April, 2015 – Edition 1
Mark MacFarland has been described as a “wounded, dysfunctional Noir Private Eye,” but he is clearly more than that.
He is a champion of those who have no power, those who get bypassed by the system because they don’t have the resources to defend themselves. While MacFarland also lacks the usual resources and tools available to law enforcement, he does have access to something else: a network of the fringe people, the ones MacFarland refers to as “the invisible people.”
Most of these are the members of the disenfranchised class, the homeless, the poor, but the group also includes the outsiders, and those people who live at the bottom of the economic ladder. MacFarland finds ways to use these people to help each other, living up to one of MacFarland’s core values: that everyone is important and deserves a fair shake.
In many respects, MacFarland is an under-achiever. He grew up in a household in which he was forced to compete with his older brother, and found to his dismay that he couldn’t. At least in the eyes of his father. Ironically, it is Mark MacFarland who most emulated his father, while his “successful” older brother Robert turned his back on everything his father valued. Like most childhood rivalries, this senseless competition continues even into adulthood. One of the things we will watch for is to see if these two children ever grow into adulthood.
Throughout his career as a private eye (and it should be pointed out that MacFarland is not a licensed private investigator), he encounters a lot of situations and crimes that touch on broader issues. In Avid Angler, he deals with business rivalries and police cover-ups. In Busty Ballbreaker, he discovers the world of corporate fraud. In the Crying Camper, he has to confront child prostitution. One of the goals of the Hot Dog Detective series is to bring to light many of the social ills that confront contemporary society, with particular emphasis on how those problems affect the fringes of society.
On the Condiments Tray
When I started writing the Hot Dog Detective series, I wasn’t exactly sure what segment of the mystery genre it fit in.
As I worked my way through the first couple of books in the series, I began to suspect that the series leaned in the direction of cozy mysteries, with a few major exceptions. The primary differences are that the hero is a man, rather than a woman; and the locale is downtown Denver, rather than a quaint village. Other than that, the series does conform to many of the traits of a cozy mystery.
The characteristics I associate with cozy mysteries have been described very nicely by Nancy Curteman, who may not be an expert, but sure seems like one to me.
Bloodless murders – There is a minimum of blood and gore (although the stories are largely about murder, so there has to be some, but it often occurs more offstage).
No sex, violence, or coarse language – There is little sex in the stories, much to MacFarland’s chagrin. On the other hand, the stories are realistic enough in their use of language that they might offend some readers (though I hope not).
Punished villains – The villain is always caught and punished by the time the story concludes (although, some readers may note that there is an over-arching story that usually spans three books; the villain in the over-arching story is usually brought to justice by the end of the third book in each series).
Likeable hero – MacFarland is a likeable sort of guy, with lots of friends and people who depend on him. While he is one of the invisible people, he is the kind of guy you might pass in the street and not think a second thought about.
Competent sleuth – He is a remarkable detective. Sure, he often jumps to wrong conclusions, but he also sees the big picture. He doesn’t get bogged down in trying to solve a case as quickly as possible, since he is after truth.
Everyday motives for crime – Okay, on the criterion that the cozy mystery is not about serial killers, we bend the rules. In the Eager Evangelist, MacFarland does go after a serial killer, though no one is really aware of the multiple homicides.
Bucolic setting – Again, while I think Denver is a pretty small town (compared to New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, London, New Delhi), it is a major city. What makes it limited is that the cases MacFarland solves are all locally based. As one reader said, the stories are a “fun tour of Denver!”
Sleuth becomes target – Yep, this often happens. Just shows that if you want to stay out of trouble, mind your own business. But then you wouldn’t be the Hot Dog Detective, would you?
Gradual approach to surprise ending – I sure try to do this. I guess I will have to wait for my readers to tell me whether I’ve done a good job.
Only a bit of romance – Ah, the age-old question…will MacFarland and Pierson ever find true love?
While the stories do attempt to adhere to real police procedure, these are not police procedural stories. I am for truism, not technical reliability. Like most cozy mysteries, the hero is engaged in an unconventional job, running a hot dog cart as a business. And the stories are filled with people that I would like to know. Also, just as Denver is the gateway to the Rockies, The Hot Dog Detective stories will take place all over the Front Range and throughout Colorado.
