Nearly three and a half years after Ed Earl Burch's debut in "The Last Second Chance," Athens author Jim Nesbitt returns with Burch's latest adventure, "The Best Lousy Choice."

Burch is a former Dallas homicide detective who became a private investigator after he was blamed for the death of his partner. A lifelong fan of hardboiled detective fiction, Nesbitt said it was only natural he create a character like Burch for his first series as a novelist.

"He's been knocked around by life and managed to deal with the struggles that all of us face," Nesbitt said. "I didn't want to have a flawless superhero. I wanted him to have some deeply flawed characteristics. ... He's had his shares of troubles and managed to rise to the occasion of some of these bad situations I threw him into in spite of that."

Those adventures seem to take him all over Texas, with the latest landing him around the Mexico border after a rancher is killed in a suspicious barn fire. Nesbitt said he spent a lot of time in the area as a journalist, and he tries to make the Texan setting of his books a character unto itself.

"It's an acquired taste, but once you start falling in love with it, it's got you. It's incredible land," he said, describing it as a place in which the "bones of the earth have been ripped open for you to see."

"That scenery, along with other places I've been as a roving correspondent, I incorporate it in my books," Nesbitt said. "Chances are, if I've written about it, I've been there."

These days, Nesbitt is more likely to be roving around Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant, where he works as a site coordinator for the Tennessee Valley Authority. After writing all over the country, he said he's found "interesting work in a far different way" in Limestone County.

"People down here are just real committed folks that made me part of a family," Nesbitt said, "and I've loved living here."

Still, the passion for storytelling never left, and Nesbitt finally decided to sit down and write his own contribution to hardboiled detective fiction, something he calls "an American art form." The result was "The Last Second Chance," followed a few months later by "The Right Wrong Number," each earning a five-star review from Underground Books Reviews.

On Tuesday, Nesbitt will add a third adventure to the list in "The Best Lousy Choice."

"I had no idea he'd be strong enough to carry three books, but I kind of like him, and readers like him," Nesbitt said. "So, I'm going to stick with him."

He said he's been asked more than a few times what's next, now that he's written a trilogy about the Dallas PI. Nesbitt's answer: "Book Four."

"Ed Earl is a private investigator, but he always seems to end up roving across Texas," Nesbit said. "I've probably got to drop the Dallas out of him and get him in west Texas for good."

"The Best Lousy Choice" will be available for purchase starting Tuesday at jimnesbittbooks.com or as an e-book for most mainstream e-readers.