Death in Nostalgia City

By Mark S. Bacon

Category Archives: ebooks

Darkness and light in this Tahoe thriller

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Tahoe Dark
Todd Borg
341 Pages
Thriller Press  August 2016
Trade Paper $16.95 Kindle $3.99 or free with Kindle unlimited

One of my favorite flavors of mystery is the story that includes more than one serious crime.  The reader struggles not only to figure out whodunit but also to determine if the crimes are connected.  If you think you have a line on a promising suspect, you have to ask yourself, is this person also involved in the other crime(s)?

This mystery device complicates a story in ways that draw you in and appeals to both your left and right brain.  Todd Borg does this admirably in his 14th Owen McKenna mystery, Tahoe Dark.

And it starts with a bang.  David Montrop’s son is kidnapped and ransomed.  Montrop is forced to empty his bank account by tormentors who seem to know his every move.  Next, he’s killed with something rarely considered a weapon.  

 When private detective Owen McKenna’s phone rings, it’s the Reno police telling him the murder victim left a note suggesting McKenna as the likely murderer.  That sets McKenna off on a quest to find out why he was singled out by the victim and who really killed Montrop and kidnapped his son. 

Soon, an armored car is robbed in State Line, Nev., by four armed men in menacing hockey masks.  The armored car company president hires McKenna to find the robbers and the money. 

See the connection?  Is there one?  If so, it stretches from Lake Tahoe to Reno and runs through more law enforcement jurisdictions than you can imagine necessary to patrol one lake, albeit the largest alpine lake in North America.

 One of the appealing aspects of the book, and there are many, is Borg’s creation of an engaging, complex victim/suspect.  She’s a seemingly vulnerable, impoverished house cleaner who appears to have connections to all the crimes in McKenna’s world.  In Tahoe Dark, that world includes additional victims murdered in a most unusual, original and gruesome way.  The murder scenes are as chilling as he’s written in 14 books.  Try not to visualize.

You will also learn fascinating, if gross details about maggots in dead bodies delivered by forensic entomologist, Street Casey, McKenna’s girlfriend:

“Street told me that when an animal or person dies, the average length of time before a fly finds it and lays eggs is ten minutes.” 

One of the funniest lines in the book involves these bugs.  But I won’t spoil it. There are other good lines:

“I wondered if we could find out what it [a substance with an unusual odor] was without waiting two weeks to get a lab test.  So I asked this woman at the office who’s got a killer sniffer.  You know,  the kind who can smell a scent and say it’s a Lady Slipper orchid or the cleaning solution they used on the floor at the main post office in Bakersfield.”

You expect a PI to pop off snappy lines like this, don’t you?  Borg doesn’t disappoint, even offering a line about another PI:

“The couch faced a TV so old it had probably broadcast original episodes of The Rockford Files.”

Borg fans will be pleased to see his continuing characters including Casey, Tahoe cop Diamond Martinez and of course Spot, McKenna’s Great Dane sidekick.

Borg muses on the grandeur of the lake and the Sierra providing a contrast between the beauty of nature and the ugliness of murder.  In Tahoe Dark, Borg offers both light and shadow, and he does this with assurance.

‘Desert Kill Switch’ is new Nostalgia City mystery

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The life and times of stressed-out, former detective—now cabbie—Lyle Deming, and former college basketball star Kate Sorensen, will continue in 2017 with the publication of the second Nostalgia City mystery, Desert Kill Switch

Many thanks to Lauri Wellington, my editor at Black Opal Books; I’m happy to announce that Desert Kill Switch will be followed by the third mystery in the series.  (I’m keeping that title under my fedora for the time being.)

In Desert Kill Switch, Lyle finds a bullet-riddled body in the Arizona desert near Nostalgia City.  But when he returns to the scene with sheriff’s deputies, there’s no trace of the dead young man or the classic 1970s Firebird Trans Am that the victim had apparently been driving.  Was Lyle seeing things?

Desert-Kill-SwitchAt the same time, Kate, Nostalgia City’s PR VP,  is in Reno, Nev., to promote the park at a ten-day classic car festival.  Soon she’s in the middle of a local controversy involving community leaders, a sleazy Las Vegas car dealer and the state legislature.  There’s a taste of violence in the desert, a cast of quirky characters and enough plot twists to satisfy Chubby Checker. The book will be available in print and all popular ebook formats.

I’ll be posting more details as we get closer to the book’s release date.  And no, this is not what the cover will look like, but the font style is the same.

New mystery releases

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Front-Page-AffairA Front Page Affair (Kitty Weeks Mystery)
Radha Vatsal
Sourcebooks Landmark,  May 3, 2016
336 Pages
Kindle  $9.99  Paperback  $11.40

 

Radha Vatsal, debut author of the new mystery A Front Page Affair, grew up in Mumbai, India and came to the United States to attend boarding school when she was 16.  Growing up, she says, she loved reading mysteries.

“Agatha Christie was my introduction to the genre and Dick Francis taught me that mysteries could draw me into a world that I knew nothing about—in this case horseracing—and teach me a lot,” she says.

Her fascination with the 1910s, setting for her new mystery series, began when she studied women filmmakers and action-film heroines of silent cinema at Duke University, where she earned her Ph.D. in English.  “I chose the mid-1910s for the setting of my novel because so much was happening then—culturally and politically,” she says, “and yet it remains a relatively under-explored area in fiction.”

Settling on a heroine was a harder,” says Vatsal, “she had to be someone who could carry a series and who was able to undertake an investigation, but at the same time, she needed to be part of her milieu. She couldn’t flaunt all the rules that applied to women during the 1910s because that would take away some of the tension and the fun.  So, she became a reporter for the Ladies’ Page of a newspaper:

The Lusitania has just been sunk, and headlines about a shooting at J.P. Morgan’s mansion and the Great War are splashed across the front page of every newspaper. Capability “Kitty” Weeks would love nothing more than to report on the news of the day, but she’s stuck writing about fashion and society gossip over on the Ladies’ Page―until a man is murdered at a high society picnic on her beat.

Determined to prove her worth as a journalist, Kitty finds herself plunged into the midst of a wartime conspiracy that threatens to derail the United States’ attempt to remain neutral―and to disrupt the privileged life she has always known.

 

Roftop-Angels---JamesRooftop Angels
Tierney James
e-Book Press Publishing,  June 3, 2016
291 pages
Kindle $3.99; free June 8 only; Paperback, 13.99

 

I believe world geography connects everything around us, says Tierney James, author of the new novel, Rooftop Angels.

“I was a geo-teacher for National Geographic where we taught students five very important themes: location, place, human environmental interaction, movement and region.” Continue Reading →

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