Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wonders in the Tree House

When the city of Saint Paul was controlled by the mob!
by Charlie Leck

The projection from the guys refinishing the floors in our house is that we'll be able to move back in on Friday. That's the day my wife flies to New York City, so I'll be alone here during the move in. We'll probably wait until Monday to begin moving the furniture back in. The good news is that I'll be able to reclaim my office Friday morning and blogging will then become much easier.

As I am reminded again and again, there are often wonderful discoveries to be made even in moments of great inconvenience. Such happened yesterday in the Tree House.

The bookshelves in our little guest apartment are the resting grounds for some of the tackier books I read. Anything that falls into the category of mystery, thriller, spy or crime novels end up on the shelves up there. A couple hundred books are neatly lined up, according to author, on the shelves. Another hundred have been haphazardly piled on top of the shelved books because there isn't space left to shelve any more. There's all of John Grisham's work, most of John Sandford's novels, a dozen or so by Patricia Cornwell, all of Anne Perry. John LeCarre, Jody Compton, M.C. Beaton, Richard North Paterson, Dick Francis, Tom Clancy and a host of others. There's also a very nice set of all of Arthur Conan Doyle's work. Lately, I've been piling on these shelves all of the works of Daniel Silva as I've finished them. I have always thought that everything up there in the Tree House had been read.

Yet, I was standing there in the early afternoon yesterday, thinking about how I had to either put some more shelves in the big room up there, so I could more neatly shelve all these books, or I had to weed some out and get rid of them. About ten percent of the books are paperbacks, so I thought, perhaps, those could go. As I fidgeted with a few of the books, trying to find the appropriate spaces for them, I picked one up that didn't look at all familiar to me. Hmm!

It was a paperback by Steve Thayer called Saint Mudd. Thayer wrote an extradinarily good murder mystery call The Weatherman. I'd read it about 10 years ago and counted it among my favorites. Another of his books, Wheatland, which I hadn't liked, stood on the shelves, too. With certainty I realized that I had not read this other book that proudly proclaimed on its cover that it was by the author of The Weatherman. Hmm!

So, I sat down in one of the less than comfortable chairs that we keep up there and began to read. Three hours later I was approaching the mid point of the book and enjoying every page of it. The Twins game was about to begin on television and I sadly set the book aside in favor of the ball game.

Well, I want to recommend this book to those of you who fit into each of the following categories:

You like mystery stories!

You enjoy reading about the history of our own metropolitian region (the Twin Cities)!

You can handle a few explicit descriptions of sexual escapade and some raw language!

You like compelling 'who done it' surprises.

The setting is Saint Paul, Minnesota. The time is the early 30s and prohibition is coming to an end. The protaganist is a columnist for a cheap and failing city newspaper.

Even though I'm only half-way through this one, I am willing to tell you that you'll be captivated by this terribly good story that goes way beyond simple mystery. Thayer is a marvelous story teller and a very good writer. Certainly you'll be able to pick this book up for a song in any good used book store. Go for it!
What I realize now is that I've got to order the other four books by Steve Thayer that I've not read.

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