A blue-collar amateur crime solver and a hint of romance. Check out an excerpt from The Junkyard Dick by Gillespie Lamb as well as an author interview. Ask more questions in the comments as you follow the tour. Best of luck entering the giveaway!
Salvage yard operator and part-time sleuth Tak Sweedner is asked by a buddy, Roque Zamarripa, to investigate a murder. Tak says OK and for his trouble is assaulted with a tire iron. Then he’s run off the side of a cliff-the investigation really goes downhill at that point!
Tak calls up gal-pal Emma to help him and soon discovers his feelings for the woman go beyond palling around. When she asks him to give up his investigation and concentrate on her, Tak balks. She might better have asked a bulldog to give up its bone. It would be like quitting, Tak said, and he wasn’t a quitter.
Can this blue-collar crime-solver hang in there to get the bad guy… AND win his girl?
Read an excerpt:
Pushed off a mountain… The collision jarred me. I was thrown against the door, the steering wheel almost twisting from my hands. I regained control of the wheel, but not until the rollback had begun to drift off the pavement at an angle that I recognized was irreversible, not with that much momentum behind it. From instinct, I turned the wheel back toward the roadway. The loaded truck tipped right in response and began to roll over. I had lost the battle to stay upright. The ground seemed to tilt and the tumble down the long hillside began. The noise of what followed was nearly as excruciating as the physical pummeling. I thought my eardrums would burst from the shrill screech of metal being wrenched apart. The booming of steel sheeting repeatedly being smashed against rock was so terrible it scared me all by itself. Glass from the windshield sprayed me as it exploded under pressure. My eyes closed an instant before I felt my face pelted with the shards. Time and again, I was thrust against my seatbelt so hard that I expected the nylon either to part and send me flying or to bury itself in me like an extra diagonal rib. My jaw began to hurt after I banged my head against the door frame or the steering wheel or something unyielding while the truck and I tumbled and bounced. The noise level finally reached a crescendo and began to recede and the jolting ride morphed into what seemed like a long, long skid. And then nothing.
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Describe your book in one sentence or fewer than 25 words.
The Junkyard Dick in 25 words or less: “A salvage yard dealer and amateur sleuth chases a killer, catches the eye of an old flame, and is beaten and battered for his trouble.”
What was the inspiration behind this book?
After a friend who owned a salvage yard invited me to work for him temporarily, I gained new respect for junk metal and for the people who deal in it. I learned an old radiator is not an ugly thing; it’s the equivalent of a hundred bucks in copper. I began to appreciate the kind of mind that can look at an intact vehicle and parse its parts. It is the mind of a detective—a “dick” in old-school parlance—who reconstructs crimes and motives from nondescript clues laying about. That appreciation was the stimulus for an imagined Junkyard Dick.
What was one of your favorite scenes?
The novel’s principal character, Tak Sweedner, lives on a few ranching acres, the only livestock being his dog, Otis. He loves that dog. In one Sunday morning scene, the pair mosey through a back gate to walk acreage behind the barn. In the ensuing eight paragraphs, readers are introduced to southwest Texas landscape ornaments like blackbrush and sumac. Live oak trees and Beauty Berry shrubs that deer love and a guajillo thicket honeybees crave. Thorny amargosa shrubs and mesquite. Buffalo grass populated by black-tailed jackrabbits. The morning stroll through the semi-arid region’s flora is a pre-storm scene that I suspect some readers will thumb back and read again.
Will we see these characters again?
Tak, maybe. For all his impulsive charm, he’s a complicated guy. His buddy Roque Zamarripa has fewer idiosyncrasies and is solid in his own way. They might team up again in a future novel. Certainly, Tak has options. He’s a recognized “puzzler,” a man with a deductive and restless mind who has the respect of both law enforcement and smalltown rural Texas citizens. I wouldn’t put it past him to have further adventures. He’ll have to find another four-legged companion though.
Why should we read your book?
