“Reader’s draft” of prequel completed…

JFK-motorcade-view-of-Landmark-coverI just transferred the first “reader’s draft” of LANDMARK KILL to my wife’s Kindle. She’s an avid reader of all genres and probably the best editor imaginable for a first draft. Her contributions to JOEY’S PLACE are incalculable. If any of it works for her then I know I have something good started. After several months working on the story, letting it go is a bit unsettling. Still, every chick must leave the nest…

Set in September 1963, LANDMARK KILL is as much a thriller as it is a crime story. Like JOEY’S PLACE, it drills deep into the blood and bones of a lost Las Vegas, America’s famously infamous playground, and its ties to national politics. Det. Heber Parkins plays a major role in the story as the rough-edged, rookie partner of “cagey old Dave Fortuna,” but the main character is a jaded young gambler who’s drawn by chance into a many-layered murder mystery that traps him between the law and the Mob.

On the left is the “concept” cover for the book. Check back here or join my mailing list to be the first to know about publication dates.

“Joey’s Place” now with beta readers

JP_CoverPage_313x231“A middle-aged man with graying blond hair sat in the driver’s seat, one hand resting on the bottom of the steering wheel, the other resting on his thigh. An open billfold was in his bloody lap. His head was tilted down, like he was checking the speedometer, and his mouth was open. His gold-framed glasses were slightly crooked on his nose. His face was pale and creamy. His eyes were open wide. Bulging. A cartoon character who just saw a ghost. Small-caliber, low-velocity slugs rudely entering the skull will do that.”

Detective Heber Parkins is the Clark County Sheriff’s Department’s outcast, the lead man in its “leper colony,” the guy who collects the anonymous victims of the most anonymous town of them all, the “trash man.” Then he’s assigned to investigate the murder of the partner of the man who operates the classiest club on the Strip. Joey’s Place. Is he being set up to fail? Play the cat’s paw? He doesn’t care. It’s his first real case in years and it draws him into a struggle that will determine the future of Las Vegas.

I feel fortunate to have a roster of readers who not only enjoy crime fiction but also know a great deal about Las Vegas in September 1970. If you would like a review copy, please contact me at john@jwnelson.net

The little man

MeyerLansky“You wanted to see me?” Heber said.

The little man looked up and appraised him like he was meat on the hoof. Those close-set eyes were as dark as coal. Death itself was in those eyes.

Heber took a step back. He wondered if he’d have to dig his own grave. Planted in a desert forested with forgotten ghosts.

Finally, the little man smiled and said, “Yes, young man. I did wish to see you.”


collage_Aladdin show ad 70Heber badged the security guard at the employee entrance and used a service corridor leading to the casino. He tipped his hat to the showgirls headed for the Crystal Room as they passed. On stage, they looked gorgeous. Up close, they looked tired. He heard one say that her feet would never survive the midnight show.

(from “Joey’s Place,” coming soon as an e-book)

Inform the family

He looked around. Turned his hat in his hands by its brim. He didn’t want to stand here in the foyer and tell them that nothing would ever be the same again. That Mr. Wallace was just cooling meat now, manhandled downtown by people who didn’t know or care about you or your kids or your sisters and brothers. Just another inconvenient stiff making them work late, keeping them from that cold beer, TV dinner, and the six o’clock news.

(from “Joey’s Place,” coming as an e-book December 2013)