Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Death in Nostalgia City by Mark S. Bacon Added to Personal Favorites for 2014...

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...

If people didn't want to get i 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 noe 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...
"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--"

Rolling through the reproduction of a decades-past downtown, Lyle and is passengers came to a stop light. At the corner, Lyle's guests stared at a Flying A service station with it 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 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 hand 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...
"Clyde Bates, chief of security," the walking impediment said. "What happened here?"
"Looks like someone tried to top off his tank...
Lyle was about to round up his passengers when someone yelled at Bates. A firefighter knelt at the edge of the topped 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.

Death in Nostalgia City
By Mark S. Bacon

This personal favorite, of course, focuses in on a major, happier part of my life. There was much in the book that touched me--music I could sing along with, a time without cell phones, etc. But the theme park took me back even further as I remember happy summers when all the family would head out to Ohio and attend the annual picnic hosted by Hoover, a major vacuum cleaner company, for their employees... We were always close to my Uncle Clarence, who treated us like his own children and substituted somewhat for the father I never had. I can remember that we obtained all day tickets and we would ride the roller coasters, one right after the other--only then would we move on to other rides...these are memories that will never be lost for me...

But the part that was most related to me was the character Lyle. He had left his former job due to burnout, as well as because of betrayal by peers... By now, I, too, wish I was over the flashbacks that would come to Lyle. But that doesn't seem to happen... So when Nostalgia City, where he was now working, as a cab driver, became a target for what was being called accidents, became deadly, he was quick to say NO to his boss when asked to help with the investigation. When you've been burned, you know not to revisit that time or the people that negatively affected you at that time. And you realize that the burnout is different from being just...burned. You have physically, mentally, and emotionally been changed and being involved in similar activities as you once were is not possible without some type of reaction on your part...
Lyle was quite happy driving his cab and meeting the vacationers who wanted to experience a happier time for them. It was also a happier time for Lyle as well.

Watching a body being scraped up, dumped on a gurney and hauled away was not a new sight for Lyle, but that didn't make it any more appealing. He took deep breaths as he felt the adrenaline wearing off. Firefighters had found the victim's wallet, so security officers headed out to check the park's hotels to see if they could locate family. Lyle was glad this was one death he didn't have to deal with. The people left behind--loved ones--made lasting impressions on him....
Lyle thought he was going home, but when he got to his street, he continued straight ahead toward Gilligan's Island and specifically to the bar there... He had got there early enough that he could have a beer without being too late. Since his father had moved in with him, especially since he was normally a grouchy complainer, he had needed some time to unwind after such a horrific accident--if it was an accident...

"Max, what a surprise. How are
things in Nostalgia City?"...
"Why all the flattery, Max? You
must be in a good mood." The
founder and CEO of the giant
retro resort was not the kind of
person to call for chitchat,
especially at work. "Everything
going well there in Arizona?"
"Doing Okay. Attendance is up."
Kate leaned to one side to get
comfortable. Her long legs
sometimes made her feel
cramped sitting in one-size-fits-
all theatre seats. "I read that
the Indian casino and your
excursion train through the
reservation are behind schedule.
"A little. We'll work it out. So, you
still like it there in Vegas?"
"Why do you ask?"
Would you be interested in
joining us here?"
..."Come for a visit..."I'll
send the corporate jet..."

Max had been worried about some of the smaller incidents that had been happening, plus his constant fear that attendance would go down. He had already called a woman who had worked for him as a PR Rep and had convinced her to come work at Nostalgia City. Kate Sorensen had off and on considered moving professionally but until Max offered her about double to come work for him, she had not decided. She was living with a man, but he initially said he was willing to relocate. So Kate had taken the job and went on ahead...

Max had fired his present VP and moved Kate right in, putting her to work immediately. What she hadn't known though was about what has happening and she would be caught on the front line dealing with the community, the police and all news media! 

Lyle was divorced but was still involved with his stepdaughter who had been in an accident and he was helping with the bills. But it really wasn't difficult for him to take a nice long look when he first met Kate. But immediately decided she must be too young for him...and, of course, she mentioned her fiancee...
The beehive looked confused.
She glanced down at her desk
and then looked up. "Mr.
Deming? You have an appoint-
ment with Mr. Maxwell."
"That's right. Is it 4:30 already?
He turned to the blonde.
"I'm sure my colleague here
can help you."
As she turned to go, Lyle thought
he caught a hint of a smile.

