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The Reflecting Pool

Amazon Editor’s Pick for Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense!

A Washington DC detective investigates a murder that exposes the dark side of the US Government and an illicit love affair in the White House that goes fatally wrong. He finds himself caught between feuding criminal gangs, a domestic terrorist group planning to buy illegal weapons and start a revolution, and forces within the US government determined to cover up the murder.


Otho was interviewed on the Charlotte Readers Podcast

Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine picked The Reflecting Pool as one of two favorites of 2020!

Marko and Me—Otho Eskin reflects on his character on the Jungle Red blog

My City of Crime—Real and Imagined on CrimeReads

Otho interviewed by author Jon Land on Facebook Live

Otho participated in the following International Thriller Writers Roundtables:

Which determines character behavior the most—cultural background, education, or wealth?

Entertainment? Escapism? Provoke thought? What is the primary job of a thriller?


A lawyer and former diplomat, Otho Eskin served in the US Army and in the United States Foreign Service in Washington and in Syria, Yugoslavia, Iceland and Berlin (then the capital of the German Democratic Republic). He was Vice-Chairman of the US delegation to the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, participated in the negotiations on the International Space Station, was principal US negotiator of several international agreements on seabed mining and was the US representative to the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. He speaks French, German and Serbo-Croatian. He was a frequent speaker at conferences and has testified before the US Congress and commissions.

Otho Eskin has also written plays including: Act of God, Murder As A Fine Art, Duet, Julie, Final Analysis, Season In Hell, among others, which have been professionally produced in Washington, New York and in Europe.

Otho is married and lives in Washington, DC.


The Reflecting Pool

Now available in hardcover and ebook from Oceanview Publishing

Marko Zorn is a Washington DC homicide detective, but a very unusual one. He operates by his own rules and will not tolerate bureaucratic interference. He does not fit the profile of a big city police detective: he rarely carries a gun and he faints at the sight of blood. But he is also the most dangerous and feared man in the city of Washington. Instead of weapons, he relies on his quick wits and cool nerves when facing dangerous opponents. His true passions are for fine art, classic sports cars, cool jazz and beautiful women. This expensive life-style costs him more than he can afford on a policeman’s salary so Marko earns extra money moonlighting on the side, working for some very unsavory people and he often engages in activities that, if not strictly illegal, are borderline and are often dangerous but never violate his strong moral values.

Zorn investigates the murder of a young woman Secret Service agent and learns that forces within the US government are determined to prevent him from finding the killer. Zorn uncovers a connection between the victim, a doomed love affair in the White House, and a domestic white supremacist terrorist group that plans to assassinate the US president. Zorn’s life is complicated when a Washington crime boss—a ninety-year old woman—orders him to eliminate her chief crime rival—her grandson. He quickly becomes embroiled in a major gang war and is the hunted as well as the hunter and he must use all his skills and cunning to avoid becoming the victim.


Full Praise

“The death of Secret Service agent Sandra Wilcox, found floating in the Reflecting Pool on the Mall in Washington, D.C., propels Eskin’s idiosyncratic debut and series launch… readers will look forward to seeing more of Zorn, a distinctive lead with his dry humor, clipped dialogue, and rogue tendencies. Eskin, a former diplomat who served in the U.S. Foreign Service, is off to a good start.”
Publishers Weekly

“Otho Eskin’s The Reflecting Pool is the kind of crime-thriller Ross McDonald would have written if he were still alive today. That’s a high bar for any author to reach, but Eskin proves more than equal to the task… The Reflecting Pool is a crime-thriller constructed along classic lines, and in Zorn, Eskin has created the best crime hero this side of Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch. Woven from the fabric of masters like John D. MacDonald and Robert Crais, this riveting page-turner is never afraid to cut its own cloth.”
—Jon Land, Providence Journal

