Lance Charnes

Goodreads Author

in California native, The United States



Member Since
December 2011


I’ve been an Air Force intelligence officer, information technology manager, computer-game artist, set designer, Jeopardy! contestant, and now an emergency management specialist. I've had training in architectural rendering, terrorist incident response and maritime archaeology, although not all at the same time. My Facebook author page ( features spies, archaeology and art crime.

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Lance Charnes For my principal characters, I start by figuring out what they have to be able to do (and not do) in the story they'll live in. They'll need certain…moreFor my principal characters, I start by figuring out what they have to be able to do (and not do) in the story they'll live in. They'll need certain skills or experiences that will eventually allow them to get through the plot, or to fail in a way that's useful to me. Then I figure out what kind of personal history will give them (or not give them) these skills or experiences. BTW, this goes for the villains, too; I try to make my bad guys real people rather than Snidely Whiplash. The best villain thinks he's the hero, and could be under other circumstances.

I'm not a fan of superheroes or the hypercompetent demigods that stock so many thrillers now. I'm much more interested in what a fairly normal person will do in the circumstances I'm throwing at them. My protagonists tend to have relatively normal day jobs and usually have families; I think this makes them more relatable, and that readers will become more invested in them because it's easier for the readers to see themselves in the characters.

I like strong, self-reliant women and tend to put them in my novels. Each hero gets a heroine who's a more-or-less equal partner. If there's rescuing to be done, it's as likely she will rescue him as vice versa. This means the women often get non-traditional backgrounds as well as the men: Miriam in Doha 12 was in the Israeli Border Police in her youth; Nora in South was a former Army MP and an FBI agent; and The Collection's Carson is a disgraced Toronto cop.

I also aim toward the middle as far as looks go, too. You won't find very many ravishingly beautiful women or drop-dead handsome men in my books, and they'll never be the heroes or heroines. Again, it's relatability: a female reader is going to be able to get behind a female character who's "attractive" or "pleasant-looking" a lot faster than one who's a bombshell, and I for one am way over male characters who are so devastatingly good-looking that every woman who sees them immediately drops her drawers. It just ain't real, folks.

People who read my books often comment on how real the characters seem, and some readers get particularly attached to one or more of them. I caught some flak for the way South ended because of this, for instance. I like to think it's because I build my characters from the inside out and try to make them as normal as possible for the story.

My characters aren't usually doubles for real people, but I do keep in mind who I'd cast in their roles in the movie or TV series based on the story. None of the male characters are me; sometimes they share one or more of my tastes or interests.

I hope that answers your question. If not, let me know. Thanks for asking!(less)
Lance Charnes A number of readers have remarked on how the action sequences feel realistic yet are relatively easy to follow. I've tried to present the inherent…moreA number of readers have remarked on how the action sequences feel realistic yet are relatively easy to follow. I've tried to present the inherent confusion of multi-player violence without actually confusing the readers. I think a small dose of chaos goes a long way.

I also try to have different kinds of POV characters so that their thoughts and voices are distinct enough to differentiate from each other. The gunfight in the Philadelphia parking lot, for instance, could've turned into a mess had it been all hard-case wiseguys going at it, but there were enough POV voice changes (Miriam, Jake, Gur, Kelila, Kassim) that you could more easily track where you were and who was talking.

Thanks again for your review and your kind words. When you get a chance, check out SOUTH -- you might like what you see there. (less)
Average rating: 4.4 · 62 ratings · 33 reviews · 4 distinct works
Doha 12

4.33 avg rating — 42 ratings — published 2012 — 3 editions
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4.67 avg rating — 12 ratings — published 2013 — 4 editions
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The Collection (The DeWitt ...

4.50 avg rating — 6 ratings — published 2016 — 3 editions
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Stealing Ghosts (The DeWitt...

really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 2 ratings — published 2017 — 3 editions
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* Note: these are all the books on Goodreads for this author. To add more, click here.

Escaping the Wombat Burrow

I'll be appearing at Book Carnival in Orange, California on Saturday, 10 February, at 2:00 p.m.

Sharing the program is David Putnam, author of the Bruno Johnson crime-thriller series.

I'll be reading from Stealing Ghosts, my latest art-crime novel. Dave will probably read from The Vanquished, his latest. Between us, we'll answer questions, sign books, and figure out what would happen if our respe... Read more of this blog post »
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Published on January 31, 2018 21:32 Tags: author-event, bruno-johnson, david-putnam, dewitt-agency-files
The Collection Stealing Ghosts
(2 books)
4.38 avg rating — 8 ratings

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Lance’s Recent Updates

City of Dragons by Kelli Stanley
" Ann wrote: "A well written review!"