A minute later...and the most
stunning woman he'd seen in a
 long time walked out. She had
 to be at least six feet tall. And 
those legs. She reminded Lyle
  of a taller, older version of 
Susie Lopresti,  the
 cheerleader he lusted after
 in high school...

"I, ah, my cab's downstairs."

By the way, the book indicates Lyle looked like George Clooney, but I like my choice better... What do you think?

One of interesting sidebars was that there were initially no references to some of the major events that had claimed attention during the time period for Nostalgia City: the Vietnam War primary among them. The new PR VP immediately noticed and mentioned it to Lyle, who did not think the controversial issues were important. After all, he had come there to relax and have fun and thought everybody else did too. But Kate had already read the first, and then more, critiques which spotlighted the omission.

Another fun character who was a friend of Lyle's was the onsite DJ for the K-BOP studio, Earl Williams, where the hall was graced with pictures of The Beatles on the walls through to 1970 when they broke up... 

He also met Drenda at that time, who turned out to be related to Max and was the expert of the history encompassed during the period. There's a really cool scene toward the end of the book where Earl uses music to catch Lyle's attention to get him out of trouble!
On the radio, Earl Williams said, "Now, here comes a big new hit from Eric Clapton, "American Pie."
"Lyle, should we--"
"Hold it." Lyle held up his right hand. "Listen."
The song came on the radio and Lyle turned up the volume. 
"It's one of Earl's oldies," Kate said. "What the big deal?"
"Earl's in trouble."
In the meantime, he was receiving a complaint from Drenda for having played "A Hazy Shade of Winter..." Know Why?

That was the same night that Lyle had stayed to date songs that did or did not fit and were hurt when the monorail cars left the tracks!
Lyle...heard a grinding noise then a high-pictched screech like a buzz saw. One second later, an impart sharper than an earthquake slammed the studio trailer sideways. The picture window shattered. The trailer slid 100 feet then stopped abruptly. Acrid smoke and screams filled the air.
Lyle survived the holt by hanging onto the console and bracing himself against the wall. Short of breath and gagging on the fumes, he saw his buddy slumped motionless over the control panel. He tried to find something to staunch the blood flowing from the back of Earl's head.

Well, you can guess that Lyle began getting involved with everything... In fact, he was the first who realized the "why" behind what was happening... And he really got fired up and into the investigation. Only to be shocked when his father was murdered!

Deaths and injuries plus property damage was mounting as more and more was discovered. By that time, Kate had become Lyle's investigative partner--and made a great pair!

I really enjoyed everything about this book! It is indeed a taste of nostalgia bringing back all that was new and "happening" during that time period... Loved it, Loved It. The mystery wasn't difficult, since it flowed right out of the story, but the action and suspense about how and when things would be happening was fantastic. I loved Lyle and Kate and look forward to seeing them get closer in the sequel! I hopr@ In the meantime, before we head back to 2014, let's take in a movie...Easy Rider's playing in Centerville's cinema! 

Don't miss this one!


Mark S. Bacon grew up in Southern California and was a newspaper reporter covering the police beat every day. Later he moved to advertising when he became a copywriter for Knott's Berry Farm, a large theme park just up the road from Disneyland.
During years in marketing and advertising, he wrote four nonfiction books, one of which was named one of the best business books of the year by the Library Journal and printed in four languages.
He has taught writing at Cal Poly University, University of Redlands and the University of Nevada. He's written for such diverse publications as The Washington Post, BusinessWeek Online, San Antonio Express-News, USAir Magazine, Trailer Life, Denver Post and many other magazines and newspapers.
Most recently he was a regular contributor for the San Francisco Chronicle. He's an avid reader of mysteries and suspense novels, preferring those with surprising, satisfying endings.
His most recent book is "Death in Nostalgia City" a mystery novel that takes place in a most unusual theme park. Nostalgia City is a re-creation of an entire small town as it might have looked in the late 1960s/early 1970s.
His other mysteries are of the flash fiction variety. "Cops, Crooks & Other Stories in 100 Words" is available here. "Mysteries and Murder," is a collection of very short mystery stories, published by Ether Books specifically for smart phones.
He gets many of his ideas for stories while walking his golden retriever, Willow, and he's currently working on a second book in the Nostalgia City series. Visit Bacon at

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