“In this spellbinding story the author takes readers inside the hard-charging investigation of a determined detective… Filled with witty personalities and shady power players, The Reflecting Pool is a fast-paced D.C. murder mystery where the stakes and suspense reach monumental heights. With cops like Marko Zorn on the case, not even the most powerful can hide from justice.”
The Foreign Service Journal (Read more)

“Providing the fully entertained reader with a deft blend of intrigue, suspense and mystery, The Reflecting Pool has the kind of unexpected plot twists and turns that keeps the reader’s riveted attention from beginning to end.”
—Midwest Book Reviews

The Reflecting Pool is one of the best debut thrillers I have ever read, and I’ve read a lot of them. Eskin is a master craftsman weaving his characters through different story lines to the point you feel your head is spinning. That’s the kind of novel I love to read, and The Reflecting Pool does not disappoint. Marko Zorn rivals Harry Bosch in his ability to get past the rules, and rivals Amos Decker in his determination to get justice. Marko knows how to walk a fine line between legal and not-so-legal and still get the job done. This is the first of the Marko Zorn series and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for him next. I read this book in two evenings (well into the night) and had I not gone to sleep in the middle of a paragraph on night one, I just may well have finished it in one sitting. This is a worthy read for anyone who likes thriller suspense with cops and bad guys.”
—Linda Thompson, host of The Authors Show

“Eskin has crafted a skillful plot that unfolds in a dynamic setting — Washington, D.C. … The best part comes at the end in which Eskin skillfully weaves multiple threads of the plot into a startling climax that joins the two parallel stories. That’s not easy to do without seeming contrived, and Eskin achieves it. ”

“An incredibly competent, likable, yet flawed character, and an intricate engulfing plot that is easy to understand: what’s not to like? Otho Eskin has produced a tense and entertaining thriller. Like any excellent crime novel, persona plays a considerable role in the success of this story, and Marko Zorn is mere brilliance. He doesn’t care who he upsets in his need to find a killer… Otho Eskin’s The Reflecting Pool does NOT disappoint, almost propelling the pages forward as you tirelessly read through the night. A masterfully written thriller.”
—Bobby Jo Calder, TopShelf Reviews

“Rough and ragged as the world it so vividly creates, The Reflecting Pool crackles with twists and turns, making for a fun and heady combination of suspense and intrigue.”
—Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author

The Reflecting Pool by Otho Eskin is the best crime thriller I’ve read in years, and homicide Detective Marko Zorn is a character I’d like to have a beer with—so long as he’s on my side. Bravo!”
—John Gilstrap, author of the Jonathan Grave thriller series

The Reflecting Pool wraps up tidily… As for what’s next for Marko Zorn, I’m not sure, but it probably involves his lime green Jaguar and a pretty woman, at the very least.”
—Ashley Perkins, GameVortex Communications (Read more)

The Reflecting Pool was one of the rare crime novels that kept closer to a suspense novel and I really enjoyed it… I could see this being a series with prequels and sequels like Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan series.”
—Donna Huber, The Girl Who Reads (Read more)

Q & A

Tell us a little about yourself, how and when you started writing.
I love to read and I love the theater and this has stimulated a lifetime interest in plays and in writing. In my career in the Foreign Service, writing was an essential skill where accuracy, clarity and concision were the highest priority and I have adapted these skills to writing plays and, later, fiction. My first efforts in the field of fiction were short stories in the science fiction genre. I later decided to adopt these techniques to long-form fiction. I wanted to draw on my many years of living in Washington and working in the US Government. I know the city—from Capitol Hill, to the elite social circles of Georgetown, to the poor, sometimes desperate, sometimes dangerous parts of town out of the limelight. My work has involved me in the world of interagency government cooperation and infighting—sometimes savage and brutal—and have drawn on that experience to describe how Washington actually works.

What inspired you to write this novel?
I have lived much of my life in Washington, DC and know the city well—from its public monuments and grand boulevards to the other Washington which can sometimes be dangerous and ugly and I wanted to recreate this Washington as a backdrop to an exciting story.

