Archive for July, 2012


In May 2000, Mohammed Atta, mastermind of the 9-11 terrorist attacks, talked with a US Department of Agriculture loans officer about buying a small aircraft from which he planned to remove all the seats for some reason. He was also curious what she might know about security at the World Trade Centre and had a lot of nice things to say about Al Quaeda and Bin Laden.  The officer made no mention of this encounter was made to officials until after the attacks.

On February 1, 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated as it tried to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere. Seven astronauts lost their lives that day. A NASA engineer whose sole function was to detect any structural issues during the launch phase thought he had spotted a loose tile and brought this insight to his superiors, concerned about the integirty during re-entry. He was ignored and decided to just keep quiet and hope for the best.

In September 2008, the US Feds seized control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Lehman Bros goes bankrupt, and the Dow Jones takes its biggest single day plunge in history – the horsemen of the financial apocalypse.  The records are legend with those who saw it coming – but nothing was done.

During the time of the Bernardo/Homolka serial murders, a street cop followed up on a tip from a woman who claimed to have been assaulted by Bernardo at a party. Bernardo as suspect drove the right kind of car, the right (wrong) personality, and matched the description investigators had of the killer. This was months before he was finally caught, months before he claimed two more victims. The cop worked up his tip, which was promptly ignored by the task force and then buried until the inquest pulled it out.

The term in failure theory is Organizational Bystander. They are all too common. It’s so much easier to assume that either things aren’t really going all that wrong, or you can’t really have an effect on the outcome of things. So much easier just to stand by and watch, not speak up, let the adults do their thing. You don’t want to be admonished, treated as trouble makers, Chicken Littles, challenge your career advancement. It’s so much easier to take your chances, bite your tongue and hope things don’t fail.

Those who have the courage take action when facing potential crisis are all too rare. Or maybe not – when things go right, do we even notice ?

What about you ? As you look at your own life, can you see the signals or are you too close to the action to know what’s going on ?

Are you taking charge of your own life or just standing by, letting things happen ?

Will you do whatever it takes to succeed or just try not to fail ?

Drumroll please.  Let the fanfare begin.  And cue the doves.

Dear Friends – My debut thriller novel – CHALK VALLEY – was published today, exclusively on Amazon Kindle. I’m incredibly excited about this and hope you are as well.  I invite you to pick up a copy by following the link provided below and let me know what you think.


In a remote mountain valley in British Columbia, a human monster preys on innocent lives.  After teenagers discover the body of a missing girl in Chalk Valley, searchers find the remains of two more victims secreted deep in the woods.  A serial killer is at work.

Chalk Valley police detective John McCarty is picked to lead a task force to find the murderer. But inexperience, politics and McCarty’s own inner demons quickly overwhelm him and the investigation falters.

Meanwhile, on a dark, lonely highway many miles from Chalk Valley, RCMP Sergeant Dave Kreaver comes across a van crashed at the side of the road. The driver is anxious to leave the scene. But Kreaver discovers an unconscious teenaged girl in the van. Kreaver feels in his gut that the driver could be the serial killer everyone’s looking for, but his inquiries are ignored. The task force is in well over its head, buried by thousands of leads and potential suspects. His supervisors tell him to back off and let the task force do its job.

Kreaver is in a deadly cat and mouse game with a murderous psychopath, a race against time with innocent victims in play. Operating alone and without official sanction, can he stop the Chalk Valley Killer before he claims more lives?

 Based on extensive research with world class authorities on the workings of modern serial murder investigation, CHALK VALLEY explores the challenges, the terror and the human crises that affects all those caught in the killer’s web  – the investigators, the victims and the families.


Advance Reviews :

CHALK VALLEY captures the essence of the ‘serial murder’ investigation through a combination of police techniques and behavioural sciences …  Johnstone did an excellent job in portraying this from both the killer’s and police point of view.” – Detective Staff Sergeant Richard Pellarin, OPP Behavioural Sciences Section

 “DL Johnstone is the new John Grisham! Chalk Valley is a well written, fast tempo thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat, balancing strong character development with the pace of the action.  It’s a page turner!  I truly enjoyed all the twists and turns. I’d highly recommend CHALK VALLEY to anyone who enjoy thrillers and action.”Martin Cho

“The characters in CHALK VALLEY are strong, diverse and totally engaging! The killer’s evilness played out so well – from his outwardly charming self to his rages and sinister planning of his victim’s capture and torture, his behaviour spiralling out of control as the noose tightens!  The interplay between Kreaver and the troubled McCarty was really well developed and totally believable.  The forensic details were terrific and terrifying.”  – Donna Spafford

Suspenseful. A photo gallery of vivid characters. A glib and manipulative psychopathic killer sets up the chase … Johnstone makes much of, and to good effect,  the closely-guarded territoriality of overlapping police jurisdictions and the necessity of obtaining legally-acquired evidence. Catching a cool and confident killer is not easy.” – Glenn Miller

Good suspense, and great storytelling make for a page-turner. Johnstone creates the right ambience and he does an excellent job of pitting the two protagonists against each other… Excellent debut, recommended to crime fiction lovers.” –  JP Gagnon


Posted: July 15, 2012 in Uncategorized


Cover design by the amazing Jeroen Ten Berge

Okay, someone’s gonna get hurt here

Five days until I e-publish CHALK VALLEY, I suppose I should get this blog up and running.  Here’s my first official post.

Most significant things I’ve achieved in my life have involved me kicking and screaming.

Being born, first of all.  That worked out okay.

Getting married and having kids – four of them (kids, not wives).  Best thing I ever did. 

Going into a business career after studying heavy sciences for years.  Twenty-five years later with a great company and I’m still having fun.

Taekwondo.  Kicking and screaming is pretty much mandatory there.  I took it as far as earming my second degree black belt.  I’m not sure how many bad guys I can take on but I can scare the crap out of most wooden boards.

Writing.  I mean seriously writing, like novel-length works.  It’s a painful process, not a natural one at all, at least for me, but I’ve done it, twice, and I think they’re pretty damned good.

Getting an agent.  Okay, writing is one thing, you’re on your own, little risk except your time and social life.  But putting yourself out there in public, opening yourself to formal and official rejection, that’s reality.  Reality can be scary.  Having said that, it worked out well – I secured a terrific agent who loved my book.

Trying to get published – that was easy.  No issues.  No kicking.  No screaming.  Also no publishing contract.  I’ll blog about that later.

Going the e-publishing route.  This is not something I set out to do.  It’s not easy by any means – not if you want to do it right.  I’ll blog about that later too, for now, take my word for it – it’s a royal bitch.  And thank God I’m doing it.  Because the alternative is worse.

Blogging. I am not by nature a “sharer”.  I hate to share food.  Hate it.  That’s the result of growing up with four siblings.  Same goes for sharing my life – as a writer, I tend to reach inwards more naturally than outwards.  I write, which is sharing if you actually publish.  I’m a father and a husband, which is ALL about sharing.  But blogging ?  Not a natural skill. Yet here I go, kicking and screaming my way into it.

That’s the thing I’ve realized with kicking and screaming, though.  It can actually signal good things to come