Nostalgia City Mysteries

By Mark S. Bacon

Category Archives: Mystery novels

A trio of mystery, suspense, thrills


Tahoe Payback  (Owen McKenna Mystery Thriller)
Todd Borg
352 pages
Thriller Press   August 2017
Kindle $4.99  Trade paper $12.34

The fifteenth Owen McKenna mystery at Lake Tahoe looks at scam charities. When a man tells Tahoe Detective Owen McKenna that his girlfriend disappeared, McKenna wonders if the woman got cold feet and ran away. But when she turns up murdered on Lake Tahoe’s Fannette Island with red roses in her mouth, McKenna discovers that she used a scam charity to steal millions.  A second victim is found with a tennis ball crammed into his mouth. A third has military medals in his cheeks. McKenna suspects that these victims also ran fraudulent charities.

While McKenna investigates the murders, his girlfriend Street Casey has reason to believe that her ex-con father, who’s jumped parole, wants revenge for her testimony that put in him in prison decades ago.  

It appears that the victims are all payback targets of a vigilante killer. McKenna finds lots of potential suspects. But he can’t link any of them to the crimes. What he doesn’t know is that both he and his girlfriend are about to face someone who wants them very dead.


Tahoe local Todd Borg is the bestselling author of 15 Owen McKenna Mystery Thrillers. Borg’s novels have won the Ben Franklin Award for Best Mystery of the Year, made Library Journal’s Top 5 Mysteries of the Year list, received rave reviews, including a starred review in Library Journal, and made Amazon’s Mystery/Thriller and Private Investigator Bestseller Lists multiple times.   Borg’s books have over 500,000 paper books and ebooks in distribution.  He was selected as the toastmaster for the 2018 Left Coast Crime convention.


The Red Queen Rules: A Red Solaris Mystery Vol.3
Bourne Morris
246 pages
Henery Press   December 2016
Kindle $4.99  Trade paper $15.95

 This third installment of the Red Solaris series proves again that anyone who thinks a college campus is a haven of scholarship and civility hasn’t been paying attention.

Is it free speech or hate? When a white supremacist schedules an event on campus, University Dean Red Solaris must confront her own feelings about an issue that challenges the very core of American education: campus safety versus freedom of speech.

Amidst escalating tension, Red meets with the editor of the student newspaper – who also confides in Red that her young cousin is missing, probably a victim of local sex traffickers. Agreeing to rescue the girl, Red solicits help from her beloved detective Joe Morgan. But when Morgan goes undercover into the dangerous world of human trafficking, he disappears without a trace. Red must balance her fears for Morgan with her worries that a campus riot may soon break out.

The Red Queen Rules is also available as an MP3 CD.


After Bennington College, Bourne Morris worked at McCall’s Magazine and then the New York advertising agency of  Ogilvy & Mather.  She rose through the ranks from copywriter to head of the agency’s Los Angeles office serving clients that included Mattel, Columbia Pictures, General Foods cereals and Baskin-Robbins.  Later she became a professor of journalism at the University of Nevada- Reno where she taught marketing communications and media ethics.  She was also chair of the university’s faculty senate where she learned about campus politics and tensions.


Illegal Holdings
Michael Niemann
230 pages
Coffeetown Press  Mar. 1, 2018
Kindle $6.95  Trade paper $12.37

UN fraud investigator Valentin Vermeulen is on assignment in Maputo, Mozambique. His ho-hum task is to see if Global Alternatives is spending UN money the way they promised. The nonprofit was set up by hedge fund mogul Vincent Portallis to revolutionize development aid. The only upside for Vermeulen is the prospect of seeing his lover Tessa Bishonga, who is reporting on foreign land acquisitions in Africa.

When Vermeulen notices that a five-million-dollar transfer has gone missing, he is given the run-around. First he is told the files have been mislaid, then stolen, then he is assured that the money was never transferred to begin with. But the money was transferred, so where is it now? Vermeulen’s dogged pursuit of the missing transfer makes him the target of some ruthless operators. And once he meets up with Tessa, she is inevitably sucked in to the story as well, which turns out to be far more nefarious than either of them imagined.


Michael Niemann grew up in a small town in Germany, ten kilometers from the Dutch border. Crossing that border often at a young age sparked in him a curiosity about the larger world. He studied political science at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms Universität in Bonn and international studies at the University of Denver. During his academic career he focused his work on southern Africa and frequently spent time in the region. After taking a fiction writing course from his friend, the late Fred Pfeil, he switched to mysteries as a different way to write about the world.