How did you use your life experience or professional background to enrich your story?
I spent my career coordinating the work of many government agencies—civilian, military and intelligence—and I have drawn on this background and these experiences.

Anything autobiographical in your novel?

Are any characters based on people you know?
No, except in the broadest, most generic, sense.

What part of writing your book did you find the most challenging?
Developing a main character who is both engaging and believable.

What writers have inspired you?
I admire classic mystery writers such as Graham Green, W. Somerset Maugham, Eric Ambler, John Le Carré.

What is the writing process like for you?
I try to stick to a consistent schedule of 5-6 hours a day and work at the same hours each day, normally from 12 Noon to six (I’m not a morning person). I find I do a lot of re-writing and revision as new plot points occur to me in the writing process.

What’s next for you?
I am working on further novels featuring the same protagonist, Marko Zorn, and some of the same characters.

Any final words?
I hope you enjoy reading The Reflecting Pool as much as I enjoyed writing it.



Duet is a one-act play by Otho Eskin about the great French actress Sarah Bernhardt and her archrival, the Italian diva Eleonora Duse. The ghost of Sarah Bernhardt appears in Eleonora’s dressing room in a theater in Pittsburgh in 1923 just before the last performance of Eleonora’s life. The two great actresses clash as each relives the events that shaped their lives. They recall their first experiences in acting and their love affairs. Most importantly, they return to their tumultuous encounter when Eleonora appears in Paris to challenge Sarah directly and Sarah betrays Eleonora—in art and in love. In the end, each woman comes to terms with her life and with each other.

  • First performed as a staged reading at the Italian Cultural Institute, Washington, DC, on March 8, 1993 with Kerry Waters, Kathryn Kelley and Kryztov Lindquist. Directed by Robert McNamara.
  • Won First Prize in 1993 for Dramatic Writing in the Larry Neal Writers’ Award sponsored by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.
  • Performed at the Elizabethan Theatre, co-produced by the Folger Shakespeare Library and SCENA Theatre in Washington, DC, November-December 1994 with Kerry Waters, Jennifer Mendenhall and Kryztov Lindquist. Directed by Robert McNamara.
  • Performed at the Beckett Theatre, Melbourne, Australia in October 1994 with Tammy McCarthy, Andrea Swifte and Philip Parslow. Directed by Malcolm Robertson.
  • Performed in Croatia and Slovenia on an international tour by SCENA Theatre in 1995.
  • Performed on Croatian National Radio in 1997.
  • Produced in Italy with Ileana Ghione, Fiorenza Marchegiana and Gabriele Villa. Directed by Pier Antonio Barbieri. See Italian Connection for program notes for this production.
  • An Italian translation of Duet was published in the Italian theater journal, Prima Fila, January 1998 issue.
  • Produced at the Greenwich Street Theatre in New York City from December 4, 2003 to January 20, 2004 with Laura Esterman, Pamela Payton-Wright and Robert Emmet Lunney. Directed by Ludovica Villar-Hauser.
  • Produced by Scena Theater in Vienna, Austria, December 12, 2004, (German language) directed by Robert McNamara featuring Anna Richert, Edith Stauer-Wierl and Paul Wimberger
  • Produced by The Red Thread Collective at El Museo Cultural in Sante Fe, NM, February 22 through March 9, 2008, directed by Francesca Ursone featuring Cynthia Straus, Rima Miller, Paul Blott, Jason Adam and Boril Radoykov.
  • Produced by the Staryj Dom Theatre in Novosibirsk, Siberia, Russia. In repertoire beginning October 29, 2008.
  • In repertory at the Dailes Theatre of Riga, Latvia.
  • Produced at the International Theater Festival “SLAVIA 2011” in Belgrade, Serbia March 2011

Sarah Bernhardt

Eleonora Duse


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Judith Ehrlich
Principal of Judith Ehrlich Literary Management LLC


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