Nostalgia City Mysteries

By Mark S. Bacon

Category Archives: Thrillers

New in mystery and suspense; holiday gift suggestions

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Books are thoughtful holiday gifts.  Click on the book covers for buying options.   Prices on books in all formats are subject to change at the discretion of the store or website where they are purchased.

Martini Shot (An Eddie Collins Mystery Book 4)
Clive Rosengren
Coffeetown Press  November 2018
204 pages
Kindle $2.99   Trade paperback $13.99

Eddie Collins, private eye and part-time Hollywood actor, is hired by ageing actor, Sam Roth, to locate his disowned son, Jack Callahan. Roth hopes to reconcile their relationship before his “Martini Shot” last scene of the day, as he is in his 90s.

While working the Roth case, Eddie receives a letter from his daughter’s adoptive parents, that she would like to meet him and find out more about her mom. In spite of his uncertainty, Eddie agrees to meet her. What will this relationship lead to in the future and what will all parties make of it? Only time will tell.

Eddie locates Callahan, leading to a father and son meeting. However, he later gets a call from Roth, informing him that his son has been found, bludgeoned to death. Sam asks Eddie to find out what has happened to Jack. Eddie investigates Jack’s life, hoping to find clues to the murder. Little does he know that upon discovering the murderer, his own life will hang in the balance.

This is the fourth in the Eddie Collins series.  It is preceded by Murder Unscripted, Red Desert and Velvet on a Tuesday Afternoon.

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Clive Rosengren is a recovering actor. His career spanned more than forty years, eighteen of them pounding many of the same streets as his fictional sleuth Eddie Collins. He appeared on stages at the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival, the Guthrie Theater, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, among others. Movie credits include Ed Wood, Soapdish, Cobb, and Bugsy. Among numerous television credits are Seinfeld, Home Improvement, and Cheers, where he played the only person to throw Sam Malone out of his own bar. He lives in southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley, safe and secure from the hurly-burly of Hollywood.  The first two books in the series were finalists for the Shamus Awards, sponsored by the Private Eye Writers of America.

 

The Reversible Mask, an Elizabethan Spy Novel
Loretta Goldberg
Made Global Publishing   December 2018

449 pages
Kindle $4.99   Trade paperback $19.84

Summer 1566. A glittering royal progress approaches Oxford. A golden age of prosperity, scientific advances, exploration and artistic magnificence. Elizabeth I’s Protestant government has much to celebrate.

But one young Catholic courtier isn’t cheering.

Conflicting passions—patriotism and religion—wage war in his heart. On this day, religion wins. Sir Edward Latham throws away his title, kin, and country to serve Catholic monarchs abroad.

But his wandering doesn’t quiet his soul, and when Europe’s religious wars threaten his beloved England and his family, patriotism prevails. Latham switches sides and becomes a double agent for Queen Elizabeth. Life turns complicated and dangerous as he balances protecting country and queen, while entreating both sides for peace.

Intrigue, lust, and war combine in this debut historical novel.

* * *

An Australian-American, Loretta Goldberg earned a BA in English literature, musicology and history at the University of Melbourne. After teaching English for a year, she came to the US on a Fulbright scholarship to study piano. She earned an MA in music performance at Hunter College, New York.  She built a financial services practice, which she sold recently to focus on writing. She’s written articles on financial planning, arts reviews and political satire.

 

The Blue
Nancy Bilyeau
Endeavour Quill
430 pages
Kindle $3.99    Trade paperback  $15.58

In eighteenth century London, porcelain is the most seductive of commodities. Fortunes are made and lost upon it. Kings do battle with knights and knaves for possession of the finest pieces and the secrets of their manufacture.

For Genevieve Planché, an English-born descendant of Huguenot refugees, porcelain holds far less allure; she wants to be an artist, a painter of international repute, but nobody takes the idea of a female artist seriously in London. If only she could reach Venice.

When Genevieve meets the charming Sir Gabriel Courtenay, he offers her an opportunity she can’t refuse; if she learns the secrets of porcelain manufacture, he will send her to Venice. But in particular, she must learn the secrets of the colour blue.

The ensuing events take Genevieve deep into England’s emerging industrial heartlands, where not only does she learn about porcelain, but also about the art of industrial espionage.

She also learns much about love.

With the heart and spirit of her Huguenot ancestors, Genevieve faces her challenges head on, but how much is she willing to suffer in pursuit and protection of the colour blue?

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Nancy Bilyeau has worked on the staffs of InStyleDuJourRolling StoneEntertainment Weekly, and Good Housekeeping. She is currently the deputy editor of the Center on Media, Crime and Justice at City University of New York and a regular contributor to Town & CountryPurist, and The Vintage News.

