Desert Kill Switch,
Death in Nostalgia City
“Love this book! I was so happy to be back in Nostalgia City, the retro theme park in Arizona. Bacon’s protagonist Kate Sorensen is a three dimensional character, who stands up to the challenges of a murder accusation, blackmail and being stranded in the desert in August – all without being ‘Super woman’. Tension mounts as Kate and Lyle tackle a missing corpse, an over-the-top classic car festival and a mysterious mint-condition 1973 Firebird that Deming saw where it shouldn’t be – or did he? This is the kind of book where you keep saying ‘just one more chapter’. “
–Anne Saller, owner
Book Carnival mystery bookstore
This is the second entry in Mark S Bacon’s ‘Nostalgia City Mystery’ series. I haven’t read the first (Death in Nostalgia City), but on the strength of this I may well seek out a copy.
The story starts bang on page one as ex-cop Lyle Deming comes across a dead body and an abandoned blue Pontiac Firebird in the middle of the Arizona desert. But when he’s able to finally get the cops along to investigate, they find nothing. Both car and body have disappeared into thin air. It’s a shame Lyle never made a note of the licence plate (surely second nature for an old ‘tec?) —it would have saved him a lot of time. Meanwhile his sort-of girlfriend Kate Sorensen is accused of murder in a gloriously tacky automobile convention in Reno. She has to explain why she’s found literally red-handed next to a Las Vegas businessman who’s been fatally stabbed with a birthday cake knife. But Kate is no walkover, and soon she and Lyle set about trying to find the real murderer. As they navigate many a twist and turn (as well as the inevitable cul-de-sac), they realise that even the most innocent people harbour dark secrets.
Bacon’s prose is slick, his dialogue taut, and he makes great use of short chapters to tempt the reader to keep turning those pages. His creation of Nostalgia City, a retro theme park in which nothing older than 1975 is allowed, is a stroke of genius. Imagine that, no Facebook! The place apparently featured more heavily in the previous book, but it’s still a significant presence here, with Lyle’s job as NC cab-driver providing some all-important narrative thrust. But don’t worry, the car-centric plot rattles along nicely even if you aren’t (like me) much of a petrol-head.
The titular ‘kill switch’—a device that stops an engine stone dead if the owner hasn’t kept up with their rental payment—is a new one on me. But it’s a real thing, and pretty horrifying. Google it. It’s as good a plot device as any to fuel this mystery story and Bacon extrapolates brilliantly to expose a whole world of corporate corruption lurking under the metaphorical hood.
Promoting Crime (UK)
“This novel reaches out and grabs the reader from the beginning – from the car and bullet-riddled body disappearing to the non-stop action in Reno and Vegas. Lyle and Kate are both very likable people with whom readers can empathize…
“…There are several plot twists that kept this reader guessing, with well-defined characters and a fast-moving story that will be appreciated by collectible car enthusiasts and those who love the Arizona deserts and well-written mysteries. The end is a complete surprise, not only regarding the real killer(s) but also how the initial mystery with the Firebird is resolved. I highly recommend this delightful high desert novel!”
–Open Book Society reviewer Jeanie
Read the complete review at: Open Book Society
“While driving along an empty desert road, Lyle Deming spots a vintage 1970s Pontiac Firebird with a bullet riddled body beside it. When he returns with sheriff’s deputies, the car and the body are gone.
“Desert Kill Switch is the second book in a series set in Nostalgia City. Nostalgia City is an Arizona theme park that is a re-creation of a 1970s era small town.
“This book is a gritty, fast-paced, and quick read; especially quick because it’s difficult to put the book aside after reading the first few pages. The characters are engaging. The plot has plenty of twists and turns, lots of suspects and motives, and…a missing vintage car and a missing corpse.
“Since this is the first book in this series that I have read, the ex-cop Lyle Deming and PR exec Kate Sorensen characters were new to me although they were carried over from Death in Nostalgia City, the first book in the series. Not being familiar with the series characters didn’t diminish my enjoyment of Desert Kill Switch, though I plan to read Death in Nostalgia City while I wait for book number three in the series.”
“Mark. S. Bacon serves us a compelling second helping of mystery and mayhem in and around the fictional 1970’s theme park, Nostalgia City. Readers will find themselves smiling and nodding in appreciation as twists and turns are revealed in the multi-layered mystery that protagonists Lyle Deming and Kate Sorensen find themselves racing to solve. The fast-paced plot-line is both creative and timely, a nod to Mr. Bacon’s critical eye gained from his journalism experience. I’m looking forward to reading the next installment in this series!”
–Carrie C. Wolfgang, owner
Novel Destination book store
“[Bacon continues] his philosophical investigation of our relationship to the past, the roles, both positive and negative, that nostalgia plays in our emotional landscape. All of that is wrapped up in a rollicking murder mystery with two complex and appealing amateur sleuths and a frisson of romance.”
