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Murder In Arcady, my summertime delving into lives and loves in the rural New England township of North Holford

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Murder In Arcady, my summertime delving into lives and loves in the rural New England township of North Holford, made what I think is some kind of World Record.
While literary morons all around me are selling in the thousands, even the millions, Murder In Arcady, the fourth book in my Parker “Boomer” Daniels casebook, sold one copy. That is not a typo. Yes, one copy was sold in the six months from June to December.
I wonder who the lone reader was. He must be a remarkable person.
Since then, for the Xmas trade, I produced Invitation To A Few Murders. It has a jolly Christmas cover with a half-naked bimbo running in terror by a Christmas tree.
Unlike the first three Parker Daniels’ yarns, the last two are supposed to be comic. Not murder with a few laughs, but a few laughs with murder.
I am currently finishing off the New England mysteries with a sixth and final one. At present it is a work in progress. It will be a novella. This may please those who dislike my work because it will at least be short; but maybe with some long words.
In it one character, a Russian ballerina, performs a ballet with giraffes. This, one early reader said, was ridiculous. Yes, it is meant to be.
But in actual real life fact, the great George Balanchine (1904-1983) staged a Ballet of the Elephants with music by no less than Igor Stravinsky for one performance only in Central Park, New York.
This concerned only one of half a dozen colourful character, like Joey the Turk Palermo and Tony the Leopard Piano, which I hope will continue to amuse my one reader, God Bless him wherever he is.

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I supported three sons and several bartenders writing this sort of stuff I now give away free in these blogs

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I supported three sons and several bartenders writing this sort of stuff I now give away free in these blogs.

A beautiful young thing called Daisy came for some mysterious reason to interview me last week and told me that journalists no longer make money writing columns. Newspapers now acquire them for next to nothing off the blogs. I was lucky then, being a paid columnist and author of “colour pieces” from 1963 to 1999.

I also now write crime novels for no money at all. I have just published my fifth, Invitation To A Few Murders. My first, Death Dyed Blonde, was published by Quartet. It was half a bestseller, but only made enough money to go up to London for maybe two nights at a hotel, but no eating and no drinking.

The others – Murder In A Cold Climate, The Summer Stock Murders,  and Murder In Arcady  made enough to maybe hop on a bus and have a couple of beers – glasses, not pints.

“If you aren’t making any money, why are you doing it?” asks an old lady breaking into this blog.

It is, I suppose, a reason for getting out of bed in the morning.

It was not always like that. When I was young and lovely and couldn’t walk down a street without sexy blondes fainting, I wrote a novel that actually made money.

I mentioned  this before and I’m mentioning it again because I cannot believe there was an actual time in the long ago days before colour television and mobile phones and trips to the moon when people actually read books. Not only read them but bought them. Libraries also bought books then. You could count on the libraries in England buying 2000 copies of your novel in those days.

Now, alas, I am a lonely old scholar remote from enlightened conversation. I seem unable to know the difference between the Yukon and the Ukraine. My very up to date No 2 son said, “Are you out of your mind? The Yukon is in Alaska.”

“Alaska, like the Ukraine, once belonged to Russia,” I told him.

Who knows what Commissar Vlad Putin is up to?

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When my old neighbour, Daphne Du Maurier, was suffering in the outlandish heat and dust of Egypt…

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When my old neighbour, Daphne Du Maurier, was suffering in the outlandish heat and dust of Egypt with her new husband, Boy Browning – the military moron who thought the Battle of Arnhem was 90 per cent successful – she longed for England.  She dove into memories. Rebecca (1938) was the result.

I thought of Daffers when my latest action-packed crime novel, Invitation To A Few Murders, came out this month.

Where it is like Rebecca is that it was written in a totally different atmosphere. Many pages full of snow were actually written in longhand (all my books are written in longhand) either under a pear tree in my garden or by a bee-loud sedum in what  I call (after Walt Whitman) my dooryard – as in “when lilacs last in dooryards bloomed”.

Where my weather differs from La Du Maurier’s is that I had no desire for ice, snow and Christmas. I was perfectly happy in those summer days.

Why did I write about a New England winter?

It was a mistake. I never should have started it, but once I had started I felt I must finish. The trouble was I kept finishing it and then starting all over again.

There were small errors – like most of the female characters having names beginning with M. I reduced it to two – Mimi and Margot. More serious errors were worked over and over. Much to my surprise when I at last received a copy from the publisher and I dipped at random into the book, it wasn’t half bad.

The point of this lecture, kiddies, is that novels turn out best that are worked over and over again.

