and he is a graduate of the prestigious FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, where he studied police ethics and forensic science.
Neal’s first novel, Benefit of the Doubt, was published by Forge Books in May, 2015 and went immediately to #8 on the Los Angeles Times bestseller list. Set in the small fictional town of Newberg, Wisconsin, Benefit of the Doubt, is the story of Ben Sawyer, a hard knocking but well respected police sergeant with the Oakland, CA PD. Ben’s career is on the rise until, in a moment of heated indiscretion, he commits an act of brutality so egregious he is branded as America’s new poster boy for police brutality. Fired and disgraced, Ben’s only option is to return to the small Wisconsin town of his youth, and work for his father-in-law who is the local police chief. Library Journal call it “a well written and action packed crime thriller” and Booklist compared it to Cape Fear, the classic tale of ruthless revenge.
Readers around the country called for more, so in 2016, Neal followed up on his debut with A Voice from the Field, the story of Detective Tia Suarez, of which Bookreporter wrote, “Meets and exceeds the promise of his introductory work and is certain to expand and cement his fan base.”
The third installment of the Newberg Mysteries, is due for release in May, 2018. By His Own Hand, is the story of Henry Tyler Hayes, a Native American teenager found dead in the woods, the apparent victim of a tragic suicide. Everyone in the small town of Newberg, including the Mayor, the Medical Examiner and even members of the Newberg PD are ready to close the case, but Detective Tia Suarez isn’t so sure the young man died by his own hand. The story will introduce the new character of Olivia “Livy” Sorensen, a talented and diligent forensic investigator assigned to the Medical Examiner’s Office.
As a now well established veteran writer, Neal uses his vast police experience, plus his familiarity with small town living to create a realistic Midwestern noir that bestselling author Jon Land called, “A visionary, scathing, supremely effective peek into the darkness that permeates small-town Americana.”
The son of a Philosophy Professor, Neal was taught early on to question authority, a trait that was not always popular with his bosses, but one that he has put to use as an author. Neal creates street savvy police characters with an authentic blend of courage and guile, but he pulls no punches in the portrayal of cops who have no business wearing a badge or gun. In his books, Neal tackles the serious issues that face American policing, leaving the reader with an untainted insider’s view.
Neal is married and has four children. He and his family reside in San Diego County and also keep a home in the woods of Burnett County in Northwest Wisconsin. They travel frequently throughout the country but feel especially welcome in Wisconsin, where Neal loves to write, as well as pursue his other great passions: beer, cheese and Packer football.