Nostalgia City Mysteries

By Mark S. Bacon

Category Archives: crime novel

Book Review:

1

Desert Kill Switch – Killer Classic Cars and Murder – Great Who Done It

Former cop Lyle Deming is now a cabbie at a new theme park located in Arizona appropriately named Nostalgia City. His life is much calmer now that he left the force, and he likes it that way. Unfortunately for him, things are about to change for the worse.

While driving home with his daughter, he sees a vintage car on the side of the road and next to the classic Firebird is a body. A very dead body full of bullets. He hustles back to his Mustang, the main thing on his mind is keeping his daughter safe if the killers are still around.

He phones the local police, but when they get to the spot, there is no car, no body and no evidence of a crime. Deming knows he wasn’t hallucinating, so he begins investigating the crime and the missing victim on his own. Before he can get a good handle on what happened he is called to Reno because a close friend and coworker, Kate Sorensen is in trouble.

Kate, PR director of Nostalgia City, is manning a booth at a huge classic car event. Reno’s Rockin’ Summer Days is a great place to advertise Nostalgia City where the only cars allowed in the park are vintage rides. When one of the big wigs in charge of the event ends up on the wrong end of a knife, Kate is the prime suspect because she is found with the dead body and rumor has it she is trying to get the event moved to Nostalgia City.

Deming has to help her find the real killer before she is arrested, because the evidence points at Kate. He believes her innocence, but no one else does. So the two co-workers that seem to want to be more than friends are playing hide and seek with the cops, trying to find a killer and most importantly stay alive. After all, there is a killer on the loose who would love to see Kate in jail for the crime he or she committed.

There are so many suspects with plausible reasons to kill Al Busick it was fun to find out who finally did it. He was a conniving man, a car dealer with questionable morals and undeniably hated by many. It was fun to be twisted and turned by the plot. The characters are interesting and varied, each playing a vital role no matter how big or small.

Desert Kill Switch is a fast read, but don’t confuse that with a simply written story. Bacon’s descriptions are a thing of beauty. When looking for a suspect, Deming is driving down a desert road. The dust his tires are kicking up is described as “…ghosts following his car…” And the reader knows that Deming is well read when he quotes Dickens.

From the descriptions of Nostalgia City, I would love to have someone build this blast from the past theme park. I am sure it would be a big hit with baby boomers as well as those a bit younger.

Bacon’s second Nostalgia City Mystery is the first I have read. It is fun, suspenseful and impossible to put down once you crack the spine. I am going to search out the first in the series and keep an eye out for the third which is promised to be published soon.

I highly recommend this book to anyone that loves an easy to read, well written novel with an intriguing plot. It is a must read for mystery loving vintage car fans.

–Laura Hartman
Writeknit.com

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Author prepares culinary journey through time in debut novel

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Guest writer

In her debut work, Melodie Winawer created an historical novel, mystery and love story that transports readers—and her protagonist, neurosurgeon Beatrice Trovato, to fourteenth century Tuscany.  The recipient of a Publishers Weekly starred review, Winawer explains here the variety of early Italian food (and painstaking research) that went into her novel.

Three years into writing The Scribe of Siena, I started to get really hungry.  I’d been spending a lot of time with The Medieval Kitchen: Recipes from France and Italy,  and many of the dishes described there had found their way into the book. I wrote about the food but I hadn’t tasted it, and certainly hadn’t tried to cook it either.  Something essential was missing.

Food is a bridge to understanding the past. It goes straight to the visceral—literally.  To make that sensory connection come alive for myself and for the story, I needed to live it, not just write about it.  Beatrice, my protagonist, contemplates a similar choice when she is forced to choose between medieval and modern life. Read about it or live it? For me, there was an obvious route to living the past: making dinner.

I planned the menu for a month. I sourced ingredients at specialty food stores and online outlets that ship overseas, so not precisely an authentic medieval experience. The spice trade in the 14th century doesn’t compare to Amazon Prime.

I had to test drive a few techniques including making almond milk, an essential medieval Italian ingredient.   Fresh almond milk has no relationship to the carton-packaged liquid at health food stores, and it took me six pounds of raw almonds and two days.

First the almonds had to be blanched in a huge pot of boiling water. (Imagine doing that with only a fireplace and a pot hanging over it).  I dropped a load of nuts in, splashing and scalding myself in the process. Then—uh oh—remove all the almonds rapidly after three minutes. SERIOUSLY? Accomplished, but barely.  Then the next step: “When cool enough to handle, remove skins from almonds.”

Ever tried to make almond milk? People did in medieval Siena. So did the author.

This translated into pinching hundreds of almonds between my fingers until the nuts slipped out of their skins. At first it was awkward; many shot suddenly across the room. Then the rhythm set in.

The steam wafted from the cooling nuts, the sun slanted through the kitchen windows, and I started to feel the long stretch of centuries I’d dropped into.  Hours later I had to soak the nuts, then grind them. (Imagine this without a blender.)  Then I had a milky slurry of  almonds and water to push through a strainer. 

At this point I realized my strainer was seriously inadequate, and I ordered a same-day delivery, heavy duty version on line—a luxury I didn’t share with my medieval predecessors.  But they would probably have started with a better strainer. Continue Reading →

Author creates a good fracking mystery; here’s how she dug up the story

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By Sherry Knowlton

Topical issues that affect real people are a perfect foundation upon which to construct a suspense novel. And you can’t get much more topical than fracking mixed with government and corporate corruption.  The research I did into fracking uncovered environmental nightmares and much more. That’s why I chose it as the backdrop for my new Alexa Williams novel, Dead of Spring. 

I’ve long considered myself an environmentalist, so I’ve followed the evolution of fracking quite closely, both here in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.  In my day job, I interact a lot with Pennsylvania state government. That’s given me a front row seat to the contentious debate about whether the Commonwealth should tax fracking companies.  I’ve been concerned that the negative impact of fracking on people and the environment has been overshadowed by the drive for energy independence and economic growth.  That’s what I wanted to explore in Dead of Spring – in a suspense story context.

But what exactly is fracking?  It’s the commonly used term for a natural gas extraction process called hydraulic fracturing.  This process is unique in that the gas wells are drilled, first vertically, and then at a 90-degree angle that can extend as much as a mile both down into the earth and parallel to the surface.  The process has opened up huge swaths of geologic formations known as shale to gas drilling.  In Pennsylvania, the region that is being fracked is known as the Marcellus Shale. 

Fracking has its pros and cons.  It has opened up new reserves of natural gas, lowering energy costs and helping reduce the US reliance on foreign oil. And advocates argue that natural gas is cleaner burning than coal and other fossil fuels.  But the drilling process uses a slurry of toxic chemicals, releases methane into the air and can degrade water supplies. The injection of the fracking waste back into the ground has caused earthquakes.  Oklahoma’s dramatic increase in earthquake activity is well-publicized. Maryland and New York have banned new fracking activity.  But, other states have welcomed fracking’s economic boost. Needless to say, fracking is a controversial issue. 

One of my most useful bits of research came when I visited a landowner in northern Pennsylvania who had leased his land to an energy company for fracking.  He leased in the early days of fracking and was unaware of the problems he might encounter.  He shared his experience by showing me his photographs of the process that transformed his property. A beautiful woodland that step by step by step turned into an acre of gravel and machinery.  Pristine drinking water that now requires constant filtering just for showers and bathing. Battles with the energy company about compensation for various problems. Although I did considerable additional research, that visit was most enlightening.  Continue Reading →

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