" Money Heist marries the ultimate money grab (from Spain's Royal Mint, no less) with a tangled soap-opera-ready tale of unstable personalities poured i ...more "
Lance Charnes is now friends with Dave
Bread Alone by Judi Hendricks
" Michelle wrote: "I wanted to enjoy this for what it is, simple light chic romance, but it was really hard to do when I just did not care for the main ...more "
Lance Charnes made a comment in the group Readers Sharing ReviewsLance Charnes' reviews topic
" Illicit: How Smugglers, Traffickers and Counterfeiters Are Hijacking the Global Economy is, despite its various shortcomings, a good entry-level vie ...more "
Lance Charnes rated a book liked it
Illicit by Moisés Naím
Illicit: How Smugglers, Traffickers, and Copycats are Hijacking the Global Economy
by Moisés Naím
recommended for: readers who want to know how much those knockoff Levis really cost
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You see them every day -- the $50 Coach bags, the $100 Rolex watches, the designer jeans and sunglasses selling for ten percent of their normal retail price. This is usually what we think of when (or if) we think of counterfeit goods. We don't think ...more
Lance Charnes rated a book really liked it
The Fallen Architect by Charles Belfoure
The Fallen Architect
by Charles Belfoure
recommended to Lance Charnes by: Criminal Element
recommended for: readers who like detectives who can admire architraves
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The Fallen Architect is an atmospheric novel featuring an intriguing mystery, a sympathetic lead (who can also draw and paint), and a (literally) theatrical supporting cast, all set effectively in a colorful milieu. If this sounds good to you, read i ...more
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Ghost by Michael  R. McGowan
Ghost: My Thirty Years as an FBI Undercover Agent
by Michael R. McGowan (Goodreads Author)
recommended to Lance Charnes by: Criminal Element
recommended for: true-crime fans who want the dirt straight from the horse's mouth
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Ghost is a fast-reading memoir featuring a largely no-nonsense cop who has an interesting tale to tell and some scores to settle along the way. The author, for all his tough-guy growling, is good company for just over 300 pages. That it’s a familiar ...more
The Killing Kind by Chris  Holm
" James wrote: "Nice review, Lance."

Lance Charnes rated a book liked it
The Killing Kind by Chris  Holm
The Killing Kind (Michael Hendricks #1)
by Chris Holm (Goodreads Author)
recommended to Lance Charnes by: B&N's bargain book section
recommended for: readers who don't need a lot of originality in their killer-vs-killer stories
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The assassin-hero is an oddly popular trope in thrillers. It runs the gamut from James Bond, Jason Bourne and Gabriel Allon (all essentially assassins with ancillary skills) to Mitch Rapp and Will Robie (government-sponsored killers without the "spy" ...more
More of Lance's books…
“Does anything we do ever end it?”
Lance Charnes, Doha 12

“No. Do I need to spell that?”
Lance Charnes, South

“People here notice when you have gunfights in train stations!”
Lance Charnes, Doha 12


“Murder is such a charged word. You know how some people fixate and won't let things go? They're called cops. ”
Tim Dorsey, Nuclear Jellyfish

“It doesn't have to make sense, it just has to sound like it does.”
Elmore Leonard, Freaky Deaky

“Does anything we do ever end it?”
Lance Charnes, Doha 12

“No. Do I need to spell that?”
Lance Charnes, South

“People here notice when you have gunfights in train stations!”
Lance Charnes, Doha 12

19126 The Mystery, Crime, and Thriller Group — 18775 members — last activity 4 minutes ago
May 2019 Group Reads - Murder on the Red River by Marcie Rendon and Finding Moon by Tony Hillerman _ _ _ _ _ “It was a dark and stormy night. Lightnin ...more
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For most of us, writing reviews on Goodreads is a labor of love. We would like to offer some love back to the laborer. It's all about books, that's fo ...more
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This is a book club/group for ALL books about crime, mysteries, and thrillers. From romantic suspense, to pulp fiction, to cozy mysteries, british det ...more
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Are you a fan of sword-swinging warrior women, pistol-packing cowgirls, tough female PIs, vampire huntresses, or any of the other strong, brave heroin ...more
61300 Art Crime — 80 members — last activity Apr 14, 2018 09:11PM
A group to discuss art crime. Anything from books on the subject to the history of art crime to the latest news about stolen art. Everyone is welcome.
220 Goodreads Librarians Group — 94122 members — last activity 3 minutes ago
A place where all Goodreads members can work together to improve the Goodreads book catalog. Non-librarians are welcome to join the group as well, to ...more
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Robert Thanks for the friend request, Lance.

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