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