Crazy Rhythm ($14.95, 256 pp, 5×8 Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-1-60381-752-3) is the second mystery by T.W. Emory set in 1950s Seattle and featuring PI Gunnar Nilson. While searching for the killer of a small-time hustler, Gunnar is hired to investigate a series of menacing phone calls made to a wealthy ice princess.
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“A robust evocation of 1950s Ballard—back when it was a working-class neighborhood, not a hotbed of hipsters. Hard-boiled private eye Gunnar Nilson investigates, among other cases, the story of a murdered gambler.” Read more….
—Adam Woog for the Seattle Times
“Fans of throwback PI novels will find plenty to like.” Read more….
Trouble in Rooster Paradise was a finalist for the Shamus Award and a hit with the critics:
“An affectionate nod to noir fiction and its tough guys and dolls…. Good, vivid stuff.” —Adam Woog, The Seattle Times
“Emory’s first novel vividly evokes the ambiance of classic American hard-boiled crime writing.” —Publishers Weekly
“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 a great extent that’s what makes this novel such a pleasure.” —Reviewing the Evidence
“Emory skillfully evokes this era of class distinctions and gender inequity. [….] I was happy to be plunged into Nilson’s tale in the 1950s.” —Historical Novel Society
In the summer of 1950, private eye Gunnar Nilson reluctantly agrees to accompany Rune Granholm on an errand to collect gambling winnings. When Gunnar arrives at Rune’s Wallingford apartment, he finds the man dead, shot with his own gun. No one much cared for the caddish ne’er-do-well, but Gunnar feels he owes it to Rune’s brother, a good friend and casualty of World War II, to find the killer. When a paying client arrives, Gunnar puts this investigation aside.
Attorney Ethan Calmer wants him to investigate a series of phone calls menacing his fiancée, Mercedes Atwood. Mercedes lives in Broadmoor, a tony neighborhood occupied by Seattle’s moneyed class, many of whom are descended from lumber barons. A poor little rich girl, Mercedes is beautiful but strangely passionless.
Then, like the hula-girl lamp in the apartment of the late and unlamented Rune, Mercedes shows him her moves. Gunnar soon wonders if the two cases might be connected in some way, but how, exactly?
Says T.W., “The puzzle-solving aspect of detective fiction is one of its chief appeals, and with this book I sought to write a mystery that was a whodunit and also somewhat of a ‘What the hell happened,’ as one mystery writer once phrased it.”
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 covers of Trouble in Rooster Paradise and Crazy Rhythm. He currently lives north of Seattle with his wife and two sons. For more information, go to www.twemoryauthor.com.
Keep reading for an excerpt:
I parked my coupe on Forty-Fifth Street. It was still light out when I arrived. My Longines said 8:53 as I slammed my car door shut.
The bakery was a two-story brick building shaped like a rectangle. I walked around back to an outdoor stairway that led up to a small deck enclosed with a three-foot-high wood railing that served as Rune’s front porch. The apartment had likely once been home to the bakery owners, but now it served as a caretaker’s flat—though “caretaker” is not the word I’d have used to describe Rune. I’d have dropped the word “care” altogether.
I could see his door was wide open, so I went up the back stairs slowly, making thumping noises to let him know I was coming. You never know what a young single guy might be up to—especially a guy like Rune.
Next to the front door was an adjustable canvas-and-wood lawn chair. Alongside it on the deck near where Rune would plant his feet sat a ceramic ashtray overflowing with cigarette butts.
I rapped loudly on the door frame with my knuckles and called out, “Gunnar’s here!”
No answer. I stepped inside. Immediately my feet decided to stay put.
Each wall had a window with gray pull-down shades, and someone with a severe case of agoraphobia had them all pulled down to keep out prying eyes. But Rune was anything but an agoraphobic.
Only one light was left on. It was coming from one of those hula girl motion lamps with a swivel setting so that the bare-breasted wahine actually gyrated in her grass skirt. She wasn’t gyrating at the moment, however. It was as if she sensed there’d be no point.
The walls had the kind of smooth patina that comes from numerous tenants and many layers of paint. If you didn’t count a tiny bathroom and a tinier clothes closet with their doors left wide open, the place was just one big room. There was a small kitchenette in one corner off to my right, marked off by a small half wall with a countertop. Diagonally across the room from that was a mirror-backed putaway Murphy bed. The intervening space had a tan carpet and furniture of so-so quality but not much of it. A mismatched armchair was parked next to a sofa upholstered with clashing jacquard fabric. A small end table with the hula girl lamp was near the chair. Next to the base of the lamp was a pricey Contax camera that Rune had more than likely borrowed. I knew that Rune owned a Colt .32 automatic with mother-of-pearl grips, but it was nowhere in sight, even though an open box of ammunition was sitting right next to the camera. Beside the sofa was a small chairside radio stuffed with magazines that spilled out of its built-in book rack.
Peeking just past the radio was a pair of brown-and-white shoes. They were still on the feet that wore them when I’d seen them earlier in the evening. My stomach got tight and I suddenly felt crawly all over. His feet didn’t move, so mine finally did.
I circled around the sofa.
He was on his back.
His dreamy brown eyes stared off at nothing in particular. His hair was tousled and his lips were parted and fixed in a grin, as if he was about to ask an important question. His arms were at his sides, the left hand out a bit, the right hand partially pinned under him. He wasn’t wearing his cream-colored sports jacket, and the red in his Hawaiian shirt was now a deeper hue around his chest.
He was as motionless as his hula girl lamp. I kneeled down and touched his neck anyway. He was still warm, but there was no thump, no pound, no throb. His swivel setting had definitely been switched off. Aloha Rune.