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Monday, November 28, 2011

ANOTHER READER WANTS PART TWO

"Finished Burning Questions in 2 nights. A ripping good yarn- especially the denouement! Looking forward to the 2nd part of the trilogy. " Joan Simon, Sebastopol, CA

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Give yourself or a friend my new mystery, “Burning Questions.” Get the special $3.00 holiday discount for the E-Book version. Now only $3.99 at Amazon.
For immediate download to a Kindle or other e-reading devices, use this Amazon Kindle Store link:BURNING QUESTIONS purchase

“A poor fisherman’s daughter must fight for her life when her wealthy boyfriend is found dead and she is blamed.”
•    A terrific crime mystery!   I can’t wait to read Parts II and III of the “1970′s Trilogy.” Steve Rohde, Los Angeles, CA
•    I was especially taken with the characters and atmosphere. Mark Curchack, Philadelphia, PA
•    Just the right amount of wide-eyed innocence/hard-boiled detective and sarcasm! Janie Tyre, Menlo Park, CA
•     I can’t put down Burning Questions. Maggie Livings, Fredericksburg, TX
•    Bravo!!  It kept me up long after I should have turned out the light and gone to sleep. Todd Endelman, Ann Arbor, MI

Friday, November 18, 2011

The NAZI General’s Coat


From Burning Questions: The NAZI General's Coat
The cottage was chilled and dank from lack of recent occupancy. Walter had been somewhere down south for quite a while, and we’d not made enough appearances during our few prior weekends together to take the edge off the damp- ness. Abigail took off her coat, shivered dramatically and asked me to make a fire. She excused herself and went off into the workshop, leaving me to scrounge about for kindling and old newspaper. I’d just put a match to the paper when an enormous fur-trimmed coat, headless, without hands protruding from its sleeves, waddled up behind me and said; “Boo!” Peeking out from a gap beneath a buttonhole was Abigail, grinning.
“What the hell is that?” I chuckled, rising from the hearth where my fire was just beginning to take off.
“It’s a German general’s greatcoat. My daddy got it in the War. The officer who owned it didn’t need a coat anymore.”
“Must have been one hell of an officer,” I said. The great- coat looked like it was built for someone around six-six and more than three hundred pounds. The shoulders could have accommodated a fully padded NFL lineman. About twenty- five clowns could have popped out of it. But it was a NAZI coat and that made me uncomfortable. How the hell did Walt Forbes get his hands on a NAZI general’s coat?

“C’mon in,” she said, poking a hand out. She began unfastening a couple of the buttons. “Yeah, what for?”
“Dessert.”
“I didn’t see that on the menu,” I bantered.
 “Rockport’s a dry town,” she replied. “It won’t be dry in here!”
Now maybe the Pope could resist a come-on like that, but I wasn’t him. I stepped into the NAZI general’s coat to happily discover that it was all Abigail was wearing. The interior was more of the same fur, thick and clingingly warm. I felt like I was in a Third Reich womb.
“Take off your clothes,” she whispered, closing the coat around us so that it became pitch black, except for a spot of light where an Aryan head once had perched. I hoped he’d lost it the hard way.
“Doesn’t the fur feel fabulous on your bare skin?” she said.
“ You’ll feel more fabulous on my bare skin. ”
We danced around in the dark, bumping into things we couldn’t identify. She unfastened my belt and helped me off with my shirt. I worried we might fall into the fire but luckily we toppled onto the couch. Her nipples were erect, reaching out to me, begging to be kissed. I was as hard as I’d ever been. I wanted to enter her then, but she resisted. She made us stand up, then slowly slid her face down the front of me, exhaling hot breath along the way until she found what we both wanted her to find.
I asked her to lie down, so we could make proper love. She told me “no;” that this was “more delicious.” She said that it was better to take things slowly, to tease, to tantalize. She told me to trust her on that. Sensing my frustration, she told me, “Don’t worry, Nate,” in a hushed whisper. “We’ll get there, but this way will be better.” And though it wasn’t what I had in mind, and we were in a place where, when my mind turned to where I was, gave me the creeps, it was a lot better than nothing.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Photo Tour of the Scene of the Crime

The time is September-October 1969

The place is Gloucester, Massachusetts.

Here are some of the scenes that inspired the narrative for Burning Questions (and in case you were wondering, yes, they are all from Gloucester.) The side captions are taken from the book.



We were in the midst of a New England Indian summer, warm and windless. Massachusetts Bay was as smooth as a mirror and met the faded blue sky seamlessly.




 
Inside, those homes reeked of rancid cooking oil and stale cigarettes. The furniture needed re-upholstering. The tea cups were chipped and unwashed, the cookies—if there were any at all—were stale.



 
I set out when the last hues of sunset had quit and the purple of evening had taken over. 




 I coaxed my sputtering ’62 Valiant up a driveway that curled like a cat’s tail along their steep hill of freshly- mowed, green lawn. Up ahead, nestled in a grove of mature oak and maple just beginning to turn, loomed a three-story fieldstone mansion with a peaked, gray slate roof.


