SOLDIER'S GAP was my first serious effort at writing a novel. It took me about six months to write the first draft and another five years to rewrite it, 23 times, a rather inexact number, considering you rework the beginning many more times. I just finished reading a biography of JD Salinger. One of his goals was to totally eliminate himself from his books. Considering all the stuff about Buddhism in most of his stuff, I doubt that's possible. Anyway, I'll wager to say there's a little bit of me in every single character in SOLDIER'S GAP including the dog, and a lot in the protagonist, Dave Jenkins. SOLDIER'S GAP is a murder mystery with a different slant. It's more mystical and funny than puzzling, not that it's not a "who done it" as well. I don't really believe in ghosts, but they sure are a lot of fun to read and write about. I sure hope you give this "ghost story" a try.
Why Read SOLDIERíS GAP
1. Itís mystical. Lots of stuff in there about the Mescalero Indians (who believe in ghosts), although itís set in Minnesota.
2. Theme: There are lots of them, unusual for a mystery novel, but I guess the main one is that good kids fall through the cracks and often seek advice from people they consider cool rather than their parents or their teachers.
3. Characterization: Some editors recommend keeping the number down to around a dozen or so, but Iíd say I must have over a hundred in SOLDIERíS GAP, if you want to count the dogs and other animals.
4. The reviewers say it's really funny. A murder mystery shouldnít be funny? Who says? Donald Westlake is funny. Ed McBain is funny. Even Stephen King is funny. Anyway, thatís the compliment I get most often in Amazon reviews. The relationship between protagonist Dave Jenkins and Mingo Jones, the Mescalero night deputy is especially droll.
5. There are some strong women characters for you ladies. The mayor of the town is a woman, and when she says jump, the men say, ďHow high?Ē Dave Jenkinsís girlfriend plays shortstop for his softball team, and sheís the best player on the team. She's also a member of the volunteer fire department.
6. Thereís a boy genius for you Harry Potter fans; he helps Dave Jenkins solve the murder of the local high school principal. He's also in love with one of the murder suspects.
7. Unless youíre really quick, you wonít be able to figure out who done it until the murderer is actually apprehended, and there are at least a dozen suspects, including the school superintendent who was having an affair with the principalís wife.
8. Lots of sub plots. The sheriff, Harry Kline, canít do his job anymore and he tells terrible jokes and smokes too much. His main competition is Dave Jenkins, who, as I said, dates his daughter. Dave is also still in love with his high school sweetheart.
9. The story is set in the Red River Valley, sugar beet country for those of you who know Minnesota. The river also runs north which is even stranger. The town also has an odd name, SOLDIER, named after the civil war soldiers, including Colonel Colvill, hero of the Battle of Gettysburg (poetic license) who settled the town. Thereís a weird statue of him in the town square whose eyes seems to follow you around.
10. Lots of Minnesota curiosities. We have 10,000 lakes, an Indian heritage (Ojibwas and Sioux), lots of Germans and Scandinavians and weird accents. The stuff in ďFargoĒ isnít too far wrong.
Anyway, thanks for tolerating my self promotion, and if youíve got the time, please read the reviews at Amazon.com.†††