The virtual launch of The Secret Lives of Dentists on April 27 was great fun and, according to Once Upon a Crime Books in Minneapolis, a commercial success, with about 80 readers checking in from as far away as New York and Florida. My thanks, again, to Devin and her team at the store, author Larry Millett for joining me “on stage,” and the many guests who asked good questions and ordered books. While I’ve enjoyed the in-person launches of my previous books, this program, via Crowdcast, proved to be a very satisfying as well as necessary alternative. I’ve attached a link to the presentation for those who missed it: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/wa-winter-the-secret
You can still order signed copies of the book at onceuponacrimebooks.indielite.org.
IN THE WORKS
I’m happy to announce that Seventh Street Books, publisher of The Secret Lives of Dentists, will publish my next book, tentatively titled My Name Is Joe LaVoie, in 2022. Like its predecessor, Joe LaVoie was inspired by a sensational Minneapolis crime during the 1950s. It is the story of a hardscrabble, “can’t-win-for-losing” crime family and a trio of wannabe gangster brothers who terrorize the Twin Cities during a three-month orgy of car theft, armed robbery, and murder. Following the slaying of a young police officer, the LaVoies become the object of the most intense manhunt in Minnesota history. The dragnet climaxes in a wild shootout that leaves two of the brothers dead and the third in a wheelchair. Almost four decades later, on the day he will die, Joe LaVoie recalls the tumultuous history of his ill-omened family.
Here’s a taste:
And then we go in.
I feel like I’m stepping into a freezer. The store is air-conditioned, still a novelty in those days, and passing from the heat and humidity into that dry, frozen interior almost takes my breath away. I do exactly what Jack told me to do—stride down the aisle to the rear of the store, past the white-haired guy behind the counter up front and past a display of magazines where the face of Marilyn Monroe on the cover of Life catches my eye. The store isn’t big, and I’m almost at the back where there’s the prescription counter and a door, and coming out of the door just the way Jack said he might is the kid, who has a head like a melon and no eyebrows and you can see right away he’s not a hundred percent. The kid is carrying a mop in one hand and a bucket in the other, and when I yell, “Put your hands up!” he just looks at me without an expression on his face.
I can hear Jack talking sharp to the white-haired man in front, saying, “Open it up now!” or “Hurry up and open it!”—something along those lines.
I say to the kid, “Put your goddamn hands up!” but he doesn’t do anything except look at me with his blank face. I remember wondering if I was dreaming. I realize that I’m shivering, whether from excitement or from the air-conditioning I don’t know, and I’m going to tell the kid that if he doesn’t drop the mop and bucket and put his fucking hands up I’m going to drill him. Then I see that he’s peeing in his pants. He’s wearing baggy khaki trousers, and I see a wide dark stain running down his right leg and a second later there’s a puddle on the linoleum floor. I remember feeling sorry for the kid, thinking, Well, he’ll have to mop the mess up himself, and knowing there’s no way I’m going to shoot an idiot boy who’s just pissed all over the floor where he works.
At that moment I hear Jack shout, “Hey, Buck, let’s go!” and realize that I’m “Buck” so I do a quick about-face and stride back up the aisle past Marilyn Monroe and the white-haired man who without looking at him directly I can tell has got his hands up. I’m relieved because that means Jack hasn’t clubbed or shot him.
Then faster than I can give it a thought I’m out past Jack who’s holding the door, and I’m back in the heat and diving hat-first into the front seat of the Dodge whose door Bernard has flung open from inside. The Dodge’s engine is running hot and Bernard is saying something I don’t catch, and then the back door flies open and Jack dives into the back seat.
Bernard behind the wheel slams the car into gear and in what seems like a blink of an eye the three of us with our guns and gangster getups and triumphant shouts are flying around the corner onto Nicollet.