A hot day at the ballpark

Excerpted from North of Grand: Detective Red Shaw Novel #2
Read it on Kindle or Nook

Shaw tried to remember the last time he’d been on a date. Way back, right after he met Sally. He hoped this one wouldn’t be as awkward. They’d arranged to meet at the west end of a pedestrian bridge over the river, just a short walk from the police station. He could see her approach from a distance, sporting a close-fitting white top and shorts. She was dressed for the heat and hard to miss. Her light brown curls were tied back and topped with a Cubs visor. A Cubs-blue bag hung from her shoulder.

Baseball image with quote from page text: “Baseball,” she said, looking him in the eye, deadpan serious, “is a metaphor.”

“Hi, Red,” she said as she gave his hand a little squeeze. “Are you ready for some baseball?”

“You bet” was the best he could do. If her V-neck were any deeper, he wouldn’t have been able to speak at all. He took in her smile, her green eyes, and tried to relax. He tried to ignore the sweat trickling down his back and wished he hadn’t worn blue jeans. They followed the walkway south along the river.

“I played here once,” Shaw said as they approached the stadium.

“Really?”

“Well, not here, exactly, but in the old stadium. Same spot. This is nicer.”

They stopped to buy tickets. Not many seats were left for a hot summer night and they small-talked as the line crept along.

“So you were in Triple A?”

Continue reading “A hot day at the ballpark”

Detective Red Shaw is in the bookstore

The paperback crime novels featuring Des Moines’ very own Detective Edward “Red” Shaw have arrived in Des Moines. That just feels right to me.

Coincidentally, they’re in a bookstore that is not far from a taproom/bike shop that I made up for North of Grand: Detective Red Shaw Novel #2.

If I told you the name of the fictional bike shop for beer drinkers, I would be giving away the name of the real bookstore. Alas, you’ll have to wait until the books are actually on the shelf.

Read on.

B.J. Smith
Paperback Writer

Homegrown crime fiction coming to Des Moines

Hey, Des Moines! My Detective Red Shaw paperbacks are coming to a bookstore near you. Like, right there in my old hometown. Soon, too!

I’ll let you know when they arrive, and then I’ll tell you where.

Guesses are more than welcome in the meantime.

Maybe there’s a clue or two somewhere here, maybe some evidence.

B.J.

Puzzles, pencils and book excerpts

Crossword puzzles used to consume much of my time, especially on Sunday mornings when the tough ones show up in The Denver Post. I did them in pen, no erasing. They sometimes ended in inky messes, where my mistakes were easy to see, but no one ever looked. On occasion, they were perfect.

Crossword puzzle, pen and eyeglasses
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Pencils are for those who know their limits.

I beat my addiction to crosswords and got hooked on Sudoku. The easiest ones became boring, and the evil ones just too damn hard. I did those in ink, too.

Sunday mornings nowadays are given over to more worthwhile pursuits, like writing and bicycling. This morning I decided to publish excerpts from my two Detective Red Shaw novels and then write this little post. The excerpts are from Blood Solutions, which grew out of my experience as a crossword-puzzle proofreader (someone had to do it), and North of Grand, some of which I figured out while riding my bicycle.

Now, back to a short story that needs finishing.

Read on.

B.J.

Fiction and the old neighborhood

No one has asked me yet, but I have the answer.

The question has to do with the title of my new Detective Red Shaw novel: North of Grand.

Why that? I’m glad you asked.

Much of Des Moines, Iowa, is north of Grand Avenue. It cuts through the city east to west – or west to east, depending on your point of view.

I was born there, grew up there, and lived there for a long time. I worked there. Mrs. Smith and I bought our first house there, a block north of I-235 in a neighborhood known as North of Grand. We lived there when our son was born.

soda-jerk-713089_1920
Not me. Pixabay image

South of Grand was another world. It’s where my mother took me and my five siblings on occasion to marvel and gawk at big, beautiful, expensive homes when we were kids. They were especially awe-inspiring when lit up for the holidays. She took us to a different neighborhood on the southeast side sometimes, too, to see how the truly poor people lived.

We were somewhere between rich and poor, a family of seven in a three-bedroom home on Merle Hay Road. (Why seven? One divorced woman plus six kids. She slept on the sofa.)

In high school I worked at a pharmacy just a block north of Grand Avenue, delivering prescriptions to old ladies in the neighborhood, driving a car with a manual transmission that I learned to operate in a panic on my very first day on the job.

The same little store housed the best soda fountain around, with real ice cream made right in the store. I served malts and shakes and cherry cokes and lime phosphates and great sandwiches and other treats to pretty Catholic girls from the nearby high school, to the friendly florist from across the street, to other people that I don’t remember quite so well.

I was a drug-running soda jerk. Last time I checked, the soda fountain was still there.

The people and the crimes portrayed in North of Grand are purely imaginary. Really bad things do happen in Des Moines, of course, but none that I’ve witnessed.

A young guy did threaten to kill me and a friend when we were in high school, but we managed to talk him out of it. One night years later someone reached in our son’s bedroom window at our little house on Iola Avenue and took off with a diaper bag, but that’s the closest thing to crime that came our way.

All things considered, Des Moines is a pretty good place to live or to be from. We’ve been away for years now, but it never seems that long ago.

North of Grand is in my blood. It’s in my bones.

Read on.

B.J.

“Detective fiction meets the peloton”

First the Kindle ebook, and now in paperback! Just letting you know that.

Special note to my dear cycling friends: here’s some of what an Amazon reviewer had to say about the new Detective Red Shaw novel:

North of Grand is also a really interesting experiment in genre–detective fiction meets the peloton, resulting in “bicycle noir.” Read it!

Can’t argue with that.

Pedal on,

B.J.

 

Thrillers and “engrossing bicycle noir”

People who write for a living always look forward to finishing things and getting paid.

If some of those finished things are works of fiction, some writers also anxiously wait to see what readers think.

bikepixabayThe insecure (that may be all of us) wonder: Will this be a dismal failure or will there be some good reviews and lots of stars? Will there be royalties?

Only the dreamers and the famous think about screenplays and movie deals.

After releasing my second Detective Red Shaw novel last month, I have to say I’m feeling pretty good. Just today, readers had terrific feedback on both BLOOD SOLUTIONS (Red Shaw #1) and NORTH OF GRAND (Red Shaw #2).

#1 was called a “gripping, compelling thriller” soon after publication and won five more stars this morning.

#2 so far is a “riveting thriller,” “a real page-turner” and, maybe my favorite, “engrossing bicycle noir.”

If you haven’t read them, consider those reviews and others and start turning pages.

Read on.

B.J.