Nostalgia City Mysteries

By Mark S. Bacon

Category Archives: book publishers

‘Desert Kill Switch’ by the numbers

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2,000,000
The estimated number of kill switches (and GPS trackers) presently active in cars financed in the US

85,686
Number of words in the book

774
Number of cups of Lapsang Souchong tea I drank while writing

450
Number of miles from Las Vegas to Reno

367
Number of days it took me to write it  (That’s elapsed days. Some few days I didn’t work. I was riding my bike, driving to Canada, etc. )

330
Number of pages

79
Number of times my dog interrupted me asking for attention or a walk

74.5
Height, in inches, of my protagonist Kate Sorensen

71
Number of Chapters

45
Age of the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am on the cover

24
Number of characters  This number is approximate.  Some characters are so minor they are not counted and some are dead.

17
Percent of the book I wrote while sitting in an Adirondack chair in my back garden

8
Number of times I use the f-word.  This is not excessive for a crime novel this long with lots of nasty characters.  But I cut it down in my next book. (See an upcoming post on the use of profanity in mystery novels.)

7
Number of years my publisher, Black Opal Books, has been in business

5
Per cent of the book I wrote in my pajamas

3
Number of times I use the f-word in my next book

2
Number of times someone slugs protagonist Lyle

1
Number of pictures   It’s just a mug shot of me at the end.  This is not a picture book.

1
Number of times I use the word “awesome”  (It was in dialog.)

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I don’t know everything

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The books I write, both nonfiction and fiction, start with ideas and branch out into chapters.  The background information in those chapters doesn’t all come from me.  No surprise.  Even with fiction—perhaps especially with fiction—I want to include accurate information, authentic details.  And many of those details are products of research: reading online and printed material and talking to experts.

Once I have collected facts and written a manuscript, I still need help. Writing is a solitary occupation, but making a manuscript as good as it can be  certainly is not. I need comments, suggestions, reactions and detailed editing.

I don’t know everything, but I know how to find people who know more than I do.  In Desert Kill Switch I thank the people who helped me create my book.  I’d like to thank them here, too.

Acknowledgements for Desert Kill Switch

My thanks to the professional team at Black Opal Books including Lauri, Faith, L.P., Arwen, and Jack for their hard work to make the book a reality.

Automobiles—classic cars in particular—are a big part of the story. I could not have included all the details about cars without the help of experts including veteran mechanic and classic car owner Bill Fogel and Tim Cox, a classic car owner and CEO of Quiet Ride Solutions.  Any automotive errors here are mine, not theirs.  Thanks to Jason Soto and Dustin Dodd for their generous help with my law enforcement questions.  And old friend Sue Longson gave me some pointers on auto lending.  Again, errors are all mine, not theirs.

Thanks again to Christel Hall for her careful editing.

My special appreciation goes to James Mandas for lending his beautiful 1972 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am to pose for the cover of this book and for his patience in arranging a photo shoot much delayed by weather.

Helpful ideas and support came from writer friends Jane Gorby, Linda Townsdin, Craig Holland, David Pincus and Gene Michals.  Many thanks to advance readers and to critique group members: Harriet Snyder, Christina Batjer, Betty Knapp, Carolee Hanks, Carol Watson, Anne Johnson, Marge Parnas, Deb Cork, Brian Cave, Nicole Frens, Rene Averett, and Lucas Ledbetter.

Finally, thanks to my wife, Anne, for her love and support.

Why is there a Ferris wheel on my book cover?

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By Michael Niemann

It’s admittedly an odd choice for a thriller, but let me explain.

The Wiener Riesenrad, or Viennese giant wheel, was designed and built in 1897 by British engineers to commemorate the golden anniversary of emperor Franz Josef. And it is indeed of giant proportions, 212 feet tall. However, it wasn’t the tallest in the world. The original Ferris wheel, designed by George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr.  in 1893 for the Chicago World Columbian Exhibition, was 264 feet tall. Other illicit_trade-niemann-covergiant wheels built in London and Paris around the same time were also taller. But after a couple of decades, those other Ferris wheels had all been taken down.

By 1920, the Wiener Riesenrad was the tallest wheel in the world. It held that position until 1985 when the 289 foot Technostar wheel was opened in Japan. Currently, the tallest wheel is the High Roller in Las Vegas which stands 550 tall more than twice the height of the Riesenrad.

No Ferris wheel has played a bigger a role in popular culture than the Wiener Riesenrad. It featured in three spy thriller films, The Third Man, Scorpio, The Living Daylights, and one romance, Before Sunrise. It also made an appearance in several novels.

The wheel’s feature role in spy thrillers is not an accident. The Third Man takes place just a few years after World War II when Austria and Vienna were still divided into four sectors, occupied by Britain, France, the Soviet Union and the U.S. Obviously there was plenty of spying going on then.

The agreement that ended the occupation stipulated that Austria had to remain neutral henceforth. No wonder that during the Cold War, Vienna became a hub of clandestine meetings, shady dealings and generally a playground for spies from all over the world. That has not changed.

Inside the The Wiener Riesenrad, or Viennese giant wheel.

Inside the The Wiener Riesenrad, or Viennese giant wheel.

Austria’s neutrality also made Vienna a perfect location to host one of the United Nations headquarters. And that brings me back to my book. My protagonist, Valentin Vermeulen, works for the UN and a case of fraud brings him to Vienna. Once I had him there, I remembered The Third Man and watched the movie again. The scene featuring Orson Welles and Joseph Cotton is one of the most gripping scenes in the movie. Continue Reading →

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