Imagine Charlie Manson on ‘American Idol’

screen-shot-2016-12-14-at-2-47-10-pmThe scary little dude wanted a record contract. When he didn’t get it, he ordered his minions to kill in order to scare the shit out of Los Angeles’s music community.

If Charles Manson had taken the game-show road to stardom, who knows what would’ve happened?

The peace, love and flowers ethos of the era allowed this career criminal to infiltrate the artistic community. With his long hair and arsenal of gibberish, he seemed the model of a hippie, hanging out with Cass Elliot of the Mamas and the Papas, Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys, and Neil Young, who recommended Manson to the president of Warner Bros Records. (He passed.)

Manson’s story is one of dozens in Everybody Had an Ocean, an epic tale about the intersection of music and crime in 1960s Los Angeles. It’s coming in April.

I’m the author, William McKeen, and this site introduces you to my books and my other work. I hope you find this all of interest.

Here’s the early word on Everybody Had an Ocean:

Everybody Had an Ocean is a fascinating, hypnotic look at the underside of the California dream. With smooth prose and keen reporting. William McKeen peels back the facade of peace and love and thoroughly examines the dark heart behind a generation of music. This is binge reading at its best.”
MICHAEL CONNELLY, author of The Lincoln Lawyer and The Wrong Side of Goodbye

“People say the Sixties died at Altamont, but William McKeen makes a compelling case that it was really Charlie Manson who brought down the flowered curtain. Everybody Had an Ocean sets a generation’s soundtrack to the improbable true tale of a scrawny career thief who befriended a Beach Boy, almost got himself a record deal, and then unleashed a spacey band of murderers on Los Angeles. Few novelists could dream up such a plot.”
CARL HIAASEN, author of Tourist Season, Hoot and Razor Girl

“William McKeen’s Everybody Had an Ocean brilliantly illuminates the day-glo rise of Los Angeles as a counterculture Mecca. The back pages of high-octane rock n’ roll history are ably explored by McKeen. And once again, the Beach Boys reign supreme.”
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, author of Cronkite and The Great Deluge

“A widescreen, meticulously-researched account of how Los Angeles – the seedbed of surf-pop and folk-rock – became the epicenter of American music in the 1960s. McKeen follows the thread from the Beach Boys’ sunny innocence to Manson’s noir horrors – via Phil Spector, Jim Morrison, and a supporting cast of hundreds – and brings the music of the City of Angels brilliantly to life.”
BARNEY HOSKYNS, author of Small Town Talk and Hotel California

“William McKeen’s Everybody Had an Ocean offers a detailed snapshot of the creative fertility, debauchery and importance of a signal moment in pop music history. Highly recommended.”
CHARLES L. GRANATA, author of Wouldn’t it Be Nice

Here’s a list of my books. Be sure to check out the pages devoted to the books on this site.

Books by William McKeen
Everybody Had an Ocean, a nonfiction narrative, 2017
Too Old to Die Young, a collection, 2015
Homegrown in Florida, an anthology, 2012
Mile Marker Zero, a nonfiction narrative, 2011
Outlaw Journalist, a biography, 2008
Highway 61, a memoir, 2003
Rock and Roll is Here to Stay, an anthology, 2000
Literary Journalism: A Reader, 2000
Tom Wolfe, a critical biography, 1995
Bob Dylan: A Bio-Bibliography, 1993
Hunter S. Thompson, a critical biography, 1991
The Beatles: A Bio-Bibliography, 1989
The American Story, an anthology, 1975

For more about these books and my other work, click on the ‘Books’ and ‘Other Writing’ tabs above. Students looking for my course outlines will find them under the ‘Courses’ tab.

Please feel free to get in touch.

Where you’ll find me
Boston University College of Communication
640 Commonwealth Ave., Boston MA 02025
617.353.3484 / wmckeen@bu.edu

Copyright 2017 by William McKeen

Three Amigos: Skink, Duke and Brando

Remember the late, great Richard Pryor? Onstage, he’d make those brilliant observations with a heaping helping of 10- and 12-letter words.

brian-smith-carl-hiaasen-sepia.jpg

CARL HIAASEN: The writer from 40,000 fathoms.

