Death in Nostalgia City

By Mark S. Bacon

Category Archives: Thrillers

Need to disappear? Here’s how

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By Lori L. Robinett
Second of two parts

Last time, we talked about how difficult it is to disappear like the character in Fatal  Obsession has to do. As I mentioned, you need cash to survive, you’d have to think about your obligations like pets and your job, and social media adds a whole new level of difficulty to escaping notice in today’s world.  Consider all the other sacrifices you would have to make to truly disappear. Could you do it?  But the better question is, how?

Home – If you can afford it, make a couple of months’ payments in advance to give yourself a cushion. Your landlord/banker will be mad and might try to collect when you do become delinquent, but you’ll be gone by that time. Have your mail held at the post office for as long as possible, so an overflowing mailbox doesn’t tip folks off that you aren’t there. Cancel your newspaper. Think about your neighbors, too.  Tell them you’re moving or going on an extended vacation. This is a prime opportunity for redirection. If your plan is to run to the western United States, tell them you’re going to Florida. Leave clues at your home too, maybe a map or notes about airline tickets. If you have time before you leave, order a bunch of tourist brochures from various locations.

ID – Before you run, gather every piece of identification you own, from your passport to old drivers’ licenses and your library card. There are two schools of thought on this. Some say you should destroy it all. Others say you should take it all with you. Personally, I say take it all with you. Gather it all up in a freezer bag and place it in an inside pocket of your go-bag. If you decide to return to your life at some point, you’ll be glad you have that stuff.

Pictures – Destroy every picture you have of yourself. Every. Single. Picture. The first thing authorities (or whoever is hunting you) are going to do after you are reported missing, will be to look for a current photo of you. Make that as difficult as possible. This has an added bonus. If someone calls the authorities and reports you missing, but they find your home intact, Continue Reading →

Why is there a Ferris wheel on my book cover?

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By Michael Niemann

It’s admittedly an odd choice for a thriller, but let me explain.

The Wiener Riesenrad, or Viennese giant wheel, was designed and built in 1897 by British engineers to commemorate the golden anniversary of emperor Franz Josef. And it is indeed of giant proportions, 212 feet tall. However, it wasn’t the tallest in the world. The original Ferris wheel, designed by George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr.  in 1893 for the Chicago World Columbian Exhibition, was 264 feet tall. Other illicit_trade-niemann-covergiant wheels built in London and Paris around the same time were also taller. But after a couple of decades, those other Ferris wheels had all been taken down.

By 1920, the Wiener Riesenrad was the tallest wheel in the world. It held that position until 1985 when the 289 foot Technostar wheel was opened in Japan. Currently, the tallest wheel is the High Roller in Las Vegas which stands 550 tall more than twice the height of the Riesenrad.

No Ferris wheel has played a bigger a role in popular culture than the Wiener Riesenrad. It featured in three spy thriller films, The Third Man, Scorpio, The Living Daylights, and one romance, Before Sunrise. It also made an appearance in several novels.

The wheel’s feature role in spy thrillers is not an accident. The Third Man takes place just a few years after World War II when Austria and Vienna were still divided into four sectors, occupied by Britain, France, the Soviet Union and the U.S. Obviously there was plenty of spying going on then.

The agreement that ended the occupation stipulated that Austria had to remain neutral henceforth. No wonder that during the Cold War, Vienna became a hub of clandestine meetings, shady dealings and generally a playground for spies from all over the world. That has not changed.

Inside the The Wiener Riesenrad, or Viennese giant wheel.

Inside the The Wiener Riesenrad, or Viennese giant wheel.

Austria’s neutrality also made Vienna a perfect location to host one of the United Nations headquarters. And that brings me back to my book. My protagonist, Valentin Vermeulen, works for the UN and a case of fraud brings him to Vienna. Once I had him there, I remembered The Third Man and watched the movie again. The scene featuring Orson Welles and Joseph Cotton is one of the most gripping scenes in the movie. Continue Reading →

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