Friday, September 21, 2018

A Good Read For What Doesn't Happen

"A Different Place To Die" by Tracy E. Johnson   300 pages  $9.99
"A pulp fiction tour-de-force that takes self-destructive ex-Marine Jake Kowalski from the high-tech world of 2017 and puts him on the mean streets of 1947."

What doesn't happen is a space ship lands and abducts him or a mad scientist says, "Step into this machine I made … (steps in)  "Oh, forgot to tell you it's a time machine!  have a good trip!"

Kowalski gets drunk - he's bored, depressed … and a couple of guys in the bar take umbrage and a royal battle ensues, climaxing (so to speak) with Kowalski spending the night in jail, celled with "a little old man" an on-going character which is never mentioned by any other phrase.  When he wakes up, he's in a glass box wondering what it is.  It's a phone booth.  In 1947  and the little old man escorts him to a diner for a cup of coffee.

How did he  get there?  How did this happen?  Never explained because Johnson is clever enough to go right to the action.

The author didn't give me permission to quote this, the first paragraph of the first page of chapter 1, but we're friends (fellow Writers Workshop members from 19 years ago) so I'm going to risk it.

" It all started when I shot that guy's dick off.  No, I'm too far ahead, that came later and technically I didn't shoot it completely. ..that's beside the point and it started before that.  It started when I entered that dive bar. It was a nasty place where you could expect nasty things to happen."

Johnson has clearly done a lot of research on 1947 times and his amazement at what isn't there (television, cell phones, computers) with what is - radios that have to warm up; great lumbering cars, doctors that willingly make house calls (which comes in handy considering the outcome of some of his encounters)... and a thorough knowledge of WW2, what people wore - men wore hats!  That weren't backwards baseball caps and a great deal more and he does it all with a sense of awe and humor.

This is a really good read with believable characters, a true sense of "being there" and more than healthy doses of smart ass repartee.  Romantics will enjoy the love story of Kowalski and Esmerelda and - spoiler sort of - a happy ending for all of the major characters.

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