Nostalgia City Mysteries

Mark S. Bacon

Category Archives: book review

From the annals of modern medicine


Or: writers’ block is a bitch, but I can still talk and read things, like Ruth Myers’ new period PI page-turner.

My thanks to everyone who suggested I obtain a speech-to-text program as a temporary cure for my writers’ block.  I discovered that Microsoft Word has that function built in. I’m actually using it right now.

The program reproduces my words quite accurately. Moving the cursor around, inserting punctuation and deleting words however, is easier said than done. No, I mean it’s harder when said than done.  No that’s not what I mean either.  It’s quicker to make corrections with the keyboard than to speak them, but that exacerbates the as-yet-to-be-fully-diagnosed pain in my right forearm.

The chief suspect appears to be medial epicondylitis,  a form of tendinitis. Ten minutes at the keyboard and mouse makes my arm painful for hours.  Using my laptop and its palm rest, rather than my desktop PC, is marginally less unpleasant. If I stay away from the keyboard entirely the pain seems to hide for hours at a time, sometimes a day.

I can imagine my orthopedist telling me to simply stop writing and I’m good to go.  That would be like telling chronically injured Olympic star Lindsey Vonn to stop skiing.  Wait—she did stop skiing.  It would be like telling Tom Brady—okay stop with the athletic analogies.  (I’m really not saying this. The speech-to-text program must have mutated to AI. I’m switching back to two-finger typing.)

Regardless, I’m a writer. I’m not going to give it up. If I had to choose between painful writing or pain-free lollygagging—well, you know the answer. If you’re following along at home, I have an MRI scheduled soon.  Stay tuned.

Writers write. They also help other writers. Recently I read a new novel by mystery writer M. Ruth Myers. The novel was so new it hadn’t been published yet. I was what’s called a beta-reader.  When I and most writers I know write a book, we want to get feedback before a book is submitted to an editor and published.     Continue Reading →

Orphan leads Tahoe PI on trail of a killer

Tahoe Moon                
Todd Borg
Thriller Press
352  pages  July 2022            
Kindle $4.99, paperback $16.95

The star of author Todd Borg’s twentieth Tahoe murder mystery is not his ex-SFPD cop—turned PI—Owen McKenna, nor McKenna’s 170-lb Great Dane, Spot, or even the erudite Sheriff’s Sgt. Diamond Martinez, an old friend of McKenna’s.

The star is orphan Camille Dexter, an eight-year-old skateboard wizard who rolls through the sometimes gritty story steeling herself, dodging peril and impressing adults.  And by the way, she’s deaf.

McKenna discovers Camille outside a Lake Tahoe hotel when he’s on the way to a meeting.  Her grandfather has dropped her off, telling her he will return soon.  He doesn’t.

Charles Dexter’s body is discovered crushed under a fallen pine tree. A chain saw is found near the body, and initially the police surmise that Dexter was the victim of a logging accident. Or was it suicide? Or murder? Regardless, McKenna has a deaf eight-year-old on his hands.

While police investigate, McKenna calls on his long-time girlfriend Street Casey for help with Camille. She puts the girl up for the night and introduces her to her golden retriever, Blondie. 

Unable to find any of Camille’s family—or Charles’—a police sergeant suggests that it might not be in the girl’s best interest to turn her over to social services right away.  Casey agrees to keep the girl with her—temporarily—until Camille has time to grasp the drastic changes in her life. Camille had been living with Dexter in a beat-up camper that police find abandoned near the grandfather’s body. She tells police they moved from place to place as he found work. Continue Reading →

Writing right & kudos acknowledged & more

How to write good

Only occasionally do I write about the mechanics of writing here, but this decades-old advice is worth passing along. While going through old (paper) files recently I came upon something I’d copied off the web in the mid-1990s.

This is one of those less-than serious posts that have flourished in the online world since the Internet began. I wondered if this short article was still in online circulation. It is.  I offer an abbreviated version here of “How to Write Good,” attributed to Sally Bulford. Among the 22 “rules” for good writing, these are my favorites.

1. Avoid alliteration. Always.

2. Contractions aren’t necessary.

3. One should never generalize.

4. Comparisons are as bad a clichés.

5. Don’t be redundant by using more words than necessary; it’s extremely needless and also superfluous.

6. Be more or less specific.

7. Analogies in writing are like glue on an apostrophe.

8. The passive voice is to be avoided.

9. Exaggeration is a million times worse than understatement.

And while I’m passing along English advice, let me be serious for a moment.  I wish everyone would stop saying (or writing) “going forward.”  You can use it when you’re describing the direction your car is moving, but in almost all other instances it’s redundant and can be eliminated without changing the sense of the sentence. Think about it.

Dark Ride Deception named a favorite book

My latest mystery was just named to the list of Favorite Books of 2021 by Kings River Life Magazine. Here’s what they said:

Dark Ride Deception

A noirish look at industrial espionage and murder in the world of amusement parks. Lyle, an ex-cop, drives a cab at a 70s theme park and does some detective work for the boss. Kate, an ex-basketball player, is in charge of public relations. A severed finger in his cab and feuding actors filming a movie in the park set off a chain of mysterious events in this fast-moving quest for the truth

Terrorist bombs

Stay tuned.  The next article (post) on this website (& email) will be a look back at a terrorism on the screen.

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