Stairway to Nowhere Release

goldsborough-stairwayBetween 2005 and 2010, I was privileged to publish, through Echelon Press, five mystery novels featuring Steve “Snap” Malek, a police reporter for the Chicago Tribune, which happens to be an old employer of mine. These books, set in Chicago between 1938 and 1949, chronicle Malek’s adventures while investigating murders, and in the process, he runs into both fictional characters and famous people of the era. These legends include Al Capone, actress Helen Hayes, baseball star Dizzy Dean, architect Frank Lloyd Wright, nuclear physicist Enrico Fermi, President Harry Truman, ill-starred carmaker Preston Tucker, and Walt Disney.

Now, after a gap of seven years, I have published another Malek volume, “Stairway to Nowhere, A Snap Malek Reader.” It consists of the title novella plus five shorter Malek stories. “Stairway” itself takes place in the Chicago of the mid-20th century and is set against a racially changing district on the city’s sprawling South Side. Like my previous Malek stories, this fictional tale also brings in some historical characters, including a famous black preacher of the era. “Stairway to Nowhere” is available through Amazon, as are my five previous Malek books: “Three Strikes You’re Dead”; “Shadow of the Bomb”; “A Death in Pilsen”; “A President in Peril”; and “Terror at the Fair.”

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From Chicago History Comes Well-Aged Mystery   

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I was a police reporter only for a brief spell at the beginning of a journalism career that spanned 44 years, but it was long enough to create a permanent impression of the experience that enabled me to develop police reporter-protagonist Steve “Snap” Malek.

My five Malek mysteries from Echelon Press are set in Chicago between 1938 and 1949 and are set against the backdrop of real events, among them the Chicago Cubs’ classic 1938 pennant race, the early work on the atomic bomb at the University of Chicago in 1942, the tragic Naperville, IL. train wreck of 1946, and the historic 1948 presidential campaign between Harry Truman and Thomas E. Dewey.

Now my brief time as a police reporter took place in 1959, well after the time frame of the Malek stories, but the Chicago of the late ’50s was little changed from the two preceding decades. In my books, I felt comfortable describing the sprawling city, the newspaper business, and the police department that existed in a slightly earlier time.

My fictional “Snap” Malek (so nicknamed because he always wears a snap-brim hat) interacts with many historical figures, including Al Capone, actress Helen Hayes, baseball pitcher Dizzy Dean, star-crossed automaker Preston Tucker, newspaper magnate Col. Robert R. McCormick, President Truman, future Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley, and filmmaker/cartoonist Walt Disney.

Malek, who possesses what other describe as “essential brashness,” is not intimidated by coming in contact with these and other well-known figures, which is one of the hallmarks of newspaper reporters. To them, famous persons are useful because the help make the story headline-worthy.

The Steve “Snap” Malek Series:

  1. Three Strikes You’re Dead”  (Set in 1938)
  2. Shadow of the Bomb” (1942)
  3. A Death in Pilsen” (1946)
  4. A President in Peril” (1948)
  5. Terror at the Fair” (1949)

The Order of Things

murder-stage-left-goldsboroughThe arrival this month of “Murder, Stage Left” marks the publication of my 17th mystery novel. Below, in the order they were written in each series, are the titles.

Please note that while the Snap Malek mysteries are best read in sequence, it is far less important that my Nero Wolfe books be read in any order.)

Nero Wolfe Mysteries

  1. Murder in E Minor
  2. Death on Deadline
  3. Fade to Black
  4. The Bloodied Ivy
  5. The Last Coincidence
  6. Silver Spire
  7. The Missing Chapter
  8. Archie Meets Nero Wolfe
  9. Murder in the Ballpark
  10. Archie in the Crosshairs
  11. Stop the Presses!
  12. Murder, Stage Left

Snap Malek Chicago Mysteries

  1. Three Strikes You’re Dead
  2. Shadow of the Bomb
  3. A Death in Pilsen
  4. A President in Peril
  5. Terror at the Fair

 

Terror at the Fair

Terror at the Fair by Robert Goldsborough
A Snap Malek Mystery Book 5

It’s the summer of 1949 and Steve “Snap” Malek has been assigned by his editors to cover the Chicago Railroad Fair. For three months this sprawling and lavish event will draw visitors to the showcase on the city’s beautiful Lakefront. Malek, used to getting his headlines covering the gritty Police Headquarters, sees this as the first step in being put out to pasture. Deciding that a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do, he accepts the assignment, grumbling all the while.

However, violence has a way of finding the intrepid Snap Malek, even in this least likely of locales. Striking indiscriminately, a killer bearing a grudge against railroads in general, threatens to shut down the highly publicized and well-attended national exposition with a series of bizarre murders.

Before this reign of terror ends, famed filmmaker Walt Disney enters the scene with a theory about the killer, and Malek himself, bloodied and wounded, becomes a target of the madman’s wrath.

Excerpt:

Prologue

He had laid the last of the iron bars in place across the rails, making sure their positioning would cause the ancient and relatively lightweight locomotive to derail and crash, taking with it the open-side excursion coaches crowded with fairgoers. He checked his watch again: twenty minutes until the next train came by, and it always ran on schedule.

This being the darkest stretch along the line, the lethal bars on the track wouldn’t be seen by some chance passerby, not that people walked in this remote area of the fairgrounds anyway.

His work done, he stepped back into a cluster of bushes and knelt to wait, feeling the bulge in his hip pocket. He felt comforted to have it there, although it seemed beyond the realm of possibility it would be needed. No, this would be simple and efficient, the final act in his crusade.

It is almost over now, Papa. Just a few more minutes…

He heard something–footsteps? No, probably just leaves on a tree along the tracks rustling in the breezes wafting off Lake Michigan on the August night. There they came again, louder this time. Definitely footsteps! Perhaps one of the janitorial crew. They seemed very good about picking up rubbish. Whoever it was would have moved on long before the train came along.

He saw the beam of light before he saw the figure. A silhouetted man carrying a flashlight walked slowly along the tracks, playing the light back and forth, back and forth, until its yellow halo rested upon the iron bars. The interloper with the flashlight squatted down to study the bars, then began picking them up and tossing them off the tracks.

He rose from his crouch in the bushes and wrapped his hand around the pistol in his jacket pocket. He walked toward the man, whom he now recognized, and called to him by name, pulling the weapon out. So now, one more must die.