By Cathy Clamp
Edgar award winning writer David Housewright is known for consistently engrossing mysteries, and the tenth installment in his popular Rushmore McKenzie series is no exception. Even though Minnesota ex-cop McKenzie really doesn’t need the money from taking jobs, he misses putting bad guys behind bars where they belong. So when the ATF approaches him and ask him to help find a cache of stolen firearms, he can’t help but say yes. But things take an awkward turn when instead of the band of vicious crime lords he was expecting to find taking the guns, the thieves are part of a struggling family, including retirees who lost their life savings who have little to lose in their attempt to survive. In typical Housewright style, things go from bad to hilariously worse as McKenzie begins to care what happens to the family when real crime lords, along with crooked cops, want in on the scheme. Taking on the serious subjects of gun running and corporate downsizing while blending in deft humor and action, this book satisfies on multiple levels.
Big Thrill editor Cathy Clamp sat down with the two time winner of the Minnesota Book Award to talk about his inspiration and what’s next in the series:
You’re digging right into the headlines for the topic of this book. What sparked your interest in writing about this subject?
While touring a book, I met an elderly man in a small town in the Iron Range of northern Minnesota. He had done quite well for himself and was looking forward to his retirement. The plan was the sell his house and use the proceeds to buy a house in a bigger city. But when the time came, he found he couldn’t get anyone to buy his house – a four bedroom house and he was willing to sell it for $40,000 yet there were no takers. That’s because all the jobs had moved away and what few people who were left in town couldn’t find work – the community had a high school built for 2,000 yet had only 160 students attending.
Did you learn anything interesting or odd while researching this book that the readers would like to know, whether or not it made it into the book?
The book deals primarily with the desperation of the unemployed in an area of Minnesota where there are simply no jobs to be had. Yet it could take place in nearly any small town that is dependent on a single industry or business. One of the things I found interesting, isn’t just the effect unemployment has on individuals, but on the entire community. How residents react to each other as well as how the city or town copes. There are many small communities that are one disaster away from bankruptcy – a damaged sewer pipe, a lost roof on a municipal building, a major fire. Life can be very precarious for a lot of people and I wanted to write about how they deal – or don’t deal – with it.
This is the tenth book in this popular series. Do you foresee an end in sight, or do you have plenty more ideas for the intrepid McKenzie?
After I finish a manuscript, i always think, “That’s it, I have nothing more to say.” But I always seem to come up with something new. The next book – THE DEVIL MAY CARE – is already at the publishers.
What’s next for the detective? Any major life changes coming up for fans to look forward to?
I hate to give anything away, but… Mckenzie’s relationship with long-time squeeze Nina Truhler is about to change dramatically.
Will you be doing any signings as part of the release? If so, where? If not, how can fans get an autographed copy of the book?
I’ll be doing signings through the Midwest. If you want to make sure you get an autographed copy, though, I suggest readers contact my friends at Once Upon A Crime Mystery Bookstore in Minneapolis. They’ve always taken good care of me and my fans.
Where can readers find you online (Website, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
I’m nothing if not sociable. Readers can find me on Twitter at @DHousewright, on Facebook and my website.
Is there anything else you’d like readers to know, in case this is the first book they’ve picked up by you?
THE LAST KIND WORD is 10th in the series and McKenzie has aged approximately five years since the first book – A HARD TICKET HOME. Yet, you don’t need to read the books in order to appreciate what’s going on. In fact, this is an excellent place to jump into the series because much of McKenzie’s history and his relationships are explained as the story progresses.
A reformed newspaper reporter and ad man, David Housewright has published 15 crime novels. His book PENANCE (Foul Play Press) earned the 1996 Edgar Award for Best First Novel from the Mystery Writers of America and was nominated for a Shamus in the same category by the Private Eye Writers of America. He has won three Minnesota Book Awards for PRACTICE TO DECEIVE (1998), JELLY’S GOLD (2010) and CURSE OF THE JADE LILY (2013). (His novels TIN CITY, THE TAKING OF LIBBIE, SD, and THE DEVIL AND THE DIVA were nominated for the same prize, yet did not win.
To learn more about David, please visit his website.