Books by Stephen F. Wilcox

THE GREEN MOSAIC by Stephen F. Wilcox
Released: Sept. 14, 1994

Always on the alert for material, true-crime writer T.S.W. Sheridan (All the Dead Heroes, 1992, etc.) goes into overdrive when he hears two Adirondack sages talking about the smoke coming from Glenny Oldham's cabin. It's been three years since Oldham, a photojournalist active in the Earthmothers, fell from Indian Overlook only a few months after her ex-husband, Robertson Tilly, had vanished from under a federal warrant against him and his even more radical environmental group, the Marsh Rats. Despite some pesky loose ends (why was Oldham pumped up on a designer amphetamine? what happened to the .32 revolver she was carrying?), the local police, who stonewall Sheridan without even breaking stride, are clearly satisfied that the disappearance isn't connected to Oldham's ``accident''—even though Larry Podolak, the laid-off miner who'd threatened Oldham a few days before she was killed, has never officially denied killing her. But Sheridan's inquiries bring Podolak out of the woodwork; and then, a few days before Podolak's to come to trial for the assault, somebody pumps three rounds into him—with Oldham's missing .32. Lots of promising mysteries, but Sheridan, who's busy juggling old and new loves, doesn't shine as a detective: Too many clues just happen to fall on him from above, and the untidy solution, involving multiple malefactors on both sides of the environmental debate, will leave you sadder rather than wiser. Read full book review >
THE PAINTED LADY by Stephen F. Wilcox
Released: Feb. 16, 1994

What could make gadabout columnist Elias Hackshaw (The Twenty Acre Plot, 1991; The Nimby Factor, 1992) even less popular with his miraculously preserved Neanderthal neighbors in Kirkville, New York? Hack finds out when he takes a job as supervising contractor on stunning Hester DelGado's attempt to restore a neglected Victorian house as an ``unofficial halfway house'' for pregnant women. A neighborhood rash of Satanic graffiti turns town opinion solidly against Hester and Hack even before Sue Krevin, one of Hester's charter boarders, is killed on her front porch—and a post-mortem indicates that she wasn't even pregnant. Never one to resist a dangerous lady, Hack does a fine job succumbing to Hester's wiles and fending off Sue's high-school flame, Officer Ricky Reimer, while nosing out evidence of just why Hester is interested in the other painted lady that's brought her such bad luck. The mystery's never very mysterious this time, but Hack's high- jinks will bring a smile to everybody who's ever done battle with a civic association. Read full book review >
THE NIMBY FACTOR by Stephen F. Wilcox
Released: Dec. 8, 1992

A second appearance of ``Hack'' Hackshaw, a newspaper columnist in upstate Kirkville, finds him visiting Larkspur, the Victorian house he longs to restore, and discovering the dead body of Elton Venable in the foyer. Elton, chairman of KRUDD (Kirkville Residents United to Defeat the Dump), had recently fought with Hack over the latter's sudden defense of the dump—making Hack a prime suspect in the murder. When Hack engineers an anonymous call to the police about the body, nothing happens—for days. No wonder. When he checks up, the body has disappeared. It finally resurfaces—in Hack's woodpile! Who's responsible? Elton's wife Clare wanted his insurance payoff, but other possibilities include a greedy politician rumored to be her lover and the wealthy owner of the waste-management company pushing for the dump. Meanwhile, Hack has to evade the kinky sexual flurries of a landmark-commission lady; outsmart two young journalists; blackmail his lover's smarmy ex- husband; and share a few hours with another corpse in the Larkspur root cellar. Reminiscent of Hitchcock's ``The Trouble With Harry,'' with the corpse popping up when least expected. Amusing—but without the tough edge of The Twenty-Acre Plot. Read full book review >
ALL THE DEAD HEROES by Stephen F. Wilcox
Released: May 14, 1992

To coincide with Frank Wooley's induction into the baseball Hall of Fame, freelance writer T.S.W. Sheridan (The St. Lawrence Run, The Dry White Tear) is preparing an article on him for Sporting Life magazine. But Sheridan makes little headway with the former ballplayer (barred from the sport for brawling and consorting with known gambler Harry Lundquist) and is startled when Wooley apparently murders another writer, then commits suicide. But IdaRose, his woman, insists that Wooley was a different sort of man: Would Sheridan investigate and write the real story of his life? Inconsistencies abound. Sheridan learns that Wooley was violent/tender, intensely private/a rabble-rouser, etc. Meanwhile, there are old tales of a rigged poker game, and when Sheridan digs into them, he discovers the presence of the ubiquitous Lundquist, two Wooley teammates, a crooked bartender, a mark who became a corpse—and a thousand-dollar stipend paid to Wooley every month since the man died. Sheridan is almost dispatched in a batting catch before the true story of Wooley et al. emerges, and his profile of the old Yankee great hits the newsstands. Smooth and readable, with a bittersweet approach to heroes and national pastimes. Read full book review >
THE TWENTY ACRE PLOT by Stephen F. Wilcox
Released: July 1, 1991

Another entrant in the son-of-Raymond-Chandler sweepstakes as Wilcox—who can write a wonderfully crusty, wry turn-of-phrase- -introduces upstate New Yorker Elias Hackshaw, who, with his sister and brother-in-law, produces the weekly Triton Advertiser, including his muckraking opinion column. Here, he takes aim at unscrupulous land-developer Oscar Kasnen, convinced that the shopping-mall builder is behind old man Jenkins's death-leap from a barn loft. (Jenkins's heirs were all too eager to sell off his land to Kasnen.) Then Jenkins's lawyer is put into a coma; an Indian who may have been Jenkins's illegitimate son is murdered (mistaken identity); and Hack, to the chagrin of pedantic, poker- playing banker Kimble, discovers that Kasnen's short-term loan guarantee is about to fold. Meanwhile, the heirs want the will probated; a consortium of pro-Kasnenites have bypassed town-meeting policies; and an irate semi-driver is careening down the highway in pursuit of Hack (for fooling around with his wife). A complicated ending assigns murder in one direction, the coverup in another, for a tough, funny, original approach to the hard-boiled genre, and more proof that second-novelist Wilcox (The Dry White Tear) is a comer. Read full book review >