Austin Author Chad Zunker’s Street-Savvy Saviors

by K. L. Romo on February 23, 2021 in Entertainment, What I'm Reading, Austin,

Attorney David Adams is anything but ordinary.

He’d given up a lucrative gig at a high-powered law office to represent Austin’s homeless. Driving a beat-up Chevy pickup and living in a garage apartment is vastly different from the luxury he enjoyed while working at the law firm. But even though he’s almost broke, he now has purpose.

In Austin author Chad Zunker’s latest legal thriller, Runaway Justice (Thomas & Mercer), David is back in his fight for the rights of those less fortunate.

Austin-based Chad Zunker, author of the newly-released novel “Runaway Justice” recording a podcast. Courtesy photo

Hit Man Target

Scrappy 12-year-old Parker Barnes escaped his abusive foster parents to live on Austin’s city streets. He’s doing OK surviving until he sees the murder of a Federal witness. Now, he’s a target of not only the hit man but also a person of interest to the FBI.

When the police arrest Parker for purse snatching, his accomplice Skater — another homeless kid — calls David to bail him out of Juvie. Parker likes David; they have a lot in common. Both lost their parents at a young age. When David arranges for placement at a home for at-risk youth, Parker is grateful for a warm bed and decent food. But soon, the danger closes in on him, and Parker has no choice but to run again.

In pre-COVID times, Chad Zunker (right) with fellow authors. Courtesy photo

A Misfit Team

Besides David’s misfit team of the homeless — Doc, a former history teacher computer whiz; Larue, a young musical savant; Shifty, who is never without a smile; and the talented handyman, Curly — former Naval Intelligence investigator Jess Raven uses her skills to help track down Parker. The judge gave Jess pro bono work as probation for assaulting her former boss, a high-priced attorney who’d made the mistake of grabbing Jess where he shouldn’t have.

Jess doesn’t trust the homeless — “sidewalk crazies” killed her police officer husband three years before. But her opinion changes when one of David’s street friends comes to her rescue in a violent assault.

As both the hit-man and FBI close in on Parker, they have no idea how effective David’s ragtag team of the homeless is in scouring the streets. They know everything that goes on in the city, and if anyone can find the boy, they can.

As the search for Parker continues, David suspects that someone on the inside is working to undermine the FBI’s investigation. He realizes he and Jess must solve the murder of the Federal informant on their own to save Parker.

Fact Meets Fiction

Can David, Jess, and David’s oddball investigative team unravel the case, find Parker, and ensure his safety before the killer strikes again?

Blending stark reality with fiction, Zunker once again puts the “real” into his writing, showing us the humanity of those living on the streets. His true-life relationships with runaway kids inspired the character of Parker, giving readers an in-depth look at what circumstances might cause a child to run and live on the streets.

Just as David is involved in creating a community for the homeless in the novel — Benny’s Village — Zunker has also devoted his time and energy into the development of Austin’s Community First! Village, which provides residential housing and a community for those living on the streets.

Zunker intricately weaves his personal experiences with Austin’s homeless into compelling characters and a fast-paced story. This is a legal thriller with a virtuous message: The homeless are people too.

Cover photo courtesy Chad Zunker

K.L. Romo writes about life on the fringe: teetering dangerously on the edge is more interesting than standing safely in the middle. She is passionate about women’s issues, loves noisy clocks and fuzzy blankets, but HATES the word normal. Twitter: @klromo; Instagram: @k.l.romo.