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What if Michael Jordan played one secret pickup game in summer 1996 to pay off a debt so big it would get him banned from the NBA for life? What if that game was on a private court in Malta, and Jordan’s parting gift was a jewel-encrusted pair of Jordan 11s for the king, a pair of shoes so special and rare that they could be worth millions—if they exist?

Follow Jack Palms on a hunt from San Francisco to Hawaii and back across the country as he tracks the man who knows the truth about these shoes, a felon who just skipped bond to chase his dream—and the mythical pair of sneakers that can only go by one name.

The Big Thrill caught up to Seth Harwood to discuss his latest novel, THE MALTESE JORDANS:

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

A fun romp around the world in search of the world’s most exquisite and rare pair of Michael Jordan game-worn sneakers. It’s like Romancing the Stone with sneakers.

What attracts you to this book’s genre?

I love crime fiction. The single man set against the world. Jack Palms is this man but he’s much more tarnished than Hammett or Chandler ever envisioned. He’s come through a bad drug addiction, a stint as an actor in Hollywood, and now he’s just doing what he can to get by. He’s part Jack Reacher and part C. W. Sughrue.

What was the biggest challenge this book presented? What about the biggest opportunity?

The biggest challenge was staying current on Sneakerhead lore, sneaker releases, and sneaker facts. Talk about a rabbit hole! I went down it and happily was able to return. And my collection of kicks remains below 10 pairs.

And that was the big opportunity as well: getting to really get into my love of sneakers, past and present. Turns out the models I coveted and loved as a high school and college player are the same Jordans that kids covet now. All the retro models are back. So I loved it. The research was so fun—looking into the sneakers and the semi-fictional love of 1990s NBA championships.

Without spoilers, are there any genre conventions you wanted to upend or challenge with this book?

The idea that the story of the MacGuffin can’t be as exciting as the book’s characters.


Seth Harwood is the author of six novels and two short story collections. After stints in the commodities trading industry, rare book cataloging, and bartending, he attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He now lives in Massachusetts and teaches creative writing online for Harvard and Stanford.

To learn more about Seth and his work, please visit his website.


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