Glad you asked. I can offer two reasons. One: The Junkyard Dick is a good story well told. That’s a fact, not a brag. While it won’t be nominated as somebody’s Book of the Year, it might well become a favorite read of many people. It’s an agreeable novel. Second: It unfortunately is a stand-in for something larger. The story is set in Uvalde, Texas—yes, where the school shooting occurred this spring. Because the novel has a real sense of place, marketing the book after the horror of May became very problematic for me. To avoid the perception and reality of the author profiting from the tragedy, all royalties from the book plus a contribution from the publisher are going into a nonprofit organization I have set up. It eventually will fund creative writing programs for elementary-age children in and around Uvalde. So, I promote the book, and the book promotes the nonprofit. I couldn’t have imagined this happening, but here we are. You can learn more about the nonprofit and how you can help at storyinventorsclub.com.
Tell us about your other published works.
My first novel, published five years ago, was a middle-grades reader titled The Beamy Courage of Gerta Scholler. It is the tale of an eight-year-old girl who in the 1860s rides one of the “orphan trains” from New York City to a farm in Kansas. It is a story of gumption, faith and wonderment as seen through the eyes of an orphaned girl just trying to stay alive. I like Gerta and her spirit. I also had a hand in a nonfiction book that came out in July, The Aviation Pioneers of McCook Field. A flier friend is the principal author of the fascinating look at flying in the 1920s, but I helped him across the finish line. Both books are being well-received.
On what are you currently working?
I am in the polishing stage of a contemporary novel set in the Midwest. It’s the story of a middle-aged man who feels compelled to join the national conversation on cultural and political questions of the day. He’s not a firebrand, merely a concerned citizen who wants his voice heard rather than ignored as national movements rumble past his front door. The novel is not polemical, nor especially political, but it does address important issues through the lives of its characters. Oh, and it’s a love story, one that affirmatively answers the question: Is true love possible beyond the age of 40?
Gillespie Lamb developed writing skills as a newspaper reporter, editor and columnist before leaving journalism to become a freelancer and pursue less formulaic writing. He published his first novel in 2017, a middle-grades reader about a girl who rode an “orphan train” from New York City to Kansas. It is titled The Beamy Courage of Gerta Scholler. This second novel is his initial foray into the mystery genre. The setting of The Junkyard Dick is the rural Texas region where Lamb lives.
My latest novel, The Junkyard Dick, is a mystery set in Uvalde, Tex. It contains numerous allusions to Uvalde streets, restaurants, swimming in the Nueces, and so on, and positively characterizes this multicultural, county-seat town where I happen to live.
One week before I began marketing the book through my website (gillespielamb.com), Uvalde became a national byword for school shootings. A minor consequence of that tragedy is that suddenly my book became awkwardly positioned in the marketplace. Many people naturally will see promotion of a book about Uvalde at this time as shamelessly cashing in on the tragic event. I want neither the perception nor the reality of that.
So, I have created a nonprofit that will benefit elementary fiction-writing programs in Uvalde—or create such programs out of whole cloth. Any royalties I receive from the book will go into the fund along with contributions from the publisher, Black Rose Writing. That will just be seed money. I will be soliciting donations to the fund from the literary industry and associated artistic ventures, from local and regional community organizations and businesses, and from readers anywhere who find comfort, escape or inspiration in fiction.
I am calling the nonprofit “The Story Inventors Club,” which is appropriately juvenile so that it might appeal to young people. It will be dedicated to the proposition that young imaginations are capable of producing fictional stories of merit and enduring value. The hoped-for legacy of the Club would be creation of a new generation of prose (and poetry) to delight readers, and the instilling of enhanced cognitive, language and communication skills in some young people.
So, as a consequence of all of the above, I now will be promoting two things: (1) a novel that I believe in on its literary merits, and (2) a Club that I believe can build a new and creative legacy upon the ashes of misfortune.
For more information on this Club, please go here: https://www.storyinventorsclub.com/home
Gillespie Lamb will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.a Rafflecopter giveaway