PANAMA CITY — The latest mystery from Panama City author and New York Times best-selling crime novelist Michael Lister, “Blood Work,” involves the infamous serial killer Ted Bundy.
Before he became a novelist, Lister was a full-time prison chaplain, and he visited the death chamber and electric chair where Ted Bundy was executed at Florida State Prison.
“Standing there where he died, actually touching the instrument of his death, was a surreal experience for me,” Lister said. “I knew one day Ted Bundy would make an appearance in my novels. I’ve alluded to him in at least four previous books, but ‘Blood Work’ is the first in which he plays a prominent role.”
Just this past year, one of Bundy’s former defense attorneys wrote that Bundy had confessed to him of killing more than 100 people, a far cry from the 35 or so often attributed to him, Lister said, adding, “I have no idea what the actual number is, of course, but I do believe it’s many more than is known.”
“Blood Work,” the latest in Lister’s John Jordan mystery thriller series, will be released on Nov. 24 — the day Bundy would have marked his 70th birthday.
“It’s hard to imagine him as an old man. If he were still alive, he’d be roughly the same age as my father,” Lister said.
Lister’s new novel takes the true crime of Bundy’s case and merges it with the fictional world of Jordan, the prison chaplain/detective. It seems Jordan’s father, Jack, believes Bundy killed Janet Leigh Lester, the Queen at the Sweethearts dance; she disappeared the night she was crowned Miss Valentine, her car left in an empty field, its interior splashed with blood.
Jordan has a window to solve the so-called Broken Heart Murder, decades cold now. It isn’t the first Jordan’s world has involved true crime events, as previous novels “Innocent Blood” and “Blood Cries” explored Wayne Williams and the Atlanta Child Murders.
“I really enjoy reading and studying true crime and find it fascinating and inspiring to incorporate it into my fiction,” Lister said. “I find an intersection between reality and fantasy, fact and fiction. I keep everything true and accurate about the real-life cases — all the details about Bundy or Williams — but then find what I believe to be the perfect place for the two to merge in a way that I hope is both credible and thrilling.”
“Blood Work” is available through all online book retailers. A special reception for its release will take place at the Bay County Public Library, 898 W. 11th St. in Panama City, from 5-8 p.m. Dec. 14. The event includes Lister’s annual Holiday Book Giveaway event with Santa Claus.