NAUGATUCK — Long before he became a pediatrician, politician and mystery author, Jerry Labriola was a forensic pathologist in the U.S. Navy.
While Labriola, a Naugatuck resident, loved to solve puzzles, he couldn’t stand the solitary life of a scientist.
“I wasn’t dealing with the public. I was in the back peering down a microscope,” said Labriola, now 82.
So Labriola turned to pediatrics, which fulfilled his need to be around people. He practiced in Naugatuck for 35 years and also served as chief of staff at Waterbury Hospital before retiring in 1994. After a stint in politics, he began to write books. And it turned out he could infuse them with his long-ago interest in pathology. Four of Labriola’s books were coauthored with forensic scientist Dr. Henry Lee.
Labriola recently released his 14th book, “Global Shadows.” The mystery novel revolves around a set of stolen stem-cell research papers. Paul D’Arneau, a former Yale professor and one of Labriola’s earliest protagonists, is tasked with tracking them down.
For Labriola, writing is a job he takes seriously, getting up every day to write at 5 a.m. and working until 4 p.m.
“One bit of advice that I always give people who are interested in writing is that if you get rejected, don’t give up or throw out what you wrote,” he said. “My first two books didn’t get published. No one thought they were any good. And they were lousy. But I kept working at it and you can always maybe you use even a fragment of what you wrote the first time.”
Labriola is already well into his new book, which he plans on calling “Diamonds & Pirates.” And though writing can be as solitary as pathology, he still gets out of his writing studio often to give talks and four times a year, he delivers lectures on mystery, forensic science and true crime issues — while aboard international cruise ships. He hasn’t met any pirates himself yet, but he’s been to all of the places he writes about.
Labriola will visit local libraries to sign copies of his new book and to discuss “DNA and The New Genetics: Mystery of a Double-Edged Sword.” He will be at the Whittemore Library in Naugatuck on Sept. 10.