Nostalgia City Mysteries

By Mark S. Bacon

Category Archives: Death in Nostalgia City

F**king profanity in mystery novels: an update

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First of two parts

Comedian George Carlin had seven words.   Mystery novelist John Sanford has hundreds, but he repeats. John Grisham uses them sparingly.  Many mystery, suspense and thriller writers use them.  But some don’t.

Agatha Christie didn’t.  Neither did a whole generation of cozy authors from Dorothy L. Sayers to Ngaio Marsh to Charlotte MacLeod.

Swear words, dirty words, four-letter words, cuss words or however you describe them are the  way many people—including mystery writers—express themselves.  Are words like f**k and s**t appropriate in mystery fiction?  Or does avoiding profanity altogether make present-day dialog sound tame and artificial?

I’m a little new to mystery writing and the use of expletives still fascinates and puzzles.  I wrote about this topic here when I’d published my first mystery.  Now that I sent the manuscript for my third Nostalgia City mystery to my publisher, I’m still intrigued.  Although I have settled on a profanity policy for my own work, I decided to take another look at the opinions and practices of mystery readers and writers alike.  The result was damn surprising. Continue Reading →

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News, upcoming events, articles & profanity

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Listen to me

Recently I was interviewed by Laura Brennan, host of the Destination Mystery podcast.  It’s now posted on the podcast websites listed below.  I talked about my background as a police reporter and as a theme park copywriter.  I responded to questions about specific aspects and details from both Desert Kill Switch and Death in Nostalgia City.  Brennan is a good interviewer and does her homework.

She said she was fascinated that I had come up with creative, unexpected ways that people can break the law.  Truth be told, most of the crimes in my books are loosely based on actual cases.

As I discuss in the interview, the car dealer practices, that make up part of the plot for Desert Kill Switch, are real.  Some dealers really do install kill switches in cars they sell to people they consider high-risk borrowers. I hasten to add this particular practice is not illegal to my knowledge, although some states or local governments recently may have passed laws to regulate kill switches.

I also talk about one of my newspaper crime stories that turned into a multiple-murder case that spanned decades.  As a result, I testified at a murder trial in LA recently.

And, I read one of my mystery flash fiction short stories.

It was fun.  Give a listen.  And thanks, Laura.

Destination Mystery podcast site– Brennan’s interview
Interview via iTunes podcast/download

 

Indie Award nomination

Death in Nostalgia City has been nominated for an Indie Award from Top Shelf Magazine. It’s entered in the action/adventure category.

 

 

Book #3

The third book in the Nostalgia City mystery series, Marijuana Murder, is being edited at Black Opal Books.  I will post its release date soon.  I’m working on mystery #4. 

 

Upcoming events

On Sept. 22 I will talk about “Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Mystery Novels” at the South Lake Tahoe branch of the El Dorado (Calif.) County Library. The event is posted on the library’s Facebook page hereVisit the friends of the library website here.

October 14 is the date for the Great Valley Bookfest in Manteca, just south of Stockton, Calif.  I’ll be signing copies of both my mysteries and will be a member of a mystery authors panel discussion. We’re working now on the specific topics we’ll cover.  Joining me on the panel are mystery writers Carole Price and Claire Booth.  Moderator will be Nancy Tingley.  Come by this big book event that benefits literacy programs in California’s Central Valley.  Activities for children, too.

 

Articles (blog posts) in the works

Profanity, aka obscenity, in mystery novels is the topic for the next two articles you’ll see in your email or on my website.  I talk about the evolution of naughty words in mysteries from the pristine prose of Christie and Sayers to the sometimes less-than-polite language of some mystery writers today. Continue Reading →

Reading group guide for Death in Nostalgia City

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Questions for discussion
  1. The book begins in central Arizona, but the plot leads the main characters to Boston and back. How do the multiple settings contribute to the book? How do they affect the actions of the main characters?
  2. Lyle thinks of his relationship to his father as generating both anger and guilt. What does he mean by that and how does this motivate him throughout the story? Does he have other motivations?
  3. How would you describe Kate Sorensen’s role in the story? How does her approach to challenges differ from Lyle’s?
  4. How important is the retro theme of Nostalgia City to the theme of the book? How do they differ? Do you think the author has an opinion about the value of celebrating or enjoying the past?
  5. In the face of Lyle’s fairly obvious instability, is Kate justified in trusting him?
  6. This is a mystery, but the author establishes FedPat Corporation as a likely source of criminal activity early on. Did this leave enough questions for the reader to solve? How close to the actual workings of a large insurance company, excluding perhaps murder, do you think this is? 
  7. Kate uses her background in competitive athletics as inspiration to deal with crises without looking back. How does it work?
  8. How does Lyle employ his “loiter and listen” strategy?  Is it effective?
  9. Lyle and others make references to celebrities and events from past decades, some of which may be obscure.  Do references to people such as Vic Tanny and Jeannie C. Riley puzzle you or contribute to the setting of the story?

     

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