Monthly Archives: January 2014

MV Times Reviews Xoc

From the review of Xoc – The White Shark Murders

MV Times,1.27.14, Matt Pelikan

“…you’ll find all the furnishings you expect in a thriller: thick-skulled thugs, weapons, and electronic gizmos abound. The women are mostly beautiful and hot to trot; the men, mostly tough and either conflicted but good-hearted, or utterly depraved. The protagonist, though, is a notable exception to the book’s rather conventional characterization: Sam, a likeable war criminal, is complex and believably human, and his first-person narration supplies an engaging voice and perspective.

“The final chapters of this book kept me up past bedtime, and the twists aren’t quite over when you think they are.

“Interestingly, though, it wasn’t the Vineyard lore, the eco-activism, or the thriller elements that stuck with me most as I put the book down. While delivering on expectations for a fun read, Mr. West explores a serious human theme, and explores it quite thoughtfully. What is trust? How can we tell who deserves it, and how can we regain the capacity to trust when life has whacked it out of us?

“Mr. West set a stiff challenge for himself with Xoc, and he acquits himself honorably. If you’re a fan of thrillers, or of novels set on the Vineyard, this book is worth a read. You might even learn a little about sharks — or humans.”

Michael G. West, Author Talk

Thursday January 23 at 6 pm, Oak Bluffs Library

The Oak Bluffs Public Library agreed to host me in an Author Talk on Thursday January 23 at 6 pm. They’re saying this in the press:

“Noted island poet and author of murder mystery / thrillers will read from and discuss his two most recently published books, Dutch Reckoning (a spellbinding whodunnit about the Gardner Museum art theft) and Xoc – The White Shark Murders (about the annual Monster Shark tournament in Oak Bluffs in July).”

The books are on sale at the Bunch of Grapes, and if you’re off-island, you can find them on Amazon, both print and digital. If you can’t find one at the Bunch of Grapes – they do sell out there from time to time – I will bring a few copies, strictly emergency supplies, which I will gladly sign. Hope to see you there!

Out of the Basement and Into the Bunch of Grapes

Dutch Reckoning – Out of the Basement and Into the Bunch of Grapes

DUTCH RECKONING - for ebook and display online


 I picked up the phone and … called home.

 I was at SFO enroute to a mystery writer’s conference in Boulder, where that weekend I would meet the incomparable Kinky Friedman, who had a band called the Texas Jewboys. Kinky wrote mysteries like Elvis, Jesus and Coca-Cola, played host at his ranch to Abbie Hoffman, hiding him for two years when the 60s Yippee went underground on the run from the FBI. Later on Kinky ran for governor of Texas. I still have the autographed flat pick he gave me. On the phone my now ex-wife, well, one of my now three ex-wives, but my wife back then Cindy told me, “Your agent called, and Avon wants to do a three-book deal. She will fill you in on Monday.”

I had started writing Dutch Reckoning the previous summer on the Vineyard in a rental house on Crow Hollow Road in West Tisbury. I’d researched the Gardner Museum theft at the West Tisbury and Vineyard Haven libraries – this was 1994, and we didn’t have the Internet, most of us, anyway. I did have a reluctant sleuth, Tommy Shakespear, chasing bad guys from Boston to Barcelona and back to Santa Cruz, California, where we were living that winter.

Monday came and my agent called in the afternoon with the bad news. Avon had been acquired in a still-famous publishing industry merger. My soon-to-be editor had been shown the door. The three-book deal evaporated, and shortly after that my agent died of congestive heart failure.

Boxes of the Dutch Reckoning manuscript went into the basement, where mold soon worked its magic. Life went on, and got more complicated with job change, divorce, marriage, and more divorce. Then somehow this past fall I resurrected Dutch Reckoning on Amazon. That’s another story, but the beauty part is now my book is in print, on sale at the wonderful Bunch of Grapes bookstore, and if my dreams have lost some grandeur coming true, at least I get to talk to my handful of readers at Cronig’s Market in the produce aisle.