Meet Bert Shambles, a perpetually confused young man whose life continually mirrors his surname. He is stuck back in his suburban Long Island hometown, enduring a three-year suspended sentence for an act of chivalry gone terribly wrong. He works part-time at a church thrift shop and makes extra money by selling “dead stock”—vintage clothes that have never been worn—to a local boutique.
On a routine pick up for the thrift shop, Bert learns that the widow of a recently deceased pro golfer is offering a reward for the return of her dead husband’s favorite putter—and an even bigger reward for proof that her husband was murdered. Bert jumps at the chance, and soon finds himself being chased by a violent, van-driving maniac, romantically involved with a mobster’s daughter, and quite possibly being set up to take the fall by his probation officer and crazy ex-girlfriend. As the forces of good and evil close in around him, Bert must race to clear his name and discover the truth so he doesn’t wind up in prison…or worse.
Filled with twists, turns, and unforgettable characters, and propelled by a truly lovable hero and wicked sense of humor, Dead Stock heralds the arrival of a wonderful new mystery series.
Finding DEAD STOCK
The title of my new novel, DEAD STOCK, refers to vintage clothing that has never been worn. It is a term that could be applied equally well to the manuscript, which sat in a box, lost and forgotten, for nearly a quarter of a century before being published this fall by Cozy Cat Press.
During the summer of 1989 I was 23 years old and living back at home on Long Island, after several failed attempts at making my mark in the world. I worked at a local machine shop (making parts for bookbinding machines, no less!) and made several trips a week to the local library, where I loaded up on mysteries, modern poetry and—believe it or not—books on etiquette (the experience of absorbing the complete poems of William Carlos Williams, James Ellroy’s The Black Dahlia and Miss Manners simultaneously is one of the most bizarre literary mash-ups I ever experienced). I would come home from the machine shop and type late into the night, churning out pages of poems and short stories on a manual typewriter that I acquired from a local thrift shop.
At the end of that summer I was ready to move on again. I dumped the hundreds of pages that I had written into a few garbage bags and dragged them to the curb for recycling—forever depriving the world of my youthful genius (you’re welcome, world). It wasn’t long before I had established myself as a freelance journalist, newspaper publisher and creative writer; I quickly forgot about those early efforts.
It wasn’t until a few years ago, during a routine visit with my mom, that she mentioned that she had found a box of my old papers in the basement. I opened the box and found a manila folder inside, filled with some overlooked pieces of writing from that long-ago summer. Near the top was a fragment of a mystery novel that I had begun but quickly abandoned, featuring a 23-year-old protagonist who is stuck on Long Island against his will. The story begins with him typing a journal entry on a manual typewriter, purchased at—that’s right—a thrift shop:
Whoever said that thing about how no man is an island probably doesn’t live on one.
Like my protagonist’s knowledge of classic poetry, the story was quite rough—but I was sufficiently charmed by this early, forgotten effort to see if I could finally finish the story. A couple of years later the first installment of my “new” Bert Shambles mysteries had found a home.
About the Author
Tim Hall has had a long and varied career in the underground and independent press as a journalist, author, and as co-founder of the Outsider Writers Collective. He has collaborated with many illustrators and fine artists, including with Emmy Award winning artist Dean Haspiel on “The Last Mortician”, published by Tor.com in 2010. Tim grew up on Long Island, where his Bert Shambles mysteries are set. He lives in New York City.
This was an interesting twist on the typical cozy. I don’t think I’ve ever read one where the main character was a male. Bert is a fun character and I enjoyed reading the story. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series!
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