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ABOUT THE BOOK
Just because Lyle Deming snaps a rubber band on his wrist for stress control, and talks to himself, doesn’t mean the ex-cop, now cab driver, isn’t up to the challenge. Someone is sabotaging rides, killing and injuring tourists at Nostalgia City, a huge new retro theme park and resort in northern Arizona. Covering several square miles, the park, created by billionaire “Max” Maxwell, is a re-creation of a town as it might have appeared in the 1960s or early 1970s—albeit a sanitized, Brady Bunch version. Nostalgia City is complete with period hotels, stores, restaurants, cars, clothes, rides, music—the works.
Lyle is paired with Kate Sorensen, a 6’-2 ½” former college basketball player—turned PR exec/spin doctor—hired by Maxwell to stem the horrific publicity the sabotage creates. As Kate and Lyle investigate, they travel to Boston and back to uncover a conspiracy of corporate greed and murder.
Death in Nostalgia City
published by Black Opal Books
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/death-in-nostalgia-city-mark-s-bacon/1120374857?ean=9781626941748&st=AFF&SID=BNB_DRS_Evergreen_20150928&2sid=Skimlinks_3662453_NA&sourceId=AFFSkimlinksM000006
EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK
Whose idea was it to replace the chrome knobs and push buttons on car radios with touch screens? Lyle had no clue.
He eased off the accelerator of his 1973 Dodge Polara taxicab so his passengers wouldn’t miss anything. The sedan lumbered past an appliance store where a dozen identical images of the Fonz—leather jacket and all—were speaking unheard words from 24-inch, picture-tube TVs in the shop window. Lyle’s passengers gaped. A common reaction. Lyle had been at his new job for six months now, so the time warp didn’t faze him. He liked it. The new job brought him back to happy days.
“Oh, baby, I’m in love,” cried the DJ on the car radio. “That was a new one by Roberta Flack, ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow?’ You’re listening to Big Earl Williams on KBOP. Next up, the latest from Three Dog Night, but first—”
Lyle turned the radio down so he could talk to his fares, a wholesome-looking sixtyish couple, probably from the Midwest. “This your first time?”
“Yes,” the husband said. “First time.”
“We’ve heard all about this place,” his wife said, “but we had to see for ourselves. It’s amazing.”
Lyle glanced at the couple in the mirror. “Just your average town.”
“You got good cell phone coverage here?” the husband asked. “I’m having problems with my iPhone.”
“What’s an iPhone?” Lyle said.
“What, are you nuts? A cell phone!”
“Don’t be a cynic, Warren,” his wife said. “It’s part of the experience here.”
“Okay. I get it.” He held up two fingers in an awkward peace sign. “Far out, man. Groovy.”
Lyle smiled. He didn’t mind. He tried not to let little things bother him anymore. If people didn’t want to get in the spirit to relive the good old days, that was their choice. It just puzzled him why anyone would spend the money to visit Nostalgia City, one of the most elaborate theme parks in the world, and not enjoy the masquerade.
Nostalgia City was the brainchild of billionaire developer Archibald “Max” Maxwell. The re-creation of a town from the early 1970s was as complete as billions of dollars and Max’s ceaseless energy could make it. Aimed at baby boomers, or anyone who wanted to go back in time, Nostalgia City was the size of a small town. Rides, shops, restaurants, hotels—everything—was constructed from scratch in northern Arizona near a reclaimed stretch of Route 66. To Lyle, a baby boomer himself, it was part resort, part theme park, and very much an escape. His new job gave him the chance to meet people not because they were robbed or assaulted but because they were on vacation.
Lyle steered the cab into the curb lane to give his passengers a closer look at the storefronts. He loved his big, old ’73 taxi. His parents had driven a Chrysler Cordoba with “soft Corinthian leather.” His Dodge wasn’t as fancy—after all, it was a cab—but it was fully restored. You could almost believe the 7,000 miles on the odometer. Like everything else in Nostalgia City, the cab didn’t look like an artifact. It looked new.
Rolling through the reproduction of a decades-past downtown, Lyle and his passengers came to a stop light. At the corner, Lyle’s guests stared at a Flying A service station with its white-uniformed attendants. Each gas pump was a sculptured red tower with one long hose and side-mounted nozzle, like a fashion model with one hand on her hip. As the tourists gawked, something moving drew Lyle’s gaze up a hill to the left. He saw a white 1970 Ford Torino moving toward the cab, picking up speed. Instantly, Lyle saw something missing—a driver.
In seconds, the Torino would smash into the driver’s side of Lyle’s cab. He stomped on the gas pedal and yelled for his passengers to hang on. The taxi’s rear tires chirped. Then the rubber took hold. The Dodge lunged forward as the Torino rushed toward it. Lyle escaped the runaway car—almost. The Ford scraped along a corner of the taxi’s rear bumper, catching the edge of a metal advertising sign on the back of the cab. It ripped off the sign with quick, metallic popping sounds.