Then he’d show up on network television (you remember that, don’t you?) and do the same routines, but manage to stop just before uttering those words you couldn’t say on TV back then.

I was thinking of those deft performances while reading Carl Hiaasen’s new book, Skink — No Surrender (Knopf, $18.99). This is a book for “young adults,” but all that means is that Hiaasen stops short of some of the adult themes and grown-up mayhem in his mainstream novels.

Hiaasen’s never been one to stream together symphonic profanity in several movements, but characters in his grown-up novels do occasionally have sex — and sometimes these are cross-species relationships. (Who can forget the unfortunate baddie in Native Tongue who got fucked by a dolphin?)

Skink — No Surrender
features one of the few recurring characters in Hiaasen’s adult novels — Clinton Tyree, the crazed renegade who once governed the state of Florida. Angered by the politic evils in Big Tally, he went underground, becoming the roadkill-eating eco-terrorist known as Skink.

This time out, Skink is helping a young boy named Richard find his missing cousin, a girl wooed away by an online sleaze. Skink becomes Richard’s eco-mentor, teaching him how to mess with those who defile Florida and its natural resources.

Hiaasen had been publishing his celebrated grown up books for a couple of decades — like clockwork, every two years — and most of them had an environmental theme where rebels such as Skink meted out justice on both the entrenched and the creeping assholery of the status quo.

1.-John-Wayne2.jpg

JOHN WAYNE aka DUKE MORRISON in repose

Then Hiaasen began writing books for the demographic known as “young readers” — the wildly successful Hoot, Scat, Chomp and Flush. Skink – No Surrender, we’re told, is his first book for the “young adult” demo. I’m not sure I can tell the difference between these audiences. If you’re like me, it doesn’t matter if Hiaasen is writing for grownups, young readers, teens or iguanas. His books are always richly entertaining and morally satisfying.

Marlon-Brando

MARLON BRANDO – smoke ’em if you got ’em

FELIX AND OSCAR OF THE MOVIES: Marlon Brando and John Wayne — now there’s an odd couple. But they had much more in common than you realized.

They’re both subjects of wonderful new
biographies. John Wayne: The Life and Legend (Simon and Schuster, $32.50) by Scott Eyman of the Palm Beach Post, is a detailed and engrossing full-life portrait of one of the great stars in the history of Hollywood. Eyman’s book tells you the story you think you know, but gives so much detail and background that you will have to rethink your perceptions of John Wayne.

Yes, he was extremely conservative. Yes, he could be intransigent about the supposed communist influences in American culture. But up close and personal, he was always willing to listen to someone whose ideas clashed with his. He was unfailingly polite and deeply loyal. He admitted mistakes. He enjoyed the occasional joint. And he worried about money his whole life, living a modest non-movie star existence, primarily to provide a legacy for his children.

And he took his work much more seriously than you might think. He annotated scripts, rewrote dialogue, even stepped in as director on some films when the director of record took ill (loyal to friends, Wayne would often employed hard-on-their-luck colleagues and then carry them through the pictures). You come away from the book realizing that this man was as full of faults as an old shoe, but you can’t help but admire him, even love him.
John Wayne thought Marlon Brando was one of the great actors of his time (he was in awe of Brando’s transformation into his character in “The Godfather”) and one of the things they had in common was that attention to extreme detail with scripts.

Brando was a prolific writer of marginal notes and rewriter of dialogue. Like Wayne, he was determined to get inside the character, though both actors entered through different doors.

Brando’s Smile
by Susan L. Mizruchi (W.W. Norton, $27.95) was written with access to Brando’s letters and his annotated scripts. Again we see the thought processes of a great actor on display. Both of these books are enriched by these dives into marginalia, to give us insight to the inner John Wayne and the inner Marlon Brando.

