Sunday, June 11, 2017

Things You Don't Need to Know to Enjoy Murder on the Mullet Express

One of the most off-putting ideas about historical fiction is that one has to know a lot about history to enjoy historical fiction. Worse, that the story is going to be stuffed with as many things to remember as a Christmas card list, which would make for a turgid read! Fortunately, there are many things you won’t need to know to enjoy Murder on the Mullet Express.

Do I need to know Florida’s history?
The characters didn’t need to know it. You’re safe.

Are there historical figures I need to be familiar with to follow this book?
Some of the people are real. If you understand words like “sheriff” and “gangster”, you’ll be fine. There are cheat notes in the back of the book if you get curious.

Do I need to know what the Mullet Express is?
It’s the quickest haircut you can get in Alabama. Okay, we're fibbing. It’s a train that hauls fish and land speculators, but all you need to know is contained in the book title: it’s The Scene of the Crime.

Do I need to know much about the 1920s?
Just pretend that your phone is out of data and you’re too young to drink. And everyone talks like they’re in a Cagney movie.

Do I need to know anything about Homosassa, Florida?
The address contains the magic word: “Florida”. It’s all the information the land speculators needed. As they say: location, location, location.

Do I need to know how a steam engine works?
No, but you’ll learn how to annoy neighbors with a steam radiator.

What does Gertrude Stein write about?
We don’t know either, but it can give you a headache.