Today, I'm not only saluting my fellow American workers, I'm mentioning some of them in crime fiction.
Ten years ago, an Alcoholics Anonymous group called the Barnburners saved Conway's life. He pays them back by doing odd jobs or those that require "muscle." The inner circle of this group have become his friends. When one of them, Tander Phigg Jr. (at least his first name isn't Ripe or Fresh), asks for help, Conway agrees despite feeling that Phigg is one of those people who don't have to be drunk to be assholes. Phigg says he's paid $3500 in advance for the restoration of his 1980 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9. It's been in Das Motorenwerk for months and the owner is giving him the runaround. Phigg wants it back.
|Fall in New England is beautiful|
Nobody can criticize Conway for being a quitter. He wants to keep his promise to Phigg, even though Phigg's in no position to complain if he doesn't. Conway also feels pressured to solve the mystery of Phigg's death, because his criminal record leaves him open to suspicion. Conway begins by researching Phigg's past. Unlike Conway, Phigg is the son of a wealthy man, a paper baron who employed the whole town. Like Conway, he had a toxic relationship with his father. Phigg was a man who valued appearances. What lay under that surface? Conway's investigation and personal relationships create a smoothly corkscrewing plot that deals with who owes what to whom and why. Not all of these characters are reasonable people, and watching them work it out is gritty and gratifying entertainment.
That's what happens in The Silent Speaker. Cheney Boone of the Bureau of Price Regulation was escorted to a small room at a meeting of the National Industrial Association so he could prepare his speech. He is later found there, bludgeoned to death. Since the BPR and the NIA like each other as much as cats and dogs, there is a lot of finger pointing, but no evidence to back up accusations. The NIA is losing the public relations battle and decides to hire Wolfe. What comes then is a nifty plot that reflects 1946 business technology and the country's debate about governmental regulation of business. (Will this debate ever end?)
|Nobody has ever accused me of a green thumb|
|Prions are just proteins but are extremely dangerous|
Author Dustin Thomason wrote the best-selling The Rule of Four, a 2004 literary thriller about the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, a real Renaissance text, with his good friend Ian Caldwell. After that, Thomason earned an M.D. 12.21, published in August 2012 by The Dial Press, is fast and suspenseful reading, similar to books by fellow physician and science junkie Michael Crichton. Mayan history is fascinating stuff. So is medical research on prions. This is the perfect thriller for counting down the days to the end of 2012. Thanks go to hard-working researchers and the authors who write about them.
I'm joining other enterprising Americans for a last road trip this summer. Our good old-fashioned ingenuity and back-breaking work will have a big payoff when we fire up the grill and pop open those bottles of, uh, German beer. Happy Labor Day, everyone!