UA adjunct professor's book becomes major motion picture

Published: Jul. 13, 2016 at 9:48 PM MST|Updated: Jul. 15, 2016 at 3:23 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A book written by an adjunct professor with the University of Arizona School of Journalism will soon be a major motion picture.

The movie, based on Joe Sharkey's true crime book "Above Suspicion" just wrapped up shooting. Sharkey is a former New York Times columnist.

The book was published in 1993 and tells the true story of FBI agent Mark Putnam, who is posted to a small town in Kentucky.

Putnam killed Susan Smith, an informant and his mistress. Putnam confessed to killing Smith and was sentenced to 16 years in prison in 1990.

"It's psychologically complex and it's so sad. It's just a sad story," Sharkey said.

Sharkey got to know the story through Putnam's wife, Kathy.

"She went deeply into her own psyche about it. Her own background. Particularly her painful relationship with Susan, the dead girl. Once I realized I was getting into these emotional depths with Kathy, I thought, 'I have to write this book,'" Sharkey said.

Sharkey, a consultant for the movie, just returned to Tucson after being on location in Kentucky for the final parts of filming.

Emilia Clarke, from "Game of Thrones" plays Susan Smith in the movie. Jack Huston, from "Boardwalk Empire" plays Mark Putnam.

"In April, everybody was signed. and I'm thinking, 'Wow, they're really going to make a movie.' I was still skeptical. I want to make sure there are trucks and catering tents, and lights and cameras. I want to see for certain that there is film in the camera, if you know what I mean," Sharkey said.

The movie and updated version of the book will be out next year.

Sharkey, who has had his share of adventures during his time as a journalism, said this is an experience he'll never forget.

"In journalism you have adventures and I thought well, here's another adventure. And sure enough, it was," Sharkey said.

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