Each of The Hot Dog Detective stories is a stand-alone novel, but they do take place in a temporally sequential manner. It doesn’t take a detective to figure out their order, however, since they appear in this sequence:
The Avid Angler (available on Amazon)
The Busty Ballbreaker (available on Amazon)
The Crying Camper
The Desperate Druggie
The Eager Evangelist
The Freaky Fan
And, yes, there will be twenty-six mysteries for MacFarland to solve.
Mathiya Adams – A Girl of Mystery
My earliest memories were telling stories to my brothers and sisters. As the oldest of five children, I was often responsible for baby-sitting my younger siblings.
In addition to my siblings, I was a lover of animals. I remember feeding baby Chihuahuas with a toy baby bottle because their mother didn’t have enough milk to feed them. As I grew older, I often found myself sleeping in the large outdoor dog house that I shared with seven Chihuahuas.
For most of my life, I simply floated along, not really accomplishing much of anything of value. While I lacked direction, I did have an interesting vocation: I wanted to be a teacher, but I never got a teaching credential, so instead I became a trainer.
I spent most of my life traveling around the US and the world, conducting training programs for people who would probably rather have been back at their tedious jobs than sitting in my classroom. For my part, I got to live in such wonderful places as India, Nepal, Thailand, Hong Kong (before it was turned back over to China), Singapore, the Philippines, Australia, Mexico, Canada, Scotland, England, and France. As for the United States, I’ve lived in New York, New Jersey, California, Texas, Illinois, Alaska, and Colorado. And I’ve worked in twenty other states. So, you can see that I’m a well-traveled girl.
It was only after I retired that I discovered what I truly wanted to do with my life, and that was to write stories. At first, I focused on writing young adult stories (and someday I might go back to those). I also developed extensive plans to write stories from the viewpoint of my pet dogs: their impressions of our wonderful country and the people who live here. Then, one day, I decided to do something I had dreamed of doing for years: writing a mystery story.
It wasn’t hard to figure out who my hero was. He was going to be a man of average looks, physically capable, and above average intelligence. But he would have a set of traits, things that might be perceived as defects in his personality by some or virtues by others. He is only a high school graduate; he is ex-military; he is a somewhat dogmatic; he is a recovering alcoholic; and sometimes he is overly impulsive and hot-tempered. But he is also a damned good detective.
And he ran a hot dog stand.
The inspiration came from a discussion I overheard one day when I was coming out of one of Denver’s courts. I was walking back to my car and I started to pass one of the ubiquitous hot dog vending carts that dot the downtown area. The hot dog vendor was talking to someone in a fancy suit about a case that was going on at that time. The well-dressed man jokingly said to the hot dog vendor, “You know, you should have been on the police force. You’ve got a talent for digging out the facts of a case.”
I had no idea what they were talking about. I only stayed around long enough to buy a hot dog, then I became self-conscious and ran off to my car. But the seeds of the Hot Dog Detective had been planted, and years later, the seeds began to sprout.
Now I spend as much of my time as I can studying how I can make the Hot Dog Detective stories more realistic, more believable, and more enjoyable to my fans. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy creating them!
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In the course of writing a series of what ultimately will be twenty-six books, it is possible to get things mixed up, forget details, or just make mistakes. While I have a very sensitive soul, I have learned that one needs to be able to take criticism, feedback, and suggestions for improvement. If you have any of these, please feel free to contact me directly at Mathiya.Adams@gmail.com I look forward to your comments.
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The Avid Angler
Book 1 of The Hot Dog Detective: Detective MacFarland — “Mac” to his friends — is approached by a high-priced lawyer to help prove a woman innocent. A fishing buff has been found murdered and the wife is the prime suspect. With the evidence stacked against her, and someone destroying evidence, can MacFarland find the real killer and free the innocent woman?
The Busty Ballbreaker
Book 2 of The Hot Dog Detective: Detective MacFarland is suspicious when a young construction worker, Wanda Warren, approaches him with a tale of conspiracy, fraud, and murder. A friend of hers died in a tragic work accident, but she thinks that there is more to the story than workplace tragedy. She thinks he was killed to keep him quiet. Something is not right at the construction site just down the block from him. The question for MacFarland is, how many more people are going to get killed before he finds the person behind the conspiracy that Wanda has uncovered?
The Crying Camper
Book 3 of The Hot Dog Detective: A homeless teenager gets a second chance, working as a counselor in a summer camp for runaway kids. The only problem is, the kids keep going missing. Are they running away, getting placed in foster homes…or getting killed? Will MacFarland be able to rescue the homeless waifs or will more children turn up dead?