Co-founder of ADWEEK’s Ad Agency of the Year Pens Murder Mystery Called "Dead Man of the Year"

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A whodunit by Stephen Hawley Martin, co-founder of The Martin Agency, which created the GEICO gecko and was selected by ADWEEK as the USA’s top ad agency in January, 2010, will be released on July 1. The story, which takes place in 1994, is set in an ad agency Martin says is based largely on the company he and his brother, David, started.

Professors of creative writing often tell their students to, “Write what you know about.” Stephen Hawley Martin has followed this in spades in penning his latest book, Dead Man of the Year, to be released July 1 by The Oaklea Press.

Martin said, “I love to write. I’ve written about a dozen books under my own name and ghostwritten or edited many more. But no book was as much fun to write as this one. In the process, I got to relive my salad days in advertising.”

Asked if he is worried about being sued by people who see themselves in the book’s characters, Martin said, “Everyone who has worked in an ad agency is going to see people they think they know because they’ve all worked with people who resemble the characters in this book. My guess is they will simply get a good laugh, or a chuckle at least, but I don’t think anyone will sue because I haven’t been malicious to anyone.”

The story, set in 1994, takes place in an advertising agency with its major account in review. Brian Durston, the protagonist, has recently joined the firm because his uncle, a major stockholder, has promised to bring him in as a partner. But in the first few pages, Brian discovers the uncle dead at his desk with a bullet through his brain. The police think it’s suicide, but the protagonist believes otherwise. His only hope to avoid the unemployment line and salvage the situation is to solve the mystery and save the account.

The first question facing Brian is who benefits from his uncle’s death? The answer seems obvious at first: The surviving partners, of course. So Brian decides some investigating is in order. In steps the beautiful and enigmatic copywriter, Nickie D'Agostino. She says she wants to help Brian save the account and find the killer. But before long, Brian begins to wonder. Could she be the one who did it? A romance tortured by suspicion follows, and a frantic, white-knuckle race to find the murderer before Brian’s share of the business reverts to the surviving partners, or worse ––his snooping prompts the killer to strike again, sending Brian to join his uncle in the afterlife.

Asked what prompted him to write the book, Martin said, “The popularity of the TV show, MAD MEN, leads me to believe the time is right for a novel like this one. The mystery presents a puzzle whodunit fans can get their teeth into, and the setting is one that will take the reader behind the scenes of an agency during the heyday of advertising’s golden age.”

The media and reviewers can request a review copy by sending an e-mail to shmartin (at) shmartin (dot) com.

The Oaklea Press Inc. was founded in 1995 and publishes business management books, self help and metaphysical titles, as well as fiction. For more information, visit the firm’s Web site,

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Stephen Martin

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