Nostalgia City Mysteries

By Mark S. Bacon

Category Archives: New mystery book

D.C. intrigue and death highlight new mystery

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Caged
Ellison Cooper
Minotaur, July 2018
Kindle $13.99  Trade paper $25.49
368 pages

Caged is a gripping thriller debut for fans of Kathy Reichs, Thomas Harris, and Patricia Cornwell.

FBI neuroscientist Sayer Altair hunts for evil in the deepest recesses of the human mind. Still reeling from the death of her fiancé, she wants nothing more than to focus on her research into the brains of serial killers. But when the Washington D.C. police stumble upon a gruesome murder scene involving a girl who’d been slowly starved to death while held captive in a cage, Altair is called in to lead the investigation. When the victim is identified as the daughter of a high profile senator, Altair is thrust into the spotlight.

As public pressure mounts, she discovers that another girl has been taken and is teetering on the brink of death. With evidence unraveling around her, Altair races to save the second victim but soon realizes that they are hunting a killer with a dangerous obsession…a killer who is closer than she thought.

Ellison Cooper has a Ph.D. in anthropology from UCLA, with a background in archaeology, cultural neuroscience, ancient religion, colonialism, and human rights. She has conducted fieldwork in Central America, West Africa, Micronesia, and Western Europe and worked as a murder investigator in Washington DC.  She lives in the Bay Area with her husband and son.

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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?

     

A new addition to the Vice series

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Here’s something to add to your spring/ summer reading list.  Vice Enforcer is the second book in Stovall’s Vice series.

Vice Enforcer
S.A. Stovall
DSP Publications   April 2018
250 pages
$6.99 Kindle  $16.99 Trade paper

Holding on to a life worth living can be hard when nightmares of the past come knocking.

Eight months ago, Nicholas Pierce, ex-mob enforcer, faked his death and assumed a new identity to escape sadistic mob boss Jeremy Vice. With no contacts outside the underworld, Pierce finds work with a washed-up PI. It’s an easy enough gig—until investigating a human trafficking ring drags him back to his old stomping grounds.

Miles Devonport, Pierce’s partner, is top of his class at the police academy while single-handedly holding his family together. But when one lieutenant questions Pierce’s past and his involvement in the investigation, Miles must put his future on the line to keep Pierce’s secrets.

The situation becomes dire when it’s discovered the traffickers have connections to the Vice family. The lives of everyone Pierce cares about are in danger—not least of all his own—if Jeremy Vice learns he’s back from the dead. Pierce and Miles face a conspiracy that reaches the highest levels—one that will gladly destroy them to keep operating. As Pierce uses every dirty trick he learned from organized crime to protect the new life he’s building, he realizes that no matter how hard he tries, he might never escape his past.

But he’s not going down without a fight.


Author S.A. Stoval lives in California’s San Joaquin Valley.  She’s an attorney, writer and video game enthusiast.  Her first book in the noir series was Vice City.

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