Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ed Lynskey

Novelist Ed Lynskey writes the Private Investigator Frank Johnson mystery series, including this year’s The Zinc Zoo where Frank moves to the big city and lives with his lady friend Dreema before big trouble ensues, yet again.

Lynskey's new novel is Lake Charles, a standalone Appalachian noir set in the 1970s.

Last month I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
61 Hours (Jack Reacher #14). Lee Child. Delacorte Press. 2010.

I’ve read several of the Jack Reacher high-octane thrillers over the years, and I’m never disappointed. You know what you’re getting when you open one: a breakneck pace, MacGyver’s knowledge, dry as talc humor, and, above all else, fearless tenacity.

61 Hours is no different. This time the adventure kicks off with Jack riding on a tour bus with a group of senior citizens en route to Mount Rushmore. It’s winter, and winter gets cold with a capital C out there in South Dakota. The tour bus skids off the road on a slippery overpass and wrecks. Marooned in an approaching blizzard on the disabled tour bus, Jack manages to have them rescued by the local PD of a fairly large town called Bolton.

Bolton, of course, isn’t your run-of-the-mill hamlet out in the boonies. Jack discovers a new Federal prison has brought the townspeople prosperity and growth. However, with the new riches have come problems. The local meth business is booming. A biker gang occupy an abandoned military facility, where the police figure the meth production takes place.

Jack takes all this in his unflustered stride. He’s the consummate loner who prefers just to drift from place to place on a whim. He carries no bags. Buying his clothes new makes far better sense to him. He’d prefer to leave the old folks in Bolton except the snow has socked in the travelers. Since he’s forced to hang around Bolton, he decides to check into the meth scene, and the story slams into overdrive.

One thing I enjoy about the Jack Reacher books is the inclusion of trivia. I don’t know how Mr. Child makes it work, but he does. Writers are instructed to strike out anything not connected to the plotline. But in 61 Hours I learn Uncle Sam developed meth for the WW II pilots to stay alert on their long bombing missions flown into Nazi Germany. Here’s the other thing. If I read that bit in a history book, I’d never remember it. But told in the context of Jack Reacher’s vivid adventure, I’m sure the fact will now stick with me.

I have another affection for the Jack Reacher titles. Jack is an ex-Army MP just like in my Private Investigator Frank Johnson series. Jack didn’t inspire my Frank Johnson character. That credit goes to a gentleman I worked with for 15 years who regaled me with his old Army MP stories. The other source was Bill Pronzini’s Nameless Detective series where Nameless is an ex-MP. Or at least that’s how I recall his pedigree.

I read too slow to ever absorb all the Jack Reachers. Would that I could though. Talk about hog heaven. But I do take a title out every now and then to enjoy it like I did with 61 Hours.
Read the first chapter of Ed Lynskey's Lake Charles, and visit Lynskey's Facebook page.

My Book, The Movie: Lake Charles.

The Page 69 Test: Lake Charles.

--Marshal Zeringue