 

Back in the Twenties, an eccentric millionaire inventor by the name of John Hays Hammond, Jr., AKA “The Father of Remote Control,” looted some impoverished corner of the Old World by disassembling one of their castles, stone by stone, and running off with it to the States. He decided that Gloucester was just the right place to put his souvenir.
 



 There’s a monument to them on the esplanade, a stone’s throw from The Fort. A heroic helmsman in full foul weather gear peers out to sea, above a recitation of Psalm 107, verses 23-24: “They That Go Down to The Sea In Ships.”
 
 The Fort was a tough little neighborhood on a small peninsula that long ago was the site of a real fort guarding Gloucester’s inner harbor.






The ocean was gray and calm. A few gulls cruised lazily above a solitary lobsterman, waiting for him to discard something edible. 




Jimmy scoped out the surfing conditions, figured that Kenny would be surfing longer than he actually was, not counting on the waves going flat...





I decide to head down the path to the reservoir....
I’m not about to go lookin’ for no dogs. I make my way quick to the railroad tracks and walk along ’em ’til I get to the station.





Friday, November 4, 2011

Please join me at
BIRD AND BECKETT BOOKSTORE
653 Chenery Street, San Francisco, CA 94131-3033 (415) 586-3733
Sunday, November 13, 2011 @ 3:00 P.M.
for a reading from my novel
The Flight of the Sorceress.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

QUESTION 4:IS THERE A REALLY A GHOST TOWN IN GLOUCESTER



Q: IN BURNING QUESTIONS YOU DESCRIBE A GHOST TOWN IN CAPE ANN, MASSACHUSETTS CALLED DOGTOWN. IS THERE A REALLY A GHOST TOWN THERE CALLED DOGTOWN?

A.  When most of us think ghost town, it’s probably a place out in the west that once was a booming mining town. Places looking like the photo on the left, that were completely abandoned after the Mother Lode played out. All that is left are dilapidated, slumped-over wooden structures with faded signs revealing that they were once saloons or hotels, or maybe a “sporting house.” But that’s not what you get on the east coast, where only one or two places can legitimately answer to the name “ghost town.”

One such place is Dogtown. Sitting smack in the middle of Cape Ann (the ‘other” cape) in Massachusetts, its 3600 acres appear today much as they did two centuries ago --a jumble of deciduous trees, brush, blueberry patches, bog and granite boulders.  Only a few stone foundations remain to mark the location of what were, in the mid-1700s, perhaps as many as one hundred homes.

Dogtown has been a ghost town now since the 1830s when its last resident, a freed slave named Cornelius Finson, who the locals called Black Neil, was found with his feet frozen and was carted off to the poorhouse. But for many years before that the place was literally “going to the dogs” its last handful of residents abandoning the hounds that they kept for safety before heading for the now, post-Revolutionary War secure harbor area of Gloucester.

Fear of pirates and storms led the early settlers to homestead the high ground in around 1650.  Over the ensuing one hundred and eighty years, Dogtown was home to Revolutionary War heroes including a genuine Minuteman who after raising hue and cry that the British were coming died in the ensuing battle and a seaman who after escaping British impressment fought several battles and was seriously wounded at Yorktown. It was also the hood for a couple of witches with reputations: Judith Rhines, seductress of a preacher, and the anointed “Queen of Witches” Tammy Younger. Years later it was the site of the goring unto death by a bull of a blowhard, braggart, and drunkard with the inapt name of James Merry.

If the pirates, war heroes, witches, freed slaves and gored dead weren’t enough, the whole kit and caboodle of the place was bought by a rich guy who ran for president on the National Prohibition Party ticket in 1940. If elected, he promised that, in addition to bringing back prohibition, he'd outlaw gambling, drugs, “indecent” books, magazines and films. Sex was too difficult to talk about altogether for this bunch. This Roger Babson, who founded several colleges, had a penchant for hiring the unemployed to carve Calvinist creed into Dogtown’s boulders.  Soon enough he had 24 big rocks, now “Babson’s Boulders” looking much like gravestones, bearing such homilies as “never try never win,” “help mother”, “be on time”,  “keep out of debt” and “save’. Then he gave the land to the City of Gloucester to be preserved.

My mystery-suspense novel, Burning Questions, has many prominent Dogtown scenes. Tammy Younger, the witch and James Merry, the gored one, crop up.  There’s a chase scene. The dogs make a howling appearance. And there’s no getting around the fact that, due to its remoteness, size and cover, it’s a very convenient place to dump a body, if that’s what you have to do.

Fiction using Dogtown as a location for the action includes Percy MacKaye, Dogtown Common (MacMillan, 1921) Francis Blessington, The Last Witch of Dogtown (Curious Traveler Press, 2001) and Anita Diamant, ''The Last Days of Dogtown," (Simon & Schuster, 2005).  But Burning Questions is the only one that takes the reader to the contemporary ghost town.