Wednesday, June 14, 2006

But Good News Travels at a Snail’s Pace

Los Angeles author (and graphics designer) Gar Anthony Haywood seemed to be on a roll there for a while. After penning two quite different crime series--one starring gumshoe Aaron Gunner (All the Lucky Ones Are Dead, 1999), which won a Shamus Award, and the other focusing on a pair of Airstream trailer owners-cum-crime solvers, Joe and Dottie Loudermilk (Bad News Travels Fast, 1995)--he shifted to writing standalone thrillers, turning out Man Eater (2003) and Firecracker (2004) under the pseudonym “Ray Shannon.” But then ... well, he pretty much disappeared, at least from the radar of reviewers. Expectations of a third Shannon thriller came to naught.

Just the other day, though, I noticed that Haywood’s Web site now provides a link to “Gar’s latest work in progress,” a novel called Cemetery Road. Describing this forthcoming book, the author writes:
Unlike [my] previous Ray Shannon standalones, CEMETERY ROAD will be a gritty urban drama in the tradition of his Aaron Gunner novels, and will appear under [my] own name upon publication.

CEMETERY ROAD tells the story of Errol “Handy” White, a man in his early fifties who makes his living fixing things no one else will touch, as he returns to his native Los Angeles after a long exile in Minnesota to attend the funeral of his old friend R.J. Burrow.

Twenty-six years earlier, Handy, R.J., and their partner O’Neal Holden were three young thieves who pulled a heist that went horribly awry, and Handy’s been waiting for something like R.J.’s brutal murder to promise payback for all three ever since. Both the police and “O’,” as Holden has always been known, seem convinced that R.J.’s death was the result of a drug sale gone sour, but Handy can’t buy it, and neither can R.J.’s widow Frances. O’ is now the slick politician Handy always knew he’d become, and he has reasons of his own to want R.J.’s murder to go away as quickly as possible. Starting with a desperate need to keep a lid on the terrible secret O’, Handy, and R.J. have been haunted by for over two decades.

Could that need have been desperate enough to bring O’ to murder R.J. himself? Or was R.J.’s killing totally unrelated to the tragedy lurking in the trio’s past? Handy won’t go back home to St. Paul until he knows one way or the other--even if it means putting himself next in line for a bullet.
Sounds terrific. But can we expect to take a ride down Cemetery Road at any time in the near future? “[I]t’s just a work-in-progress right now,” Haywood tells me in an e-mail note. “I’m not working with a contract at the moment, so Cemetery Road will be shopped on spec when it’s a completed manuscript. I’m shooting for a completion date of September 2006, and with any luck, I’ll have some sales info to give you by the end of the year. Keep your fingers crossed.” Excellent news, indeed.

* * *

Speaking of missing mysterymakers, the Ohio weekly West Life catches up today with the award-winning Les Roberts, whose last novel featuring Cleveland P.I. Milan Jacovich, The Irish Sports Pages, was published in 2002. Seems he has a new memoir out in bookstores, We’ll Always Have Cleveland, which, according to reporter Charles Cassady, “describes how the Chicago-born Roberts, after more than 30 years active in the Los Angeles movie and television industry, first came to Cleveland in 1986 for a consult on an Ohio Lottery game show (Roberts came well-prepared; he produced the classic Hollywood Squares). Something in the recession-hit, oft-punch lined Cleveland resonated with Roberts, and eventually he defied traditional migratory patterns to relocate permanently from Los Angeles to northeast Ohio. The area ignited his literary imagination as well.” Describing this latest book on his Web site Roberts explains that “It’s not an autobiography or a kiss-and-tell book, but it’s all about how Cleveland welcomed me, changed me, and turned me into a very different writer. Lots about family, friends--and a few enemies, too.”

(Hat tip to Sarah Weinman.)

No comments: