Nostalgia City Mysteries

By Mark S. Bacon

Category Archives: crime novel

Winter blahs? Try a good mystery


Dames Fight Harder – Maggie Sullivan Mysteries, Volume 6
M. Ruth Myers
321 pages
Tuesday House  Nov. 12, 2017
Kindle $3.99   Trade paper $12.99

Shamus award winning writer Myers brings out her sixth Maggie Sullivan mystery.  The series started in the 1930s.  It’s now 1942 in Dayton, Ohio.

Murderer or independent woman? Murder at a construction site draws Ohio private investigator Maggie Sullivan into a case that makes cops mistrust her and friends doubt her. The suspect, Rachel Minsky, is Maggie’s closest friend – and all signs point to Rachel’s guilt.

Rachel ignores the rules society imposes on women. That independence, in 1942, as well as her success in business, has made her enemies. Yet the dead man also had an unsavory secret or two, starting with his missing mistress. Who was the murderer’s real target? And what is Rachel hiding from the only person who can save her?

The city Maggie scours for clues to the real killer has been altered by America’s recent entry into World War II. Shortages of men and material have created new motives for murder. As the case and Maggie’s relationship with policeman Mick Connelly heat up, Maggie finds herself caught in currents that threaten to drown her.

M. Ruth Myers, author of more than a dozen books, was a newspaper reporter in Michigan and Ohio. Her books have been translated into seven languages. She earned the Shamus Award in 2014 for Don’t Dare A Dame, the third book in her Maggie Sullivan series.  Find Myers at


The Art of Vanishing, A Lila Maclean Academic Mystery (Book 2)
Cynthia Kuhn
262 pages
Henery Press  Feb. 28, 2017
Kindle $2.99    Trade paperback $15.95

Cynthia Kuhn’s latest book is the second in her academic mystery series.  The first book in the series, The Semester of our Discontent, received the Agatha Award.

When Professor Lila Maclean is sent to interview celebrated author and notorious cad Damon Von Tussel, he disappears before her very eyes. The English department is thrown into chaos by the news, as Damon is supposed to headline Stonedale University’s upcoming Arts Week.

The chancellor makes it clear that he expects Lila to locate the writer and set events back on track immediately. But someone appears to have a different plan: strange warnings are received, valuable items go missing, and a series of dangerous incidents threaten the lives of Stonedale’s guests. After her beloved mother, who happens to be Damon’s ex, rushes onto campus and into harm’s way, Lila has even more reason to bring the culprit to light before anything—or anyone—else vanishes.

Cynthia Kuhn is professor of English at Metropolitan State University of Denver and current president of Sisters in Crime-Colorado. The Art of Vanishing was a a Lefty Award nominee for best humorous Mystery. The third in the series, The Spirit in Question, will be out in the fall.  Visit her at


Clarissa Goenewan
336 pages
Soho Press   March 6, 2018
Kindle $14.99  Hardback $25

Set in an imagined town outside Tokyo, Clarissa Goenawan’s dark, literary debut follows a young man’s path to self-discovery in the wake of his sister’s murder.
Ren Ishida has nearly completed his graduate degree at Keio University when he receives news of his sister’s violent death. Keiko was stabbed one rainy night on her way home, and there are no leads. Ren heads to Akakawa to conclude his sister’s affairs, failing to understand why she chose to turn her back on the family and Tokyo for this desolate place years ago.

But then Ren is offered Keiko’s newly vacant teaching position at a prestigious local cram school and her bizarre former arrangement of free lodging at a wealthy politician’s mansion in exchange for reading to the man’s ailing wife. He accepts both, abandoning Tokyo and a crumbling relationship there in order to better understand his sister’s life and what took place the night of her death.

Clarissa Goenewan is a debut novelist.  She is an Indonesian-born Singaporean writer. Her award-winning short fiction has appeared in literary magazines and anthologies in Singapore, Australia, the UK, and the US.  Goenewan’s website home is:


Editor’s note:  Prices for the above books may vary depending on the retailer and when you access sales sites.  Click on the book covers for more information.



Book Review:


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

Author prepares culinary journey through time in debut novel

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 →

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