Jersey Shore broker Austin Carr wants out of the stock and bond business but un-hooking from his mobbed-up partner won’t be painless. Angelina “Mama Bones” Bonacelli is best known for professional consultations that deteriorate into criminal violence, breakfast appointments raided by the FBI and one particular Power Point presentation to a Jersey state racing commission that ended in automatic weapons fire.
Good thing she likes Austin.
She just won’t let Austin out of the business. Plus Johnny “The Turk” Korsay is on a rampage and had his crooked cops arrest Luis, the bartender Austin’s best friend. Why? Because Austin saw The Turk kill Heriberto. And now he’s gunning for the stock broker.
It’s another brush with violent death and a sexy redhead for Austin Carr when Mama Bones and her rival Jersey associate of a fading New York crime family battle for the future of imported sex slaves, boardwalk tourist business and surprising horse racing secrets, past and present.
“Big Shoes is a five-star romp.”
—Rick Bylina, best-selling author of One Promise Too Many
I’m mailing my self-described “Indian book” to Down & Out Books this month. Finally, after twenty years working on the often-changed story. Four different male protagonists didn’t work; three heroes and a fascinating villain. What worked was applying an attribute of Big Shoes’ Mama Bones to a secondary female player, making her the new female protagonist. Can you guess what that quality was?
An early version of my Indian book attracted an agent, but she sidetracked me onto the Austin Carr novels. Glad she did; I love Austin. But I never forgot my Indian book, so years later I tried a new version of the Indian book and a new agent. First thing, she asked if I would consider expanding the role of a secondary female character. The character’s name was Maggie, a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force.
I had created Maggie as a device, someone in the military to lose a dangerous weapon. My lead character, an Indian who wants to act like Nastaska, needed something with which to threaten the establishment. But I didn’t want to make my novel Maggie’s story. I wanted to keep it the Indian book. Maybe I was intimidated to write from a young woman’s POV. For some reason, channeling an old lady like Mama Bones had been relatively easy, while a young vibrant woman with — gasp — sexual feelings seemed frightening.
Then a New York editor told me the same thing: Your Indian story is Maggie’s tale. Him and my agent? I gave in and tried. Mama Bones had already taught me men and women are much less different than fearful writers think. Inside every human is a beating heart, and that person feels and wants and worries. On most basic levels, we’re all alike.
But I needed to make my female Air Force Colonel more like Mama Bones, a tough lady based on a few Italian mothers I know, all of them like the mother of former Yankee star and manager, Billy Martin. In his biography NUMBER ONE, Billy opens with a story about his mom that is illustrative: Seems the Martin’s neighbor yelled at Billy and made him cry, all for just riding his tricycle across the property line. Billy told his mom what happened, and she immediately walked him next door, rang the bell. When the offending neighbor opened up, Mom said nothing. She just punched him in nose.
“Take no crap from nobody,” Mom Martin told her son.
Sounds like Mama Bones to me. And when I applied that trait to a younger Colonel Maggie, I had a thriller with a female lead that kicks butt. Down & Out Books hasn’t scheduled a release date, but COLONEL MAGGIE AND THE BLACK KACHINA should be out in the second half of 2017.
Former L.A. Times reporter Jack Getze is Fiction Editor for Anthony nominated Spinetingler Magazine, one of the internet’s oldest websites for noir, crime and horror short stories. His award-winning Austin Carr mystery series is published by Down & Out Books. The latest, BIG SHOES, won Deadly Ink’s David Award for Best Mystery of 2015. His short fiction has appeared in A Twist of Noir, Beat to a Pulp, The Big Adios and several anthologies.