—Alison McMahan, screenwriter, filmmaker and author,
The Saffron Crocus
“Having read and loved the first book in this series “Death in Nostalgia City” (see my review here) I knew I just had to read this one. I was definitely not disappointed!
Lyle Deming and Kate Sorensen have to pair up again. Kate is a suspect in a murder–and Lyle has to help her prove her innocence. She goes into hiding. Her boyfriend is absolutely no help! Meanwhile a dead body which Lyle had spotted disappeared before the deputies could get there–where was this blue vintage car and it’s very dead driver? Who actually was the murderer of the guy everyone seemed to hate– including his wife!! Lots of suspects and both cases get solved–but not the way or by who you might think.
This can be read as a stand alone but you will probably want to read the first novel as well!!”
“Nostalgia City is a great idea that I wish really existed. A whole city dedicated to days gone by – clothes, music, architecture, food, even the slang of the day. What fun!
Kate and Lyle decide that the best way to clear Kate’s name is to find the real killer. Their quest to do this encompasses blackmail, murder, suspense and enough thrills to tickle your fancy. Throw in the 100 degree heat of the desert and the reader can feel perspiration start rolling off his/her forehead.”
–Mary Ann Smyth
“If you like fast-paced mysteries, nasty characters and enough twists and turns to keep you guessing to the end, this is a must read!”
Author of Blow Up on Murder and the Spirit Lake Mysteries
“In Desert Kill Switch Mark Bacon weaves a fascinating mystery around murder, a missing body and a beautiful woman racing against time to clear her name of a crime she did not commit. Antique cars, fast cars and the threat of death in the desert between Las Vegas and Reno combine to give readers a thrilling ride.”
author of The Red Queen Rules and the Red Solaris mystery series
“…straight out of classical detective fiction…told at a fun, engine-revving pace.”
–Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
Death in Nostalgia City
“A rollicking good read! That’s how I would describe Mark S. Bacon’s novel, Death in Nostalgia City. It’s a page turner, a fast-paced mystery that pits the good guys against the obvious bad guys with forceful but satisfying results. Half way through Death in Nostalgia City, the reader pretty much knows who’s guilty. Learning how all the pieces of the plot fit intricately together and watching the villains’ attempts to avoid capture and prosecution are what’s so enjoyable about reading Bacon’s thriller.
The setting plays a key role. Nostalgia City is an adult theme park, built in the Arizona desert not far from old Route 66 and designed to attract the baby boomer generation. The community replicates the 1970s, with no signs of modernization whatsoever. Old gas pumps, old cash registers, old movies, old music, even old amusement park rides. The only hint of the twenty-first century is an Indian casino just a few miles away, easily accessible by riding a nostalgic old train. Billionaire Max Maxwell has thought of everything to attract paying customers.
Death in Nostalgia City opens with a series of unusual accidents. Suddenly the idyllic scenery is filled first with worrisome snags and then with fatal calamities. The theme park’s designer and financial guru, dissatisfied with park security, asks Lyle Deming, an ex-Phoenix cop who works in Nostalgia City as a taxi driver, to investigate. Maxwell also hires Kate Sorenson, a Las Vegas public relations specialist, to counter the bad publicity that is driving customers away. Before long, Lyle and Kate are a team, working together to figure out who is behind the dastardly deeds that are driving the customers away.
Lyle and Kate are a charming twosome, first determining the culprits, then calculating ways to trap the evil doers. As you can tell by my language, Death in Nostalgia City is just plain fun. Even though there are several violent encounters, the rapid pace and the intricate machinations make the novel a delight, not a downer at all. Bacon plots well, characterizes well, and writes well. In addition, “Nostalgia City” turns Disneyland into Magic Mountain into Dollywood into Wall Street into the mean streets of New York City, a winning collage of baby boomer fantasies and reminiscences.”
–Ann Ronald, Bookin’ with Sunny Reviews
Disney for the boomers….
Lyle retired from the police force and took a job driving a cab in Nostalgia City (a 70’s theme park) to relax ,and to enjoy his time with the transients he drove around NC. But life is never simple is it? He’s asked to aid in an investigation of sabotage! ‘ Accidents’ are intentional and the incidents are piling up. Bad press is adding to the pressure of keeping the park afloat.
There is danger, murder, secrecy, a bit of romance, and down the wire hold your breath anticipation.
I truly do wish there existed, a Nostalgia City.
–Linda Marsheells, LibraryThing top 1% reviewer
“I really enjoyed everything about this book! It is indeed a taste of nostalgia bringing back all that was new and “happening” during that time period… Loved it, Loved It.”
