In 2010, I retired after more than 30 years working in newspapers. Since then, I've had success doing other kinds of writing, including fiction and nonfiction.
A play I wrote, THE PITCH, had a world premiere, five-week run at an equity theater in Massachusetts this winter, the Majestic Theater in West Springfield, from Feb. 27 to April 5, 2020. Unfortunately, the rise of the coronavuris cut short that run after two weeks. The theater plans to resume the run in January if conditions allow and people are free to return to live theater.
Here is the synopsis:
THE PITCH is about baseball, best friends ... and betrayal. A retired sportswriter, 72, reluctantly agrees to collaborate with a young sportswriter, 28, on a biography of a boyhood friend of the older writer who recently died, an obscure baseball pitcher. He threw only one pitch in the major leagues for the New York Yankees nearly fifty years earlier before he was lifted from the game and sent back to the minors. But it soon becomes evident there’s a dark secret at the heart of the pitcher’s story – one the older writer fiercely intends to protect.
This character-driven drama is about far more than baseball, though. Its true focus is ethics, generational differences, as well as life choices and their consequences.
During its two-week debut run, the play received excellent reviews:
“All that you could ask for ... A nicely twisting tale of fate and baseball.”
Patrick White, Nippertown
“The performances are terrific ... A well-crafted storyline ... a nice mix of comedy and drama.”
Mark Auerbach, Arts Beat Radio
“Very good ... As crisp and tantalizing as a backdoor slider.”
Chris Rohmann, The Valley Advocate
For more information about the play, the cast and the production, as well as a video interview with me about the origins of the play, go to the website for the play HERE.
Also, I was interviewed about the play by Mark Auerbach of WCPC15 TV and WSKB, 89.5FM radio in Massachusetts. Here is the video of the interview, which aired on July 10, 2020.
In June of 2018, Coffeetown Press of Seattle published my historical mystery, THE DUTTON GIRL, about a private detective working on a kidnapping case in 1915 in New York City as World War I raged in Europe.
In March of 2019, the second book in the series, FIRE IN THE RECTORY, was published.
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FIRE IN THE RECTORY
and two more John Nolan detective novellas
“⭐︎⭐︎⭐︎⭐︎⭐︎” – 5 out of 5 stars "Set in the 1910s, the book captures the time and place beautifully." – THE MANHATTAN BOOK REVIEW
A fire destroys a church rectory in Brooklyn in 1915 and a valuable painting is lost, a Raphael, but was it arson to disguise the theft of the painting? A pacifist running for Congress in Brooklyn receives a death threat, but when he ignores it, his young son is kidnapped and threatened with a gruesome end unless the father drops out of the race. A violinist for the Metropolitan Opera is charged with the murder of another musician in the orchestra, but he vows he had nothing to do with it, that he is being railroaded because he is an Italian national.
John Nolan, a private detective and a recent immigrant from Ireland, is drawn into all three cases, challenging his investigative skills and, ultimately, his intuition about people’s innocence or guilt. Set during the years of World War I, when America was swelling with newly arrived residents, when bigotry, poverty, and corruption in government were rampant, these three novellas offer a sharply drawn, realistic view of life nearly a century ago in New York City.
“Engrossing ... One of Fire in the Rectory's strengths lies in its historical accuracy, which brings the era and its culture to life ... All the stories excel in a fine balance of whodunit, politics, cultural inspection, and a sense of 1900s America.” – THE MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW
“Those who like an old-fashioned mystery with a dose of historical realism will enjoy these stories ... All three offer a vibrant sample of what life in New York City, just after the turn of the century, could offer.” – THE BOOK REVIEW DIRECTORY
“Excellent ... Each tale has twists and turns I could never manage to predict. Was the fire an accident or arson? Is Mr. Hughes truly the sort of man he seems? If the most obvious suspect did indeed commit the murder, where is his weapon? I didn’t even try to guess the answers to these questions but merely let the story take me along for the ride.” – MANHATTAN BOOK REVIEW
“Ingenious writing ... Set during the time of World War I when immigrants were arriving in force to the United States, the author shows how bigotry, poverty, and corruption prevailed with his well-researched historical facts.” – READER VIEWSREVIEW
"Fans of classical detective novels and who-done-its should enjoy these stories ... The period detail is extremely accurate, giving a nice feel of New York in the early 20th century, and photo illustrations add to this sense of the era .... The dialogue is well written, and the plots move along nicely ... Competently crafted.” – HISTORICAL NOVELS REVIEW
THE DUTTON GIRL
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As the story begins in January, 1915, John Nolan’s life could be no worse. A poorly paid private detective and a recent immigrant from Ireland, he is living in a New York City tenement flat without running water or a bathroom. He only wants to earn enough money to bring his fiancée over from Ireland.
