Nostalgia City Mysteries

By Mark S. Bacon

New mystery and suspense offerings

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Zero Sum Game
Lisa Huang
Tor Books Tor/Forge  October 2018
Kindle $13.99   Trade paperback $18.99
352 Pages

 

Cas Russell is good at math. Scary good. The vector calculus blazing through her head lets her smash through armed men twice her size and dodge every bullet in a gunfight, and she’ll take any job for the right price.

As far as Cas knows, she’s the only person around with a superpower…until she discovers someone with a power even more dangerous than her own. Someone who can reach directly into people’s minds and twist their brains into Moebius strips. Someone intent on becoming the world’s puppet master.

Cas should run, like she usually does, but for once she’s involved. There’s only one problem, she doesn’t know which of her thoughts are her own anymore

 

 

Snowbound
Maria Alexander
Ghede Press  July 2018
$2.99 Kindle   $13.99 Trade paper
151 pages

 

For young adult readers who have read the first book in the series, Snowed, this book continues the story.

Kidnapped by his father, Aidan MacNichol returns home to a terrifying ice fortress in the Arctic Ocean. His dying father makes Aidan a deal: if Aidan finds a mysterious healing agent beneath the fortress, he’s free to leave. Aidan sets out on the perilous journey for the cure, but finds the cost is far greater than he could possibly imagine.

Meanwhile, Charity Jones leads her friends on an armed, high-tech expedition to the Arctic coordinates she’s seen in her dreams. Their mission: to kill Krampus and save Aidan. But when Charity discovers Aidan’s shocking fate, she makes a mistake that starts the countdown to apocalypse. Can Charity and her team stop the clock? Or will humanity pay the ultimate price?

 

 

The Spirit in Question (A Lila Maclean Academic Mystery Book 3)
Cynthia Kuhn 
Henery Press  October 2018
Kindle $4.99   Trade paperback  $15.95
214 pages

 

English professor Lila Maclean knew drama would be involved when she agreed to consult on Stonedale University’s production of Puzzled: The Musical. But she didn’t expect to find herself cast into such chaos: the incomprehensible play is a disaster, the crumbling theater appears to be haunted and, before long, murder takes center stage.

The show must go on—yet as they speed toward opening night, it becomes clear that other members of the company may be targeted as well. Lila searches for answers while contending with a tenacious historical society, an eccentric playwright, an unsettling psychic, an enigmatic apparition, and a paranormal search squad. With all of this in play, will she be able to identify who killed her colleague…or will it soon be curtains for Lila too?

Remember: Online book prices may vary depending on the day you order and the bookstore or website.

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How this classic car became stranded in the desert

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The Pontiac on the cover of my new book, Desert Kill Switch, is a bona fide classic.  A high-powered muscle car from the early 1970s, the Firebird is immaculately restored and lovingly maintained. How I found it is as much a mystery as the ones my amateur detectives solve in the novel.

Authors aren’t always involved in the creation of their book covers.  For my first nonfiction book I got a chance to see the cover before printing because I flew to New York to see my publisher.  On the next  book,  I saw the cover when it came out.  My present publisher, Black Opal Books, is relatively small and my editor there was open to my ideas, indeed to my work to create the cover.  I’ve done photography professionally so I planned to take the cover photo myself, then turn it over to the cover’s designer.

Finding this beautiful 1972 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am was slightly more difficult than finding the inhospitable desert scene for the cover of Desert Kill Switch.

Before I’d finished writing the book, I knew a vintage car belonged on the cover.  And a bleak desert landscape.

Vintage muscle cars, including a Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, figure prominently in the plot.  The setting of all the Nostalgia City mysteries (book #3 coming soon, I’m working on #4) is an Arizona retro theme park that recreates a 1970s small town, complete with everything from the period from music and hairstyles to stores and automobiles.  In Desert Kill Switch, protagonist Kate Sorensen supervises an exhibit booth at a vintage car and rock and roll festival in Reno, Nevada, to attract nostalgia aficionados to the Arizona park.

So with the Arizona and Nevada deserts as the locales and classic cars as the outstanding set pieces, imagining the cover photo was not difficult.  Finding a showroom-condition cruiser—and a willing owner—was a greater challenge.

I live in Reno where an actual summer retro festival, Hot August Nights, is held annually, attracting more than 6,000 classic cars from all over the U.S. and several foreign countries.  Part of my inspiration for creating Nostalgia City came from this event, Reno’s largest.

The problem was, I didn’t get around to actually deciding on a cover photo until months after the festival had ended and the beautiful wheels had rolled back to their various home towns. I might have had my pick of vintage Mustangs, T-birds, Camaros, Barracudas and other terrors of the boulevard.

