The Surreal Killer

The Surreal Killer
Machu Picchu. Peru

Sunday, February 24, 2013

A Prequel to the Galapagos Islands

Before we visited the Galapagos Islands several years ago, Elaine and I traveled from Salta, Argentina, the setting for my first novel The Empanada Affair, to Santa Cruz, deep in the Bolivian jungles, to Quito, Ecuador, which is high in the Andes.  Along the way we went to La Paz and Lake Titicaca and then on to Cuzco and Machu Picchu, which became the setting for part of one of my earlier novels, “The Surreal Killer”.  From there we went on to Quito, Ecuador and The Galapagos.  A current Work In Progress (WIP) brings Roger and Suzanne to the The Galapagos Islands, so I thought it might be fun for Jerry and Elaine to share a few of the spots in between the places where Roger and Suzanne have already solved multiple murders and one of the current WIPs.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


In the current WIP, tentatively entitled "The Deadly Dog Show", Roger and Suzanne, with a lot of help from their Nanny Bruce and Roger's new partner in his detective agency, Vincent Romero, go undercover to investigate irregularities allegedly occurring at a series of major dog shows in California. As part of their cover identities they borrow a dog for Bruce to train and show, called Juliet in the novel. The fictitious Juliet is modeled very closely after our Jolie, AKC Grand Champion Von Der Nacht's Classic Beaujolais, JH, SH, especially when her behavior and personality are being described. To avoid concerns about quarantine regulations and the potential adverse effects of hot, humid weather on the dogs during the shows, this novel is set mainly in California rather than in our more usual locales in the Southern Cone of South America.

Jolie has spent most of her life as a member of a family dog pack, the first three years with just Mom, Vinia, and the second three years with Vinia and Jolie's daughter, Schone. Jolie deferred to Vinia until she had her first litter of puppies, but is probably the dominant bitch in a very mellow pack these days, at least in some ways. For example, she gets to go out of the door first when the pack heads for the back yard. She loves to give big slurpy kisses to humans, including strangers if they have a positive attitude. Like all three of our dogs, and like Juliet, she is a superb athlete in the field and in the back yard.

This book has its origins in Elaine's wanting to see one of these novels having a dog-based theme, especially if it could capture some of her interests in German Shorthaired Pointers and dog shows.  Throw in a badly concealed version of one of our dogs and she seems to be happy, pending some heavy editing still to be done.  Stay tuned to this blog, and hopefully we'll be announcing this book's publication some time this Spring season.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Historical Discovery

Where does the next new book idea come from?  In this case I can give us a very simple and precise answer.  After a lot of years it was time to paint the inside of our house again. That in turn was an excuse (necessity?) to reorganize messy desks and closets and peek into various cracks and crevices. Even (shudder!) to throw away a lot of old junk. But we unearthed a few lost treasures, too. One of them was Elaine's journal from our trip to Quito, Guayaquil, and The Galápagos Islands several years ago. This little bit of hidden treasure ensures that somewhere on the to-do list is a visit to the Galápagos Islands and a body or two for Roger and Suzanne to discover among the Booby Birds and the tortoises. I've also been meaning to re-read Darwin's classic treatise, "Origin of Species", so it might be an excuse to sprinkle a bit of biology into a novel. We'll see.

We met a few very interesting people on that trip. I assume that Roger and Suzanne will meet their fictional doppelgangers in this book to be (book in utero?). These characters should include the two sisters from San Francisco and the mysterious handsome Ecuadorian dude, Raul, who was trying so hard to pick them up (in the face of little or no resistance to the idea).  Raul had his big secret in real life.  Should that secret also transfer to his fictional doppelganger?  I strongly suspect that it will.  One of the low spots of that trip was the taxi drivers' strike in Quito where they closed down travel in the city by setting huge bonfires consisting of burning old tires on the main boulevards.   I don't know if I'll try to work that experience into the story.  One of the high spots of our trip was sitting next to an Ecuadorian Air Force General on the flight from Guayaquil to Baltra and learning about what the Air Force of a modern South American country just to the south of Colombia does.  I'm sure the general will make a guest appearance in the book.  He'll probably get a good sized chunk of the Baltra chapter to himself.

We talked about new technology and writing blog entries more or less spontaneously in an earlier post.  Here's a great example of it.  I have a 1.5 hour train ride and my iPad.  As I sit here now on the Amtrak train traveling from Davis to Oakland, CA for a meeting, I've been thinking about this book, for which I just started writing some scenes. To my right, through the train window, is a beautiful view of the north end of San Francisco Bay.  Next stop is Martinez if you know the route.  Or even if you don't.  My thoughts are on this book in utero. Will this be a romantic getaway just for Roger and Suzanne or should Robert and Bruce be invited along for the trip? Should Eduardo Gomez fly over from Paraguay to meet them or will he be superfluous this time? How about Vincent Romero, Roger's new partner in his detective agency? Decisions, decisions, decisions!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Bulgaria is Not South America

Today we feature a guest post by fellow "travel adventure" suspense writer Ellis Shuman, author of Valley of Thracians, currently available from Amazon.
In considering a guest post for the South American Mystery Novels and Stuff blog I was hesitant, as Bulgaria, the country featured in my new novel, is not located in South America. However, like many of the books listed here, the story of Valley of Thracians takes place in an exotic location, quite off the beaten track for Western tourists.
For those who aren't ready to board a Bulgarian Air flight to Sofia, I can offer something else, a chance to learn about the wonders of Bulgaria through the pages of my novel.
Valley of Thracians is a suspense novel. There is a missing Peace Corps volunteer and buried treasure. However, I would classify it as "travel fiction", in that the location, Bulgaria, plays as important a role in the story as the main characters.
My wife and I lived and worked in Sofia for two years. During that time, we traveled extensively around Bulgaria, learning the country's history and culture, climbing its mountains, sunbathing on its beaches, shopping in its stores, visiting its villages, eating its traditional food, and learning a bit of Bulgarian along the way. Okay, we didn't learn that much Bulgarian. We made many friends and in short, fell in love with the country.
Upon our return to our permanent home in Israel, I found it hard to tear myself away from the feeling of living in Bulgaria. To solve this aching, I turned to my writing. I had previously published a collection of short stories, The Virtual Kibbutz, which was very Israeli in subject matter. Now I decided to try something totally different - a novel about another country.
I believe I have succeeded it telling a bit about Bulgaria and I hope that readers will appreciate the chance to learn about this unique place while they take a suspenseful journey by reading my book.
Valley of Thracians is now available for Kindle at Amazon.
Ellis Shuman's blog may be found at