Manhattan newcomer Nathan Melton is looking for a place to connect. Lucky for him, Jimmies is just around the corner--Jimmie Collins is a man with connections! From beat cops to Mafioso, career women to former linebackers, Jimmies patrons take care of each other and their neighborhood barkeep. A beloved priest needs some thugs taught a lesson? No problem! Trouble with your love life? Let Jimmie apply his matchmaking skills. Need a place to sell some merchandise that might have fallen off a truck? No questions asked. Nathan has found his home away from home. Jimmie has an ailing wife and disabled daughter nestled in Florida, and his bar family is all he s got. They understand about the childrens charity balancing out the part time smuggling job, that offshore accounts are necessary when medical bills arent covered by health insurance. When Jimmie reveals his own terminal diagnosis, his friends vow to help him recover the millions he has in foreign bank accounts. Somewhere between that promise and Jimmie's death, things go terribly wrong. The money is gone, their friend is dead, and it s up to this close-knit cadre to track the cash.
Mixing It Up in Last Call by J.D. Seamus
How did I combine hard-hitting crime, mystery with a splash of action, adventure and humor? Great question.
Almost impossible to do if you’re using major narrative but I write ‘in dialogue’ for the most part so I can pull it off. The narrative form would be too cumbersome and boring as hell.
A good friend gave me a tip that I’ve continued to use. His tip was to pick a star to use in character building.
My choice was easy in Last Call. A tough, sensitive, New Yorker who could do comedy. Fuhgetaboutit. Robert Freakin’ De Niro! Forget he’s not Irish but he’s perfect for the role of Jimmie Collins. Bar owner, tough guy, made enough money to go in business by stealing bearer bonds with a couple of rising mafia stars. Close to the church. Treats his bar patrons like family, all around nice guy but will ‘knock you on your ass’ if you cross him.
It was actually fun. My wife would hear me laughing loudly and come into my office to see what the hell was going on. I’d try to explain that it’s how De Niro interacts with Nathan, a small town guy (Randy Quaid-did I mention the guy was a lovable dufus)relocating to New York? She’d just stare and I’d explain it’s how he deals with a big mouth, short Italian (Danny DeVito—just too easy) bar regular who has the worst tailor in the world? Or how he would interact with two Manhattan North cops with career paths heading south-anyone from the old Barney Miller show. Or a long time bar patron who is witty, tough and has a problem picking men (Annette O’Toole from 48 Hours). De Niro lines her up with Nathan after telling Nathan to not hurt her in any way or he’s coming after him. My wife generally walks out around then and closes the door quietly. I guess unless you’ve banged out a book you can’t possibly comprehend.
Last Call was easy with De Niro. Even the slow times when you’re building characters. Even making his sick wife breakfast in bed is an adventure. Picture De Niro fussing over breakfast and toast is way over his head. He’s trying and trying hard. Got to be perfect-the De Niro way. Picture him walking out of the kitchen, remembering the sweetener at the last minute and putting it on the tray. He puts the whole box on the tray, takes a step then stops. He worries that the box is screwing up his presentation. He frowns. Throwing a leftover rose on the tray, he grabs a soup spoon and shrugs, “It’ll have to do. What the hell? I ain’t Martha Stewart.”
Forget narrative. With De Niro, it’s all dialogue. And that’s my favorite. That’s where I stick it to the competition in my genre. Me and De Niro. Those suckers don’t have a chance.
JD Seamus is happily at work on his sixth book in South Florida and dividing his time between his family and Braves and Jaguar games. You can visit his website at www.jdseamusbooks.com.
This guest post first appeared at The Book Connection.