BRIAN THIEM is the author of Red Line, Thrill Kill, and Shallow Grave (2017) (Crooked Lane Books). In his previous life, he spent 25 years with the Oakland Police Department, working Homicide as a detective sergeant and later as the commander of the Homicide Section. In addition to homicide, he worked patrol, vice narcotics, and special operations (SWAT), retiring as a Lieutenant. He’s also a veteran of the Iraq War where he was the Deputy Commander of the Criminal Investigation Group (CID) for the Middle East, and retired from the Army as a Lieutenant Colonel after 28 years of active and reserve duty. He has an MFA in Creative Writing, is an Adjunct Professor in the writing program at Western Connecticut State University, and lives in South Carolina.
All the Details
Brian Thiem grew up in rural Pennsylvania and Phoenix as the second oldest of five boys. He played baseball, football, basketball, and ran track in school, but always found time to read, preferring stories with courageous heroes who overcame evil villains and set the world right in the end. He enjoyed writing stories like those he read, but writing was never anything other than a hobby—an escape. In the real world, boys grew up and got jobs that paid the bills.
After graduating from Arizona State, Thiem was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Army. By the end of his four-year commitment with the military police, he grew bored with the peacetime army. While attending a hostage negotiation course in San Francisco, he met an Oakland police officer who told him he’d be equally bored working for the FBI and some of the other agencies he had applied to. The officer said, “Look kid, if you want to do police work—I mean really do police work—then come to Oakland, ‘cause there’s more police work to do there than anyplace else.”
How right that officer was. After Thiem finished the six-month police academy, he was assigned to uniformed patrol. In his first week, he made more arrests than a friend did in his first several years with the FBI. Once off probation, Officer Thiem volunteered to work the swing shift because that was where the most action was. With three years on the department, he transferred to Special Operations, a street unit that targeted felony crimes and high-crime areas. He later transferred to Vice Narcotics, where he worked undercover and conventional investigations in the areas of prostitution, narcotics, and organized crime.
Thiem was promoted to sergeant with six years on the department and was assigned to the Criminal Investigation Division. Two years later, he was selected for the Homicide Unit. During six years in the unit, he was the lead investigator on nearly a hundred murders and worked on hundreds more. The killings ran the gamut from simple domestic murders, to gruesome gang and drug murders, to complex serial murders. He returned to patrol as a street supervisor and was promoted to lieutenant.
Lieutenant Thiem served as a patrol lieutenant and watch commander, where he was often the senior police official on duty in Oakland at night or on weekends. He later transferred to the Special Operations Section where he commanded a variety of units, to include the Tactical Operations Team (SWAT), Canine, Helicopter, and Special Duty Units. From there he was assigned to the Criminal Investigations Division to command Special Investigations, and later returned to Homicide as the unit commander.
The Army Calls
Thiem had stayed in the Army Reserves when he left active duty twenty-three years earlier, serving in a variety of military police and CID (Army Criminal Investigation Command) units one weekend a month and several weeks each summer. In January 2003, the Army called Lieutenant Colonel Thiem to active duty for Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. He arrived in the Iraqi Theater shortly before the start of major combat operations and served as the Deputy Commander of the Army Criminal Investigation Group responsible for Iraq and Afghanistan and the Officer-in-Charge of the War Crimes Investigation Team, a joint task force established by the Secretary of Defense to investigate atrocities and crimes against humanity committed by the former Iraqi Regime. He was released from active duty a year later and returned to work with the Oakland Police Department.
Retirement and Writing
Brian Thiem retired from the Army after twenty-eight years of service the year after he returned home from Iraq, and a year later, he retired from the Oakland Police Department with twenty-five years of service. He moved to a house surrounded by woods in rural northwest Connecticut with his wife, Cathy, who is a native of that area. He worked as a security consultant to private industry and government organizations and taught as an adjunct professor in the criminal justice program at Champlain College. At that time, he began dabbling in fiction writing. After a few years, he enrolled in the MFA program at Western Connecticut State University, where he finished the novel that would later become Red Line. He is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Public Safety Writers Association, and a number of professional organizations, and served on the board of directors of the local library for five years. He and Cathy recently moved to South Carolina, not far from the beaches of Hilton Head, with their Labrador retriever and Himalayan cat. When not writing, he rides his Harley, kayaks the salt marshes and rivers near his home, and tries to hit a small white ball into 18 successive holes with fewer than 100 strokes.