Nostalgia City Mysteries

Mark S. Bacon

Tag Archives: Michael Niemann

A trio of mystery, suspense, thrills


Tahoe Payback  (Owen McKenna Mystery Thriller)
Todd Borg
352 pages
Thriller Press   August 2017
Kindle $4.99  Trade paper $12.34

The fifteenth Owen McKenna mystery at Lake Tahoe looks at scam charities. When a man tells Tahoe Detective Owen McKenna that his girlfriend disappeared, McKenna wonders if the woman got cold feet and ran away. But when she turns up murdered on Lake Tahoe’s Fannette Island with red roses in her mouth, McKenna discovers that she used a scam charity to steal millions.  A second victim is found with a tennis ball crammed into his mouth. A third has military medals in his cheeks. McKenna suspects that these victims also ran fraudulent charities.

While McKenna investigates the murders, his girlfriend Street Casey has reason to believe that her ex-con father, who’s jumped parole, wants revenge for her testimony that put in him in prison decades ago.  

It appears that the victims are all payback targets of a vigilante killer. McKenna finds lots of potential suspects. But he can’t link any of them to the crimes. What he doesn’t know is that both he and his girlfriend are about to face someone who wants them very dead.


Tahoe local Todd Borg is the bestselling author of 15 Owen McKenna Mystery Thrillers. Borg’s novels have won the Ben Franklin Award for Best Mystery of the Year, made Library Journal’s Top 5 Mysteries of the Year list, received rave reviews, including a starred review in Library Journal, and made Amazon’s Mystery/Thriller and Private Investigator Bestseller Lists multiple times.   Borg’s books have over 500,000 paper books and ebooks in distribution.  He was selected as the toastmaster for the 2018 Left Coast Crime convention.


The Red Queen Rules: A Red Solaris Mystery Vol.3
Bourne Morris
246 pages
Henery Press   December 2016
Kindle $4.99  Trade paper $15.95

 This third installment of the Red Solaris series proves again that anyone who thinks a college campus is a haven of scholarship and civility hasn’t been paying attention.

Is it free speech or hate? When a white supremacist schedules an event on campus, University Dean Red Solaris must confront her own feelings about an issue that challenges the very core of American education: campus safety versus freedom of speech.

Amidst escalating tension, Red meets with the editor of the student newspaper – who also confides in Red that her young cousin is missing, probably a victim of local sex traffickers. Agreeing to rescue the girl, Red solicits help from her beloved detective Joe Morgan. But when Morgan goes undercover into the dangerous world of human trafficking, he disappears without a trace. Red must balance her fears for Morgan with her worries that a campus riot may soon break out.

The Red Queen Rules is also available as an MP3 CD.


After Bennington College, Bourne Morris worked at McCall’s Magazine and then the New York advertising agency of  Ogilvy & Mather.  She rose through the ranks from copywriter to head of the agency’s Los Angeles office serving clients that included Mattel, Columbia Pictures, General Foods cereals and Baskin-Robbins.  Later she became a professor of journalism at the University of Nevada- Reno where she taught marketing communications and media ethics.  She was also chair of the university’s faculty senate where she learned about campus politics and tensions.


Illegal Holdings
Michael Niemann
230 pages
Coffeetown Press  Mar. 1, 2018
Kindle $6.95  Trade paper $12.37

UN fraud investigator Valentin Vermeulen is on assignment in Maputo, Mozambique. His ho-hum task is to see if Global Alternatives is spending UN money the way they promised. The nonprofit was set up by hedge fund mogul Vincent Portallis to revolutionize development aid. The only upside for Vermeulen is the prospect of seeing his lover Tessa Bishonga, who is reporting on foreign land acquisitions in Africa.

When Vermeulen notices that a five-million-dollar transfer has gone missing, he is given the run-around. First he is told the files have been mislaid, then stolen, then he is assured that the money was never transferred to begin with. But the money was transferred, so where is it now? Vermeulen’s dogged pursuit of the missing transfer makes him the target of some ruthless operators. And once he meets up with Tessa, she is inevitably sucked in to the story as well, which turns out to be far more nefarious than either of them imagined.


Michael Niemann grew up in a small town in Germany, ten kilometers from the Dutch border. Crossing that border often at a young age sparked in him a curiosity about the larger world. He studied political science at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms Universität in Bonn and international studies at the University of Denver. During his academic career he focused his work on southern Africa and frequently spent time in the region. After taking a fiction writing course from his friend, the late Fred Pfeil, he switched to mysteries as a different way to write about the world.

Editor’s note:  Prices for the above books may vary depending on the retailer and when you access sales sites.  Click on the book covers for more information.

Spy thriller takes you on wild ride in Sudan


Legitimate Business
Michael Niemann
218 pages
Coffeetown Press   March 2017
Kindle $6.95, Trade paper $13.33

Legitimate Business is a different type of mystery.  It’s an intriguing spy novel, a thriller loaded with exotic atmosphere and foreign intrigue and a mystery, all in one.

Valentine Vermeulen is a New York-based fraud investigator with the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services. When he’s on vacation in Dusseldorf, Germany he’s reunited with his daughter whom he hasn’t seen in eight years, following his messy divorce.  As soon as he and Gabby patch things up, he’s off to Darfur, Sudan. 

Responding to the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, the UN Security Council has approved a significant military and police presence. Some 25,000 military and civilian people work for the United Nations/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).  Millions of dollars in supplies and services are required to support the large operation.  Vermeulen’s job, initially, is to examine the books, but it quickly escalates.  

A member of an all-female peace-keeping police unit from Bangladesh is shot and killed.  Is she a random victim of the war that has plagued Sudan, or was she killed because she discovered the kind of criminal scheme Vermeulen is supposed be looking for?

Vermeulen’s life gets worse—as he predicts—when he tries to track down the source of crooked deals that are jeopardizing the UN mission and fattening the wallets of someone. The mystery evolves and unravels at a brisk pace with descriptions that put you in the seat of a four-wheel drive vehicle dashing across the desert as machine guns rattle, lead you down dark Sudanese city streets and surround you with the gloom of a sprawling refugee camp.

Author Niemann knows his subject.  He studied in Europe and the U.S. and has lived in Africa.

“Since the days of British colonial rule, the coast around Port Sudan had been the Red Sea Rivera.  It was still a destination for holiday makers, but the international sanctions had cut down the foreign tourists’ travel.  The once splendid corniche along the water’s edge with its benches, palm trees and open-air restaurants had the dispirited atmosphere of a seaside town in winter.”

Niemann’s crisp and descriptive writing keeps you reading.  He explains a Vermeulen hangover this way:

“His throat was dry and his tongue a dead animal in his mouth.”

Vermeulen is caught in a mortar barrage at an encampment.  A round lands in a latrine near him.

“The stink of shit mixed with the reek of burnt gunpowder.”

When Vermeulen finds himself in the middle of a fire fight:

“Acrid smoke made his eyes tear up, and for a moment the world blurred into an ugly watercolor painting.”

One minor point, but one I’ve seen missed by others, Niemann knows the popular Glock semi-auto lacks a traditional safety. “…Vermeulen pulled the pistol from his pocket.  He remembered that Glocks don’t have safety levers.”  If you write about firearms you need to know how they work.

This fast-moving African adventure is an appealing start to Niemann’s Valentine Vermeulen thriller series.  Illicit Trade is the second in the series.  Start catching up now.  The third novel, Illegal Holdings, debuts next month.

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