Nostalgia City Mysteries

Mark S. Bacon

Tag Archives: Desert Kill Switch

Background music for a mystery novel?


One of the earliest private eye television series was Peter Gunn.   It’s remembered as much for its driving, menacing theme song as it is for the cast or plots.  Written by Henry Mancini, the song is both jazz and rock and has been recorded over the years by such diverse artists as Duane Eddy, Shelly Manne, Ted Heath, The Kingsmen, Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Deodato.  

Music—usually jazz—is often associated with PI stories and if TV series and movies can have musical sound tracks, why not mystery novels?   If you were to create music for Desert Kill Switch, I’d select classic rock instead of jazz.  In the book, I mention many songs and imagine them playing in the background to set a mood or to maintain the story’s retro theme.  If you wanted to put together an album representing scenes and themes in Desert Kill Switch, here are the songs I’d suggest:

Riders on the Storm – The Doors

One – 3-Dog Night

Knights in White Satin – Moody Blues

One of These Nights – Eagles

In the Year 2525 – Zager and Evans

You’re No Good – Linda Ronstadt 

Little GTO – Ronnie and the Daytonas

Rockin Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu – Johnny Rivers

Go Your Own Way – Fleetwood Mac

As a footnote, two of the above artists were born in Arizona, site of the Nostalgia City mysteries: Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac and Linda Ronstadt.

Progress Report: Nostalgia City Mystery Series


Movies and television shows have soundtracks, why not novels?  Occasionally I like soft music playing in the background while I read.  Often, I listen to baroque when I’m writing.  It’s supposed to reduce tension and enhance concentration.  Your heartbeat slows down, you relax and the right and left sides of your brain synchronize.  This must be true, I read it on the Internet.  Actually, if you do a web search, you’ll find a Stanford University study that says essentially the same thing.

jefferson-airplane-white-rabbitRock music and specific songs play an important part in Death in Nostalgia City.  Music is also featured in upcoming books in the series.  More about them in a moment.  I used names of songs in the novel to help set a mood and maintain the book’s retro theme. 

I’m not suggesting you listen to a rock soundtrack while reading Death in Nostalgia City.  Listening to Elvis, for example, doesn’t enhance any cognitive functions I know of.  I have, however, put together a song list that could be background music for the book—were it to be translated into film.  Some of these are mentioned in the book, others just fit the mood. Just as a movie soundtrack CD can bring back the story and characters to your mind, so my song list can remind you of key parts of the book.

Here are the songs I’d put in the CD for Death in Nostalgia City:

Suspicious Minds – Elvis Presley
Born to be Wild – Steppenwolf
The Night Chicago Died – Paper Lace
White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane
Nights in White Satin – Moody Blues
Harper Valley PTA – Jeannie C. Riley
Good Vibrations – The Beach Boys
American Pie – Don McLean
The Weight – A Group Called Smith
Crocodile Rock – Elton John
You’re No Good – Linda Ronstadt
You Can’t Always Get What You Want – The Rolling Stones
Riders on the Storm – The Doors
We Gotta Get Out of This Place –  The Animals

New book announcement

Desert Kill Switch will be the next book in the Nostalgia City series and it’s due out later this year from Black Opal Books.  Lyle and Kate are back in a mystery that takes them to Nevada, while Lyle tries to escape memories of a murder and Kate tries to avoid blame for another one.  Lots of creepy, menacing suspects.  No help from the police.

Imagine yourself in the middle of the Nevada desert in August. What classic rock songs come to mind? The soundtrack for this book would vary from light refrains to dark lyrics. Continue Reading →

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