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Credit North Potomac author Eric Stone for giving the protagonist of his first novel, In a Heartbeat, a thoroughly unique character flaw: D.C. homicide detective John Carnes is a recovering sex addict. “Sex addiction sounds funny to most of us, but to those that suffer from it, it’s very serious,” informs Stone, quickly adding that he himself does not have a constant need to fornicate. “These are regular people who believe sex is the same as intimacy. They make themselves feel better through sometimes hundreds of brief encounters. At one recovery session [I observed], there were two priests and a minister talking about their sex problems, people you would absolutely never expect.” Stone pauses. “By the way, does this sound like any mayors you know?”

An attorney for the Consumer Products Safety Commission, Stone, 43, is well aware of the growing number of lawyers writing novels, but he feels the trend makes perfect sense. “Lawyering is a creative outlet; you rely upon your ability to lay out a story in a way the jury can understand,” he explains. “But I figured the world already has too many books about the legal profession, so I wanted to try something different.”

Stone opted for the semitwisted tale of a sexually dysfunctional cop battling both personal demons and a serial killer in the nation’s capital. “For research, I went riding with local homicide cops to get the real flavor of the job,” says the writer, now at work on the second installment of a two-book deal with California-based Presidio Press. “The first dead body I saw was dumped behind Cardozo High School. Some ragpicker found it at 2:30 in the afternoon.” Sorry that he didn’t do his research by phone? “No,” Stone replies casually, “I have a pretty strong stomach.” He signs In a Heartbeat from noon to 1 p.m. Saturday, June 1, at Dupont Circle’s MysteryBooks.

—Sean Daly