When The Poet’s Funeral, my first Guy Mallon mystery, was published in 2005, it got reviews kind enough to make a grown man weep. Best of all was a starred review in Publishers Weekly, which thrilled me because I’d written the book as a tribute to my colleagues in the publishing business.
The only negative review of The Poet’s Funeral that came to my attention was from the Contra Costa Times, whose main objection was that I called too much attention to the fact that my protagonist, Guy Mallon, who eventually became the series protagonist, was short. Real short. The reviewer was offended, and asked why size matters so much to me, the author of this book?
Well, yes, Guy is short. And it matters to him, mainly because it matters to other people. In fact he doesn’t think of himself as “short,” but rather as he counters, “I’m tall. Five feet tall.”
For an idea of what five feet tall looks like, think Mickey Rooney. Think Danny DeVito. You might notice that these two actors play cocky, hard-driven, competitive succeeders. You might say they overcompensate for their size.
Overcompensation plays a big role in a lot of mystery fiction. Consider Michael Connolly’s P.I. Dan Fortune: he has only one arm. Penny Warner’s Connor Westphal is deaf. Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe is overweight. James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux is a recovering-relapsing alcoholic with bouts of depression brought on by post traumatic stress syndrome. And the list goes on: the crippled sleuth, the dyslexic, the Tourettes sufferer, the broken-hearted, the forgetful senior, the woman in an otherwise all-male precinct… They all face difficult odds in addition to the usual danger in their quest to find the truth and right what’s wrong.
So it is with Guy, the shrimp. He has to stand up tall to get in the face of bullies, thugs, and domineering bosses. The odds are stacked against him, which makes his survival and success as a sleuth something to cheer for.
The newest Guy Mallon mystery, Behind the Redwood Door, has just been published. Here’s the blurb from the back cover, to give you a hint of what its about:
Guy and Carol Mallon own a used bookstore on the north coast of California, a land of rocky shores and redwood forests, with a rich history of gold, lumber, Native Americans, and hardy entrepreneurs. They are content with their small-town life until Pete Thayer, their friend and the publisher of the local alternative newspaper, is stabbed to death behind their favorite tavern. Urged on by Pete’s girlfriend, River Webster, Guy begins to poke around, uncovering a past festering with power politics, a newspaper war, a multigenerational family feud, marijuana traffic—and murder. Guy’s investigation takes him from the town square to the harbor to the forests and into the mountains, where he must confront evil in the form of a bully nearly twice his size.
BIOGRAPICAL STATEMENT John M. DanielPost Office Box 2790McKinleyville, California firstname.lastname@example.org John M. Daniel was born in Minnesota, raised in Texas, and educated in Massachusetts and California. He was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Creative Writing at Stanford University and a Writer in Residence at Wilbur Hot Springs. He has taught fiction writing at UCLA Extension and Santa Barbara Adult Education and was on the faculty of the Santa Barbara Writers Conference for nearly twenty years. He now teaches creative writing for Humboldt State University Extended Education. John’s stories have appeared in dozens of literary magazines. His thirteen published books include four mysteries: Play Melancholy Baby, The Poet’s Funeral, Vanity Fire, and Behind the Redwood Door, recently published by Oak Tree Press. John has worked as a bookseller, a free-lance writer, an editor, an entertainer, a model, an innkeeper, and a teacher. He and his wife, Susan, live in Humboldt County, California, where they are small-press book publishers. Susan enjoys gardening, John enjoys writing, and they both enjoy living with their wondercat, Warren.
www.johnmdaniel.comfacebook.johnmdaniel.com Behind the Redwood Door is sold by Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It can be ordered by your local independent bookseller, or bought directly from the publisher at http://www.oaktreebooks.com/. For an autographed copy, call John at 1-800-662-8351.