Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Marijuana Murders

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Nostalgia City executive Kate Sorensen finds the body of a mechanic crushed under an automobile hoist in the theme park’s garage. Accident or murder? Will it impact Kate’s decision to become an advisor for one of two competing campaigns to legalize marijuana in Arizona?

When the death is ruled a homicide and the DEA stages a surprise raid, park cab driver Lyle Deming is recruited to help solve the murder and find out if the park’s garage is being used to smuggle drugs. The anxiety-ridden ex-cop is soon poking around a Mexican border town looking for a park contractor who might be a drug mule. Or he might be dead.

Meanwhile, Kate, a 6-2 former college basketball star, is in the middle of a heated clash between potential corporate control of pot marketing and a laid-back, grow-your-own approach. As Kate wonders whether she should mediate or advocate, she’s forced to dash for her life. Amid setbacks and threats, she and Lyle must sort through interwoven crimes, a tangle of evidence, and dark suspects.

Then there’s another murder.


The Marijuana Murders is the third novel in this mystery series set in Nostalgia City, a theme park that re-creates—in every detail—a small town from the 1970s.

My Review...
While the setting for this novel is a “theme park” type of place called Nostalgia City, it is nostalgic mostly for those of us who are of the baby boomer era. My first thought as I began to read was whether the subject would limit or narrow the field of readers for the author. While I really enjoyed some of the things I could identify with, I think there might be many things to interest all readers. The cars will be of interest to any reader and are timeless. I smiled many times reading about them. The legalization of marijuana is an ongoing argument in many states today. And of course, there are many twists and turns and murders just as any mystery should contain.  

This story started out slow for me. I think a part of this was getting to know the characters. After I had a better idea of who was “what” so to speak, it seemed to pick up and read easily. I wondered if this could have been because I have not read the previous books in the series and this is not really a stand-alone.

An interesting read and a new subject. Worth my time to read.


Read an excerpt...

From Chapter 26

When they started up the walkway to the neighbor’s house, a double-wide trailer home, they heard a dog growl somewhere within. A large dog. When they stepped up on the home’s wooden deck, a middle-aged woman in jeans and a western blouse cracked the front door open. “What do ya want?”
The growling got louder.

Rey pulled out his badge and identified himself. “I wanted to ask you a few questions about your neighbors.”

“Okay, come on in.” She pulled the door open wide.

A rottweiler slightly smaller than a Bengal tiger sat on the floor near the door. His growl rumbled like a low-rider car stereo.

“Oh, don’t worry about him,” the woman said. She motioned to the dog. “Benji, quiet. Stay.”

Lyle and Rey stepped into the living room. “We’re following up on the car theft next door. Do you know your neighbors to the west very well?”

“Them? Hell no. They come and go. Sometimes late at night. Vanessa, I think that’s the woman what owns it. She says she has a big family that mooches off her. I ain’t stupid. Somethin’s going on over there. Cops were here this morning asking about that car theft.”

Lyle stole a glance at the massive K-9. “Did Benji bark last night?” Benji?

“He did, about two, three o’clock. That’s what I told the other cops. I heard some noises, but I mind my own business.”

“How long has Vanessa lived there?” Rey asked.

“Maybe six months. The Carlsons moved out.”

“You know where she came from?”

“Said Tucson.”

“You ever talk to any of Vanessa’s family,” Lyle asked, “visitors?”

“No, sir. They don’t come ’round wantin’ to talk. ’Course I usually leave Benji out on the porch.”


AUTHOR Bio and Links:


Mark S. Bacon began his career as a Southern California newspaper police reporter, one of his crime stories becoming key evidence in a murder case that spanned decades.

After working for two newspapers, he moved to advertising and marketing when he became a copywriter for Knott’s Berry Farm, the large theme park down the road from Disneyland.  Experience working at Knott’s formed part of the inspiration for his creation of Nostalgia City theme park. 

Before turning to fiction, Bacon wrote business books including Do-It-Yourself Direct Marketing, printed in four languages and three editions, named best business book of the year by the Library Journal, and selected by the Book of the Month Club and two other book clubs.  His articles have appeared in the Washington Post, Cleveland Plain Dealer, San Antonio Express News, Orange County (Calif.) Register, and many other publications.  Most recently he was a correspondent for the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Marijuana Murders is the third book in the Nostalgia City mystery series that began with Death in Nostalgia City.  The first book introduced ex-cop turned cab driver Lyle Deming and PR executive Kate Sorensen, a former college basketball star.  Death in Nostalgia City was recommended in February for book clubs by the American Library Association.

Bacon is the author of flash fiction mystery books including, Cops, Crooks and Other Stories in 100 Words.  He taught journalism as a member of the adjunct faculty at Cal Poly University – Pomona, the University of Nevada – Reno, and the University of Redlands.  He earned an MA in mass media from UNLV and a BA in journalism from Fresno State.   He gets many of his ideas while walking his golden retriever, Willow.





