Trouble in Rooster Paradise, by T.W. Emory: A Whodunit Set in Post WWII Seattle

trouble_paradiseSeattle, 1950. When men were men, thanks to WWII, and fine dining meant a steak at Canlis.

“Seattle-area writer T.W. Emory’s debut, Trouble in Rooster Paradise is an affectionate nod to noir fiction and its tough guys and dolls…. Good, vivid stuff. And who can resist a book with a cover featuring a fedora-wearing private eye, a shapely dame … and the Smith Tower?” Read more….

—Adam Woog, The Seattle Times

Trouble in Rooster Paradise ($14.95, 256 pp, 5×8 Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-1-60381-996-1) is a work of mystery/suspense by debut author T.W. Emory. While investigating the death of a high-end shop girl, a lone private eye comes up against some deadly and powerful local characters.

Trouble in Rooster Paradise is Book 1 in the Gunnar Nilson Mystery series.

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** Order it in Kindle, Nook, or other eBook formats on Smashwords **

“Emory’s first novel vividly evokes the ambiance of classic American hard-boiled crime writing.”

—Publishers Weekly

“The story has numerous twists, the characters are interesting, and there’s plenty of local history. I’d gladly read another book featuring Gunnar Nilson and his friend Walter.”

—Jeff Powanda, in “Ten Seattle Novels”—Read+Write+Watch

“Gunnar Nilson, Emory’s clove-chewing gumshoe with an eye for the ladies is every cliché in the book when it comes to hard-boiled detective stories, but to great extent that’s what makes this novel such a pleasure…. The characters in the 1950s sections (which make up the bulk of the book) are well-drawn, quirky, and a lot of fun to get to know. The setting—Seattle in the 50s when it was a working-class backwater—is also evoked well…. Readers will want to follow this detective and his delightful supporting cast of friends.”  Read more….

—Meredith Frazier, Reviewing the Evidence

“Emory skillfully evokes this era of class distinctions and gender inequity. The murderer’s motive is inspired by both of these inequalities. The tale is peppered with recognizable 1950s characters—the world-weary waitress, the damaged World War II veteran, the thwarted career woman…. I was happy to be plunged into Nilson’s tale in the 1950s.”  Read more….

—Historical Novel Society

“Seattle has changed a lot in 50 years, and of course in 1950 the second World War is only just over, so Gunnar is able to talk about how the war affected various people, and what life was like then. The novel is filled with interesting characters, particularly those who live in the boarding house where Gunnar resides.” Read more….

—Mysteries in Paradise

“When perfume is the smell of death, a private eye needs to be careful around the ladies. That’s a tall order for detective Gunnar Nilson in T.W. Emory’s thrilling debut set in post-war Seattle. Nilson meets many a lovely beauty as he tries to find out how one of them ended up murdered with his business card in her pocket. He’s a tough-minded, smart sleuth, unwinding a plot layered with deception and driven by sins going back decades. Call it Queen City noir; this is an enthralling look at Seattle when it was a working class town populated by tough guys and great smelling gals, many with black secrets.”

—Rich Zahradnik, author of Last Words

Recuperating from an injury and prompted by an eager young nurse, old-timer Gunnar Nilson looks back at one of his big cases as a private eye in 1950. At that time memories of World War II were still fresh, and Seattle was a cultural backwater. The Ballard neighborhood where he hung out his shingle teemed with working-class folk of Scandinavian descent. Gals with hourglass figures and gimlet eyes enticed men in gray flannel suits with cigarettes dangling from their lips.

The case he recounts involves the murder of one of these beauties. Gunnar’s business card is in her pocket, but she’s no client. She’s just a gal he met at the movies; he gave her a ride home and helped her lose the creep who was tailing her. It’s none of Gunnar’s business who killed her, not until he discovers she dated the godson of a wealthy client, a man who’s willing to pay big bucks for Gunnar to nose around.

Nose around he does, in the perfumed rooms of Fasciné Expressions, a “rooster paradise” that employed the murdered girl and is frequented by the godson. Schooled to be class acts by a former showgirl, these fine-feathered hens know how to inspire a man to spend big on gifts for his lady.

Gunnar believes the victim was killed by one of her customers, but the heady fragrance of perfumed female can make it awfully tough for a guy to think clearly, especially when the killer is also breathing down his neck.

Says T.W., “Ballard in the year 1950 seemed a fitting place and time for my story, given some of my family history. My maternal grandparents emigrated from Sweden in the late 1920s along with my mom and her older sister. Their family enlarged and grew up, and by the late 1940s my grandparents moved to Ballard, where for several years they took in fellow Swedes as boarders. I can still remember a boarder or two when I was a little kid and when their home was a hub of activity for aunts, uncles, and many cousins.”

Born into a blue collar family in Seattle, Washington, and raised in the suburbs of the greater Seattle area, T.W. Emory has been an avid reader since his early teens. In addition to writing, T.W. enjoys cartooning as a hobby and provided the illustrations for the cover of Trouble in Rooster Paradise. He currently lives north of Seattle with his wife and two sons. For more information, click here.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

I parked my Chevy thirty feet from a prowl car and an ambulance. Beams of light quivered in a passageway between two buildings. A small huddle of men examined a lumpy pile on the ground. Some distance beyond them, more flashlights bobbed and swayed as a search party spread out.

One of the uniformed cops spotted us and tapped the arm of a man lighting a cigarette. Detective Sergeant Frank Milland flagged me over with the first two fingers of his left hand. I approached and was met by expressions ranging from hostile to indifferent. Walter followed but held back a ways.

“Nice of you to join our little cotillion,” Milland said, looking at and past me, “but who invited the freak show?”

“I invited him. And don’t call him a freak.”

Milland made an animal noise of acceptance. “Just as long as he keeps his distance. The stiff had your card. Take a look-see and tell us who we’re looking at.”

I stepped into the circle of men hovered over the body. During the war, I’d seen more than my share of the dead—enough to become inured and detached. But one of the things that continued to jangle my nerves was seeing the corpse of someone I’d visited with just the day before.

This was a nerve-jangler.

In combat, bodies are strewn about like damaged puppets with their strings cut. Sometimes a face looks at peace with its surroundings. The face on the body at my feet gave me a gut-tightening twinge. The strings had been cut, but the face didn’t look at all peaceful.

“What’s the verdict, Gunnar? Anyone you know?” Milland demanded.

“Yeah. But we’d met only once. Last night.” I glanced at my Longines. It said 12:01. “Well, it’s Thursday now, so make that Tuesday night when I met her.”

Blood had run down the wall of the building, marking the trail the body had made from its standing position to the pavement where it initially landed. A path of blood led farther into the alley where the body now lay. I took two cloves from my shirt pocket and slipped them in my mouth, sawing them in half with my teeth. I could see Walter flipping up the collar of his overcoat as he moved in closer, looking like a homogenized version of the Shadow and Phantom of the Opera.

Milland exhaled smoke and said, “So, you say you met this gal on Tuesday night. Tell us what else you know.”

I had a fair idea as to when to begin. My tongue played with pieces of clove as my mind struggled with the who, what and why particulars that didn’t make a whole lot of sense in the here and now.


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