Nostalgia City Mysteries

Mark S. Bacon

Category Archives: Mystery novels

Dark Ride Deception: Where did it come from?

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I love theme parks.  Four years ago I took my grown daughters to Disney World. I’d talked about such a trip for years, but we finally managed to find a time when both of them could take off work, bid their spouses adieu for a few days and jet off to Florida with old dad.

A trip of a lifetime for me and the best part, of course, was just spending time with the two of them. In addition, we were treated to all the distracting attractions the Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood can throw at you. We plummeted in an out-of-control elevator, rocketed into space and strolled along a peaceful lake while munching food from different countries.   

Although I grew up in Southern California, I live out of state and had not visited Disney’s Anaheim park in more than 20 years, so the Florida adventure was all the more exciting.  As my girls and I enjoyed each park, we saw construction, evidence that engineers were working to expand ways to tickle your fancy or even subvert your senses.

Over the past two generations, people have grown up watching movies and TV shows featuring increasingly sophisticated special effects.  CGI, for computer generated imagery, is a part of our twenty-first century vocabulary.  Theme park rides had to follow suit, and in fact, the latest additions to Disney World are Star Wars extravaganzas.

So I thought that Nostalgia City theme park, the setting for my mystery series, needed a technological boost.  More special effects, more imaginative rides for guests.

Tom Wyrick, a computer genius in Nostalgia City’s Park Attractions Development Department, created just what the park—and my new book, Dark Ride Deception—needed. His Perception Deception Effect (PDE) surpasses anything at any theme park. 

Just how mind-bending is his invention?  Here’s how a Nostalgia City engineer describes it in the book: “Unless someone invents a transporter room or time machine, once it’s finished, PDE could be the vanguard for more than a decade…it’s a technological game-changer.”

Unfortunately, before Wyrick’s plans could be finished, he disappears, along with his secrets. Is he dead? On the run? Trying to sell his creation to the highest bidder?

Dark Ride Deception is now available for pre-order at the places linked below.   The book will be released Sept. 30.

Amazon US

Barnes and Noble

iBooks

Kobo

Amazon UK

Amazon Canada

Big News?

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Okay, there’s no big news on the Nostalgia City front. And there hasn’t been. Since mid-March, 2020.

Some13 months ago I was in San Diego preparing for my part in Left Coast Crime 2020. I was scheduled for three events including a panel. This conference gives mystery fans in the west a chance to mingle with mystery writers, listen to panel discussions, and buy the latest, signed, whodunits.  I had just completed one of the first events of the convention’s first morning when LCC was shut as California shut down.

Mystery writer David Hagerty and I were going to host a table at the conference’s closing banquet. We were encouraged to decorate our table so I found a party store and bought plastic handcuffs, two rubber knives, a chrome plastic detective’s badge, a toy gun and masks.  Not pandemic masks—what’s that? These were black, bank-robber, Lone Ranger-style masks.  Now I’m stuck with these unused souvenirs taking up space in a closet shelf. Maybe I should host a murder mystery party for my vaccinated friends.

A year ago this past March I drove home and I have not made news since.  No book signings, no library talks, no book festivals or mystery conventions.  And, apparently, not many blog posts.  I have, however, been busy writing the fourth addition to the Nostalgia City Mystery series. Although I couldn’t go anywhere, the pandemic quarantine did not significantly alter my writing routine.  I posted the following on Facebook in answer to the common question about what I was doing about the isolation.

The new Nostalgia City book is Dark Ride Deception.  Watch this space for details.  In the meantime, here’s a look back at what was news before the pandemic.

Book Carnival in Orange, Calif., is one of the best-stocked mystery bookstores in the west. If you have a question about a particular author or book, give owner Anne Saller a call. She can find any book you’re looking for and has a stock of mysteries signed by some of the famous names in the business. And perhaps some of mine, too. This was my second visit with Anne. Desert Kill Switch had just come out. She hosted my talk and had me sign a stack of books.
After my first mystery came out, I appeared, sans beard, on Good Morning Reno on ABC channel 8. Amanda Sanchez and Dick Stoddard made me feel much more relaxed than I thought I would be.
Unlike 2020, the 2018 edition of Left Coast Crime was fun, start to finish. And it did finish. This panel discussed outlining a novel versus writing by the seat of your pants. The latter writers are called pantsers. Author Annamarie Alfieri, on the left, moderated, and I bookended on the right.
I was busy when the first book came out. Here I’m giving a talk at Mystery Ink bookstore in Huntington Beach, Calif.
I’m not talking into a mic at a crime scene here. Police tape around the stage area was appropriate dressing for the South Lake Tahoe Library’s mystery event, A Toast to Die For. I don’t remember what I said.
Truckee, Calif., is an old railroad town that sponsors a weekly street fair in the summer. I sold books and met some great people. That’s me under the awning, in front of the red building.

After this walk down memory lane, you can expect to find here–on a more regular basis–book reviews and articles on mystery authors, novels and films past and present. Stay tuned.

Rock music: setting a tone for murder?

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The Marijuana Murders

Nostalgia City, the theme park setting for the mysteries in this series, is a 1970s town complete with period cars, clothes, hairstyles, music, fashions, food, fads—the works.  One of the most important of those elements is music.  In The Marijuana Murders (as in the previous Nostalgia City books) I use the names of real songs (and artists) to establish the decades-past setting of the park and sometimes to contribute to the mood of individual scenes or chapters.

It helps if you remember some of the songs or at least recognize the names of the old singers and groups.  Recollection of the music can help you slip into the ambiance of a scene, and nowhere is music more important to a setting than in Chapter 3 when Kate walks into the park’s famous headshop.  Imagine the aroma of incense, the fluorescent glow of psychedelic posters, and the sound of Ravi Shankar’s sitar.

In this book, Lyle has chosen a few bars of Chuck Mangione for his cell phone ringer.  He uses an upbeat section of Mangione’s Grammy-nominated “Feels So Good” from 1977.  Lyle must have chosen the selection on a particularly bright day considering the grief he faces in the novel.

Two other notable songs from the book are “Treat her Like a Lady by the Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose and “Take It to the Limit” by the Eagles.  It’s the rhythm of the former song that sets a pace in a later chapter and the lyrics of the latter song that more accurately reflect Lyle’s general feelings.

The books ends with the light touch of Olivia Newton-John singing “Magic.” The song sat at #1 on Billboard’s pop chart for four weeks in 1980. Other groups and artists mentioned include The Village People, Barry White, The Monkees, The Who, Captain and Tennille, and The Animals. 

Finally, to get into the retro spirit of the book, try to remember these oldies, also mentioned:  “Along Comes Mary” – The Association, “Puff the Magic Dragon” – Peter, Paul and Mary, “Maggie Mae” – Rod Stewart.

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