Authors Showcase: The Mysteries of Bob Joswick and Jimmy Olsen
August 3, 2013
The Book: The Circus
The Author: Bob Joswick
The story begins in a small, Western Pennsylvania coal mining town in the mid 1950’s, seemingly far removed from where it concludes in a raging firestorm in Southern California. A constant flow of action and quirky individuals such as a ruthless circus clown and a beguiling, dwarf detective complicate the story.
Sam Simon, a retired mine geologist, and his friend, Doc Martin, are targeted for revenge by a coldblooded former cop and past nemesis. It starts with the surprise arrival of Doc’s long missing car and the discovery of a body in its trunk. To unravel the clues, they enlist the aid of a wealthy zoo veterinarian, Lenora Jaminson, who provides advice and the use of her private airplane.
The search for answers takes them to a misplaced, out of season circus where they are nearly eaten by a trio of caged tigers. Their rescue, by the dwarf Japanese American private eye, Jake Ozaki, leads them on an adventure, discovering illegal gold and the stolen lives of a California Japanese family after they are forced into an internment camp by unscrupulous soldiers at one onset of World War II.
In Southern California, Sam, Doc and Lenora encounter a mysterious and emotionally scarred Uno Koba, a near recluse who raises earthworms. He quickly becomes the center of their search. The powerful forces of raging fires, fueled by Santa Ana winds complicate the story and help expose the secrets of a greedy business man behind the deception.
About the Author: Bob Joswick grew up in the shadows of a Western Pennsylvania coal mine, and was raised in a coal mining family. Graduated from The University of Tulsa and later earned a Masters of Business Administration. Went on to become a college and NFL football player, after that a salesman and manager for a Fortune 50 company.
Has published a number of articles for a regional, Southern California magazine as well as a National Publication.
Along with his wife, Janie, a retired teacher, they enjoy motorcycles and have ridden every canyon and mountain road in Southern California. They live in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, where Bob studies English literature at The University of Tulsa.
Review by S. E. Amos: Somewhere between The Maltese Falcon and The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is the fictive universe in which the characters of The Circus by Bob Joswick resides. Sam and Doc don’t stumble into trouble as much as it attacks them … in nearly every chapter. It’s almost like someone doesn’t like them.
Joswick did a great job researching the book, both the Pennsylvania of 1957 and Southern California during WW II and afterward. The story pops out as “real” but the characters always surprise, whether it is the dwarf detective, the one-legged woman, the evil clown, or one of many others. Action is constant in this book, but also is Joswick’s insight into character and motive.
This is a fun read and also a satisfying one. I recommend to all mystery readers.
The Book: Poison Makers
The Author: Jimmy Olsen
The Story: Poison Makers, like Jimmy Olsen’s first mystery Things In Ditches, is a story peopled with the disturbed and the comic, making Poison Makers very much like Ditches, but as little like it as rural Minnesota is unlike urban Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
Olsen’s writing is consistent – even more polished – discovering in the character of Edgar Espinosa-Jones (EJ) an urgent and compelling examination of personal dichotomy. EJ is a man locked beneath the skin of two cultures, two natures, and a rush of demanding emotions. He makes the perfect detective, stumbling along the roads of discovery, tripping over his own sentiment – burdened with lovers, fatal friends and family.
Unlike Ditches, a sort of Lake Wobegon gone bad, Poison Makers pulls the reader through a 1970s Pirates of the Caribbean experience beginning with voodoo, zombies, international intrigue, a suspicious girl and the odd death of her father, the U.S. Ambassador. The plot moves from Santo Domingo to Haiti, Washington, D.C., New York City, and back again.
Like Ditches, this is not the conventional mystery. Yet it is. The body, the puzzle, the who-done-it. Olsen has managed once again to capture sense of place without sacrificing motion or surprise. And another twisted coda to end on.
About the Author: Jimmy Olsen is an award-winning author and journalist. His weekly humor column won First Place from the Minnesota Newspaper Association, his short story Wormwood won Second Place in Glimmer Train Stories national fiction contest (2005), and his first novel, Things In Ditches, was chosen by The Mystery Bookstore in Los Angeles as book-of-the-month for
August, 2001. His stories appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and Caribbean, where he lived, taught, and operated a scuba business. Those who discover Olsen’s work find it unpretentious, crafted by an experienced author who enjoys his work and likes to surprise and put a smile on a reader’s face.
Review by E. Hanson: In this thrilling murder mystery Olsen takes us into the dark world of voodoo. EJ, a detective for hire is on the trail of Ambassador, Adam Quist’s murderers in a death that does not appear to be a murder at all. As EJ gets closer to the truth, his family and loved ones come into danger, and it appears that not everything is as it seems!
A great read, Olsen comes through again! If you enjoy suspenseful mysteries, you’ll enjoy Poison Makers. Pick it up today.