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.


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.


Courting Inspiration


By Wendy Tyson

It was cold the morning I wrote this. Three degrees according to the deck thermometer. Of course, in Vermont there is a saying (to be fair I think it’s a saying everywhere winters are cruel) that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes. Nevertheless, I eyed our snowshoes with suspicion. I’d rather be writing by the fire than traipsing out in the woods, but traipsing we would go. Hopefully by then it would be closer to ten.

We’d promised my fourteen-year-olds and one very large Labrador we’d go hiking. The forest can be a magical place, and watching the twins get lost with their canine companion in the white-coated outdoors reminds me that they’re caught between childhood and manhood. For them, Inspiration exists in the icy inclines, snow-covered clearings, and giant, uprooted trees. For a while they can forget the pressures of high school and pretend—or just be.

While I cherish the family time, I also needed to get out of my head. After several tight deadlines and three rounds of work travel, I was feeling fried. It’s one thing to be productive on a tight schedule, but it’s another thing to court Inspiration. With a blank page in front of me—Greenhouse Mystery #5—I needed the thrill of Inspiration, not the pride of accomplishment.

I’m often asked where I find my Inspiration. The truth is, I don’t always know. I can’t tell you the exact moment when the universe comes together and an idea begins to take shape. I can only tell you that Inspiration isn’t something I wait for—I have to court it. And I have to be able to recognize it when it appears. Like my boys in the woods, it helps if I nurture my imagination, allowing myself to dig deep into its recesses, into that untamed part of my consciousness that will spot a great concept and develop it into something bigger. I have to be willing to go out into the wild.

But how?

The process is different for everyone, but here are a few techniques I’ve found helpful for finding and capturing Inspiration.

  • Connect with the page. I mean that quite literally. There is something visceral and real about writing the old-fashioned way, using pen and paper. When I want to connect with what author Natalie Goldberg calls “wild mind,” I pull out a notebook and a favorite pen and free write. There are no rules in free writing. I don’t think about grammar, spelling or themes. I don’t care if what I write makes sense. The idea is to dig deeper, find something that will resonate and possibly lead to a story. This almost always works for me—and I use it when I am stuck on a novel as well.
  • Silence the critic, court the muse. I don’t know about yours, but my inner critic is quietly insidious, almost diabolical. She whispers mean little sound bites into my ear, pouring vinegar into every sensitive open writing wound I have. When I want to find Inspiration, I have to shut her up, allowing her more timid sister to visit instead. Free writing helps with that, and writing early in the morning, before my inner critic is fully awake, helps too. I find that Vivaldi lulls the critic into silence, and a change of scenery can mask her voice (a bustling coffee shop or a busy ski lodge, perhaps). Sometimes it’s pure will that puts my critic in her place. “You’ll have your time when I’m revising,” I tell her. Occasionally she even listens.
    • Hit the road. I love to travel. Not the highly scheduled travel I do for work, but the kind of off-the-beaten-path travel that invites reflection. I find leaving my comfort zone, even for a little while, offers a change of perspective and new ideas. Some of my best concepts have come to me while on a train or driving along an unfamiliar stretch of foreign roadway.
  • Go outside. Leave your cerebral nest, don a jacket and sneakers (or in my case this morning, four layers of long underwear and down alternative), and enjoy Mother Nature. I’m convinced that Inspiration lives in the woods and at the beach, in the snow-covered rocks, under the icy river water, on the rough sand and in the fallen trees. When you need to find her, get out of your head for a while and play, unapologetically. Remember what it’s like to be a kid. You might be surprised—Inspiration just may come to you.


Wendy Tyson is a writer, lawyer, and former therapist whose background has inspired her mysteries and thrillers. Wendy writes two mystery series, the bestselling Greenhouse Mystery Series and the popular Allison Campbell Mystery Series. Wendy’s short stories have appeared in literary journals, and she has short fiction in two anthologies, Betrayed and the forthcoming The Night of the Flood. Wendy is a member of Sisters in Crime, Penn Writers, and International Thriller Writers, and she’s a contributing editor and columnist for International Thriller Writers’ online magazines, The Big Thrill and The Thrill Begins. Wendy and her family live in Vermont.

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