Death in Nostalgia City

By Mark S. Bacon

Missing persons case filled with twists, turns at dawn of Pearl Harbor

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Maximum Moxie, A Maggie Sullivan mystery
M. Ruth Myers
Tuesday House   Sept. 2016
$3.99 Kindle  $11.99 trade paper
262 pages

Book reviews, particularly for suspense novels, often begin by describing all the action of the first few chapters.  I’m not going to do that here.

In the first chapter of Maximum Moxie, Ruth Myers’ fifth PI novel in the series, Loren Collingswood walks into Maggie Sullivan’s office with a problem.   He’s a founder of a technology company and one of his most brilliant employees has disappeared.  The missing engineer is the key to a new project the company is scheduled to introduce in a week. And Collingswood says he’s been getting maximum-moxiestrange phone calls.  But, he says, “It can’t have anything to do with Gil [the missing employee].  It can’t have anything to do with me.”

Whether the calls are related to the disappearance remains to be seen, but the rest of the scene in Sullivan’s office contains an unconventional surprise you’ll have to discover yourself.

Ultimately,  Sullivan gets the missing persons job.  Now, before you get the wrong idea about a technology company, remember that Sullivan started out as a private eye in 1930s Dayton, Ohio. This book is set in the first week of December 1941.  Technically, that’s one of the surprises—but by no means the only one—in the first chapter.  But never mind, it’s mentioned on the back cover, so the date is no spoiler. The impending war gives the novel an extra sense of uncertainty and realism and provides a hint that the mysterious technology project might have military applications.

Searching for the missing engineer, Sullivan, a scrappy 5-foot-2-inch, 27-year-old, has to first determine if Gil Tremain is a kidnap or murder victim, a blackmailer, thief or traitor. Is he alive or dead?  As Sullivan knows, if Tremain is in peril, the sooner she locates him the greater her chances of not finding him dead.  Continue Reading →

Mystery flash fiction: 100-word crime story

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Called flash fiction, quick fiction or nano fiction, literature in miniature has been around for decades.  Depending on the author or the editor, flash fiction can be 100 words, 250 words, 55 words, or even six words. Hemingway wrote flash fiction. Although she’s well known as a novelist, Margaret Atwood is also a flash fiction writer. I like the discipline of creating a complete story and finishing with precisely 100 words.

badge-and-gun

Here again is a crime drama in exactly 100 words.  Continue Reading →

Feisty attorney dukes it out with the Mob

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Identity Crisis
Debbi Mack
Wild Blue Press
4th Edition Aug. 2015
Kindle $5.99  Trade paper $11.99

Attorney Sam McRae has a more than troublesome case.  Her missing client is accused of murder and implicated in a bank scandal.  Sam’s affair with a married prosecutor—who is likely not going to leave his wife—weighs on her often.  And as she tries to locate her missing client, she’s followed by a black Lincoln.  “Something about the design suggested a rolling black casket.”

Driving a beat-up Mustang convertible, Sam chases from Maryland to Pennsylvania to track down her client, shadowed by the Mob and worried that someone connected to the case is trying to steal her identity.  The engaging, fast-moving story readsidentity-crisis-debbi-mack like the PI novel that it is, even though the protagonist is an attorney.  Sam has more instinct, determination and guts than most male investigators, and she manages to stay one step ahead of the cops.

Sam meets a nosy neighbor with alcohol and garlic breath, a private eye who is either stalking her or there to save her, a woman with a scarred face and a “three-pack-a-day voice” and an upper-crust strip club owner with something to hide. Add in Mob figures made from equal parts menace and violence plus eccentric federal agents and you have an entertaining—and upsetting—cast of characters.

Finally, the story is decorated with lively language and descriptions: Continue Reading →

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