Both books will inspire you to create film retrospectives at your home theaters. Both men created so many great portrayals worth seeing again. To see Wayne’s arrival in “Stagecoach” (1939), so carefully choreographed by his mentor, director John Ford, is still thrilling. To see the elegiac final chapter by Ford and Wayne in “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” (1962) is equally thrilling.

And can we ever tire of Brando as Stanley Kowalski, Terry Malloy or Vito Corleone? Not around here. We have an annual screening of “The Godfather” trilogy in our family room.

Both of those actors, though different, are carved into a cinematic Mount Rushmore.

Looking behind the curtain on The Wizard of Oz

 

Hollywood's Greatest Year: The Best Picture Nominees of 1939Remember the joy of seeing The Wizard of Oz the first time?

Boomers! Remember how CBS used to show the movie just once a year, then open it for us in prime time as a holiday gift? It was an Event, right up there with Halloween, Christmas and birthdays.

You whippersnappers today, raised on home video and On Demand and streaming movies — you’ll never know the thrill of anticipation, the-whole-family delight of curling up with Mom and Pop and Sis and Baby Boy Phil in front of a television the size of Kansas to watch the annual showing of that masterpiece from Hollywood’s golden era.

And remember how we loved the familiar story and laughed again at the old jokes and, perhaps, shed a tear for poor Dorothy on her long journey home? Was any film ever so pure-D deliciously wonderful?

So it’s kind of fun to find out what a pain in the ass it was to make that movie.

 

wizard-oz-poster-si-l-01Next year is the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz‘s 1939 release and so The Making of The Wizard of Oz (Chicago Review Press, $18.95), one of the best behind-the-scenes books ever written about filmmaking, is hitting the shelves again.

Aljean Harmetz, who wrote this as part of her long career covering Tinseltown, adds a new preface but nothing else to the book, which appeared first in 1977.

And why should she? Who could improve on perfection?

Harmetz gives us all the good behind-the-scenes gossip about the making of the movie, the mistakes nearly made (cutting the “Over the Rainbow” sequence, for example, and how the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion hated their costumes and sometimes each other). We learn how the sensitive skin of Buddy Ebsen cost him his role as the Tin Man, and how the little people who played the Munchkins were a soused and horny lot.

We also learn about the revolving director’s chair. Victor Fleming got credit for directing both The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind in the same year, but he was aided by uncredited colleagues on both films. The studio system was a pretty amazing machine.

Learning these things doesn’t ruin the film or diminish its magic. If anything, it makes you appreciate the professionalism and artistry that went into making this classic.

wizard-of-oz-original1

 

We get a different backstage view of the arts in This Ain’t No Holiday  (Schaffner Press, $16.95), James Lough’s oral history of New York’s Chelsea Hotel.

That was the crash place of choice for a impressive gang of artists and musicians in the 1960s — Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol, Joni Mitchell among them. Just imagine the beautiful noise that filled the hallways.

But Lough’s history focuses on a later era — 1980-1995 — and there less creative spirit and more creative burnout. The Chelsea was the end of the road for a lot of these people and so their stories drift past melancholy and occasionally into tragic.

Plus, it’s an oral history, which means it’s somewhat disjointed, and that enhances even more of the inside-baseball nature of the book. If you’re a fan of the Beats or the Ramones, by all means you need to inhale this book. Not sure this one works for the casual fan.

…..

I certainly understand addiction, because I cannot function without Diet Coke. Don’t put lemon or lime in it or fuck with it any other way. Just give me the regular old Diet Coke.

Fizz 
(Chicago Review Press, $17.95) is British journalist Tristan Donovan’s social history of soda pop, tracing how the industry grew from the era of patent medicines up to the present.

It’s hard to imagine the world without these colas, so ingrained have they become in our modern life. Though not a medical investigation, Donovan does contemplate the relative benefits of sodas. (At least we don’t learn what an old editor used to tell me about my soda intake: “Don’t’cha know they pave roads with that stuff?”