She earned a BA at the University of Michigan. The Crown, her  first novel and an Oprah pick, was published in 2012; the sequel, The Chalice, followed in 2013 and the third in the trilogy, The Tapestry, was published in 2015. This is her fourth novel.

 

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?

     

Author talks about new noir novel ‘Vice City’

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Author S.A. Stoval lives in California’s San Joaquin Valley.  She’s an attorney, writer and video game enthusiast.  Her new novel is a modern take on the venerable mystery noir genre. Here she explains the book and talks about the somewhat unusual point of view she chose.

What is your new book about and what prompted you to write it?

My novel, Vice City, is a noir thriller. I wrote it (true story) as a personal novel for one of my friends. I even dedicated the novel to her (because, hey, it was written for her!).

In the beginning, she told me she wanted an interesting, gritty story with a romance sub-plot. For years she’s told me she loves my gritty style of narration, so I decided to go with it. I wrote her chapters like installments of a TV show, delivering every other night for a few weeks.

Vice City is a crime thriller where the main character, Pierce, is a mobster, and each chapter shows another day in Pierce’s life as he slowly realizes it’s crumbling around him. A rival gang is moving in, the ruling structure of his crime family is falling apart, and Pierce wants out before things go to hell in a handbasket (pardon my language).

My friend loved it. And then my husband said he also loved it. Then I approached an agent and he loved it—so here we are today! Thanks go to my good friend and her odd request!

You write in first person, present tense. What made you choose that style?

I like first person, present tense because it feels more immediate—the action is happening right now, this isn’t a story that happened years ago.

Additionally, first person is great if the main character has a lot of voice and personality. Their attitude colors the whole feel of the novel. A story told by a jaded old veteran feels a lot different than a story told by a wide-eyed high school student, that’s for sure, and my protagonist is a guy with a lot of colorful things to say about the world.

And since my novel, Vice City, is more of a noir novel, it’s fitting that’s it’s told from the viewpoint of a single person, rather than a detached third person narrator.

Why did you choose to write a crime (mystery) novel?

I know a great deal about law and crime. I worked with drug addicts in court and love gritty dark-atmosphere stories, and crime lends itself to that without losing realism.

How did you choose the title for your book? Did it come to you right away, before you started writing the story, or did it come later?

The main mobster family has the last name ‘Vice’ so it seemed fitting (since they’re the ones running the underworld scene). And Vice City is easy and catchy. What’s not to like?

How does your legal background influence your novel?

Like I said before, I know a good deal about law. Specifically, I’ve worked with a lot of criminals (especially reformed criminals—people coming off probation or getting out of jail/prison). I really like redemption. I think humans are capable of changing (and we often do) so I’ve always admired people with criminal backgrounds who decide to turn it around for the good of themselves and their family.

I think seeing that resolve and human spirit in the court room has helped with my novel. Pierce is a guy who wants to move onto a better life, and that’s true to the men and women I saw walking out of a court with a new lease on life.

How did you come up with the names of your characters?

I like names that look distinct from others (so that it’s never confusing who is who). The five major characters in the book have very different names from one another: Pierce, Miles, Guinevere, Jayden, and Big Man Vice. Can’t mistake those names!

Does your book come with a strong message or moral?

The entire novel has a message of redemption and forgiveness. Pierce is a man who regrets most of his life, and his new protégé is a man just beginning a life of crime. Pierce tries to convince the guy that life on the streets isn’t a real life at all, and it’s a theme I greatly enjoy.

Without giving away too much, what’s your favorite part of the book?  What part did you enjoy writing the most?

My favorite part is the ending. It’s always the ending, actually. Every book I’ve ever written. I love epic resolutions, tense stand-offs, and poetic confessions of love. Vice City doesn’t have all of those, but it gets close.

Who are some of your favorite authors, genres?

My favorite genres are science-fiction, fantasy, and thrillers. Ironically, I wrote Vice City for someone who wanted romance with a plot, but I don’t read romance (I’m sorry to everyone who loves it) so I ended up writing a gritty crime thriller with a romance side-plot. Oops?

My favorite author of all time is Robert A. Heinlein.

——–

S.A. Stovall grew up in California’s central valley with a single mother and little brother. Despite no one in her family having a degree higher than a GED, she put herself through college (earning a BA in History), and then continued on to law school where she obtained her Juris Doctorate.

As a child, Stovall’s favorite novel was Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. The adventure on a deserted island opened her mind to ideas and realities she had never given thought before—and it was the moment Stovall realized that story telling (specifically fiction) became her passion. Anything that told a story, be it a movie, book, video game or comic, she had to experience. Now, as a professor and author, Stovall wants to add her voice to the myriad of stories in the world, and she hopes you enjoy.  Visit her at https://sastovallauthor.com/

Get Vice City at Amazon or Barnes and Noble

 

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