Guest Post: Glenn Nilson, Author of Murder on the Mother Road, A Bobby Navarro Mystery

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Bobby Navarro rides his Harley into another adventure when he discovers the body of a young woman in the trunk of a parked car in Williams, Arizona, on old Route 66.



Who would leave a car, with a body in it, parked on the main street of town? And, who told the police Bobby had been the driver of the car, because they soon take him to the police station to conduct an “interview”. Then, to make matters worse, Bobby realizes one of the police officers is a woman he had a crush on in high school. And, that’s just his first night in town. Next morning, Bobby has breakfast at a local diner, where everyone is talking about the murder and the arrest of one of the diner’s cooks. The staff don’t think the suspect is guilty of the crime, and one of the locals, Daryl King, lets slip to Bobby that he knows who the guilty party really is. Trouble is, Daryl won’t tell the police whatever it is he knows. In fact, Daryl has trouble talking with anyone. The fact that he made an exception in Bobby’s case, leads to Bobby agreeing to work with the police to find out if Daryl does know who the killer is. Bobby’s part in the investigation takes him to the Holiness Pentecostal Church of the Brethren, a church run by an ex-biker and two of his former gang members. There, he discovers a host of suspects, leaving Bobby to wonder whether he will have to “get religion” in order to help solve this Murder on the Mother Road.

Trouble is, Daryl won’t tell the police whatever it is he knows. In fact, Daryl has trouble talking with anyone. The fact that he made an exception in Bobby’s case, leads to Bobby agreeing to work with the police to find out if Daryl does know who the killer is. Bobby’s part in the investigation takes him to the Holiness Pentecostal Church of the Brethren, a church run by an ex-biker and two of his former gang members. There, he discovers a host of suspects, leaving Bobby to wonder whether he will have to “get religion” in order to help solve this Murder on the Mother Road.


Why Mysteries? By Glenn Nilson

Why mysteries? I love books I’ve read in other genres, especially some of the classics. However, I sometimes feel a particular mainstream literary work takes too much time getting into the story, or diverges too far with background, and description. Mysteries get to the story right away, and never stray too far from telling it. Necessary description and background get put in, but only that essential to the reader’s understanding.  We are made aware of the problem to be solved, and know who is going to have to solve it. Most importantly, the story MOVES.

I can read a mystery with confidence the hero will ultimately triumph, or at least survive, but I care that the hero makes it through. I care about some of the other characters as well. Sometimes, I even care about the villain. That’s because a good mystery tells a story about life, people and the problems and crises that arise. I’ve encountered fears and crises in my own life, and been challenged by a personal villain or two. A good story helps sustain me in thinking fighting the good fight is possible, and the bad guys don’t always win. To put the matter another way, all good stories are about people we can care about, facing problems, challenges and crises we can, in some way, relate to. A good mystery just seems to get the job done better.

When I was trying to think of a mystery series to write, my wife said I had ridden across country by motorcycle a number of times and should write about a biker. Once she pointed it out, it seemed obvious. He could be like one of the characters in the old Route 66 television show who helped out people they met in their journeys. I liked the idea that my hero could be compassionate toward others. I liked the idea that he could ride into town, a stranger to everyone there, get caught up in some event, and make a difference. Then, like a hero from an old western movie, get on his bike and ride on. It was a romantic image, but it appealed to me. In this series, life’s problems could be boiled down to a good guy – bad guy confrontation, and the good guy could win.

My hero, Bobby Navarro, wins his challenges by solving murders. He is a lone biker, who may be riding away from his past, or riding in search of someone or something he can make a permanent part of his future. Whatever his personal quest, he meets people in a community not his own who are torn apart by the murder of someone who was a part of that community, killed by someone else who was also a part of the community. Bobby is an outsider, but one at least some of the people can trust and rely on. He can make a difference. Bobby Navarro’s stories are about people, communities, landscapes, and what happens when lives are torn by tragedy and crisis. They’re mysteries, and I love writing mysteries.


Glenn grew up on a farm in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California, hiking, hunting, even panning for gold. After college, he served as an officer in the Navy, then earned a doctorate in sociology and taught at a branch of the State University in Connecticut. There, he developed, directed and taught a criminal justice program. Upon retirement, the West drew him back, this time to New Mexico, the setting for his first novel, Murder on Route 66. Currently, Glenn divides his time between living in rural Florida and up-state New York, writing and refurbishing an 1870’s-era, creek-side cottage. Whenever possible, he enjoys cooking, riding his own motorcycle and camping.

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