Up front, near the door, were four nickel slot-machines and one that took quarters. They looked dusty and unused. Along the wall opposite the bar there were booths pretending to be upholstered in red leather. They were empty except for one near the middle that held an old blond overflowing a shiny black spaghetti-strap dress and a fat man in a dark suit with his face in a bowl of chili. At least, it looked like chili. Their table was flush with empty highball glasses. The old blond was washed-out by too much neon and not enough fresh air. She took a drag on her cigarette and glared at her date’s head like she wanted to put it out in his bald spot. Maybe this was Gwen.
I was fortunate enough to take John Truby‘s Story Structure Class several years ago. That good fortune was multiplied when I spent time at his writers’ studio, working with him on the film story breakdowns used as examples for his screenwriting software, which later became “Blockbuster.” A best-selling author, John teaches standing-room only classes around the world and has served as a consultant on over 1,000 film scripts. It was a remarkable learning experience.
Recently, I was flattered to learn that John had commented on “Joey’s Place” on his website (John updates this page regularly, so I’ve copied his comments below):
“Another big thumbs up for John Nelson’s detective novel, Joey’s Place. Nelson took the Anatomy of Story Masterclass so many years ago it was just called the Story Structure Class. He really knows his stuff. The story takes place in Las Vegas, 1970, the turning point when the city’s casinos went from mob control to corporate control. This allows Nelson to make the rare and difficult combination of detective story and historical drama. We not only get a terrific plot, we see the machinations play out within the making of a modern American city. … (more)
Two stiff young deputies bracketed the open doorway of a room on the first floor. Two older deputies caressing cigarettes leaned against the columns supporting the second story and blew smoke at the stars. All four jumped when Parkins almost put the unmarked sedan’s bumper into one of the columns, tortured the transmission into Park, threw open his door, and rushed into the room, holding up his badge like it was the Olympic torch. Slack-jawed, the deputies just watched him pass.
Fortuna reached over the front seat, turned off the ignition, and said to Ben, “He still gets excited.”
[from LANDMARK KILL]
The dead woman’s skirt billowed like a parachute as she slowly rotated in the current from the pool filter. Her hair drifted around her head like sea-grass. Jill’s hair wasn’t that color or that long. That should have made him feel better, but it didn’t. There was a dead woman anchored to the bottom of the swimming pool.
Near the end of LANDMARK KILL, I finally come back to a familiar place. It’s seven years before the events in my book, JOEY’S PLACE, and the town faces total ruin. It just doesn’t know it.
“… Joey’s Place was unique for another reason. It was a private club with only one member, its co-owner, Joey Ross. “Cool Joey.” Everyone who walked through the front door was his personal guest. If you didn’t know Joey Ross, you didn’t get in. You didn’t get in to enjoy those private bungalows in back. You didn’t get in to relax by the spring-fed swimming pool surrounded by cool green lawns, palms and olive trees. You didn’t get in to gamble at its intimate, no-limit casino.
Movie stars, politicians, entertainers, millionaires, star athletes. Make a scene and you’d be shown the door and your card would be pulled, even if your name was Rockefeller, Garbo or Rainier. A slow night was when there was only an archduke or an Oscar winner in the house.
Ben walked past on the hot Strip sidewalk. Valet parking was full. And not because there was no self-parking. It was full because there was no off-season at Joey’s Place. The back entrance … (more)