A good deal of the narrative concerns the Coke and Pepsi wars and the deep, somewhat perverse attachments people have to their favored colas. But it’s not just about the big boys — a huge number of carbonated beverages are profiled in these pages.

Yet Pommac is missing. This is a fabled soda from my misspent youth in Texas. It was available for a dime from a vending machine in my junior high auditorium and it was the most elegant soda I ever tasted. Drinking it, I felt like the most sophisticated 12-year-old in the world — or at least in Fort Worth. Yet I never saw it outside of Texas.

But that was before I lost my heart to Diet Coke.

pommac

 

 

Stephen King revisists one of his old haunts

In my college / marijuana years, I lived in a house where my fellow residents and guests were encouraged to write on the walls. The best scrawl said, “The only hell is what we do to each other.”stephen-king-cover-ftr

So of all the scary things conjured up by frightmaster Stephen King – flesh-eating fog, girls whose eyeballs can set bad dudes on fire, homicidal haunted cars – it seems that the stories that frighten us the most are the ones that come from our all-too-real terrors.

King has been pretty upfront about his battle with alcohol and it was Jack Torrance, the tormented wannabe writer with a drinking problem, who provided the real scares in The Shining, one of King’s most enduring novels. As poster boy for Bad Dads, Jack Torrance broke son Danny’s arm and nearly killed his wife during his ill-fated tenure as caretaker of the remote Overlook Hotel during a devastating Colorado winter.

Forty years have passed since that book and King is on the other side of his alcoholic continental divide. He wanted to check in on Danny Torrance these days, to see what ever happened to that tormented kid.
Doctor_Sleep
As you might expect, Danny inherited father Jack’s alcoholism and caused a lot of pain himself.  He lied, cheated and stole for the Next Drink. But now the older, wiser King lays out a path of redemption for Dan Torrance.

Doctor Sleep is a four-decades later sequel to The Shining, and though it does delve into the supernatural and we’ve got people fading in and out of the afterlife, it’s the brutality of a world served in slavery to alcohol that scares the most.

We pick up Danny Torrance’s life not long after his father’s death and the explosion of the evil Overlook Hotel. The boy is still visited by the hotel’s demons, but he learns to hide them away in distant parts of his memory. He is unable to keep away the demon of alcoholism and spirals into a life much like his father’s. His mother’s death leaves him alone and he enters his forties as a well-meaning but helpless slave to booze.

But then he turns things around and eventually finds a use for his gift, his “shining.” He helps usher the elderly residents of a nursing home into the afterlife, because he can understand all of their pain and suffering and eases them out of this world. They call him Doctor Sleep.

Sober but teetering on the edge of relapse, Dan is telepathically approached by a young girl who shares his gift. She writes messages on the blackboard in his apartment and he responds. Through one of her visions, she learns of a cult of non-humans who travel among us (in Winnebagos, of course), sucking the life out of young people. Those faces on milk cartons and telephone poles? They are victims of this savage, centuries-old tribe of monsters called the True Knot.

-1Sounds like a little much, but by that time in the unfurling of Doctor Sleep, we are so caught up in the lives of Dan and his young friend, Abra, that we don’t really mind some of the hokey parts.

Don’t want to give up too many details – have your own fun reading the book – but Dan does get to make a return visit to the site of his childhood trauma, the Overlook. There’s also a rather startling reveal that you don’t see coming – nothing that makes you jump, but a surprise nonetheless. The drama of the actual confrontation between the good guys and the True Knot is a little protracted and is so talky that  it risks become a teacup drama.

Quibbles. If you like King’s books, you’ll love this. If you only read a Stephen King book once a decade, you’ll still love this. It returns to some of his recurring themes of children in peril, battles of good and evil, and journeys to ominous destinations.

And it’s the simple things that frighten us: his description of a face at a window, looking in at the young girl, is as frightening as any moment from childhood.

