Nostalgia City Mysteries

Mark S. Bacon

Category Archives: New mystery book

Dark Ride Deception novel beats Disney to new ride

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“Dark Ride Deception,” published in September, describes a technology that gives visitors a virtual reality experience—without goggles.  The Walt Disney Company received a patent for such technology three months later.

According to The Los Angeles Daily News, the Walt Disney Company was granted a patent on Dec. 28 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for a technology that enables users to experience a 3D world without glasses, goggles or digital devices.

“Dark Ride Deception,” describes an advanced technology that is stolen from Nostalgia City, an Arizona theme park. The stolen secrets allow park guests to experience virtual reality without goggles.

VR Goggles no longer needed?

The Disney technology, according to the Daily News story, is called a Virtual World Simulator.  The stolen Nostalgia City tech is called the Perception Deception Effect.

Since my first Nostalgia City novel I’ve been following the development of amusement park attractions.  I never read anything about this new Disney technology, however; but it’s the next logical step in virtual reality.  Inventing the Perception Deception Effect just made sense.

In the book, a brilliant theme park engineer disappears, along with details of his ground-breaking technology—before the plans can be patented. Nostalgia City employee and ex-cop, Lyle Deming, is tasked with finding the missing engineer and recovering the secrets.

Critical details of the Perception Deception Effect are known only to the missing engineer, Tom Wyrick.  Deming speculates that Wyrick was either kidnapped or killed to obtain the secrets or that he plans to sell his inventions to the highest bidder.

“What’s he going to do,” Deming asks, “start his own theme park?”

When I wrote the book, I thought theme park rides needed to be bumped to a higher technological level.  Apparently, so did Disney.

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Looking for the second half of Hitchcock’s Sabotage?

The first half of my review of the Hitchcock film had a bunch of words unnecessarily underlined in the email version. Distracting.  It doesn’t show up in the WordPress editor or in the web version of the story.

The second half of the review will be published soon.  And it will be linked to the online version of the first half. Stay tuned.

Writing right & kudos acknowledged & more

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How to write good

Only occasionally do I write about the mechanics of writing here, but this decades-old advice is worth passing along. While going through old (paper) files recently I came upon something I’d copied off the web in the mid-1990s.

This is one of those less-than serious posts that have flourished in the online world since the Internet began. I wondered if this short article was still in online circulation. It is.  I offer an abbreviated version here of “How to Write Good,” attributed to Sally Bulford. Among the 22 “rules” for good writing, these are my favorites.

1. Avoid alliteration. Always.

2. Contractions aren’t necessary.

3. One should never generalize.

4. Comparisons are as bad a clichés.

5. Don’t be redundant by using more words than necessary; it’s extremely needless and also superfluous.

6. Be more or less specific.

7. Analogies in writing are like glue on an apostrophe.

8. The passive voice is to be avoided.

9. Exaggeration is a million times worse than understatement.

And while I’m passing along English advice, let me be serious for a moment.  I wish everyone would stop saying (or writing) “going forward.”  You can use it when you’re describing the direction your car is moving, but in almost all other instances it’s redundant and can be eliminated without changing the sense of the sentence. Think about it.

Dark Ride Deception named a favorite book

My latest mystery was just named to the list of Favorite Books of 2021 by Kings River Life Magazine. Here’s what they said:

Dark Ride Deception

A noirish look at industrial espionage and murder in the world of amusement parks. Lyle, an ex-cop, drives a cab at a 70s theme park and does some detective work for the boss. Kate, an ex-basketball player, is in charge of public relations. A severed finger in his cab and feuding actors filming a movie in the park set off a chain of mysterious events in this fast-moving quest for the truth

Terrorist bombs

Stay tuned.  The next article (post) on this website (& email) will be a look back at a terrorism on the screen.

Innocent clue leads Collins down a rabbit hole of death

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Frog in a Bucket (An Eddie Collins Mystery, Book 5)
Clive Rosengren
Kindle $5.99, paperback $14.99
Coffeetown Press   Aug. 2021
242 pages

Eddie Collins is working on a movie. He and other actors, dressed in suits, sit at banquet tables playing show biz trivia to pass the time. Finally, the filming is about to begin. An assistant director calls for quiet. The banquet speaker, played by veteran actor Tony Gould, his mane of silver hair in place, stands at the lectern, adjusts the microphone, then keels over.

The collapse is not in the script.  A doctor is summoned, then an ambulance.

Click the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page.

The shooting is finished for the day, and as the actor is carted off the hospital, Collins has time to ponder a small mystery with his wardrobe suit coat. That morning he’d noticed a tag sewn into the jacket with the name Ken Thompson on it and the words Crash and Burn. The name probably belonged to the actor who used the suit before, and likely the words identify the name of a movie. In the pocket of the jacket Collins finds a finds a key attached to a metal disc with the word Pandora engraved on it.

With just a little work, Collins discovers that Thompson did act in a picture called Crash and Burn.  Understandable, but Collins is skeptical.  Costume companies don’t usually stitch names into costumes. And what about the Pandora key?

An actor might not have enough curiosity or interest to carry his inquiry any further, but Collins is also a private investigator. Several years ago economic necessity prompted him to find supplemental work and his “tendency to stick my nose into places it probably shouldn’t belong” prompted him to open a detective agency.

Back on the set next morning, Collins gets two surprises.  The first is word that Gould has died. The second surprise arrives when he steps into the trailer that serves as his dressing room on the movie lot.  A white young man with grungy dreadlocks is snooping through his clothes. The man says he’s looking for a key.  He gives Collins double talk saying he was cleaning out Gould’s dressing room and was told that a key was missing.  Before Collins can pin him down, the guy dashes out the door and disappears in the bustling studio.

Is there a connection between Gould and Thompson? What does the Pandora key unlock? How did Gould die? Collins considers the questions while the production resumes temporarily and film executives debate a replacement for Gould.

Collins learns that Gould died of an insulin overdose; he finds that Gould and Thompson worked on Crash and Burn together; and a Burbank police detective appears on the set to ask questions about Gould’s death. The actor/detective is promptly dragged into a layered mystery involving a private production company and a decades-old missing persons case. 

Following Collins through movie sets and along Hollywood streets is a pleasure.  The story flows smoothly with author Clive Rosengren’s relaxed, easy first-person writing style and sense of humor.

A driver pulled up along side and then abruptly cut in front of me and roared off, blonde hair flying in the wind. I honked and flashed her a digital salute.

“You think that did any good?” Carla asked.

“Probably not, but it’s the gesture that counts.”

The story’s movie-set authenticity comes from  Rosengren’s 40 years as an actor, nearly half of that in Tinsel Town. Speaking of authenticity, movie buffs will appreciate some of the trivia questions Collins and his fellow actors trade during down-time on the set. Don’t expect any “Frankly my dear I don’t give a damn” questions. These are for true movie aficionados .

And the story is not all laughs as you’ll be reminded of Hollywood’s real-life dark side. But Collins adroitly handles the bad with the good.  Follow along.  It’s a thoroughly entertaining and exciting trip.
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Clive Rosengren was an actor for nearly 40 years appearing on stage and in movies and TV. He is a multiple Shamus Award nominee by the Private Eye Writers of America.  His other Eddie Collins books include Murder Unscripted, Martini Shot, Velvet on a Tuesday Afternoon and Red Desert. He lives in southern Oregon.

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