Although Tropic of Night was his first book in his own name, Gruber has ghost-written 14 books for his cousin Robert Tanenbaum (his mother and Tanenbaum's mother are sisters). According to Publishers Weekly, in 1984 Tanenbaum, a successful trial lawyer, called him from his offices in Los Angeles asking him to look at the first hundred pages of a book he had written at the request of a publishing house. Gruber says "I called him, and I said, 'This is unsalvageable. It's not a novel, it has no characters, no plot, nothing.'"
In return for half the advance, Gruber rewrote the novel, they renegotiated the contract and went into business. This arrangement continued for 14 books. Gruber says he created the characters and the novels based on stories Tanenbaum told him, or transcripts of cases Tanenbaum had worked on. However, Gruber's credit was limited to a thank you on the acknowledgements page. Eventually the relationship dissolved. Resolve (2003) was the last Tanebaum book Gruber wrote, though Tanebaum continues to publish to usually tepid reviews.
When Gruber realized that he would never get cover credit for his work with Tanenbaum he started writing The Witch's Boy in 1996, but was unable to find a publisher. So he wrote Tropic of Night.
A third, and possibly final, Jimmy Paz novel, Night of the Jaguar, will be published next month.
This article is from the March 2, 2006 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.
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