Nostalgia City Mysteries

Mark S. Bacon

Tag Archives: T. Jefferson Parker

Do you hate f***ing profanity in mystery novels?


A thug the size of an NFL lineman grabs Sam Shamus around the neck and throws him down the stairs. The bad guy follows him, stomps on his face and tells him he’s a low-life private dick and if he ever shows up again he’ll get a real beating.

Somehow Sam manages to get to his feet. He glares at the crook and says, “Pardon me sir, but I object to the way you’re characterizing my profession. And I ask that you refrain from inflicting further physical indignities, you hooligan.”Profanity-balloon

That’s what Sam says, anyway. Your average detective-novel hero might use different words.

Sam’s situation—or a version of it—went through my mind when I started writing mystery short stories and later, my first mystery novel. Should I use profanity? My initial answer: no. We’re slammed with the f-word so often in crime movies that profanity loses its punch. But the more I wrote, and the more I thought about it, studiously avoiding profanity seemed unrealistic. What the hell was I to do?

Profanity in literature, a fascinating topic—particularly in the mystery/suspense/thriller genre—varies from author to author. But before we get into that, a few words about four-letter words. While I eventually decided in favor of what’s delicately called swear words in my fiction, I’m still a journalist when I’m writing articles online. My inner AP Stylebook doesn’t permit me to use words you won’t find in your daily paper. Therefore I’m going to resort to f*** and s*** for two words everyone knows. Bear with me.

Not long ago, someone writing on an Amazon discussion page asked about bad language. She wrote: “I am Continue Reading →

News, fiction and surprise treats


My website is evolving. I changed the theme, particularly so it can be more easily read on smart phones and tablets, but one of the unintended results was that a majority of the followers seem to have dropped from view. I’m working to recover everyone as I add more interesting details to this site.

In upcoming weeks I will have reviews of Ross MacDonald, T. Jefferson Parker, Cornell Woolrich and summaries of newly released mysteries. You’ll also see more mystery flash fiction and hush-hush previews of what life is like in Nostalgia City.

Oldies rock and roll fans can look forward to a few words from radio’s Dick Bartley all in this newly improved, renamed website/blog.

New crime books briefly noted


Way to Go

Jennifer Moss
Black Opal Books  294 pages
$3.99 Kindle    $10.55 trade paper

When motivational speaker Jessica Way entered the squad room, she stopped to smile at every cop who was staring at her.  When Det. Ryan Doherty asked her to sit down “she scrutinized Ryan from head to toe in a way that made him feel almost violated.”   She told the detective she thought someone was trying to kill her, but he didn’t take her quite seriously.  A day later she was dead, shot in the face.  This novel is the second in the series.


City of Darkness and Light

Rhys Bowen
Minotaur Books   320 pages
$11.04 Kindle    $19.99 hardcover

I got my first introduction to Ms. Bowen in her earlier, delightful Constable Evans books that take place in Wales.  You learn about Welsh customs, geography and language while you’re solving a mystery.  This new book is the 13th in the Molly Murphy mystery series featuring feature an Irish immigrant woman in turn-of-the-century New York City.


Drowning Barbie 

Frederick Ramsay
Poisoned Pen Press  250 pages
$6.99 Kindle  $21.20 hardback  $13.46  paperback

The intriguing title of this mystery is exceeded in bizarre only by the name of the first murder victim: Ethel Smut.  This is the nineth in Ramsay’s Ike Schwartz series of police procedurals.


Pinkerton’s Great Detective:  The Amazing Life and Times of James McParland

Beau Riffenburgh
Viking  384 pages
$32.95 hardback

McParland was a top man in Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency and a tough character.  In creating this biography Riffenburgh used recently released Pinkerton archives.  He tells, among other things, how McParland became famous breaking up the Molly Maguires, an infamous gang of coal miners accused of murder, arson and other crimes.   McParland was, according Ben MacIntyre’s review in The New York Times, “the prototype of a character that has become an adored part of America’s cultural landscape, the hard-boiled gumshoe, the lone sleuth in search of justice.”


Jeff Parker’s reissues

When was the last time you read a crime story by T. Jefferson Parker?  Four of his relatively recent novels, Storm Runners,The Fallen, California Girl and Cold Pursuit have been reissued. Parker’s latest is The Famous and the Dead, the conclusion to his series about Los Angeles County sheriff ’s deputy Charlie Hood, attached to the ATF, working along the U.S.-Mexican border.  The Washington Post said the book was, “not only well-plotted and suspenseful, but subtle, surprising and endearingly perverse.”  Three-time Edgar winner Parker rarely disappoints.

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