Welcome to the website edition of the Mystery Ahead newsletter, with fresh #booknews, thrilling #excerpts, and #reviews of must-read mysteries.
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1. A brand new year
Happy New Year and welcome to 2021’s first edition of Mystery Ahead. Let’s embrace the new year with optimism.
My themes for the year are gratitude and organization. I’m grateful for friends who keep me active, family stories that underpin the forthcoming GALLIANO CLUB books, and readers like you who make this writing journey a joy.
Of equal importance, 2021 will be my Year of Organization.
The primary goal is to finally organize my office. Who knows what I’ll find in there!
What’s your theme for the year?
2. Meet Me at the GALLIANO CLUB
Many things were disrupted in 2020, including release dates for the 3-book GALLIANO CLUB series. New dates are still being worked out. Watch this space.
Set in 1926, the series takes you to a mill town in upstate New York during Prohibition. Gangsters, bootleggers, murder, love, and jealousy shake the foundations of the Galliano Club, a hangout for Italian mill workers.
The fictional upstate town of Lido, New York, is based on my hometown of Rome, New York. My late grandfather’s experiences as Deputy Sheriff of Oneida County and my mother’s childhood tales underpin the books.
Read more on my blog: http://carmenamato.net/galliano-club/
In the upcoming GALLIANO CLUB series, Benny Rotolo is a Chicago hitman who ran afoul of Al Capone and fled to the relative safety of Lido, New York. But things haven’t worked out and Benny is now at a crossroads.
Benny nearly spit out a mouthful of coffee. Hymie couldn’t be dead. He was Benny’s ticket back to Chicago.
But the article was the real deal, not the funny papers. Henry Earl Wojciechowski, aka Hymie Weiss, was shot by gunmen on October 11, 1926. Weiss and four associates had attended the jury selection for the murder trial of Joe Saltis earlier that day. They parked cars on Superior Street and proceeded on foot to Schofield’s Flowers, Weiss’s place of business, on State Street across from Holy Name Cathedral. Gunmen hidden in a nearby rooming house opened fire, killing Weiss and associates.
A slow burn started in Benny’s gut that had nothing to do with the food at McSweeney’s. Al Capone and Hymie Weiss were deadly enemies. Hymie was the only man that Al Capone feared, and everybody in the Chicago rackets business knew it. Nobody else but Capone and his chief enforcer, Frank Nitti, could have rubbed out Hymie so methodically.
Without Hymie’s protection, there was no way Benny could go back to Chicago. Al Capone’s torpedoes would cut him down before he got off the train at Union Station.
All of Benny’s plans were in trouble, it seemed. The beer business wasn’t exactly coining money. Fisher lost the Lido Outfit account book and turned into a cream puff. Nick got himself dead. Bodies floated out of the river.
Now Hymie was gone, too. Chicago was off the short list of what to do next.
NOTE — For the historian in all of us, Hymie Weiss was a real person. He led Chicago’s North Side gang after Al Capone’s outfit took out florist and thug Dean O’Banion in 1924. Two years later, Weiss was murdered in a meticulously planned operation.
Weiss was a rough customer. According to the Chicago Tribune, “At the inquest over Hymie Weiss his brother gave this precious bit of testimony: ‘I saw him only once in twenty years. That was when he shot me six years ago.’”
More about the forthcoming GALLIANO CLUB series here: http://carmenamato.net/galliano-club/
SLEEP NO MORE by P.D. James
The late P.D. James is the much-awarded doyenne of British crime fiction, with over 21 books and innumerable short stories to her name. Many books feature her detective-poet hero Adam Dalgliesh. She inspired scores of mystery writers, no doubt including Louise Penny’s Armand Gamache series.
The subtitle of SLEEP NO MORE is “Six Murderous Tales.” These stories are each brilliant little gems of smooth writing, satisfying twists, and Britian’s class-conscious social landscape. Each is a relatively short read but packed with page-turning tension.
The style puts us in the mindset of criminal or accomplice. We’re immersed in motive, memories, and sublime rationalizations.
Most are told in the first person, including the brilliant opener, “The Yo-yo,” in which a schoolboy manages a murder. “Mr. Millcroft’s Birthday” had the kind of twist ending that makes you simply admire the author’s cleverness.
My favorite is “The Victim,” narrated by a man who seeks revenge, only to become a different type of victim. The prose is terrific. Witness this memorable line: “My mind fed voraciously on the thought of his death, savoured it, began systematically and with dreadful pleasure to plan it.”
If you haven’t read P.D. James before, this little volume is a wonderful place to start.
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All the best,