How scary is Doctor Sleep? Not sure I can put it on a Stephen-King-frightened-the-piss-out-of-me continuum, because I couldn’t finish a couple of his books since they were too darn creepy. But whether he’s wiping out most of civilization (The Stand) or setting a whole novel inside a car interior (Cujo), the dude knows how to tell a story.  Doctor Sleep allows us to check in on the kid from The Shining and find out that maybe there are happy endings after all.

 

Heir apparent to a knight errant

In the beginning, there was John D. MacDonald. And lo, it was good.

Then John D’s protagonist — handsome, hairy-chested hero Travis McGee — begat other knights errant, including a loveable serial killer, an amateur-sleuth photographer, a renegade roadkill-eating former governor and a crime-fighting marine biologist.

RANDY WAYNE WHITE IN HIS ELEMENT

And lo, it was really good.

John D. MacDonald nearly created the whole Florida crime genre with his McGee novels, which he sprinkled over the couple decades before his death in 1986.

But he lives on in the influence he brought to the works of Carl HiaasenTom CorcoranTim DorseyRandy Wayne White and a score of others.

All of those writers created laconic, self-sacrificial heroes. Hiaasen’s novels don’t really have continuing characters other than Skink, the governor who went off the grid a few decades back and became an eco-terrorist. (John D would approve.)

Dorsey’s hero is Serge Storms, a loveable serial killer (he kills only bad guys). Corcoran’s Alex Rutledge is a Key West photographer who gets pulled into solving murders in the Southernmost City.

For my money, it’s Randy Wayne White’s Doc Ford who remains the most McGee-like of protagonists. He lives a McGee-like life on the water, though across the peninsula from McGee’s slip at Bahia Mar. McGee was a “salvage expert,” who never seemed to want for money. Doc Ford sells marine specimens to colleges, museums and public schools, and earns just enough to afford his boat and beach house on Dinkin’s Bay, down on the Sanibel coast.

Like McGee, who has Meyer, the hirsute economist and fellow sleuth, Doc Ford has Tomlinson as an erudite foil, ying to his yang. And both of them have whispered pasts, which may or may not involve histories with the CIA and black ops. Night Moves (Putnam, $25.95) is the latest — and 20th — Doc Ford novel and hits stores this week. It is as rich and immensely satisfying as anything that White has written.

This time, Doc and Tomlinson are chasing the wreckage of a squadron that disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle. Along the way, Tomlinson is having an affair with a married woman. Doc doesn’t approve, of course — he’s a moral titan, much like Travis McGee — but he isn’t sure what to make of things when the married woman keeps sleeping over at his apartment. Of course, assassins are on the trail of Doc and Tomlinson, and we have a lot of Florida folklore, adventure and Haitian drug dealers.

What more could you want for a good time?

Doc Ford is definitely his own man and White couldn’t imitate another writer if he tried. Though we mourn the loss of John D and Travis McGee, we can rejoice that we have Randy Wayne White and Doc Ford.

White has a great online presence at docford.com and has two restaurants named after his creation — one on Sanibel and one across the bridge on the mainland. You’ll find directions on the site, where you can learn more about White’s earlier career as a fishing guide and his other missions — to share the love of all things maritime, and to take baseball equipment to Cuban kids.

(Here’s my Creative Loafing profile of White from 2009.)

Remembering a walk on the moon

NEIL ARMSTRONG

“For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”
From the Armstrong family, in a statement issued today, 25 August 2012, on the day Neil Armstrong died, aged 82.

Here is what I wrote on the occasion of the publication of Magnificent Desolation, by Armstrong’s fellow moonwalker, Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin. It was published July 19, 2009, the day before the 40th anniversary of the moon landing.

Tom Wolfe started with a simple question: What do you do after you walk on the moon?

How do you top that?

After romping around on the lunar surface, you can imagine the empty feeling that comes upon you even when you do something exciting. Going to Wal-Mart on a Saturday morning loses its thrill. After all, you’ve been on the moon.

Wolfe called it “post-orbital remorse,” the condition that affected the astronauts who walked on the moon.

How many of us know for certain that our lives have peaked?

