Smashwords is sponsoring “Read an Ebook Week” in an attempt to promote ebooks to readers with discount coupons, and my Depression-era pulp thriller The Choking Rain is participating with a 50% coupon.
Los Angeles, 1932. Six months before the Olympic Games are to bring relief to a Depression-battered city, men are falling dead in the rain-swept streets, their necks broken as if by an invisible noose. Pulled into a shadowy, rain-slick storm of murder and kidnapping, an ex-fighter pilot, a cop, a couple of football players-turned scientist, and a Kewpie-doll blonde with a black belt join forces to track down the terror plotters and stop their deadly spree. But when tragedy strikes the group, the survivors must brave one of the last untamed places on Earth to learn the secret of the Invisible Death–a secret designed to destroy America’s greatest cities, one by one…
The promotion ends on March 11.
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I’ve been watching some of those Sunday-night British mystery series on PBS for the past few months, and although I am in no way asserting that I have conducted any kind of in-depth survey, I have noticed a difference between British and American mysteries. (Aside from the fact that our cops carry guns.)
In American mysteries, the genesis of the plot, the motive behind the crime, is typically found in the present or the immediate past: someone is having an affair, or a crime has gone wrong, or someone is trying to secure an object that has recently come into his sphere. In British mysteries, the story seems to go back to something that went badly years ago, like an abandoned child, or a schoolyard prank gone horribly awry that haunts the participants in adulthood, or a love affair two generations ago that would rend the families apart even today.
As I say, this is hardly a scientific observation, so please don’t bombard me with examples that I’ve missed. But it has happened enough (at least in the ones I see on TV) that I’ve noticed it. And my wife, who is much more widely-read in the field than I, agrees, so there must be something to it. (Note: Suggest panel idea to next mystery con I attend.)
So why? Are the Brits just that much more in their history? Is it because they have more history? (True story: We were in Wales, hunting down some ruins we’d heard of. A woman comes out of her house and asks: “Are you looking for the castle? It’s around the back.” And sure enough, we rounded her house and there were the ruins. In her backyard. That’s British history.)
Maybe we’re so rushed in this country we can’t be bothered to dig into the past even in our mysteries? Could be, but those “cold case” shows seem pretty popular. I have no idea.
It’s a mystery…
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