“Death In Nostalgia City is very aptly titled because while I was reading it I felt like I was taking a walk down memory lane. Not that I had experience with a murder but this book reminded me of the old police dramas that I enjoyed watching. Memories of shows like Starsky and Hutch and The Rockford Files came flooding back to me while I was reading this book. And that is a good thing.
Lyle Deming is a cab driver in a theme park and it is the perfect job for him. He is an ex-policeman who suffers from chronic anxiety attacks so the non-stress of being a cab driver is just what the doctor ordered. Until accidents start happening within the park and people start getting injured and dying. Lyle’s anxiety level begins climbing with each incident.
Knowing that Lyle is an ex-policeman, the owner of the resort asks Lyle to investigate the incidents and figure out what is happening and why. He reluctantly agrees and finds himself in more trouble than he could have imagined. Lucky for him, he enlists the help of the resort’s Public Relations director, Kate Sorenson. One of Kate’s jobs is to create positive publicity to counteract the bad press that the resort is experiencing. Kate is not sure which will be harder, catching a killer or spinning the incidents in a positive light.
There is so much to love about this book. The characters are well developed, well rounded and three dimensional. Both Lyle and Kate have very many human traits that we all have. Both Lyle and Kate come into each other’s lives and into the investigation with baggage. Kate has problems with commitments. Lyle left the police force under questionable circumstances and really struggles with his anxiety disorder. They seem very realistic to me and are very easy to start caring and worrying about.
The setting of the theme park is described so well that I wish that a place like that really existed. Everything from the early seventies is replicated, from the clothing, food, vehicles and music.
Being a teenager in the seventies, I could relate to all of these things and it brought back memories for me. This is one of the things I liked most about the book.
The book pulled me in from the very beginning and never let me go. There are so many twists and turns contained within this book that at times I almost felt dizzy. The suspense and tension are almost palpable and I had to keep turning pages as fast as I could to find out what was going to happen to Lyle and Kate.
I love the premise of the book and Nostalgia City. I found this to be unique and very enjoyable and this is a good thing. The writing style flows smoothly and the book is a quick easy read. The author is very descriptive in his writing and is able to evoke memories and create tension just with his written word.
I would recommend this well-crafted mystery suspense to anyone who enjoys this genre. If you have lived through the seventies, you will enjoy this book even more. Hopefully this is the start of a new series for Mark S. Bacon. I want to be able to learn more about Lyle and Kate and get to know them even better.”
“Just as baby boomers love nostalgia and trivia, they will love Death in Nostalgia City. It’s a twisty mystery set in a retro theme park in the Arizona desert. The fast-paced story travels to Boston and back as we meet a diverse blend of intriguing characters, all with something to hide.
“Off-beat ex-cop Lyle Deming pursues suspects with an intensity bordering on obsession. He frustrates his younger partner with his questionable logic and his puzzling references to ‘60s and ‘70s trivia he knows well. Reading this theme park thriller is more fun than winning a trivia contest and riding your favorite wooden coaster on the same day!”
–Wilson Casey, syndicated columnist, author and Guinness World Record trivia guy
Death in Nostalgia City, a novel by Mark S. Bacon, is set in Arizona, and protagonist Lyle Deming has a new job driving a cab for Nostalgia City, a unique theme park and resort that takes visitors back to the 1970s. He’s a former cop, but is perfectly happy with this new low-stress job. Archibald “Max” Maxwell is the brain behind the park, and he hires Kate Sorensen as the PR Manager after a series of suspicious, “accidents,” some resulting in fatalities, occur at the park. The media, of course, blows the problems out of proportion, attendance begins to plummet, and Max is in danger of losing everything. Lyle is convinced that someone is trying to sabotage the park and drive it out of business. He and Kate team up to not only find a motive and perpetrator, but to stop any more accidents from happening.
As Lyle and Kate investigate, they interact with several park employees, politicians, and unsavory people who may be responsible for the accidents and murders. As Lyle and Kate uncover facts and evidence, they find they are in danger for their lives. When Lyle’s father is murdered, it becomes a personal thing, and he is determined to find the murderer. This novel is written in such a way that the suspense is palpable, the characters are likable, and the 70s backdrop adds an element of fun.
Bacon is an excellent storyteller. He has imagination, and is able to put his ideas together in such a way that readers won’t be able to put this book down. The characters are well-developed, and seem like real people. The nostalgic theme park is unique and fascinating; it seems Bacon has done his research on the 70s, and everything mentioned – from the old cars, old music and radio programs is absolutely true to the period.
Death in Nostalgia City will especially appeal to baby boomers because of the 70s theme, but the book is highly recommended for almost anyone. It’s a delightful trip back in time with plenty of twists, turns, and a surprise ending.
“Bacon has written an entertaining crime novel full of action, intrigue and heart. With a pair of likable protagonists and a unique setting, this is one fast, fun ride. I want to visit Nostalgia City!”
