Friday, February 2, 2018

The Senior Sleuths Mysteries: Murder and Mayhem in a Modern Noir Style: Guest Post by M. Glenda Rosen

M. Glenda Rosen (aka Marcia Rosen):

My father was a small-time gangster. Really.

I grew up in an unusual, and sometimes outrageous, environment. It wouldn’t take a genius, a psychiatrist or a palm reader to figure out the genesis of my fascination with crime and criminals. In my series, "The Senior Sleuths,” Zero the Bookie is a version of my dad and several other characters are based on his associates.

I actually met Doc, The Gimp, Johnny the Jig, Fat Lawyer and others in Buffalo, New York, where we lived. As an only child, I created stories in my head with characters to keep me company. Writing became my dream, my ambition and eventually my passion. What a wealth of material there was for me to claim!

I visited my dad’s gambling hall, where a card room was hidden behind closed doors. In our kitchen at home, I saw my dad count “the take” from football and baseball bets. He was a fancy dresser and some of my friends described him as a Damon Runyon character. I wrote a story about him and my mother, in which I called her his “gun moll.”

There were advantages. If I was out on a dinner date and one of my dad’s cronies was there, he picked up the bill. The waiter would tell us, “The man over there took care of it. Said you’re Vic Barr’s daughter!” I was equally safe from the pawing hands of any young man. All of them knew who my father was. In addition, my dad taught me incredible life lessons about being generous and never being a quitter.

Knowing I was loved— and having my own sense of humor—has allowed me to view life through glasses of sanity. Writing murder mysteries is a way for me to use some of what I saw and experienced, and turn it into stories that entice and entertain readers. Believe me… I saw and heard a lot!

In my modern noir stories, the hard-boiled detectives are soft-boiled sleuths whose inner shell is softer and gentler, although their outer shell is still tough. Of course, it doesn’t matter—hard-boiled or soft-boiled—they can still be nearly beaten by the bad guys. But it is always the puzzle of the mystery and putting the pieces together to solve it that matters most.

Film noir movies are from the era of the great mystery writer’s books including those by Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Ross Macdonald and others. Their writing and their black and white movies influenced my writing in recent years. I was always fascinated by how the characters acted and interacted. I especially loved strong women who influenced the actions and the outcomes.

My all-time favorite was The Thin Man, where Nora Charles was certainly equal to Nick Charles, her charming husband. Smart, slender, attractive and rich, Nick adored her. Now what woman doesn’t want that?

The plot of The Thin Man was enhanced by humor, with the couple’s dog, Asta, running amok at times and oddball characters from Nick Charles’ past popping in and out. There was always a murder, or several of them, that had everyone, from police to Nick and Nora, in on the chase. In my series, “The Senior Sleuths,” Dick and Dora Zimmerman, Zero and others take on similar roles.

According to Eddie Muller, Noir Alley host on TCM, “Film noir peaked as a popular genre of film during the mid-1940’s into the 1950’s. These films gave rise to iconic antiheroes like detectives Sam Spade, Mike Hammer and Philip Marlowe. Though the stories change, the mood is the same in a film noir.”

Typical film noir scenes use shadows, dark streets, neon signs, murderers and murders, plus ominous actions and characters. They take place in a city like New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Muller describes the characters: “The men and women of this sinister cinematic world are driven by greed, lust, jealousy, and revenge.” So are my bad characters.

I’m having a great time creating murder mysteries in a modern noir style. The once hard-boiled masculine detective now has a new, softer voice, and there are new heroes and antiheroes. My stories have soft-boiled sleuths. Of course, they still encounter murder and mayhem.

Level Best Books will publish the humorous antics and serious crime-solving of “The Senior Sleuths.” Book One: Dead in Bed is due out February 6, 2018, and Book Two: Dead in Seat 4-A, later in 2018. Book Three: Dead on the 17th of the Month, will be published in 2019.

Still in their early sixties, Dick and Dora Zimmerman’s not only have the time—but the money, the smarts and the chutzpah—to get involved even when they are warned by police and criminals to stay away. It seems murders fall in their laps, sometimes on them. Even when facing danger in the course of solving a murder, they mix wit and humor and are accompanied by a colorful cast of cohorts. They strive for justice, not an easy thing to accomplish when the bad guys are as determined to strive to do evil.

None of us are innocent. We all keep secrets about who we are and things we know. In my case, I have been able to put these past family peccadilloes and experiences to use. No doubt, thanks to my father, writing mysteries is in my DNA!


Marcia Rosen has previously published four books in her mystery series, Dying to Be Beautiful. Rosen is also author of The Woman’s Business Therapist and My Memoir Workbook. She was founder and owner of a successful Marketing and Public Relations Agency for many years and was chosen the 2005 Woman of the Year by the East End Women’s Network, Long Island, New York. She currently resides in Carmel, California. For more information, visit

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