When the daughter of a wealthy real estate developer is kidnapped from her Manhattan apartment, the police are baffled. The family receives a ransom note demanding $50,000, and the father fears that she’ll be killed if he pays – or if he doesn't. So he hires Nolan in hopes that he can find her quickly.
Early in his investigation, Nolan realizes the missing girl's family members are the main suspects. Her father gave her a small fortune in jewelry to avoid losing the pieces in court when he divorced her mother. Everyone in the family needs money, and they all knew where she kept the jewels hidden in her apartment. Nolan is convinced one of them arranged for someone to steal them, and when the girl came in unexpectedly on the robber, he decided to kidnap her, demand a ransom, and keep the jewels for himself.
The case will bring Nolan up against police corruption, the Black Hand, and racist stevedores on the waterfront. And before he uncovers the truth, he must survive a biplane pursuit, a gun battle in the Tenderloin, and finally a deadly chase on the tracks beneath Grand Central Terminal.
“Deftly entertaining . . . Certain to be an immediate and popular addition to both the personal reading list of dedicated mystery buffs and community library mystery/suspense collections.” – MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW
“A classic whodunit . . . The author does a fantastic job at intertwining historical facts through this story. . . Progresses at a steady pace, giving just the right amount of clues and action to keep you entertained . . . Interesting and believable.” – READER VIEWS
“(John Nolan has) the quiet, self-possessed demeanor of a star detective with an understated talent for his craft and an appealing habit for being right when others are wrong. His slow, methodical investigation is fun to witness . . . Competently crafted, with a bevy of suspicious characters and a pleasing variety of bum leads . . . However, the most compelling aspect of the book is not who took a spoiled heiress or even Nolan himself, but, rather, how rich, poor, and working-class New Yorkers lived and interacted in the World War I era.” – MANHATTAN BOOK REVIEW
THE EASTER MAN
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Set in the early days of World War I before America entered the conflict, THE EASTER MAN is about a German plot to blow up dozens of ships while they sit in their berths in New York Harbor, freighters that will carry munitions and other war supplies to the Allies. The explosions are planned for the same day, Easter Sunday, 1916, with the intention of sending Americans an emphatic message to stay out of the fighting.
Hearing the rumor of a major bombing scheme and fearing their own undercover men are known by the Germans, New York City police officials turn to an outsider, John Nolan, a Brooklyn private detective and a recent arrival from Ireland, to go undercover to infiltrate the group behind the plot and bring a halt to it.
“Exceptionally well-written ... Especially recommended for historical mystery readers who will find the wartime era and New York City setting serve as realistic backdrops to a thoroughly engrossing struggle ... The Easter Man is the third John Nolan detective novel ... Newcomers need no prior familiarity to find the persona and actions of Detective Nolan involving and compelling.” – MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW
“A fun detective story: the good hero to root for and the villain to dislike... The plot does not lull ... (A) quick pace and easy writing style ... I suspect there will be more adventures to come (for John Nolan).” – MANHATTAN BOOK REVIEW
THE NATURAL HISTORY OF THE NORTHEAST STATES – A SERIES
Since 1994, Mike Nasuti, who is an illustrator, and I have published five guides to the natural history of individual Northeast states. See the BOOKS page for more information about them.