The look at the astronauts started as a Rolling Stone series Wolfe wrote in 1973. When he began digging deeper into the story for the book-length version, he got so involved that he had to cut off his manuscript before it became unwieldy. When it came out in 1979, The Right Stuff (Picador, $16) told the story of the space program from the test-pilot days of the pioneers in the late 1940s, up through the end of the Mercury program, in 1963. The story of the third generation of astronauts, those who were part of the Apollo program, remains tucked away in his archive of magazine articles.

The Right Stuff remains the great work of literature to arise from the space program. There are other fine books, including Gerard DeGroot’s Dark Side of the Moon (New York University Press, $35), which took a comic look of the space race. Next month,Wayne Biddle’s book about the engineers behind rocketry – also called Dark Side of the Moon (W.W. Norton, $25.95) may add to the serious  works about the space program.

There have been a number of astronaut memoirs and picture books along the way. Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon, wrote before of his post-orbital remorse in Return to Earth (Random House, 1973). For the 40th anniversary of his moonwalk, he’s written Magnificent Desolation(Harmony Books, $27).

When Return to Earth came out, Aldrin was not long back from the moon and deep into his post-orbital problem. In short, he was very much a work in progress.

In his new book, Aldrin is closer to the end of the story and – I’m pleased to report – he’s in the Zip Code of his happy ending. He stared down the demon of depression (which he dealt with in Return to Earth) and now he’s also battled alcoholism.

(To learn more about Aldrin’s battle with alcoholism, see www.cleanan   dsobernotdead.com.)

Aldrin not only knows the moment 40 years ago when his life peaked. He also knows when he hit bottom – trucked out on public relations tours, selling used cars – and wrecked two marriages on his way.

This memoir starts with the peak – the moon landing, told in gripping detail – and then his battle to recover his life, nearly losing it to drink.

It’s a compelling story, all the more fascinating for what it followed, that historic trip to the moon with Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins. As Armstrong and Aldrin stood on the lunar surface and looked around, they searched for words to describe what they saw. “Magnificent . . . desolation,” Aldrin said.

Of all the words that have been devalued in the modern world, it’s probably “incredible” that has lost all its meaning. What we did to put men on the moon was incredible. Most everything else is less.

Tom of all trades

Marshall McLuhan once likened the Sunday New York Times to a warm bath – something to slip into for comfort and pleasure.

Tom Corcoran and songwriting partner John Frinzi

We’re borrowing that line to tell you that Tom Corcoran has just run a nice, toasty tub for you. It’s his latest novel, The Quick Adios (Times Six). Prepare yourself to slip into the relaxing and refreshing waters of a great story.

Corcoran is one of those writers you impatiently wait for, much like Florida’s other great writers of mysteries, Michael Connelly, Randy Wayne White and Carl Hiaasen (well, his books are sort-of  mysteries).

Corcoran’s stories feature an accidental detective named Alex Rutledge. Nominally a photographer in Key West, Rutledge carries the DNA of the late great knight errant, Travis McGee, the hero of those marvelous John D. MacDonald novels that never get old. (I’ve been on a MacDonald tear this summer and even named one of my sons Travis after that great hero.)

Corcoran’s Alex Rutledge is smart, charming, handy, resourceful, and successful with women. In short, he’s everything a man wishes he could be and everything many women wish they could find.

But he’s not perfect, which is one of the reasons we like him so much and why we miss him when he’s gone.

Tom Corcoran is a busy man, considering all of his ventures. So this is only the seventh Rutledge mystery in the 14 years of the series. Each book adds to the wonderful Key West mosaic Corcoran has created with these terrific novels. There’s never a word out of place, never a description that isn’t perfect, never a story that doesn’t absorb you to the point where you walk to work reading the book, tripping over the sidewalk like a dork.

Or wait – maybe that’s just me.

Nevertheless, Rutledge fans slip into the bath as Corcoran describes his knight errant and his latest mission.

The saga began with The Mango Opera back in 1998 and has included Gumbo Limbo (1999), Bone Island Mambo (2001), Octopus Alibi  (2003), Air Dance Iguana (2005) and Hawk Channel Chase (2010).

