Nostalgia City Mysteries

By Mark S. Bacon

Category Archives: reporters

Fast-paced mystery scares, intrigues

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Close Up on Murder – A Spirit Lake Mystery
Linda Townsdin
$2.99 Kindle $12.52 Trade paper
Create Space  262 pages

As an amateur detective, Britt Johansson, a Pulitzer-Prize winning press photographer, is brash, aggressive, occasionally reckless and has the patience of a toddler with ADD. “Following the rules… didn’t always work for me,” she says.

When she stumbles on a gruesome murder in her small hometown of Spirit Lake, Minn., she’s off and running in an absorbing tale that has both unsettling and heart-breaking elements. The first murder scene—not the only one—is so vivid and shocking it puts you on edge. The story then segues into a mystery Close-up-On-Murder-Web-optiinvestigation that could lead to hate crimes or systematic terror. And possibly bad news for Johansson. “I…heard the unmistakable crack of a pump action shotgun behind me.” Author Townsdin provides murderous details sufficient to shock, without bloody, slasher-style prose. A good balance.

Her characters include some typical Scandinavians (this is Minnesota, after all) a batch of scary zealots and a mixed batch of writers encamped in Spirit Lake for a seminar. Johansson’s brother’s restaurant becomes her investigation headquarters and later, her fortress. “Every customer who entered the restaurant looked like a psychopath killer to me,” Johansson says. Continue Reading →

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The following has nothing to do with murder mysteries, book publishing, film noir or anything else you’re used to reading about here. I’ll return next time with an article on mystery writers’ ideas and techniques.  This is about the future of truth.

Where do you find out what’s going on each day, TV news, radio, newspapers, Twitter, Facebook? Increasingly the latter two choices form the foundation for how Americans understand the world. And it scares the hell out of me. Continue Reading →

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