A rollicking good read! That’s how I would describe Mark S. Bacon’s novel, Death in Nostalgia City. It’s a page turner, a fast-paced mystery that pits the good guys against the obvious bad guys with forceful but satisfying results. Half way through Death in Nostalgia City, the reader pretty much knows who’s guilty. Learning how all the pieces of the plot fit intricately together and watching the villains’ attempts to avoid capture and prosecution are what’s so enjoyable about reading Bacon’s thriller.
The setting plays a key role. Nostalgia City is an adult theme park, built in the Arizona desert not far from old Route 66 and designed to attract the baby boomer generation. The community replicates the 1970s, with no signs of modernization whatsoever. Old gas pumps, old cash registers, old movies, old music, even old amusement park rides. The only hint of the twenty-first century is an Indian casino just a few miles away, easily accessible by riding a nostalgic old train. Billionaire Max Maxwell has thought of everything to attract paying customers.
Death in Nostalgia City opens with a series of unusual accidents. Suddenly the idyllic scenery is filled first with worrisome snags and then with fatal calamities. The theme park’s designer and financial guru, dissatisfied with park security, asks Lyle Deming, an ex-Phoenix cop who works in Nostalgia City as a taxi driver, to investigate. Maxwell also hires Kate Sorenson, a Las Vegas public relations specialist, to counter the bad publicity that is driving customers away. Before long, Lyle and Kate are a team, working together to figure out who is behind the dastardly deeds that are driving the customers away.
Lyle and Kate are a charming twosome, first determining the culprits, then calculating ways to trap the evil doers. As you can tell by my language, Death in Nostalgia City is just plain fun. Even though there are several violent encounters, the rapid pace and the intricate machinations make the novel a delight, not a downer at all. Bacon plots well, characterizes well, and writes well. In addition, “Nostalgia City” turns Disneyland into Magic Mountain into Dollywood into Wall Street into the mean streets of New York City, a winning collage of baby boomer fantasies and reminiscences. – Ann Ronald
Also available by Mark W. Bacon: Cops, Crooks & Other Stories in 100 Words; The California Escape Manual.