— Wendy Tyson, Author of the Allison Campbell Mystery Series
“With Death in Nostalgia City, Bacon has created an exquisite theme park resort. When a little crime and murder invades this sterile amusement park environment, the result is a mystery that will keep you turning the pages. Family vacations will never be the same.”
–Jim Hillman, author, Amusement Parks
Director, National Amusement Park Historical Association
Imagine Disney except for adults–baby boomers to be exact. That is what Max has created, a theme park which pretty well mimics the 60’s and 70’s. Lyle Deming, who left the police department under not the best of circumstances now is happily driving a cab for tourists in this make-believe town.
Then accidents start happening and Max hires Kate who is a super PR person to try and stop the bad publicity or at least put a better spin on it. The accidents become more frequent–then someone dies. Max convinces Lyle to investigate.
There are twists and turns aplenty in this one! Lyle and Kate have to team up and try to stay alive to save the park! Not everyone is so lucky–I genuinely enjoyed reading this book and was happy at a decision to add something to the park at the end–Will there be another in this series? I’m not sure-but there should be!! Five Stars
—Michele Bodenheimer, MikisHope.com
The old saying, smile things could get worse – I smiled and sure enough they got worse should be Lyle Deming’s creed. Lyle is an ex-cop now driving a cab in a theme park. The goal of the job is to reduce his anxieties.
Nostalgia City is a theme park that allows one to visit the past. A complete, circa 1970 is replicated – cars, music, clothes, etc. are all appropriate for the year.
The attitude of Nostalgia City is relaxed, laid back, chill but then rides are tampered with, and tourists die. As Lyle was a cop, the owner of the park asks Lyle to investigate off the record.
But things go from bad to worse – more violence, employees are stalked. Lyle turns to the park’s PR director of help. Kate, a former college basketball player joins in the investigation. Unfortunately, Kate just can’t blend in – not at 6 foot 2 inches and beautiful.
Even with a beautiful sidekick, Lyle and Kate work together to discover whether these are accidents or not? Whether corporate espionage or not? And who is doing this?
DEATH IN NOSTLAGIA CITY is a delightful combination of past and present thrillers. The theme park makes you feel, taste, even touch 1970s. If you remember the 70s you will enjoy the park. But the present is not left behind- leaving a good weave to mystery and excitement in both eras. Well written, highly enjoyable and a great step back to another time.
I give it 5 stars.
Death in Nostalgia City takes the reader for a ride in Lyle Deming’s cab (a 1973 Dodge Polara) through the Nostalgia City theme park – welcome back to the 70s.
Ex-cop Deming is pressed into service to investigate when accidents start happening and it looks like sabotage. The ex-FBI security chief doesn’t like it but PR Director (and ex-basketball star) Kate Sorenson teams up with Lyle to find out who-dun-nit and why.
The setting is detailed and imaginative. DJ Big Earl Williams keeps the wax spinning and provides a soundtrack to warm any boomer’s heart. The reader, like the tourists, gets to travel a generation back in time and imagine the fun of visiting such a theme park. Until the present ominously intrudes.
It’s fun to see how Deming works in two eras – using 21st century techniques and tools in his detecting and then easily segueing back into the 70s for a tour of the park. Wonder which time zone he would really rather live in.
Bacon has created a compelling world with characters and puzzles to keep the plot moving.
In Arizona, retired Phoenix cop Lyle Deming drives a 1973 Dodge taxi in Nostalgia City; a town that targets baby boomer tourists with its authentic 1970s replication. With two passengers, Lyle brakes at a stop sign when he notices a driverless vehicle picking up speed while heading towards him and his fare. He accelerates though the runaway scrapes the back of his car. Chief of Security Clyde Bates arrives to investigate what turns out to be murder when a firefighter finds a corpse.
Nostalgia City President septuagenarian Archibald “Max: Maxwell hires Lyle to investigate surreptitiously. Max also persuades his former employee, well over six foot relations guru Kate Sorenson to leave Vegas for Flagstaff at a time when the press is all bad. Although both have major personal issues, Kate and Lyle form a cohesive unit looking into the lethal occurrences. When more deadly incidents happen, Lyle and Kate begin to believe investors with an insider quisling or two are sabotaging Max’s efforts; which leads them diagonally across the country to Massachusetts where they deploy methods a cop could never use.
The investigation engages the audience especially with a six foot plus female trying to be inconspicuous. However, the exhilarating storyline belongs to Nostalgia City’s early 1970s theme that captures much of the era’s pop culture; especially baby boomers who heard “Alone Again (Naturally)” by Gilbert O’Sullivan on AM and watched the first showing of the soaps and All in the Family.
—Harriet Klausner, Amazon #1 Hall of Fame reviewer
Genre Go Round Reviews