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The Best Laid Plans


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21 Stories of Mystery & Suspense
Mystery/Suspense Anthology
Publisher: Superior Shores Press
Date Published: June 18, 2019

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Whether it’s at a subway station in Norway, a ski resort in Vermont, a McMansion in the suburbs, or a trendy art gallery in Toronto, the twenty-one authors represented in this superb collection of mystery and suspense interpret the overarching theme of “the best laid plans” in their own inimitable style. And like many best laid plans, they come with no guarantees.

Stories by Tom Barlow, Susan Daly, Lisa de Nikolits, P.A. De Voe, Peter DiChellis, Lesley A. Diehl, Mary Dutta, C.C. Guthrie, William Kamowski, V.S. Kemanis, Lisa Lieberman, Edward Lodi, Rosemary McCracken, LD Masterson, Edith Maxwell, Judy Penz Sheluk, KM Rockwood, Peggy Rothschild, Johanna Beate Stumpf, Vicki Weisfeld, and Chris Wheatley.


Heirloom by Tom Barlow

Me and my dimwitted brother, a cash withdrawn at gunpoint, make a midnight escape on ATVs through gnarly mountain trails chased by a blizzard. Lucky I’m too smart to fail.

Spirit River Dam by Susan Daly

Imogen doesn’t anticipate surprises at her trendy art gallery, until the day her ex walks in with an intriguing old painting. Is it a Fake? Or a Fortune?

Fire Drill by Lisa de Nikolits

You’ll never know my name, I’m not that important. But I’ll fight for what’s mine. So beware, world, because you’ve got no idea what I’m capable of.

Gambling Against Fate: From Judge Lu’s Ming Dynasty Case Files by P.A. De Voe

As the emperor’s representative in maintaining peace and order, I am challenged daily to ferret out criminals hiding among the innocent.

Callingdon Mountain by Peter DiChellis

I’m a private eye who spends his days investigating a baffling murder case the news media calls an “impossible” crime. The cops sure can’t solve the mystery. Can I?

Lunchbreak by Lesley A. Diehl

Spurred on by his buddy, Ben decides this is the day to shut up his nagging wife for good, but she thwarts his plans with some creative culinary intervention.

Festival Finale by Mary Dutta

My name is Charles Attlee, but of course you know my work. You don’t want to miss my killer book festival appearance.

A Sure Thing by C.C. Guthrie

The hit on an eighty year-old rancher seemed like a sure thing. I left the Buffalo snow behind for sixty-degree days in Oklahoma figuring, what could go wrong?

Last Thoughts by William Kamowski

Timothy, an empathetic techie, takes care of people online—for better or for worse—especially sad young women who need to script their final moments.

Sucker Punch by V.S. Kemanis

I’m Freddy, behind the butcher counter at Food Super. I’ll never look at the meat and bone saw in the same way after my “best friend” Zach roped me into his latest moneymaking scheme.

Better Dead Than Redhead by Lisa Lieberman

I’m Ashley Early. The best thing about being a primatologist? Chimps don’t find themselves accused of murdering their hair model. Unlike Alex, my twin sister.

Oubliette by Edward Lodi

Choose as your target a frail, elderly woman who lives alone, and what could possibly go wrong?

The Sweetheart Scamster by Rosemary McCracken

I’m Pat Tierney, a financial planner. The day my seventy four year-old client Trudy Sullivan said she had a new man in her life, I had questions to ask her.

Deadly Dinner by LD Masterson

I didn’t take this nursing home job to kill someone, I’m just looking for a way to score. But if it means helping some rich old biddy to her just reward…well, that’s okay, too.

The Stonecutter by Edith Maxwell

I’m Eleanor, a middle-aged librarian. A Portuguese stonecutter and I are in love, but it’s bittersweet and attempting to fix things could prove dangerous. I think I’ll try.

Plan D by Judy Penz Sheluk

My name’s Jenny and most of my days center around trying to think of inventive ways I can kill my lazy, job-losing husband, Ted—without getting caught.

Frozen Daiquiris by KM Rockwood  Penelope’s new McMansion doesn’t provide automatic entrĂ©e to the upper crust. Maybe if she hosts a society fundraiser in the new house, and everything goes according to plan…

The Cookie Crumbles by Peggy Rothschild

Angry with my mom and jealous of my talented older sister, I’m planning the perfect prank and hoping revenge is sweet.

Thank You For Your Cooperation by Johanna Beate Stumpf

Marsha watches people. As surveillance operator for the subway, this is her job. Lately, a new commuter has appeared on Marsha’s screens. And he’s going to change her life.

Who They Are Now by Vicki Weisfeld

Yolanda and Bill are Delray Beach, Florida, cops investigating the murder of a beloved sportscaster during the chaos of a Category 5 hurricane.

The True Cost of Liberty by Chris Wheatley

I am Gerald Worthington. Life consists of dealing antiques, dining at second-class restaurants, enduring tedious social engagements and wishing my wife’s new husband would drop dead.




About the Author

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Editor Judy Penz Sheluk is the author of the Glass Dolphin Mystery and Marketville Mystery series. Her short stories can be found in several collections. Judy is also a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she serves as Vice Chair on the Board of Directors. Find her at www.judypenzsheluk.com.












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