Streaking forward, the driverless car headed for the gas station. It ran up the drive and caromed off a column supporting an awning over a row of pumps. The heavy metal awning trembled, tilted, then crashed to the ground. Slowed but still unchecked, the Torino reeled on. It plowed into a stack of motor oil cans, sending them flying. Finally, the Ford rammed into a gas pump, giving up the last of its momentum in a resounding crunch.
Gasoline gushed from the damaged pump while the motionless Ford straddled the concrete island like a ship stuck on a shoal. The sharp gasoline smell pierced the air. Lyle stopped his cab away from traffic. He bailed out and barked at his passengers to get away from the station. Seeing a customer standing near the flowing gas, he motioned for him to back away from the growing, flammable lake.
Everyone waited for the explosion.
But it didn’t happen.
Lyle dashed up to an attendant who had jumped out of the way of the car and was lying on his back, stunned and trembling. “Shut-off.”
The attendant pointed to the side of the building. Lyle found the emergency shut-off and punched a fist-sized button.
“You all right?” he asked the attendant.
“Think so.” The young man stood and dusted himself off. “We gotta call for help.”
“Already being taken care of.” Lyle saw another uniformed attendant in the service station office with a phone in his hand waving toward them.
The gasoline contained itself in the station’s parking area. An asphalt berm became a dam creating a small gas lagoon a few inches deep. Avoiding the gasoline, Lyle trotted over to the Ford. Its front bumper, grill, and the right side of its body were shredded and crushed, but the driver’s side looked relatively untouched except for long scratch marks from Lyle’s cab. Lyle glanced at the Torino’s driver’s side front door for a second, then pulled it open. He knew the engine wasn’t running, but he wanted to make sure the ignition was off. He stuck his head in, careful not to touch anything he didn’t have to. His right hand rested on the smooth vinyl seat as he leaned in farther. Then he felt someone tapping him on the back.
“Don’t touch anything,” said a deep voice. “Step back, sir.”
That was a little difficult because a large man in a shirt and tie stood right behind Lyle. The man had a badge holder hanging from his pocket and a holstered semi-automatic clipped to his belt.
“Clyde Bates, chief of security,” the walking impediment said. “What happened here?”
“Looks like someone tried to top off his tank.”
Bates scowled. “Okay, comedian, were you driving?”
“Yes—but not this car. No one was driving the Ford. That was the problem.”
Lyle recognized Bates from a staff meeting a couple of months earlier. He noticed the prematurely gray hair trimmed in a crew cut and the expression that said smiling was off limits. The park security chief looked as if he was once in shape but that recently his center of gravity had been moving south.
Lyle stepped away from the Ford and pointed to his Nostalgia City ID badge. “Deming. Lyle Deming. The car’s in neutral. I was just looking to see if—”
“Where’d it come from, that hill?”
“See anyone around?”
“No. Just the car, no driver.”
“You didn’t see anyone on the sidewalk?”
“No. So I looked inside the car to—”
“Okay. We’ll take it from here.”
Since Bates was alone, Lyle wondered who the “we” referred to. Then he heard a siren and knew reinforcements were on the way. A black-and-white early ’70s Plymouth with “Nostalgia City Security” painted on the door rolled up, followed by two fire engines of the same vintage.
Bates started giving orders, and Lyle walked a few steps away to pick up his yellow cabbie hat that had fallen off. He ran his fingers through his dark, wavy hair and set the cap on the back of his head.
“Think it was an accident?” Lyle asked. “Maybe something slipped.”
“An accident?” Bates said, looking away. “Dunno. Make a report. We’ll handle it.”
Lyle didn’t like his attitude. “What makes you think it wasn’t an accident?”
“Could this be related to the ride someone vandalized? Or the bridge—”
“That’s our business. Not your concern.”
Just walk away, Lyle told himself as he touched the rubber band on his wrist. Leave the make-believe policeman alone. He’s right, not my problem.
Lyle inspected his cab. The rear bumper was twisted and scratched. The mangled advertising sign lay on the pavement and the trunk lid now sported several jagged air holes. Lyle was about to round up his passengers when someone yelled at Bates. A firefighter knelt at the edge of the toppled awning. Lyle ran over to see if he could help. Right away, he knew no one could. A middle-aged man had been standing under the awning when it collapsed.
“Dead,” the firefighter said.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark S. Bacon has always been a writer but only recently a mystery novelist. He began his career as a newspaper reporter covering the police beat and general assignments in southern California. After writing for two newspapers, he became a copywriter for Knott’s Berry Farm, the Orange County theme park. His experience as a police reporter and working at a theme park formed the foundation for his first mystery novel, Death in Nostalgia City.
He is the author of several business books, one of which was selected as a best business book of the year by the Library Journal and printed in four languages. He’s written for a variety of newspapers and magazines and most recently was a correspondent for the San Francisco Chronicle.
He is also the author of two collections of mystery flash fiction including Cops, Crooks & Other Stories in 100 Words.
The second book in the Nostalgia City series, Desert Kill Switch, will be published next year and Bacon is at work on the third mystery in the series. He lives with his wife, Anne, in Reno, Nev.
Visit the atuhor’s website: www.baconsmysteries.com