I once rewrote one 21 times. It never got published. Then I did one in one week and it was published here and in America, Italy and Germany, and earned me the equivalent of two years’ salary as a Guardian reporter.

I guess that once again I don’t know what I’m talking about.

If someone is foolish enough to start writing novels (real ones and not like that serial killer rubbish that earns millions if done on TV) they are in for a hard, poverty-stricken time, that every once in a while pleases the author when he comes up with something good, like “long legs attached to an English accent” seated at a bar in Invitation To A Few Murders.

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Invitation To A Few Murders

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“He couldn’t believe how thick she was. But beautiful, and horny.”

That opens the batting for my fifth volume of the Boomer Daniels New England hick location  murder saga.

No one is going to read it. I blame education.

I’ve got a daughter-in-law and a granddaughter with high class university degrees and with noses constantly in a book. Well, in Jinny Woolf’s books.

Two of my three sons don’t read nothing. A third, No 2 son, says he’s too busy writing his own stuff for leisure reading. He read the first Boomer, Death Dyed Blonde, and reckoned, by using foul lingo and a bit more blood, he could make a motion picture out of it.

He’s too busy in America getting interviewed on TV and the radio to knock off a script of my little effort.

Also I don’t want to be a film.

And I also don’t mind not being read.

My latest book, with that snappy opening I quoted, is called Invitation To A Few Murders. It is an aid to Christmas cheerfulness.

Unlike current crime bestsellers, Invitation To A Few Murders  doesn’t take itself seriously. It’s what used to be called a dime novel in America, and a shilling shocker in England. It was meant to make you feel OK. With the world the way it is I wonder why the eejit masses are reading about serial killers, vampires and zombies written in words of one syllable. Do they make them feel good? No, it’s because they need a bloody good jolt to get them to read at all. Give them something good to read and their minds start wandering.

My next Boomer Daniels adventure, I’m going at least to make short. A novella. That may assist them. Except, of course, it might be a short book full of long words.

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Invitation To A Few Murders

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Invitation To A Few Murders – A Country House Mystery (Parker Daniels Casebook)

Throw another log on the fire, put up your feet and revel in an old-fashioned, murderous, New England Christmas. Invitation To A Few Murders is the fifth in the Parker Daniels Casebook. A comic dime novel to aid seasonal cheerfulness; and a puzzler with sexy antics. Our old friend Dr Phyllis Skypeck is at it once more; also horny Mimi of the Movies and Vita and Margot Cuncliffe. Evil-tempered millionaire Andrew Burgess is the host everyone would like to see dead at the country mansion in the snowy rural township of North Holford. Murders start happening and Parker “Boomer” Daniels, the police chief, and Sgt Davy Shea have to solve them before there are even more.

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One of my Constant Readers expressed surprise that there were tobacco fields in New England, also Indians.

Murder in Arcady

 

One of my Constant Readers expressed surprise that there were tobacco fields in New England, also Indians.

She thought tobacco was only grown Down South and Injuns only lived Out West.

Our tobacco in New England is cigar tobacco – the best outside of Cuba. When I first started Murder In Arcady I very carefully put in the history of tobacco in the Connecticut River Valley. Then, reading it over, it looked exceedingly boring.

Now the Native Americans in Murder In Arcady are somewhat like that wonderful branch of the Algonquins that I covered in South County, Rhode Island, in the 1960s when I was a young reporter on the Providence Journal.

But I juiced them up, under a different name and located in a much different part of New England – on the Mohawk Trail, in fact. This gave me the chance to indulge in colourful speech coming out of the mouths of colourful people.

For instance, Miss Prudence Appleseed writes a novel featuring the sex lives of the people of North Holford.

Shotgun Logan, the chief of the Nonotucks, lives just outside of North Holford. Murder In Arcady contains this:

Out in Frenchtown Shotgun Logan’s wife, Bella, said, “Cigar Store Injun, how come none of our gals is in this filthy book? Ain’t our gals horny enough for that stuck-up Miss Prudence Appleseed?”

Little does Bella know that Miss Prudence is at the moment writing another sex saga, Venus is Overalls, starring Tula Salome, the beautiful Native American princess of the Nonotucks, who is Bella’s granddaughter.

In Murder In Arcady I also thought I might invent a religion, The Holy Astrology Church of Divine Guidance. It is, of course, a total scam, with the Rev Chuck Pierpoint, and his partner Wazoo Annie Longstreet, confidence tricksters taking in the suckers.

What with all this going on I almost forgot the murder, which would give work to my detectives, Boomer Daniels and Davy Shea; also the amorous police doctor, Phyllis Skypeck.

