Interview with ‘Cable Car Mystery’ Greg Messel

Greg MesselGreg Messel has spent most of his adult life interested in writing, including a career in the newspaper business. He won a Wyoming Press Association Award as a columnist and has contributed articles to various magazines. Greg lives in Edmonds, Washington on Puget Sound with his wife Jean DeFond.

Greg has written nine novels. His latest is “Cable Car Mystery” which is the sixth in a series of mysteries set in 1959 San Francisco. “Shadows In The Fog,” ”Fog City Strangler,” “San Francisco Secrets,” “Deadly Plunge” are sequels to the first book in the series “Last of the Seals.” His other three novels are “Sunbreaks,” “Expiation” and “The Illusion of Certainty.”

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About the Book:

On the hottest day of the year in San Francisco in 1959, Private Detectives Sam and Amelia Slater are contemplating fleeing the city for their Stinson Beach house. However, when Sam decides to take a cable car ride to run some errands on the lazy summer day, he’s Cable Carsuddenly thrust into the spotlight when he rescues a woman who fell onto the busy street. Sam pulls the mysterious red haired woman out of the path of an oncoming cable car in the nick of time. The entire incident is captured by a newspaper photographer who splashes Sam’s heroics all over the front page. Sam is troubled not only by his new status as a city hero, but by the rescued woman’s plea for help. She whispers to Sam that she didn’t fall from the cable car but was pushed. She is frightened and disappears into the crowd before Sam can get more details. A San Francisco newspaper launches a campaign to find the mystery woman and Sam hopes to cross paths with her again.

Meanwhile, Amelia is troubled by the sudden disappearance of her elderly neighbor. Two thuggish younger men who now occupy the house next door say he took a sudden trip. One night when she’s alone Amelia grabs a flashlight and finds some disturbing clues in her neighbor’s garage. What really happened to her neighbor? Amelia is determined to find out.

Award winning author Greg Messel spins a new tale of intrigue in Cable Car Mystery, the sixth book in the Sam Slater Mystery series set in at the 1950s in San Francisco.

For More Information

  • Cable Car Mystery is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

What made you decide to become a published author?

The challenge of being disciplined enough to write a book and to be able to create a fictional world. I am constantly learning more about the book business and find it fascinating. I’ve been writing novels for eight years or so and the book industry has changed drastically in that amount of time.

Would you consider your latest book, “Cable Car Mystery,” to be a one of a kind?  How so?

Yes I would. The time period and San Francisco setting are unique. There are a lot of interesting things going on in 1958 and 1959. It’s a different world from the one we live in now. I try to accurately reflect their lifestyles and perspectives.

Where is your writing sanctuary?

I live in Seattle where there are a lot of gray, rainy days—especially in the winter. I think it is the perfect atmosphere for writing. I have a private office in my house with many of my favorite things in it. My wife calls it my “writing den” and she recently bought a 1930s vintage typewriter for me. It is a decor item and I don’t write my books on it. I have spent many hours on just such a typewriter but I can’t imagine writing a book using a typewriter now.

What inspires you?

When a reader tells you how much they enjoyed your book. That’s incredible. I remember doing a book signing at a Borders and it was an unbelievable rush to see people at the check out line with your book under their arm. I got a message from a woman on social media who told me that her husband was wounded in Iraq and she would go to the hospital and read one of my books to him. That one blew me away. How do you top that?  The soldier was from San Francisco and that’s what attracted him to my books.

Why do you love to write mysteries?

I love how the story evolves as you write. Most of my books turn out differently than I originally imaged. It is really challenging to think of a mystery and then think about how the characters will solve the puzzle. There is the additional writing task of thinking about how to slowly reveal it to the reader. You need to give the reader all the clues and not cheat but at the same time make it suspenseful. I love the Alfred Hitchcock philosophy about suspense. It is scary when in a dark house you hear footsteps on the stairs. That is often more frightening that what is actually on the stairs. It is the unknown which is suspenseful.

What’s one fun fact about your book people should know?

On the day when fictional Sam Slater saves the woman who fell off the cable car, the real actor George Reeves was shot to death in Los Angeles. Reeves played Superman on television at the time. There is a lot of controversy about whether Reeves death was a suicide or murder. In my fictional book, the characters comment how “Superman is dead” and Sam’s heroics pushed him off the front page. Reeves’ death is the central story line of the 2006 movie “Hollywoodland” starring Ben Affleck and Adrien Brody.

Aside from writing, what’s your passion?

I enjoy gardening and love to run outside in Edmonds, Washington, in the Seattle area on the Puget Sound. I love movies and try to see one or two a week.

What’s next for you?

I’m working on two books. One is the next one in the Sam Slater Mystery series which will be called “San Francisco Nights.” I think it’s going to be a better whodunit than any book I’ve written so far. I’m really pleased with how it’s progressing. I’m also working on a book that I’m really excited about. It’s the story of a young reporter who becomes caught up in the anti-war movement in Berkeley in 1968. He is also assigned to cover the 1968 presidential campaign and much of the story occurs against the backdrop of Robert Kennedy’s final days and ultimately his assassination. The title will be “Dreams That Never Were.”

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