Instead, I started looking locally by checking out the websites of vintage car clubs in the area.  I saw a few promising models, but I either couldn’t get in touch with the owners or they were not interested.

No sign of civilization anywhere in this shot of the Nevada Great Basin Desert. But it’s really just 30 miles north of Reno.

While I searched for a car, I also explored the area around Reno for an appropriate setting.  I wanted a photo that showed nothing but desert and hills.  No buildings, no power lines, no billboards or signs of any type.  Northern Nevada is mostly open space.  In fact, the whole state is open space, so you’d think it would not be difficult to find a suitably desolate spot.  Of course I could use Photoshop to remove utility poles or other signs of civilization, but if an image is cleaner to begin with, fewer artificial enhancements are necessary.

Reno is bordered on the west by the soaring mountains of the Sierra Nevada so that left three directions to explore, and ultimately I found my spot about 30 miles north of town.  Now I needed the car.

A Firebird Trans Am on a San Francisco car club website caught my attention.  It was similar to a car that disappears early in the book and creates the story’s first mystery.  Coincidentally, this beautiful 1972 Trans Am was owned by James Mandas of Reno.  I emailed him and he agreed to have his car pose for a photo.  This was in September.

 We had an unusually rainy winter that year and for weeks the desert area I found for the photo was wet with standing water.  Not quite the dry, barren look I sought.   We scheduled and rescheduled the photo shoot over about two months.  I was thankful for Mandas’ patience.

Ultimately a dry, sunny November morning dawned.  Mandas hauled a covered trailer containing his handsome vintage Pontiac out to the desert and I spent two hours shooting the car from a variety of angles and elevations.

I had my cover photo.

The car’s raised hood and open door signal trouble.  The driver is missing.  The mystery begins.

New offerings in mystery and suspense

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Louisiana intrigue

River of Secrets: A Wallace Hartman Mystery
Roger Johns
Minotaur Books  304 pages
August 2018
Kindle $14.99    Hardback $27.99

Herbert Marioneaux, a Louisiana state legislator with a reputation for changing his mind on sensitive issues, has been murdered. DNA evidence points directly at Eddie Pitkin, a social justice activist who furthers his causes by using confrontation and social media to make powerful, wealthy people very uncomfortable with their past.

Based on a long, well-documented history of conflict between Marioneaux and Pitkin, many in the court of public opinion are quick to call for Pitkin’s conviction. Wallace Hartman, the homicide detective assigned to the investigation, is also the childhood best friend of Pitkin’s half-brother so, in the eyes of some, her objectivity is in question from the beginning.

Wallace discovers an iffy alibi witness along with evidence of a troubled relationship between Marioneaux and his son that puts a cloud of suspicion over the son. Questions about the source of the DNA evidence begin to surface, Pitkin’s supporters and enemies square off in the street, and what began as an open and shut case becomes murky and politicized, sparking waves of violence across Baton Rouge.

And, at her time of greatest need, the prospect of sabotage from an unknown leaker within the police department forces Wallace to go it alone as she digs deep into the dark heart of the political establishment to untangle a web of old, disturbing secrets.

Roger Johns is the 2018 Georgia Author of the Year (Detective ▪ Mystery Category) for his debut novel, Dark River Rising, which has also been nominated for a Killer Nashville Reader’s Choice Award.  Along with four other crime fiction writers, he co-authors the MurderBooks blog at http://www.murder-books.com.  His website is www.rogerjohnsbooks.com.


Book giveaway

Enter the 10-copy giveaway of River of Secrets on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36742974-river-of-secrets?from_search=true. The giveaway ends September 3.

 

Spine tinglers for middle schoolers

Scream and Scream Again
Mystery Writers of America
Harper Collins  416 pages
July 2018
Kindle $9.99  Hardback $12.59

A harrowing array of scary stories for middle-grade readers that all have one thing in common: each either begins or ends with a scream!

R.L. Stine, the godfather of Goosebumps, and some of the most popular authors today bring an unrivaled mastery of all things fearsome, frightening, and fantabulous to this terrifying anthology of all-new scary short stories.

Scream and Scream Again! is full of twists and turns, dark corners, and devilish revenge. Collected in conjunction with the Mystery Writers of America, this set includes works from New York Times bestselling authors telling tales of wicked ice-cream trucks, time-travelling heroes, witches and warlocks, and of course, haunted houses.

It includes twenty never-before-published scary stories from some of the most popular authors today—including Alison McMahan’s Kamikaze Iguanas.

Alison McMahan grew up in Spain.As an adult she trudged through the jungles of Honduras and Cambodia, through the favelas of Brazil and from race tracks to drag strips in the U.S. in search of footage for her documentaries. Her most recent film is Bare Hands and Wooden Limbs (2010) narrated by Sam Waterston.

Online book prices vary depending on the day you order and the bookstore or website.
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