Nostalgia City Mysteries

By Mark S. Bacon

Tag Archives: Nevada

Book Review:

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Desert Kill Switch – Killer Classic Cars and Murder – Great Who Done It

Former cop Lyle Deming is now a cabbie at a new theme park located in Arizona appropriately named Nostalgia City. His life is much calmer now that he left the force, and he likes it that way. Unfortunately for him, things are about to change for the worse.

While driving home with his daughter, he sees a vintage car on the side of the road and next to the classic Firebird is a body. A very dead body full of bullets. He hustles back to his Mustang, the main thing on his mind is keeping his daughter safe if the killers are still around.

He phones the local police, but when they get to the spot, there is no car, no body and no evidence of a crime. Deming knows he wasn’t hallucinating, so he begins investigating the crime and the missing victim on his own. Before he can get a good handle on what happened he is called to Reno because a close friend and coworker, Kate Sorensen is in trouble.

Kate, PR director of Nostalgia City, is manning a booth at a huge classic car event. Reno’s Rockin’ Summer Days is a great place to advertise Nostalgia City where the only cars allowed in the park are vintage rides. When one of the big wigs in charge of the event ends up on the wrong end of a knife, Kate is the prime suspect because she is found with the dead body and rumor has it she is trying to get the event moved to Nostalgia City.

Deming has to help her find the real killer before she is arrested, because the evidence points at Kate. He believes her innocence, but no one else does. So the two co-workers that seem to want to be more than friends are playing hide and seek with the cops, trying to find a killer and most importantly stay alive. After all, there is a killer on the loose who would love to see Kate in jail for the crime he or she committed.

There are so many suspects with plausible reasons to kill Al Busick it was fun to find out who finally did it. He was a conniving man, a car dealer with questionable morals and undeniably hated by many. It was fun to be twisted and turned by the plot. The characters are interesting and varied, each playing a vital role no matter how big or small.

Desert Kill Switch is a fast read, but don’t confuse that with a simply written story. Bacon’s descriptions are a thing of beauty. When looking for a suspect, Deming is driving down a desert road. The dust his tires are kicking up is described as “…ghosts following his car…” And the reader knows that Deming is well read when he quotes Dickens.

From the descriptions of Nostalgia City, I would love to have someone build this blast from the past theme park. I am sure it would be a big hit with baby boomers as well as those a bit younger.

Bacon’s second Nostalgia City Mystery is the first I have read. It is fun, suspenseful and impossible to put down once you crack the spine. I am going to search out the first in the series and keep an eye out for the third which is promised to be published soon.

I highly recommend this book to anyone that loves an easy to read, well written novel with an intriguing plot. It is a must read for mystery loving vintage car fans.

–Laura Hartman
Writeknit.com

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Desert Kill Switch now available: pre-order only $3.99

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My second book in the Nostalgia City mystery series is here!

Desert Kill Switch has more than one crime to solve.  When I read a mystery, I enjoy keeping track of clues and trying to solve the puzzles.  But I also like a mystery that moves apace, making me worry about the safety of the lead characters.  This is the kind of mystery I wrote in Desert Kill Switch.

The book  is two overlapping stories in one: 

Lyle Deming is a stressed out ex-homicide detective who drives a cab in Nostalgia City, the  Arizona retro theme park, as his escape from the disappointments and anxieties of police work.  But on page one of the novel, Lyle discovers a body in the desert next to a pristine 1970s car.  When he comes back to the scene with sheriff’s deputies, the car and body are gone. Was he seeing things?

Kate Sorensen, a former college basketball star, is Nostalgia City’s PR VP and she’s in Reno working in an exhibit booth.  She’s representing her employer at a sprawling retro festival featuring classic cars and rock ’n’ roll.  She’s accused of trying to steal the Reno festival and move it to Arizona.  Worse, she’s accused of killing the festival chairman.

Lyle arrives in Reno to help his blonde, not-quite-girlfriend and they plow through a deadly tangle of suspects and motives.   Kate and Lyle hit one dead end after another as they struggle to exonerate Kate, catch a blackmailer, save a witness’s life, and help find the missing corpse. 

To pre-order at the $3.99 price, simply click here.

To read the first two chapters of the book for free, click here.

To get a copy of Death in Nostalgia City, the first book in the series, click here.