Corcoran built a strong audience with his first five novels, published with St. Martin’s Press of New York.  He also knew how to work the promotions circuit, from his earlier life in the music industry as part of the Jimmy Buffett orbit. So he decided, starting with Hawk Channel Chase, to cut out the middle man.

One of those other hats Corcoran wears is that of book publisher. Years ago, he started a small press that specialized in books about Florida. He republished the 19th Century classic, The Young Wrecker on the Florida Reef  by Richard Bache. He published the story of the  Key West doctor who kept the mummified body of his true love at his bedside (Undying Love by Ben Harrison). And he kept in print other classics of Florida history.

So why not just bring his Alex Rutledge books onto his Dredgers Lane imprint?

And so he has. The novels are beautifully produced – much better than some of the mass-produced books from those New York publishers – and he gets the books into the hands of his readers with a minimum of fuss.

Corcoran with Hunter S. Thompson “back in the day” (circa 1980)

Corcoran’s always working on something. Years ago, he co-wrote songs with Buffett (“Fins,” “Cuban Crime of Passion”) and was part of the loose network of friends who made Buffett feel at home in the Southernmost City in 1971, when he arrived unknown and unwanted by the music industry. Corcoran was one of the people who kept him fed and taught him the lore of their adopted home town of Key West.

These days, Corcoran’s been composing songs with John Frinzi, a Florida singer-songwriter who sings with rare grace and candor. Frinzi’s latest album, Shoreline, is primarily co-written with Corcoran, as is the upcoming as-yet-untitled collection.

Corcoran’s worked with the best. He not only wrote with Buffett; he also drafted two screen treatments with Hunter S. Thompson. You know his photography from album covers and book jackets. You might’ve marked time by one of his calendars or cribbed one of the books he printed in a class on Florida history.

But Alex Rutledge fans are an impatient lot.

Confidential note to Corcoran: we want more of these great stories. Now, please.

The Quick Adios (Times Six) spends a good deal of its plot on mainland Florida, as Rutledge takes a quick-and-easy job to do some commercial photography in Sarasota. There’s some intrigue to the job and a couple of sexy characters that make you go all a-tingle, and things seem well in hand until the first body is found.And then another, and another, until we reach the body count of the title.

By then, Rutledge is back on the Rock, trying to help his friends on the Key West police solve the crimes. And, of course, someone is trying awfully hard to kill Rutledge.

Part of the appeal of Alex Rutledge is that he leads the life that we all want to lead. A generation ago, Travis McGee was our role model. Now it’s Rutledge. We’re a little older, a little wiser, and maybe he’s a little more realistic.

But he’s also not really in it for himself. Rutledge is a moral crusader, someone who regards honesty and decency as his personal property. Injustice irritates him immensely, and he’s out to better the world, one day at a time.

Corcoran started at a high level with The Mango Opera 14 years ago. He achieved the sort of literary altitude few attain. No less a master than Michael Connelly referred to one of his books (Air Dance Iguana) as “the reading highlight of the year.” Randy Wayne White said Corcoran’s books are “impossible to put down.” Jim Harrison – that’s right . . .  Legends of the Fall Jim Harrison … called another one of Corcoran’s books (Octopus Alibi) “a true marvel of a mystery.”

When your fan base includes some of the best writers in the country, you know you’re doing something right.

Corcoran has always been busy doing something – songwriting, publishing, photography. It’s too much to wish for that he’d just do one thing, like writing novels. Besides, then we’d miss the music.

The Quick Adios is written with such elegance and assurance that we can’t help but be greedy. We want more. We want to luxuriate in this great, warm bath.

……………………………
Your to-do list:
Visit Tom Corcoran at his website: www.tomcorcoran.net
Order The Quick Adios here: http://amzn.to/NsH0AG
Check out John Frinzi’s website, stream some of his music, check his performance schedule, then go ahead and get his Shoreline album: www.johnfrinzi.com