Nostalgia City Mysteries

Mark S. Bacon

Tag Archives: Lyle Deming

Dark Ride Deception– sneaky preview: Secrets revealed!

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As I was saying last time, I love theme parks. And since the time I worked for one, I’ve thought a theme park would be a great setting for a murder mystery.  So let’s start at the beginning.

Many, many years ago I was a young copywriter in the advertising department at Knott’s Berry Farm. At the time, Knott’s was an old west ghost town complete with roving gunslingers. It also included a charming combination of carnival type rides, shops and some new, inventive attractions.  Although I spent most of my time in an office writing ads and commercials, I had an opportunities to work on the park grounds, explore behind the scenes, and get to know some of the costumed employees who entertained guests.

Knott’s Berry Farm ghost town

Not so many years ago, when I found a publisher for my first murder mystery, the story was set in a theme park, based in part on my earlier experiences at Knott’s.  But instead of fashioning my theme park like Knott’s—or any other park—I wanted to do something different. I created an entire 1970’s small town, Nostalgia City. It’s a trip back in time, a meticulous re-creation,  complete with pet rocks, leisure suits, disco and period cars from Pontiacs to Pintos.

Four years ago, as I mentioned last time, I went to Disney World with my two grown daughters. It was a trip of a lifetime and I picked up further inspiration. Nostalgia City, I decided, needed new, high-tech dark rides, thus the title of my next book: Dark Ride Deception. A dark ride is simply theme park jargon for indoor attractions.  The old-fashioned boat ride through the tunnel of love is a dark ride dating back more than a century.

Is this the type of theme park ride that the Perception Deception Effect can create?

To supply Nostalgia City’s new dark rides, the park’s computer genius Tom Wyrick created the Perception Deception Effect. His mind-bending technology could easily eclipse the entire theme park industry. But the ride technology disappeared—along with Wyrick. Nostalgia City’s ex-cop cab driver, Lyle Deming, is drafted to find the computer wiz and recover his secrets.  The obvious places to look, Lyle’s boss tells him, are other theme parks.

Lyle is relatively tech savvy, but the details of the Perception Deception Effect prove perplexing. He gets technical help from a Nostalgia City engineer who becomes a little too over-excited about sleuthing.

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The novel focuses not on high-tech minutia but on intrigue and Lyle’s struggles.

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The plot is obviously based in part on the science behind dark rides, and one of the book’s characters, a Nostalgia City computer programmer, dissects one of Disney’s most famous, yet relatively unsophisticated rides.  But the novel focuses not on high-tech minutia but on intrigue and Lyle’s personal struggles as he searches for the secrets.  He hides behind a variety of false identities to investigate Florida parks—from the inside—yet when someone threatens to blow his cover…

But that’s enough of a preview.  Like I said, I love theme parks, and I loved writing about them in Dark Ride Deception. 

The book is available for preorder wherever you get your e-books.  It will be released Sept. 20.

Dark Ride Deception: Where did it come from?

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I love theme parks.  Four years ago I took my grown daughters to Disney World. I’d talked about such a trip for years, but we finally managed to find a time when both of them could take off work, bid their spouses adieu for a few days and jet off to Florida with old dad.

A trip of a lifetime for me and the best part, of course, was just spending time with the two of them. In addition, we were treated to all the distracting attractions the Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood can throw at you. We plummeted in an out-of-control elevator, rocketed into space and strolled along a peaceful lake while munching food from different countries.   

Although I grew up in Southern California, I live out of state and had not visited Disney’s Anaheim park in more than 20 years, so the Florida adventure was all the more exciting.  As my girls and I enjoyed each park, we saw construction, evidence that engineers were working to expand ways to tickle your fancy or even subvert your senses.

Over the past two generations, people have grown up watching movies and TV shows featuring increasingly sophisticated special effects.  CGI, for computer generated imagery, is a part of our twenty-first century vocabulary.  Theme park rides had to follow suit, and in fact, the latest additions to Disney World are Star Wars extravaganzas.

So I thought that Nostalgia City theme park, the setting for my mystery series, needed a technological boost.  More special effects, more imaginative rides for guests.

Tom Wyrick, a computer genius in Nostalgia City’s Park Attractions Development Department, created just what the park—and my new book, Dark Ride Deception—needed. His Perception Deception Effect (PDE) surpasses anything at any theme park. 

Just how mind-bending is his invention?  Here’s how a Nostalgia City engineer describes it in the book: “Unless someone invents a transporter room or time machine, once it’s finished, PDE could be the vanguard for more than a decade…it’s a technological game-changer.”

Unfortunately, before Wyrick’s plans could be finished, he disappears, along with his secrets. Is he dead? On the run? Trying to sell his creation to the highest bidder?

Dark Ride Deception is now available for pre-order at the places linked below.   The book will be released Sept. 30.

Amazon US

Barnes and Noble

iBooks

Kobo

Amazon UK

Amazon Canada

Reading group guide for “The Marijuana Murders”

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Discussion questions

1.  How would you describe Kate’s relationship with Arthur Poole?  Does she act appropriately?

2.  The author mentions songs from the 1970s. Do these songs, and their artists, contribute to particular scenes or the overall focus of the book?  How important is the 1970s setting to the story?

3.  What factor’s influence the Nostalgia City CEO’s opinion of legalizing pot?

4.  Excluding Kate, how would you categorize the role of women in the book?

5.  How is the case for legalizing marijuana presented? Do you think the author has an opinion of legal pot?

6.  The author’s narrative technique is to alternate point-of-view chapters between Lyle and Kate. Was each character’s POV obvious with the change of chapters?

7.  When Arthur Poole says that heroin and cocaine are dangerous drugs it elicits laughs from his audience. Why is that? How does this establish what comes next at the public forum?

8.  This is a mystery. What was the biggest surprise in the book?

9.  How does the author differentiate the voices of the various characters? Is it effective?

10.  What do you think happened to Tony Guerra? Was the author specific enough for you about Guerra’s plight?

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