Other dolls include Calypso Mae and Atalanta. Girls for whom foolishness rises like a weed firmly implanted in their unmentionables, creating such an itch.

That is perhaps filthy enough to be in Miss Prudence’s novel, Satan With An Ice Cream Cone. That title comes from…but I’ll stop.

You’ve got to find something to discover in the book.

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Murder In Arcady

Into the woods of Arcady step murder and farce, with faint echoes of poetry and classical music. This is the fourth Parker Daniels crime novel set in rural New England. There is a big difference, however…..

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Coming Soon…..

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June 26, 2014 · 10:27 am

Fog is the kind of weather that used to feature big in English literature.

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We are running to fog in my garden this morning. Or maybe it’s just mist. Or maybe murk. Murk sounds real bad, but my Oxford Concise says it is only “poor visibility.”

Fog is the kind of weather that used to feature big in English literature. Sherlock Holmes waded through it; also Bulldog Drummond fighting to the death with a murderous hunchback out on the moors. No P.C. nonsense about the Bulldog.

Across the great herring pond they get real weather. From Arkansas to Mississippi and up through Dixieland tremendous tornadoes have been levelling whole towns.

Like Charlie Chan I have a Number 2 Son who lives in Dixie. He writes murder and mayhem for the movies. He has never used weather, but the sort of tornadoes and hurricanes they get in Yankland is a gift from God to any writer struggling with what is going to happen next.

My shilling shockers are set in New England. They don’t get tornadoes there, but apart from my first Parker Daniels dime nove, Death Dyed Blonde, (“Classic American Crime Fiction” The Times Literary Supplement) I have let the weather get me out of trouble. In Murder in a Cold Climate (2013) snow and a lake freezing over come to the rescue.

In The Summer Stock Murders, the current Parker Daniels tale in the sleepy rural New England township of North Holford it is a hurricane as well as an additional murder that does the job.

Unfortunately the cover (see above) with its naked jade (do jades ever come as anything but naked?) has no hint of a tropical storm. But if you’re looking for serious weather it’s there in The Summer Stock Murders.

In the next one I’m planning we are back in three feet of snow. Then after that will be in a heat wave, and, if I live that long, the sixth New England smalltown murder will have a forest fire.

What can I do after that? Maybe visit my Number 2 Son and pray for a tornado.

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A book by its cover, that is what you are not supposed to judge

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A book by its cover, that is what you are not supposed to judge. I wonder how true that is. A cover does not have to represent the subject perfectly, but it does give you the Idea!

For example, P.G.Wodehouse was unlucky with his covers.

A recent paperback edition of Leave it to Psmith (1923)has a cover illustrating that major moment when the Efficient Baxter is caught in the middle of the night throwing flowerpots through Lord Emsworth’s bedroom window. On the cover Baxter is wearing blue pyjamas.

This is perfectly in error. Baxter in the book is wearing lemon-coloured pyjamas. Because of this colour Lord Emsworth is able to see him in the dark.

And no one seemed to be able to get the pig right. The Empress of Blandings is a Berkshire Black. That seems easy enough to make her colour known. But no, she is constantly turned into a Large White, a Gloucestershire Old Spot, or something that looks like a a hippopotamus.

In only one Penguin cover is the Empress black and wearing a nose ring, but this is Something Fresh (1915) and the Empress does not appear in the book, nor is she even mentioned.

The first of the Lord Emsworth novels to feature the Empress of Blandings is Summer Lightning (1929). The Everyman’s Library is doing sterling work publishing all of Wodehouse, and on the cover of Summer Lightning the Empressis black. But the Empress is not wearing her nose ring. Another major mistake.

In the Penguin edition of Summer Lightning the Empress appears in a photograph. She is white with black spots and no nose ring.

The sequel to Summer Lightning is Heavy Weather (1933) and none of the several editions I have of this excellent comic work has the pig correct, i.e black with nose ring.

The nose ring is mentioned in the books because it makes it easy to steal the Empress.

What has all this to do with my latest summer reading shocker? There is no pig in The Summer Stock Murders, but there is a scantily-clad bimbo as seen on the cover. The cover even has her filly panties the correct colour, i.e flaming red.

This verisimilitude, I hope, will make you rush out to buy this saga of murders in a New England summer theatre.

There is even a scene where the curvy female is wearing no pants. I won’t go into further details in case older readers suffer cardiac arrests. If so, don’t worry; ten years ago I suffered 127 cardiac arrests, and look at me now, penning sex and murder romps.

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April 26, 2014 · 6:07 am