Two new detectives uncover murderous plots

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The Red Queen’s Run – A Red Solaris Mystery
Bourne Morris
Henery Press 280 pages
$28.79 hardcover $14.26 trade paper $2.99 Kindle
 
Focused on Murder – A Spirit Lake Mystery
Linda Townsdin
CreateSpace   286 pages
$11.59 trade paper $2.99 Kindle

A  journalism professor and a press photographer are two of the newest amateur sleuths drawn into investigating murders in their own back yards. A crumpled body at the bottom of concrete stairs in a Nevada university journalism school and a corpse buried in snow in northern Minnesota are the beginning points for these two rewarding whodunits. Both books are the initial offerings in mystery series. In these two mysteries you can get to know the appealing protagonists and be ready for the next installments. Both are due this year.

Morris’s Red Queen mystery is several stories in one: an inside look at the The-Red-Queen's-Runjealousies and esoteric workings of academia, a love story and, of course, a whodunit.   The crime and the novel revolve around the journalism school at a western university. Lest you imagine that a university is not the place to look for murderous intent, Morris begins her book this way:

Anyone who thinks a college campus is a haven of scholarship and civility hasn’t been paying attention. Last year, I sat through a dozen faculty meetings with recurring visions of Dr. Amy Bishop flooding my mind. I could almost see Bishop seated in a 2010 faculty meeting at the University of Alabama, then see her stand, aim a nine millimeter gun at her friends and colleagues across the table and begin firing. Before her gun jammed, Bishop had killed three people, wounded three others…

This description is in the words of journalism professor Meredith “Red” Solaris, narrator of the first-person story. This jolting beginning puts you on guard for the confrontations that ensue among the faculty at Mountain West University. When the dean of the journalism school is found dead, it’s unclear if it was an accident or homicide. Before too long, Solaris has demonstrated her human relations skills keeping the school of journalism together amid the rivalry, rancor and professional conflicts that emerge with the dean’s death.  Members of the mutinous and possibly murderous faculty are drawn with detail so you can imagine them as real (and unusual) people plotting against each other.

Thirty-five year old Solaris, called Red because of her dark, thick red hair, is challenged to maintain the independence of the school, determine if one of her colleagues is a killer and generally decide the direction her life should take. She worries that people are expecting too much from her. But she has help from Sadie, a close friend she regularly meets over wine and, most important, a handsome police detective assigned to the case.

Is it murder or an accident? The investigation drags on as we watch Solaris sort out motives, uncover several surprises, and gradually develop feelings for the detective. Through Solaris’s asides and Morris’s voice you become comfortable with the level-headed, if sometimes insecure lead character. Solaris may be an academic but her background also has made her a good sleuth. For example, she meets an attorney who wants to appear kindly but, “His tone was friendly but his eyes were not.”

“Is there no limit to the wickedness of the journalism faculty?” Sadie asks Solaris at one of their luncheons. Wait for the clever conclusions in the circuitous ending and you’ll find out.

——-

In Townsdin’s Focused on Murder, murder is not the only crime going on amid the frozen lakes and frigid forests of northern Minnesota and rash but resourceful news photographer Britt Johansson is right in the middle of it.

Focused-on-Murder-coverWhen the tall Pulitzer Prize winner is betrayed by her husband and fired from the Los Angeles Times, she returns to her hometown of Spirit Lake where she hopes to reconnect with her childhood boyfriend and her gay brother who runs a restaurant. She lands a job taking pictures in the generally sleepy northern Minnesota bureau of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. After a career shooting in war-torn parts of the world, taking snaps at town-hall meetings is putting Johansson to sleep, so when she accidentally stumbles on a body in the snow, she latches onto the story.

Told by the sheriff and her newspaper boss to stay out of it, Johansson naturally dives in. What she discovers going on in the back woods shocks her and ultimately the community—and will do the same for readers. All that snow can’t cover the ruined lives and evil family secrets.

This passage from early in the book describes Johansson—also a reformed drinker—and demonstrates author Townsdin’s writing skill and sense of humor:

“The word patience did not exist in my vocabulary. Act first, think later—maybe. Another one of those character defects they talk about in AA. Personality traits I’d been proud of turned out to be what they wanted you to stop.”

Johansson is adroit getting information from the collection of seedy, seamy characters that Townsdin has assembled, but all Johansson’s attempts to reconcile with her estranged boyfriend seem to fail: “That was not the first time Ben took the wag out of my tail.”

Townsdin has created a challenging mystery, spiced it with a cast of deceitful suspects and added appealing touches of noir in the dark settings and some of the dialog.

“The sky was the color of skim milk, what passed for sunshine in this part of the country.”

“I tossed the lie in with the rest of the sins in my storehouse.”

The novel’s ending is complex, compelling and like the conclusion of The Red Queen’s Run , leaves an opening for more adventures.

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